The Gift of Exhortation
By Dr. Ray Melugin


I. Exhortation: What is it?

...."let us wait on our ministering...he that exhorteth, on exhortation:" Romans 12:7-8

A. It is encouragement.
1. "Exhortation" translated practically means, "comfort, console, entreat, beg, implore, counsel."

2. The noun form of the word is a title for both Holy Spirit, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Note: The Holy Spirit has been "called to our side to assist us, as a comforter" as seen in John 14:16. The Lord Jesus represents us before the Father as our "Advocate, as seen in 1 John 2:1.

B. It involves supernatural ability. (Titus 2:15; Romans 12:7-8, Hebrews 13:22)
1. An exhorter must employ graciousness to be effective (Col. 4:6)
a. Words of healing must not be harsh.
b. Words of compassion softens people. (Jude Verse 22)
c. Must help one see how he can overcome.

2. Exhortation not used much in public, but in personal counseling.

Note: Encouraging young Christians, comforting the sick or feeble, counseling the discouraged, strengthening the backslider.


II. New Testament Persons Who Had This Gift.

A. Paul possessed this gift.
1. After starting several churches on his first missionary, he retraced his steps and "exhorted them to continue in the faith." (Acts 14:21-22)

a. New believers, left alone several weeks or months needed encouragement from their spiritual father.
b. He exhorted Philippian believers when bidding them farewell. Note: "comfort is included in the meaning of exhortation. (Acts 16:40)
c. He "embraced" and "exhorted" Ephesian believers when leaving. (Acts 20:1-2))
d. When returning to Ephesus, his final farewell speech was one long exhortation. (Acts 20:17-35)

2. Judas and Silas, both prophets, had the gift of exhortation. Note: When delivering results from the Jerusalem Council, they "rejoiced and exhorted the brethren with many words." (Acts 15:31-32)

3. Peter "exhorted" the elders to "feed the flock..." (1 Peter 5:1-2)

4. Hebrew Christians were exhorted not to go back into Judaism, but go on with Christ, Who was "better." (Hebrews 13:22)


III. An Outstanding Example of New Testament Exhortation

A. Barnabas, "Son of Consolation." (Acts 4:36)
1. Joses, his original name, was renamed by the apostles for his consistency in exercising this gift.

2. Every time his name appears, he is encouraging someone. (Acts 11:23; 4:36-37)

B. He helped needy saints. (Acts 4:32-36)
Note: After the 3,000 were saved on Pentecost, many of the converts stayed in Jerusalem for fellowship and teaching. This called for resources from the local believers. Barnabas responded by selling property and giving the proceeds to the apostles for distribution to alleviate temporal need. His gift went beyond verbal comfort to that of showing mercy.

C. He endorsed and unwelcome convert. (Acts 9:20-21, 26-31)
Note: After his conversion, Paul was rejected by his former cohorts, (Sanhedrin) friends, and even believers were suspicious to receive him knowing he had persecuted the church. They thought he had adopted new tactics to infiltrate their ranks and cause more havoc. (If you can't beat'em, join'em)

1. Barnabas sympathized with Paul's painful position. (Acts 9:27)
a. He brought him before the apostles, recommending him. (Acts 9:27)
b. He gave credibility to Paul's testimony in 3 ways. (Acts 9:27)

2. Barnabas "sponsored" Paul with such success, he was "with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. (Acts 9:28)

D. He accepted alien believers (non-Jewish) Acts 11:19-26
Note: As early believers were scattered because of persecution, God blessed their witness in Antioch and a cross-cultural church was born. Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to investigate. He rejoiced in what he saw and "exhorted them to cleave to the Lord." (Acts 11:23) If he had been narrow-minded, or prejudiced, he could have discouraged the young church. He stayed with them one year, giving them direction, and encouragement. It was there believers were first called Christians, and also sent missionaries to Europe.

E. He enlisted a gifted servant. (Acts 11:25-26)
1. He remembered Paul's special call to the Gentiles. (Acts 9:15)

2. He coveted a place of service for Paul.

3. He knew Paul's special gifts would be an asset in the Antioch church.

4. He left Antioch for Tarsus, "to seek Saul," and when he found him, brought him to Antioch.

Note: Barnabas put himself through the effort of going to a city where he perhaps had never been, not knowing where Paul lived, without address or map, and accomplished his goal, with only the cause of the gospel in mind.

F. He became assistant to his assistant.
1. Barabas had all authority from Jerusalem to hold a high position in Antioch. (Acts 11:22)

2. He had the welfare of the church in mind when bringing Paul to Antioch.

3. He had developed his assistant to become his senior.

Note: Until the first missionary journey, Barnabas is always mentioned before Paul. (Acts 13:2) However, during the first journey, the order was reversed remaining that way from that point on. (Acts 13:43, 46, 50)

G. He restored a youthful deserter (Acts 15:36-39)
Note: John and Mark left Paul and Barnabas part way through their first journey. (Acts 13:13) Paul later didn't trust taking Mark on their second journey when Barnabas did. A sharp contention developed between them and they separated from each other, but not from the Lord's work. Barnabas, seeing Mark's potential for the ministry, gave him another chance to prove himself, and succeeded. Later Paul acknowledged the merit of Mark and asked Timothy to, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11)

Through his salvaging of Mark, Barnabas got us a writer of one of the four Gospels. Through his developing of Paul, we have a writer of 13 of the New Testament books. Barnabas never wrote a book that found its way into the scriptures, but encouraged two men who wrote 14 out of the 27 New Testament volumes.


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