Have you ever had a nickname that really stuck because it fit your personality so well? I have a close friend from college who calls me Tinkerbell, though I’m sure the name fit better then, than it does now. I was quite flighty and overly perky, flitting here and there, leaving a bit of sparkly pixie dust personality wherever I went. If she had other reasons for calling me that, she kept them to herself, which leads me to my own conclusions here. Ha! It’s a fun nickname, and you’ll often find me still sporting some sort of Tinkerbell accessory because it makes me smile.
The disciples in Jerusalem had a wonderful friend named Joses. There was something so obviously a part of his reputation though, that they gave him the name of Barnabas. The nickname literally translated into the “son of consolation.” Paraklésis is the Greek translation of the word consolation.
From Strong’s Concordance, I found the definition more fully explained:
paraklésis: a calling to one’s aid, i.e. encouragement, comfort https://biblehub.com/greek/3874.htm
It’s a very similar word to the one Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14:26, as the Comforter who would come along after His death.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
That word Comforter translates from paraklétos: called to one’s aid. https://biblehub.com/greek/3875.htm
It goes on to say that “para” means close beside, and “kaleo” means to make a call, as one who is close to the situation and can advocate and help another.
Barnabas, in effect, so poured out the work of the Holy Spirit to all he met that “encourager, comforter, consoler, helper” is what came to mind when they thought of him. What a ministry of encouragement Barnabas must have had!
In Acts 9, Saul who will soon become Paul the Apostle is breathing out threatenings to those who were following the way of Christ. He had stood in approval at the stoning of Stephen, and he was on his way to deliver more believers to prison and to death. But on the way, a blinding light and the voice of Jesus stops him in his tracks and he is gloriously converted to Christ. When he goes to find the disciples in Jerusalem to join their ranks, they are justifiably fearful of his intentions.
But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Acts 9:27
Barnabas intentionally advocated for Paul’s acceptance into their ministry. Later Barnabas was sent out to encourage and exhort the believers in Antioch who were Greeks, and then he and Paul were set apart by the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. On the way, they welcomed the nephew of Barnabas, John Mark. However, he quickly deserted the team to return home. When Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave for their second journey, Barnabas advocated for John Mark’s reinstatement, but Paul refused, citing John Mark’s desertion on the previous journey. The contention split them into two teams, and Barnabas’ name does not resurface in Scripture. His legacy however, does. Later in Paul’s ministry, he calls John Mark to his side because he was profitable to him for the ministry. (2 Tim. 4:11) John Mark’s life was made profitable because of Barnabas’ continued investment into him.
Barnabas literally built up men who otherwise would have been cast aside and left behind. He searched out the needs of others, and took upon himself the cost of investment. If it took money, the Bible says he willingly sold everything he had and laid it at the apostle’s feet. (Acts 4:36-37) If it took time, he gave time. If it threatened his reputation, he stepped out anyway. If it cost him the disapproval of someone he loved, he sought the approval of God above it. The desire to invest in others, and to encourage them to love and passionately follow the Lord, drove Barnabas’ life.
Remember what the two parts of our Greek word paraklésis meant? “Para” means to draw close beside. It requires the willingness to step into the lives of others. It requires time. It requires an intentional effort to get to know someone.
The second part, “kaleo” means to make a call, as one who recognizes the need in someone’s life and steps in to advocate, aid, and encourage them.
There have been so many who have done this for me. Even now, there are people who continue to encourage and intentionally invest into my life. There are others who reach into my children’s lives and build on what my husband and I are trying to instill in them. It is always such an encouragement to stop and thank the Lord for those He‘s gifted into our lives.
We each have those we are personally responsible for encouraging, building, and investing into, such as a spouse, children, maybe grandchildren. But I am asking the Lord to help me see people outside immediate family to intentionally invest in, specifically those who do not yet know Him.
Perhaps my old college nickname can remind me to leave a little sparkly pixie dust of encouragement and love with whoever I meet each day. Who knows if there is a Saul or a John Mark in need of a bit of a lift? ❤️