OceanSide church of Christ

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New Testament Characters – Good Examples and Bad

Mike Wencel





A.  Joses = exalted”  a.k.a. Barnabas = son of prophecy (Strong)  “son of rest” (Thayer)


● Encourager

● Generous

● Concerned for souls

Acts 4:36  And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement [NKJV]  [consolation KJV), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet


● Courageous

● Not intimidated by


● A champion for Paul

Acts 9:26-27  And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.


● A good man

● Faithful

● A teacher and


● One of the first to be

   called a Christian

Acts 11:21-26  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. 




● Persistent

● Focused

Acts 12:25  And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark  (we will see in chapter 15 that they later split because of Mark)


● A prophet (i.e.

   inspired by God)

● Teacher

Acts 13:1-2  Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."


● Bold

● Not afraid to speak

   the truth

Acts 13:46  Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.


● Persecuted, but not


Acts 13:50  But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.


Called an apostle (delegate, ambassador of the Gospel; a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers, messenger, one who is sent)

 Content with a

   “secondary” role.

● Passionate about

    false teaching

Acts 14:11-15 (In Lystra, after Paul miraculously healed a crippled man)

Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"  And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.  Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 


● Talented preacher

● Able to strengthen

   the faithful

● Prayed and fasted

● Commending other



Acts 14:19-23 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.  And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."  So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 



● Considerate

● Forgiving

● Willing to give Mark

   a second chance

● Strong beliefs,


Acts 15:36-40  Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing." Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 



● Accepted and

   commissioned by the

   primary 3 apostles

Galatians 2:9  and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.




● Not perfect

● Negatively

   influenced by Peter, a  

   man he undoubtedly

   held in high esteem

Galatians 2:11-14  Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;   for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 


● We should all strive to be encouragers – it is a vitally important role in the church. There are always those close at hand who

   need encouragement.

● We would do well to emulate Barnabas’s compassionate love for the lost and also for the brethren – it will improve our lives

   and the lives of others.

● Obedience to God will eventually involve risk, danger and personal sacrifice

● Don’t follow a teacher just because he is prominent, or because you respect him, always verify his teaching in the bible






B. Cornelius   (“of a horn”)


● Devout

● Spiritual leader of his


● Generous to the poor

● Pleased God

● Obedient, even in


Acts 10:1-8  There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.  About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, " Cornelius " And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do."  And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.


● A just man

● God fearing

● A man of good


● Eager to hear the


● Misplaced worship

● Accepted by Peter

   (by revelation from


Acts 10:21-28  Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?" And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you." Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.  But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man." And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean


Obeyed the Gospel

   plan of salvation and

   was baptized, after

   being taught by Peter

Acts 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 

Acts 10:44-48  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. 


● God reaches those who want to know him.

● The gospel is open to all people everywhere

● There are people everywhere who are eager to hear the truth and believe it

● God is no respecter of persons and plays no favorites – he invites all to read his word and obey it. We should follow His




. Qualities

C.  Silas   (“woody”)


● A leader among the


Acts15:22  Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.


● A prophet

● Strengthened the


● A capable preacher

Acts 15:32  Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.


● Suffered ill treatment

Acts 16:19  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.


● Faithful and joyful in

   times of tribulation

● Preached the plan of

   salvation to the jailer

● Saw a compassionate

   change of heart in  

   the jailer after he

   received the truth

● Responsible for 

   converting people to


Acts 16:25-33  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here." Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized


● Loyal friend to Paul

Acts 17:10-15  Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.  But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.  So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. 


● We need to be prepared to suffer for the cause of Christ

● We should trust in God and be joyful always – even in times of tribulation.

● Seeking and teaching the lost should be our top priority






D.  Ananias (whom Jehovah has graciously given) and Sapphira (“a sapphire”)


● Both husband and

   wife were deceitful

● Hindered in their  


● Lied to God and paid

   with their lives

Acts 4:34   Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 

Acts 5:1-11  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?  While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."  Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much."  Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."  Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. 


● You cannot fool God

● Holding back from God is not in your best  interest

● You must give God his due - Reference:  Malachi 3:8  Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what 

    way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

    This is something we all need to keep in mind during the offering on Sundays.

● Husbands and wives should strive to serve the Lord together, not be in collusion against the Lord







E.  Aquila (“an eagle”) and Priscilla (“ancient ”)


● United as a couple for

   good - the opposite of   

   Ananias &  Sapphira

Acts 18:2-3  And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he (Paul) came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 


● Accompanied and

   supported Paul

Acts 18:18  So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.


● Confronted Apollos’

   incorrect doctrine with

   calm instruction

Acts 18:26   So he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.


● Diligent workers for


● Hospitable, opened

   their home for worship

● Connected in love to

   other believers

Romans 16:3  Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,


1st Corinthians 16:19  The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.


2nd Timothy 4:19  Greet Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.


● They show us a beautiful example of how effective a couple can be for Christ when they work together for the Lord. This

   commitment to God had to deepen their love and commitment to each other as they pursued their common goals.

● A committed, married couple can be more effective and a better example to other couples than either spouse alone might be.

● Hospitality can open the door to converting non-believers to Christ, and it can help strengthen the bonds between believers.

● Kindness and calmness is a more effective approach to addressing religious error, than condescension or condemnation.   




F.  Dorcas​​    (“gazelle”)


A disciple: learner; a

   scholar; a follower; an

   adherent to the

   doctrines of another.

● A woman who was

   full of  good works

   and charitable deeds

● Used her talents to

   help others

Act 9:36-42  At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.  Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.  And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 


We know very little about Dorcas, but what a wonderful legacy she left, being a woman who was full of good works and charitable deeds and well loved by her friends. How honorable it would be if someone was able to say this at our funeral!  It appears she had great faith before her death, but can you imagine her faith after she had been brought back from the dead! .






G.  Demetrius   (“belonging to Ceres” - the Greek goddess of the harvest)


● Concerned about profit

   rather than God

● Blindly devoted to his false

   god Diana

● Incited others against Paul 

   and his companions

Acts  19:24-29  For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship."  Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"  So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions.


● People have a hard time giving up their false religion in favor of the truth. This can be due to many things: comfort, tradition,

    family, church friendships, personal preferences, livelihood (in the case of preachers) etc.

● Many people today do not respect the beliefs of those who follow the truth, and desire to bring them down to their level

   (although they would probably say they are bringing people “up” to their level).

● False teachings and confusion can make people do bad things because they are under delusion.







H.  Thomas   (twin”)     (one of the 12 apostles)


● A passionate man of great

   faith, ready to die for Jesus.

   This is contrary to the way he    

   is usually remembered and

   referred to.

John 11:16  Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."


● Inquisitive, wanted to 

   understand the teachings

   of Jesus.

John 14:5  Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"


● Wouldn’t let his heart

    believe something that his

    mind could not fully

    comprehend. In this

    respect, he is very

    common, many people

    struggle with this today.

John 20:26-29  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"  Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."


● Do not be veered off the path of faith by your rational mind, which cannot fully comprehend some of the mysteries of the bible.

● Believe even though you cannot see, do not make your faith depend on what can be seen.

● Do not be afraid to ask questions about spiritual matters. Always desire to increase your knowledge and faith.

● A true Christian should be willing to give up his life for God,

● Doubt can be positive – it can encourage rethinking and deeper study and finally a deeper faith based on truth.

● It is better to doubt out load than to disbelieve in silence. Perhaps someone can offer you understanding and encouragement.






I.  Apollos    (“Destroyer)


● An eloquent and bold


● Open minded to learning

   new truths

● Taught accurately

● Armed with the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

   knowledge to refute the

   arguments of the Jews

Acts 18:24-28   Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. 


● Made a name for himself

   as a preacher, to the

   extent that some people

   gave their allegiance to

   him instead of God. This

   happens today too.

● He “watered”, meaning

   he strengthened the

   faithful after they

   accepted Christ.

1st Corinthians 3:4-9  For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos" are you not carnal?  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 


● Set before the people as

   an example of a teacher

   of the truth, no more, no


Not interested in prominence

1st Corinthians 4:6  Alternate Paraphrased Translation (BBE)  My brothers, it is because of you that I have taken Apollos and myself as examples of these things, so that in us you might see that it is not wise to go farther than what is in the holy Writings, so that no one of you may be lifted up against his brother.


● Humble, he did not want

   a place of undue

   prominence. He wanted
   the people to focus on

   God not on him.

1st Corinthians 16:12  Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.

Probably Apollos’ unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was because, being aware of the undue admiration of his rhetorical style which led astray many at Corinth, he did not wish to sanction it.  Paul calls Apollos “brother” to highlight the unity that was between the two men.


● Follow the teaching, not the teacher. The teachings of the bible are perfect, the preachers of the Word are not.

● Know your bible, so that you can refute false doctrine with the truth. Do not add or subtract from what the bible says.

● Keep learning so that you can be a confident teacher to the lost.

● Stay humble, do not let your bible knowledge cause you to become “puffed up”.








J.   Diotrephes   (“Nourished by Jupiter– the king of the gods in Roman mythology)


Conceited– loved


● Malicious in his criticism

   of Paul

● Did not fellowship with

   the brethren

● Caused strife and

   division in the church

3rd John 1:9-11  I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.  Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.  Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. 

Preeminence: to desire to be first  

Prating: to bring forward idle accusations, make empty charges


● Watch out for self-pride – remember Solomon’s words from Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty

    spirit before a fall.

● Strive to be a unifier, not a divider.

● Be a friend to all of the brethren, excluding none, i.e. do not show favoritism

● Do not criticize people behind their backs

● Antidote: Romans 12:3 ..I bid everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought







K.   King Agrippa II   (“hero-like”)


● Not easily persuaded to

   become a Christian

Acts 26:28-29  Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian.". And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." 


● As evangelists in our neighborhoods and workplaces, we must be prepared for disappointment and rejection. Many that we

   talk will not even want to listen to us, others will listen but will not be persuaded to accept the truth and obey the gospel, others

   might be rude and demeaning to us perhaps one out of many may accept the truth and that makes all of our efforts and

   difficulties worth the trouble.

● Some people’s hearts are hardened to the point that they will be very unlikely to ever accept the Gospel, unless perhaps some

   dramatic life-changing event occurs in their life. If that is the case we must go on to the next prospective convert and not be