"But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus." Acts 9:27
Stephen, Philip, Ananias and Barnabas all played a part in bringing Saul, The Assassin, to the end of himself, and preparing him, to be transformed into Paul, The Apostle. If Paul became the engine of the early church, driving it to doctrinal purity, these four men were the tires on the ground, that carried him down the road. Thank God, they were there when he needed them. The world is a better place, because they served, in such an unsung, but essential manner.
The Scripture provides very little biographical information about these four unsung saints, so there is always the danger of saying more about them, than the Bible actually reveals. Yet, there is always the opposite danger of not mentioning them at all, or giving them faint praise, indeed.
Saul was there, when Stephen was stoned to death. Stephen was there for Saul. While Saul held the coats of the stoners, Stephen lifted the stoners up to Jesus. It had to be an unforgettable moment, in Saul's life. It was significant enough for Jesus, to rise, from His seat at the right hand of The Father, and stand in honor of the first martyr of the church. Things are not always what they seem. God's redemptive plan is often revealed, by opening some very scary packages.
There are very few people in the world who have not had a helping hand, from someone else, that lifted them up, so they could stand on their shoulders, to enable them to accomplish more than their helpers would be able to do themselves. Unsung heroes, if gathered together, would form a massive choir, but all their praise would go to God.
Note to self: Get over yourself. You didn't get where you are by yourself. Self-made men are full of themselves. "You are full of yourself", is not a compliment. Stop wearing it like a badge of honor.
On a personal note: Thank you Father, for bringing people into my life, who have taken the time to invest in me, and who have believed in me, when I couldn't believe in myself. I wouldn't be who I am without You bringing them, into my life. I am humbled by the mention of their names, in Your Presence.
Stephen interceded for Saul, though he may not have known his name. Ananias got over his fear of Saul, and introduced him to The Spirit of God. Barnabas embraced Saul, when others sought to judge him. Philip paved the way for Saul, by introducing the people of Caesarea to The Gospel. It was a good thing Philip did so, because The Apostles couldn't wait to send Saul on his way, out of Jerusalem, and down the road to the port of Caesarea.
"But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus." v. 30 b
I may be wrong, but in my humble, but accurate opinion, this move has all the markings of "Good riddance!" It shows very little evidence of "God bless you!" It carries with it, a sigh of relief, more than a prayer of commission. I have to believe, at least one of The Twelve whispered, "We'll never hear from him again."
Saul may have been given a license to preach, but only Barnabas laid hands on him. This was not an ordination service. It was more like an exile. Saul was being sent home to the minors. Perhaps they thought Saul wasn't ready for the Big Leagues. "The Brethren" appeared to have kept Saul at arms length. Only Barnabas embraced what God was doing in his life. I want to be like Barnabas, when I grow up.
All four of these men played an essential role in getting Saul grounded in his faith, helping his ministry to get traction, and launching the transformation of The Assassin into The Apostle. The redemptive power of unsung saints is more than just a force of nature, it is the evidence of the hand prints of God, on the hearts of His people, and the soul of Christ's church.
Redemption doesn't come without intercession. Jesus is praying for someone you know right now, to become an instrument of God's grace. Think of the most unlikely person you know, and
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!