Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Acts 15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

Aquila and Priscilla

Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Romans 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.


Acts 16:1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

Philippians 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.


Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

30a Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life. Luke

II Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.


MEMORY VERSE: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. —Philippians 1:3-5


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Some of Paul’s close friends in the gospel work were Barnabas, Aquila and Priscilla, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus and Luke. Without their assistance, the gospel message could not have been shared as fully and in so many places.




Acts 9:26 “Assayed”: try; attempt; endeavor.




Barnabas: His name means, “son of exhortation or consolation.” An early convert to Christianity, he sold a field and gave the proceeds to the disciples. Acts 11:24 describes him as a “good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” As our scripture portion describes, when Paul was just converted and the other disciples were afraid of him, Barnabas went to allay their fears and recommend Paul. He later brought Paul to be his associate, and a year later the two men were sent to carry alms from the Antioch church to the brethren at Jerusalem. They were ordained as missionaries, and went, taking young John Mark as their helper on a mission trip to the Gentiles. Both were called apostles (Acts 14:14).

Some differences arose between them; first when Barnabas went along with Peter in a course reproved by Paul, and later when Paul felt that John Mark had not been a stable support on their journey, and he refused to take him on a later journey. The scripture presents their dissension just as it was, without glossing over it. We can know that the apostles were just human and had their own failings and human errors. We don’t know all the details concerning their relationship from that point, but several places (I Corinthians 9:6 and Colossians 4:10) show that Paul continued to hold an esteem for Barnabas, and, writing from prison toward the end of Paul’s life, he actually recommended John Mark as being profitable, as well.

Aquila and Priscilla: We are introduced to this married couple in Corinth. It was certainly God who led them together; they had fled east and south to Corinth from Italy, when the emperor had ousted all the Jews from that territory, and “Paul was coming thither from the east and north. He was ‘prevented by the Spirit from speaking in Asia,’ and driven across the sea against his intention to Neapolis, and hounded out of Philippi and Thessalonica and Berea; and turned superciliously away from Athens; and so at last found himself in Corinth, face to face with the tentmaker from Rome and his wife” (MacLaren’s Expositions). Later, God led the two of them into Apollos’ life as well; they took him into their instruction, and he became a powerful apostle and preacher of the gospel. Their faithfulness to Paul was shown in a touching way, when he thankfully acknowledged that they had even put their own lives on the line for him.

Timothy: When Paul came to Lystra with Silas, he met Timotheus, and received such good reports about him, he desired to take Timothy with them. Because of the upheavals the Jews were causing about circumcision, he made the decision to have Timothy, whose father was a Greek, circumcised. Timothy accompanied Paul and Silas on their exciting trip through Macedonia, but apparently was not jailed with them at Philippi.

The reference in Philippians lets us know how dear Timothy was to Paul, who regarded him as a spiritual son. No other person is mentioned as often or was with him as constantly as Timothy. He could accompany him on dangerous journeys, and could be sent on difficult missions. He was right there by Paul’s side in his last days.

Epaphroditus: We have already mentioned Onesiphorus in an earlier lesson as a true and faithful friend to Paul, but we also want to mention another man who brought gifts to Paul while he was in prison—Epaphroditus. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:18 that this offering was as a “sweet-smelling sacrifice” to God. Paul held him in high esteem and acknowledged that he would have greatly grieved if Epaphroditus had died from the serious illness he had.

Luke: Luke is said to be the author of the gospel bearing his name; also the book of Acts. As a writer, he often accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. There is only brief mention of him, in obscure ways—a testimony of his humility and lack of self-promotion. The verse we cite in II Timothy is very telling; Luke faithfully went with Paul even to prison. Traditionally thought to have been trained as a physician, no doubt Luke ministered to Paul’s physical needs and was a spiritual comfort and boost to him as well.

—Angela Gellenbeck




1. His name means “son of consolation.” _____________

2. A married couple who risked their lives for Paul. ____________ and _________

3. Paul’s son in the gospel, who came to be with him in the end. _______________

4. He brought gifts to Paul in prison, and was healed of a serious illness. _____________

5. He was the quiet, faithful companion on many of Paul’s missionary journeys. ________




One thing is very evident as we make this brief skim throughout the life and labors of Paul: the story is not just about him. If it were not for the unseen hand of the analytical, thoughtful biographer, Luke, we would not even know about the missionary journeys. His details bring to life the story of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem throughout Asia and westward toward Europe.

We would probably never know Apollos, another mighty minister in the New Testament; and Paul’s life may have been cut short, had it not been for the faithful labors and self-sacrifice of a little lady and her husband, who led somewhat of a migrant life following the apostles and ministering to their needs. Able to carry their trade wherever they went and winning enough souls at one place to have a “church” in their home, their ministry was certainly a comforting boost to the fledgling morning-time church of God.

And Timothy! What a tender relationship these two had, reminiscent of the close fellowship of David and Jonathan. Paul’s gentle reproof and strengthening words to Timothy are an example to the elders and youngers even to this day of the beautiful bonds of friendship between brothers.

The faithful ministries of Epaphroditus and Onesiphorus were essential to the spread of the gospel in the early church. Their faithful service to both Paul in prison and the saints going through famine provides a model for us to follow in being faithful friends and helpers. And there were others—Silas, Phebe, Mary, Urbane, Tryphena and Tryphosa, and on and on!

Paul mentioned Demas and other friends who walked away from him. There was tension between him and Barnabas. People even tried to pit him against Apollos. So things weren’t always perfect, just as we experience disappointment and relationship struggles today.

We find answers in the self-sacrifice Christ showed us; we find hints of hope in the later chapters of the story of Paul and Barnabas. We find instruction in the way these humble, early church servants proved their love for Jesus and for each other.

—Angela Gellenbeck




What a blessing and encouragement it must have been to the heart of the apostle Paul when, sitting in the lonely prison cells especially, his friends sought him out and ministered to him. Whether or not they realized it at the time, by doing so they were ministering to and befriending Jesus. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Hebrews 13:1-3 says, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

There are opportunities all around us to be a friend, to minister to someone in need, to spread some cheer, to do some little deed of kindness for Jesus’ sake. Let us watch for them.

In 1 Corinthians 16:15, Paul said, “… ye know the house of Stephanas … that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” Almost every time I read this scripture I think of the late Sis. Ruth Murphey. I heard her bring a message on this text about 50 years ago during one of the Myrtle, Missouri meetings. She spoke on being “addicted” to ministering for Jesus’ sake. She was one who lived what she preached too! I well remember how, when she would hear of someone sick or in need, she would get in her car and drive hundreds of miles to help in any way she could. She would enter the homes of the sick or needy and take over the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning, as well as praying and assisting in the care of the sick one. If she perceived that she could be of help in any way, she would be there if she could. She brought her final message during the Myrtle, Missouri camp meeting in August 1984, using the text in Proverbs 10:21 that says, “The lips of the righteous feed many ….” Shortly after leaving that meeting she took her sick bed and the Lord called her to her reward in September 1984.

Truly, “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7).

—Harlan Sorrell