On a first date do you drive separately or does one pick up the other: Lessons from Barnabas and Paul

Acts 11: 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” [1]

DSC_1832At dinner one night on the trip to Greece and Rome, “Following in the Footsteps of Paul”, Denise and I sat across the table and on both sides around us were single persons. I do not know what possessed me to ask this question, but I asked both persons, one was a single young woman, still in her twenties and a single man in his early 50’s, “When people go out on a date for the first time does the man pick up the woman and drive her to the location or do they both arrive and leave separately?”

I was absolutely fascinated with their responses to my question. Both replied that the first date should give both persons an opportunity to arrive and leave separately with no obligation to continue the relationship. They both said this is important, especially if the date is awkward or goes horribly bad. They also mentioned that in today’s world with heightened information gathering tools people can assume others do some form of background check on the other person before committing too far with them.

As we talked about the nuances of modern dating I thought back to the reason why we were in Greece and on our way to Rome: to “Follow in the Footsteps of Paul.” While this may seem somewhat of a stretch, I thought about the story of how Paul got started in his ministry. It was actually in Antioch, which is in Syria. Barnabas, who was sent by the church in Jerusalem to strengthen and support the newly formed ministry in Antioch, on his own went to Tarsus to look for Paul. When he found him, he brought him back with him to Antioch and together they grew the church.

Think about how this relates to the modern dating scene: Barnabas goes looking for Paul. Paul is minding his business working in his home city of Tarsus. Paul had no entre to the church in Jerusalem. The apostles did not trust him because he was part of the persecution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Barnabas, who has the respect of the church in Jerusalem, goes for Paul. At some point in the dating process, one or both of the persons make a commitment and expose their interest in the other person. This can go horribly wrong. Perhaps one is ready to move forward, but the other is not. This can be awkward and embarrassing, but in love you will never know if it is right until one or both persons indicate to the other that they are ready to take things to the next level.

Barnabas goes after Paul. He seeks him, he finds him, and he implores him to work with him in the ministry in Antioch. As I said earlier, this may seem like a stretch, but the underlying core concepts are the same in the dating process: if you are attracted to a person, if you want to see if there is any juice, any reason to go forward, at some point you have to let them know. That is what Barnabas did for Paul: he let him know that he was appreciated, accepted, and wanted in ministry.

Acts 11: 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What can you learn spiritually and practically from the story of Barnabas seeking Paul to help him in his ministry in Antioch?
  2. What are some of the reasons why relationships are prevented from moving forward?
  3. How might the story of Barnabas seeking Paul have a different ending if Paul refused to accompany him to Antioch?


Lord, help me to lose my inhibition to commit to others. Teach me not to hesitate in letting others know that I respect them and value what they represent. Bless me with an uninhibited faith, unbridled hope, and unfettered love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry of Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ac 11:25–26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.