The Apostle Paul is the writer of the letter to the Thessalonians. Thessalonica was a seaport city, located in the Macedonian area. And, as such may have been the largest city in Macedonia. There were Greeks, Romans, and many Jewish merchants headquartered there.
Paul opens this book with a typical greeting, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians [which is] in God the Father and [in] the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 1:1)
Silvanus is in other verses referred to as Silas. Paul has very high regard for his friend Silas. They had been imprisoned together for the gospel of Jesus. Of course, Timotheus is Timothy, and it was not unusual for them to be with Paul. Timothy was an understudy of Paul.
And this brings us to what I want to explore with you for a few days... mentoring. Why we need it, why we do it, why we should be mentored and what we should mentor. And, before you get all crazy, YES, I have been mentored by some pretty outstanding people in my life, am still being mentored, and I mentor others. Yes, I am Timothy to someone else’s Paul, a Barnabas to another Paul, surrounded by many Silas’, and I mentor Timothys. You will see as we go along…
If we look back at the beginning of Paul’s life as an apostle, we would have to wonder if he would have made it without Barnabas. Paul / Saul had been a persecutor of Christians in his previous life. As he was thrown from his horse, blasted by a blinding light and hearing the voice of Christ, he would have pretty disoriented. As people approached him in his weakened state, the fear of Paul’s murderous threats toward those following Christ would still have been fresh in their minds.
However, Barnabas took Paul to the other apostles and vouched for the veracity of his testimony (Acts9: 26, 27). Barnabas did not have to do this, but this act of encouragement provided to be a necessary and important link between Paul, the other apostles and the fulfillment of his calling.
Several years later, Barnabas was prompted by the Holy Spirit to look for Paul (Acts 11:25). No doubt the Damascus Road testimony had been forgotten by many, but not by Barnabas. The tentmaker from Tarsus, Paul, had seemingly been overlooked by the established church and bypassed for any meaningful ministry assignments. But Barnabas remembered. And, because of Barnabas’ influence, the Antioch church found a place for Paul and helped him develop trusted relationships and a respected teaching ministry (Acts 11:26; 13:1, 2).
Regardless of the baggage or failure from the past, Barnabas was always there for Paul.
Tomorrow: The Up-side of slavery