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Paul had fled Jerusalem and gone to Tarsus (Acts 9:28-30). Later (Acts 11:22-26):

News of this [Jews and Gentiles following Jesus in Antioch] reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Do we know why Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch?

My theory that I want to test here is: Barnabas saw this as an opportunity for both Paul and the church in Antioch to grow. Consider:

  1. Barnabas was known for encouraging Acts 4:36-37 which meant that he was able to recognise Paul's gifts.
  2. Being in Antioch was clearly a pivotal experience for Barnabas and Paul (see eg Acts 13:2 and 14:26).
  3. Paul (and Barnabas) went on to spread the Gospel all over the known world.

Did then Barnabas deliberately invite Paul to Antioch to help him to grow? If so, in which gifts? Teaching? (See Acts 13:1) Leadership?

  • I think that Barnabas knew how gifted Paul was (though I don't see how encouragement as a gift would lead him to that). If you've ever been in a similar situation, where the gospel is spreading rapidly, you know you need help, and wisdom, and accountability. You also need community to build community. It's possible that Barnabas would have been over his head here, and he enlisted the man he saw so much potential in. I will turn that into an answer when I have time for proper citation. – briangardner Sep 3 '14 at 2:40
  • One can't leave out that Paul was still not welcomed by the apostles until Barnabas vouched for him. Acts 9:26-27. So they clearly knew each other for a time before Paul fled to Tarsus. – Joshua Feb 29 '16 at 13:54
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The answer to this question is really quite simple and can be found in Acts 11:26:

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch to teach the multitudes.

  • We're a little different from a forum, so do take the site tour if you haven't already. This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. – Paul Vargas May 27 '15 at 20:21
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Here is one possible answer, taken from the book Paul and Stephen* (emphasis added):

The Cyprian ex-Levite [Barnabas] arrived from Antioch, where serious responsibilities had fallen upon his shoulders. The church there was in need of the help of intelligent servants. There were countless spiritual difficulties to be resolved, much work to be done. The church had been founded by disciples from Jerusalem under Simon Peter's generous auspices. The ex-fisherman from Capernaum felt they should take advantage of the break in the persecutions to expand Christ's reach, and Antioch was one of the largest working centers. There was no lack of contributors to share in the costs of the work at hand since the Gospel message had had repercussions in the humblest workplaces; however, educated workers were scarce. Once more it was due to Peter that the weaver fro Tarsus [Saul] would not lack the opportunity to serve. Evaluating the difficulties, and after appointing Barnabas to head the Way's church there, Peter advised him to seek out the Damascus convert so that his abilities would reach a new level of spiritual exertion.


* some regards about this source:

  1. this is a Spiritist book written by the Spirit Emmanuel, psychographed by Chico Xavier
  2. there is a free Portuguese version in PDF
  3. in this 2014 initial study (also in Portuguese), Candice Günther proposes a correlation of spiritual content and literary similarity of this book with Luke in "The Journey to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51 – 19:48)
  4. there is a 2012 scientific research about brain activity during a mediumistic trance state
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Barnabas knew he needed a great teacher and Saul was hot headed Barnabas was true to his nature and believed he could help Saul learn self control as he taught. After a year of small group meetings Barnabas decided to take John Mark and Saul with him as he led the first mission trip.

Later we read that the people called Saul/Paul Mercury as a gifted speaker and Barnabas as Zeus for being the stop leader in the group. Paul proved his lack of stability later when he refused to forgive John Mark for leaving early. Later, they reconciled after the split.

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I am thinking that Paul had expertise with the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem as his success there roused opposition from conservative elements in the same community and that was what caused the death threats which drove him back to Tarsus. (I wonder if Paul was despondent for a while after that?)It is a long way by foot or ship to Tarsus from Antioch (in those days) so Barnabas may have been feeling charitable to Paul, but he also had to have a really deep need to go that far. So possibly Barnabas was having trouble coping with both Gentiles and Greek-speaking Jews in some way. Do any of the Church Fathers comment on this?

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics SE, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other SEs. Our community looks for answers to reflect a good degree of research and references. Typically, we like answers that cite scholarly references and/or explain how your interpretation arises from the text. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. – James Shewey Jul 4 '16 at 4:30

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