For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added to the Lord.
I. The good man AS DEPICTED BY THE WORLD.
1. There is the decent and orderly man. He is so regular in his attendance on the ordinances of the Church, so decorous in all his proceedings, that if you venture to ask whether, while he bears the form of godliness, he also manifests the power thereof, you are decried as uncharitable, and never to be satisfied. "What is goodness, if such a man as this is not good?"
2. Then comes the liberal, open-hearted, and benevolent man. If you examine whether his liberality may not be thoughtless profusion, whether his benevolence may not be a mere natural feeling, whether other parts of his conduct uphold or contradict the supposition of his goodness, you are encountered with declarations that a better man never existed; and are silenced with the perverted text, that "charity covereth a multitude of sins."
3. Then comes the industrious and frugal man — so laudably diligent in his business, so careful to provide for his family! If you intimate a doubt whether his labours exemplify any disposition beyond covetousness or mere worldly prudence, you are treated as a man determined to find fault, as one whom neither generosity nor frugality can please.
4. The next person is the cautious man. His object is never to give offence. He says civil things of every person; yet not so civil of any person as to excite the jealousy of another. He attaches himself to no party; but endeavours to induce all severally to regard ]aim as well inclined to their cause, and yet, while his conduct is a tissue of time-serving insincerity, he is generally allowed to be "a very good sort of man."
4. Another is the easy, good-humoured man. He is so pleasant, so harmless, so neighbourly! Every person whom he meets he appears delighted to see. It is thus that, possibly without possessing a single estimable moral quality, he obtains far and wide the denomination of as excellent a man as ever was born.
5. The last character is the "man of honour," who studiously practices whatever is creditable, and avoids whatever is discreditable, in the class of society in which he moves. Ask him why he shuns any particular practice. Does he reply, "Because it is sinful? "The expression is foreign to his lips. He answers, "Because it is mean, low, degrading, unbecoming a gentleman." Why does he pursue a specified line of conduct? Because it is acceptable to God? He thinks not of such a standard. He pursues it because it has the stamp of fashionable estimation. Destitute, it may be, of a grain of true religion, this man is regarded by multitudes as a model of perfection!
II. The good man AS PORTRAYED IN SCRIPTURE. Barnabas —
1. Was full of the Holy Ghost. The words describe him as sanctified by Divine grace, as being no longer of the world, even as Christ was not of the world, and as filled with the fruits of the Spirit, with all righteousness and godliness, with holy views, principles, tempers, desires, purposes, "which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God."
2. Barnabas was full of faith. His faith was sincere, cordial, warm, energetic, productive. It was not a cold and naked assent to the historical truth of the actions of Christ, such as he might yield to a true account of Pontius Pilate or of Judas. It was not a barren speculation dwelling in his head as a portion of abstract knowledge, like a curious principle in mechanics, or a subtle theorem in astronomy. It was faith in a Saviour. On that Saviour, to whom he owed all, he depended for all. To that Saviour he looked with assurance for strength and guidance. He knew in whom he trusted. His works were the fruits of faith, and his faith was manifested by his works.
3. "When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad." He would have rejoiced had he beheld no more than the tranquillity and out. ward comfort of his fellow Christians. But the delight which swallowed up all other motives of joy was to behold the growing establishment of the Church of Christ; to behold sinners turning with abhorrence from their iniquities, and glorifying the Lord their Redeemer by newness of life.
4. "Exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." The joy of Barnabas did not waste itself in idle contemplation. His love of Christ constrained him to labour for Christ. His love of man impelled him to the assistance of man. How many sufferers previously (chap. Acts 4:36, 37) experienced from his compassion the comforts of food and raiment! He went about as a minister to mankind of those blessings, which exclusively confer complete and durable consolation.
(T. Gisborne, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
WEB: For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and many people were added to the Lord.