Daily Word

Barnabas takes hold | Acts 9:26-31

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried repeatedly to associate with the disciples; and yet they were all afraid of him, as they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus at Damascus.

28 And he was with them, [l]moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the [m]Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 Now when the [n]brothers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

31 So the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria [o]enjoyed peace, as it was being built up; and as it [p]continued in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it kept increasing.

Acts 9:26-31 (NASB) 中文

Persecutor persecuted

A previous passage started the transformation of Saul from persecutor of the Gospel to Paul, proclaimer of the Gospel. Saul has been confronted by Jesus which changed his life 180°. His vision was restored and, as a believer, he was baptized and received the Spirit. Now the former persecutor is himself being persecuted.

Back to Jerusalem

After 3 or so years away from Jerusalem in Damascus and Arabia, Paul heads to Jerusalem hoping to see the believers there – especially the leaders. As we’d expect, all the believers were scared to death of him – as Ananias was earlier. The former persecutor of the church (probably the leading actor) was seeking them out. They likely thought his conversion was a ploy to get access to the leaders of this Jesus movement. Later, “Imagine how difficult it must have been for those Christians who had relatives whom Saul had persecuted to sit down with him in church meetings and share the Lord’s Supper.” (planobiblechapel.org)

Barnabas took hold of him

What’s the most striking sentence in this passage? The action that changes the situation from a potential disaster and rift between Paul and the Jerusalem church? “Barnabas took hold of him.” Barnabas is first introduced in Acts 4:36 as the “son of encouragement” for his demonstration of faith and love in selling property for the benefit of others. He took a huge step of faith to reach out to Paul and welcome him, listen to his testimony, then shuttle him around to the disciples. 

Primarily, Paul met with Peter and James, the Lord’s half-brother (as we find out in Gal. 1:17-19). They were the leaders of the church. And he was preaching and arguing (Paul was a real attorney and defender of the faith) with the Greek-speaking (Helenistic) Jews. He angered them such that they, like those in Damascus, sought his life. But Paul escaped (again). This time, to his hometown of Tarsus.

Church grows

As Paul is won over to the Lord’s side, the church has peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria and it grows. What was a key to the growth? The church, “continued in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”


  • Are you an encourager like Barnabas? We need more like you! Keep it up. Bless others with your gift. Just be careful to use discernment lest you encourage wrong behavior.
  • Is there someone you are unjustly judging? We need to be careful, of course, but how about giving them the benefit of the doubt, even after an initial “bad” impression, to see what God will do. (Talking to myself here).
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