22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Reading the above verses, my first question was “What news?” It must have been good news because when Barnabas arrived in Antioch and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. Still, “What news?” Well, let’s look at a few of the preceding verses
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
So the news was at Antioch, home primarily to various Gentiles where a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire behind only Rome and Alexandria with an estimated population of 500,000. But who was converting these none Jews to the faith? MacLaren’s Expositions tells us
nameless men of Cyprus and Cyrene, private persons with no office or commission to preach, who, in simple obedience to the instincts of a Christian heart, leaped the barrier which seemed impassable to the Church in Jerusalem, and solved the problem over which Apostles were hesitating.
This should be great encouragement to us, with no office or commission to preach, to share God’s Good News by how we live and in answering any questions that come our way. Barnabas was convinced of their faith when he saw what the grace of God had done and so encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. Their hearts were revealed to him and he saw their love for the message of Jesus of the free Gift of Grace and what it had done in their lives.
If Barnabas were to be looking at your life, my life, what would he see? Would he see what the grace of God had done in your life, in my life? When he see individuals doing their best to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Or would he not see that? How are we living our lives? Are we living as Christians or not? Our hearts reveal the truth.