Labels#3. “Where Bad Labels Won’t Stick.”

Labels#3. “Where Bad Labels Won’t Stick.”

I once heard one brother say to another, “I hear that there is a new translation that says, “The Apostles nicknamed Barnabas, Barny.”

At the time, even I thought that such a translation sounded irreligious, (and I had just come off the Good News Bible).

Of course, no such translation exists; it was an urban legend. He was probably referring to the 1971 Living Bible’s translation of Acts 4:36, which reads:
“For instance, there was Joseph (the one the apostles nicknamed “Barnabas, the encourager.”

Not only was the criticism wrong, but it ran counter to the point; it was discouraging honest investigation. I later surmised that an objection to the word “nicknamed” was probably being intensified by adding “Barny” into the mix.

This man named Joseph was given this nickname—Barnabas: “Son of Encouragement”—for the sole reason that it was befitting of his character. His words were backed by actions:
*The needy were feed because brothers like Barnabas sold their own properties to raise the funds (Acts 4:32-37).
*The newly converted Paul only gained access to the petrified Jerusalem Christians because Barnabas investigated his conversion and preaching, and advocated for him (Acts 9:26-27).
*The apostles sent Barnabas to investigate the success of Philip’s work in Samaria. On his arrival, he did that which came naturally to him: “…he was glad and encouraged the new Christians to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:22-24).
*On seeing the expansion of the church, and remembering the powerful preaching of Paul, he went to get him from Tarsus (Acts 11:25).
*Barnabas was key in what we call “Paul’s First Missionary Journey.” In fact, it could rightly be re-named, “The Missionary Journey of Barnabas and Paul” (Acts 13-14).
*When Paul refused to take John Mark on his “Second Missionary Journey,” Barnabas defended John Mark and instead took him on “Barnabas’ Second Missionary Journey” (Acts 15:36-41).


Where bad labels won’t stick…Joseph’s nickname most certainly did!

“Barnabas—Son of Encouragement.”

John Staiger


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