Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement) . . .Acts 4:36
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.Romans 12:3–81
or he who exhorts, in his exhortation . . .Romans 12:8a NASB
παράκλησις, paráklēsis, is a Greek word for which we have no exact English translation so it and other forms of the same root word are translated in various ways; in the above verses encourage and exhort are used. The roots of this word explain the rich meaning it has. Paráklēsis is a compound word of two other Greek words, “para, to the side, kaleō, to call,”2 and so it means:
. . . primarily a calling to one’s side, and so to one’s aid, hence denotes (a) an appeal, “entreaty,” 2 Cor. 8:4; (b) encouragement, exhortation, e.g., Rom. 12:8; in Acts 4:36 R.V. [Revised Version], “exhortation,” for A.V. [Authorized Version/KJV], “consolation;” (c) consolation and comfort, e.g., Rom. 15:4.3
Calling to one’s side to help. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Paraclētos in John chapters 14, 15, and 16. The NASB translates the word as Helper. You may be familiar with the KJV translation, Comforter. In 1 John 2:1, John uses the word to describe Jesus, and in that verse it’s translated as Advocate.
In God’s loving provision there are those within the church, such as Barnabas, to whom he has given the spiritual gift of parakalōn, translated above in Romans 12:8 as exhorting. This doesn’t mean those with this spiritual gift have the authority of the Holy Spirit nor are they more spiritual than other Christians. Spiritual gifts are given by God—they are not of ourselves— we are stewards. We have been entrusted with spiritual gifts for the specific purpose of service. (See my post, Ministry).
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
In a sermon on Romans 12:8, John MacArthur explains this gift:
Now finally he [Paul] comes to verse 8, and he says, “He that exhorteth, on exhortation.” Let him get on with his exhortation. Now this is the gift of exhortation. Really there are many ways it manifests itself. This is a very broad kind of thing. The word means to encourage, to strengthen, to advise, to comfort. It could be to encourage in the sense of encouraging them out of sin into righteousness. It could be used in the sense of comforting them in trouble. It could be in the sense of finding someone that’s weak and encouraging them to be strong and get stronger and trust the Lord and walk by faith and God will work it out. It can come in a lot of ways. It’s a very broad thing. Some people are just really great at comforting those that are in sorrow. Some people are very great at infusing strength into those that are weak, in encouraging those that are fainthearted, as Paul mentions them in his letter to the Thessalonians. These are the encouragers. . . .
. . . I mean, bless God for the encouragers. We need you. I mean, if that’s your gift, then share it, would you? come alongside the weak and strengthen them, come alongside the fainthearted and give them courage, come alongside the sorrowful and give them comfort.
Somebody says this is the gift of counseling. No it isn’t. Counseling is a process. Counseling is a process in which this gift may operate. I mean, counseling just describes a sort of a format where you try to help somebody. But what’s helpful is that if while you’re in that format, the person trying to help you has got this gift. If they don’t, it may be a little flat.4
(I’m currently revising this page, and that’s why it is incomplete. I’ll take this note down when I’m finished! Thanks!).
1R. Kent Hughes, Romans (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 1991) 218.
2, 3W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Old Testament edited by F. F. Bruce (Fleming H. Revell, Old Tappan NJ: 1981) vol. 2, 60.
4John MacArthur, “Ministry of Spiritual Gifts, Part 3.” This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.
Original content: Copyright ©2010–2014 Iwana Carpenter