Acts 4:36-37; Acts 9:26-27; Acts 11:22-30; Acts 13:2-4; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1,9,13
A Levite of Cyprus. His name was JOSES (or Joseph as in some manuscripts); but by the apostles he was surnamed Barnabas, “son of consolation” (rather “exhortation”). We first read of him as one who sold his land and laid the money at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:36-3736And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36‑37)). When the disciples at Jerusalem were afraid of Saul, it was Barnabas who introduced him to the apostles (Acts 9:26-2726And 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. 27But 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 9:26‑27)). When the Gentiles were converted at Antioch it was Barnabas who was sent there from Jerusalem. He rejoiced in the reality of the work and exhorted them to cleave to the Lord; the scripture says he was “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” He then sought Saul and brought him to Antioch, where they labored a whole year. They then together visited Jerusalem with contributions from the saints (Acts 11:22-3022Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. 27And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: 30Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:22‑30)). Antioch became a center, from whence the gospel went forth to the Gentiles; it was there that the Holy Ghost said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” and from thence they started on what is called Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-42As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:2‑4)).
On the question being raised as to the necessity of the Gentile disciples being circumcised, Paul and Barnabas (Paul being now mostly mentioned first) went up to Jerusalem about the subject (Acts. 15:1-41). After this Paul proposed that they should visit again the brethren in the cities where they had preached. Barnabas insisted that they should take his nephew Mark with them; but Paul objected, for Mark had previously left the work. Barnabas persisting in his desire, they parted, and he and Mark sailed to Cyprus, his own country. Thus were separated these two valuable servants of the Lord who had hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus. We have no record of any further labors of Barnabas. Paul alludes to him as one who had been carried away by the dissimulation of Peter, otherwise he speaks of him affectionately (1 Cor. 9:66Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? (1 Corinthians 9:6); Gal. 2:1,9,131Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. (Galatians 2:1)
9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Galatians 2:9)
13And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. (Galatians 2:13)
BARNABAS, EPISTLE OF. There is an Epistle of 21 chapters attributed to Barnabas. Clement of Alexandria treated it as genuine, and Origen called it a “catholic epistle;” but it is now commonly held that its author was not the companion of Paul. It was most probably written by a Gentile, for it is strongly opposed to Judaism; it has numerous inaccuracies as to the Old Testament, and absurd interpretations of scripture, and contains many silly allusions to the writer’s superior knowledge. It was by Eusebius ranked among the spurious writings.