Acts is the history of the development of the first churches and the spread of Christianity. For about the first decade after the death of Jesus, Christianity existed almost exclusively among the Jews. The first part of Acts portrays the meaning of Christianity, how it was shared, and how it was lived out in a closed community of Jews whose common culture was based on the Old Testament.
After about the first decade, Christianity started growing in other people groups and cultures having beliefs and understandings quite different from the Jews. Much of Acts deals with keeping a consistent and complete Gospel message, how it is shared, and how it is lived out in different people groups and cultures. The lessons learned from Acts are applicable to modern Christians and churches, and are also essential when trying to understand Paul’s letters (which comprise much of the New Testament).
A purpose of the Acts Series is to tell some of the information of the book of Acts from different vantage points. Luke said that he made a careful investigation of the facts before writing Luke and Acts. His three primary sources of information probably were: his own experiences, written sources, and talking to people who were personally involved. Acts Series illustrates the stories that he might have heard from a dozen of the characters featured in his book of Acts.
Acts 4:36 says that Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus who sold land to help the infant Church. The Bible does not say when Barnabas became a Christian or when he left his home of Cyprus, nor when or how he, as a Levite, came into possession of the land that he sold.
Land was very precious to the Jews, and selling land was an act of great sacrifice. Giving all of the proceeds to the apostles was an act of service, but the new Christians would have seen the act of selling the land itself as even more important than the money exchanged.
The growth of the early Church was possible because its leaders knew and trusted each other. Barnabas was one of these first leaders, chosen by God to vouch for Paul so he could become part of the Church. It was Barnabas who facilitated Paul’s relationship with Peter, James, and the other apostles.
Barnabas seems to have been more influential in the Church than Paul for many years. It also seems that Barnabas was Paul’s mentor for many years. You can get an inkling of that because Barnabas is always mentioned first when they are together.
More than fifteen years after the start of the Church, the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas on the First Missionary Journey, the first of many times there was a concerted effort to convert non-Jews to Christianity. The journey took place in Cyprus and modern-day Turkey. The trip was very successful in spreading the Gospel and starting new churches.
It would be easy to overlook two important events that happened on that trip. First, John Mark started the trip, but abandoned Paul and Barnabas after Cyprus, an event that would be a future source of contention. Second, Paul began to take preeminence over Barnabas. A few years later, these two events would result in Paul and Barnabas taking separate paths.
Luke – Troy Powell
Peter – Francis Fuselier
Stephen – Jonny Gallegos
Philip – David Smith
Barnabas – Bob Hess
John Mark – Matthew Oakley
Holy Spirit – Garrett Schenck
Paul – Brian Shoop
James – Andy Axewell
Silas – Tony Schneider
Timothy – Paul Christian
Tabitha – Allyn Carrell
Lydia – Gayla Gower
Priscilla – La’Netia D. Taylor
Theophilus – Michael Page