God Fills Our Needs

Acts 15:40-41 records the beginning of Paul’s second journey. Barnabas and Mark would return to Cyprus to strengthen and edify brethren there (something Barnabas excelled in for his name “Barnabas” was given him by the apostles because of his character — Barnabas means “son of exhortation”). Paul chose Silas to accompany him on his journey preaching in Syria, Cilicia, Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia. After several years of close companionship, these two friends separated to work in different fields.

This journey of Paul was likely for him the most memorable of the three journeys he made. It was on this trip that he formed close friendships with two men who became his lifelong friends. He met Timothy at Lystra (Acts 16:1-5) and included him in his company. Paul’s assessment of Timothy is expressed in Philippians when he wrote, “I have no man likeminded who will care truly for your state” (Philippians 2:20). Then, as the three traveled a bit further together, they came to Troas because the “Spirit of Jesus” forbade them to go into Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7). There they met another devoted brother who also became a close friend to Paul: Luke. Luke is not named of course (his name never appears in Acts) but he was with them, for when Paul received his vision at Troas the record said, “Straightway we sought to go forth in Macedonia” (Acts 16:10). Thus with the others, the writer of the book tells he also was a witness of the events that followed and a companion of the others who began the journey before him. In Colossians 4:14 Paul called Luke, “The beloved physician”.

Not only did Paul come in contact with Timothy and Luke as he traveled to Corinth, but he would in Corinth also form close friendship with a couple who had lately come from Rome: Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2-3). Some years later Paul wrote the Roman church and because the couple had made their way back to that city, Paul sent greetings to them. He wrote, “Salute Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life laid down their own necks, unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles” (Romans 16:3-4). Indeed, they were his fellow workers. They helped him in his work in Corinth, and when Paul left that city and returned to Antioch to report to the church there his activities, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him to Ephesus where he briefly stayed and then left them to prepare for his future return (Acts 18:24-28).

In addition to these lifelong friends, Paul made this journey one of the most productive in establishing congregations: Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth were formed when people accepted the salvation offered to them by Jesus. In fact, the majority of Paul’s epistles were addressed to either churches which had been begun or to people he met on this journey: 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Philippians.

Paul and Barnabas had been fast friends for many years. After Saul’s conversion and the three years he had spent in Arabia (Galatians 1:17), he went to Jerusalem to meet those who had been apostles before him as well as to become acquainted with the church there. But the brethren understandably were afraid of him. It was Barnabas who calmed their fears, vouching for Paul’s genuine conversion to Christ and that recommendation resulted in Paul “going in and out with the disciples” there (Acts 9:26-29). Later, when some brave souls spoke the word to Gentiles in Antioch and many Gentiles obeyed the gospel and grew to such proportions that the apostles sent Barnabas to investigate, the Holy Scriptures said that when he had seen the grace of God, “He was glad and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23). Almost immediately Barnabas thought of Saul, set out to find him, and when he did, introduced him to these brethren in Antioch which resulted in many years of close fellowship in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles. While Paul and Barnabas were teaching there, the Holy Spirit instructed the brethren to “separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work unto which I have called them”, thus beginning their journey together.

But companionship doesn’t always last and it didn’t for these two. In Acts 15:39-41 the two partied company: Barnabas and Mark went to preach in Cyprus, and he and Silas began the fruitful years they had in Macedonia and Achaia. The void that Paul must certainly have felt when he and Barnabas separated was abundantly filled by the friendships Paul found in Timothy, Luke, Priscilla, and Aquila. And, while the record does not tell what equal blessings God gave Barnabas to fill the same void he must have felt, you can be certain that God supplied his need just as richly and abundantly as He had for Paul. He was the God of both and had promised them He would fill their needs, just as He is our God and has promised to fill our needs. We must trust that He will.

Jim McDonald

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