Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 33 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 9 today and our focus is the name change that never happened + the son of encouragement. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Tula, Russia, Murmansk, Russia, Stuttgart area, Germany, New York, New York and Philadelphia, Pa. Thanks for listening! Our goal this year is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan! 

Today we read Acts 9 – all about the conversion of Saul/Paul. Many people in the church have been raised to believe that Saul changed His name to Paul after he met Jesus on the Damascus road and was saved – however, the Bible does not demonstrate this at all. In fact, well after his conversion, God Himself – the Holy Spirit – called him Saul when he and Barnabas were commissioned to gospel ministry:

As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2

Saul is his Hebrew name, and Paul was his Greek name (derived from the Latin Paulus)  Two names for the same person – sort of like Joseph/Barnabas and Simeon/Niger in the Bible and Aaron Rodgers and A.A.Ron Rodgers in football.  See also: “But Saul, who was also called Paul, [was] filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:9)  Now – this isn’t a big deal on the surface, but we should strive for accuracy and truth in the Word of God, and not just look for things that make a snappy narrative, like, Saul the evil persecutor became Paul the beloved apostle. The Bible is interesting and deep enough on its own – we don’t need to make things up, nor do we need to add spice to what is already a perfect meal.

I’ve always found vs 13 to be fairly humorous. God tells the prophet Ananias to go pray for Saul/Paul and Ananias proceeds to inform God of who exactly this person is, and why it may not be a good idea to go and pray for him:

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Acts 9:13-14

Funny human, and I’m quite sure I’ve done much dumber things than that. Let’s read the passage, and I know it is mainly focused on the conversion of Saul/Paul, but I’d like for us to focus just a little bit today on the wonderful Barnabas – the man of encouragement.

One other thing I’d like to point out that is quite interesting. There are two Ananiases (Ananiai??) in the Bible. We meet the first in Acts 5 where he lies to Peter about the price of a field that he sold. Apparently lots of people were selling their possessions and lands, and then bringing the money to the church to give to the poor. Barnabas (the same Barnabas in this passage) does this, and lays the money at the feet of the apostles. So does Ananias, but he holds back some of the money – which, of course, is no problem, EXCEPT HE LIED ABOUT IT…which leads to his death. Luke, writer of the book of Acts, does not contrast the good behavior of Barnabas with the bad behavior of Ananias, but we see it quite clearly. Oddly enough – we have the same Barnabas and an entirely different Ananias in Acts 9. This Ananias is initially quite reluctant when it comes to Paul – considering him sus, as the kids would say now. But God lightly rebukes him, and then Ananias goes. Barnabas, however is again contrasted with a totally different Ananias. When all of the disciples in Jerusalem are convinced that Saul/Paul is sus – for obvi reasons – (sorry, that is pretty much the extent of my Generation Z lingo)…it is Barnabas who champions Saul/Paul and brings him into the church fold – in a sense, literally changing the history of the world! I tend to think this kind of action is what is in view of a passage like 1 Corinthians 13:7

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Interestingly – John Piper preached a sermon in 1991 called, “Be like Barnabas and not like Ananias!” that was completely based on Acts 5 – and the Ananias that died. You could pretty much preach the same sermon on Acts 9 too – with a totally different Ananias.

Speaking of Piper, let’s close out with a quick Piper quote on Barnabas, remembering that John Piper was such an admirer of the biblical Barnabas, that he named one of his sons Barnabas:

According to Acts 4:36 Barnabas’ real name was Joseph and the apostles called him “Barnabas” because it means “son of encouragement.” It’s obvious that Luke wants us to see Barnabas’ goodness in his remarkable gift for encouraging others, especially underdogs or outsiders. So the church in Jerusalem chooses Barnabas to go to Antioch to encourage and establish the new Gentile church.

John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

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