[Barnabas] encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord (v.23).
If you don’t know how to “threethrow,” don’t worry—it’s easy. You hold up your hand and pin down your pinky finger with your thumb. The three remaining fingers represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You can use this gesture to connect with other Christians “when verbal fellowship can’t occur,” says Mark Mitchum, who originated threethrowing. He hopes that this hand signal will “connect [Christians] for a few seconds and allow fellowship and encouragement [to occur].”
The early Christians, like us today, needed to connect in order to support each other. One group of believers in Antioch had the benefit of Barnabas’ encouragement. These Christians, who were religious refugees (Acts 8:1), had shared the gospel with the local Gentiles. By God’s power, many Gentiles accepted Christ. When their fellow believers back in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas (11:22) to uplift the Antioch congregation. Barnabas’ presence carried an unspoken message: “We support you. You’re not in this alone.”
When Barnabas arrived, “he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord” (v.23). For the more mature believers who had seen many receive Jesus under their ministry, his message may have helped guard against vices that can creep in after mountaintop experiences— pride, laziness, and spiritual independence. For the spiritual youngsters in the group, his message helped them to avoid falling away from their newfound faith.
Barnabas was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith” (v.24). Like him, we can strengthen other believers as we encourage them with our words and walk. If you can claim, “I am not ashamed of this good news about Christ” (Romans 1:16), consider connecting with other believers—near or far. Your brothers and sisters might need to hear you say: Hang in there; fight the good fight; stay committed to Christ.
—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Who in your world needs your encouragement today? How might your lifestyle and devotion to Jesus affect the people around you?