BARNABAS (bar'na-băs, Gr. Barnabas, explained in
After the start of the work at Antioch, the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas there to give the work direction; after laboring there for some time, he went to Tarsus and brought back Paul as his associate (
The beginning of a difference between the two men is suggested by Paul in
A man of Cyprus who became a Christian in the earliest period of the Christian Church, Barnabas first came to notice for his liberality in contributing the proceeds of the sale of his property for the common support of the Jerusalem Christians (Acts 4:36). He had relatives in Jerusalem, since the home of his cousin Mark was situated there. He was willing to befriend the recently converted when the other Jerusalem Christians were afraid to do so, having recognized more readily than others the genuineness of Saul's conversion. He was sent by the Jerusalem church to investigate reports of the remarkable growth of the Antioch church. His reaction was encouraging (Acts 11:24ff.). On recognizing the need for a teaching ministry there, he called Saul from Tarsus to join him at Antioch. After a year's ministry, both were comissioned by that church to undertake a missionary journey. In the Acts narrative describing the course of this mission they are both described as apostles (Acts 14:14).
When the problem of Gentile circumcision arose, Barnabas with Paul opposed it and the Jerusalem church vindicated their policy. But when a second missionary journey was proposed, Barnabas clashed with Paul over the position of Mark (Acts 15:34ff.). On a later occasion Paul expressed his regret that even Barnabas was carried away by the hypocrisy of the Judaizers (Gal. 2:13). In his Corinthian correspondence Paul mentions that, like himself, Barnabas supported himself rather than depend on the churches (1 Cor. 9.6).
BARNABAS bär’ nə bəs (Βαρνάβας, Gr. from Aram. בַּר נְבוּאָה, son of prophecy, interpreted by Luke (
His original name was “Joseph” or “Joses” (KJV), but the apt name bestowed by the apostles (
He proved himself “a son of encouragement” in courageously befriending the suspected Saul (
Co-worker with Paul.
When news of a predominantly Gentile church in Antioch reached Jerusalem, Barnabas was selected as the one best qualified to assist his Hel. brethren in the new undertaking (
The Antioch church sent “Barnabas and Saul” to Jerusalem with a relief offering (
The Antioch church recognized Paul’s leadership, according to Luke’s order (“Paul and Barnabas”) when Luke wrote of them (
At Antioch Barnabas joined Paul in stoutly resisting the attempt of the Judaizers to impose circumcision on Gentile converts, and at the conference in Jerusalem he stood as the champion of Gentile liberty. The Jerusalem leaders sanctioned the position of Paul and Barnabas and agreed on a division in the field of labor (
Separation from Paul.
Following their public vindication at Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas continued their ministry at Antioch (
Barnabas readily accepted Paul’s proposal to go on another joint tour, but his insistence upon again taking Mark along resulted in “a sharp contention” in which neither man shines. True to his gracious and forgiving nature, Barnabas felt Mark should be given another chance, while Paul’s abhorrence of fickleness made him reject one who had proved unreliable. If Barnabas erred on the side of leniency, Paul erred on the side of sternness. With his departure to Cyprus with Mark, Barnabas passed from the story (
The rupture ended their joint ministry but not their friendship. Paul appreciated the subsequent labors of Barnabas, who continued to follow the same principle of self-support that Paul used (
Tradition has made Barnabas one of the “seventy” and says that he died as a martyr on Cyprus. Tertullian ascribed to him the authorship of Hebrews, whilemade him the author of the socalled . These ascriptions of authorship indicate the high esteem in which the name of Barnabas continued to be held.
Barnabas must be ranked as one of the truly great men of the Early Church. He was a worthy peer of Paul, but has been overshadowed by his more gifted companion. He was a gracious personality, characterized by his generous disposition and keenness to discern the spiritual potentialities of others. He was free from petty narrowness and suspicion and had a largeness of heart that enabled him to act as the encourager of those who failed and the succorer of the friendless and needy. Such faults as he had arose out of his ready sympathy for those who failed and his eagerness to think the best of others.
H. S. Seekings, The Men of the Pauline Circle (1914), 33-39; J. Hastings, ed., The Greater Men and Women of the Bible, VI (1916), 184-209; H. C. Lees, St. Paul’s Friends (1917), 11-29; A. T. Robertson, Types of Preachers in the NT (1922), 30-51; W. L. Knox, St. Paul and the Church of Jerusalem (1925), 158-160, 163, 164; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the(1934), passim; F. V. Filson, Pioneers of the Primitive Church (1940), 83-113; A. C. McGiffert, History of Christianity in the (19515), 598-600 on Barnabas as author of I Peter; F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts, NIC (1954), passim; H. F. Stevenson, “Barnabas: the ‘Son of Consolation,’” Eternity, IX, no. 1 (1958), 29, 30, 38, 39; W. S. LaSor, Great Personalities of the NT (1961), 118-127.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
This name was applied to the associate of Paul, who was originally called Joses or Joseph (
Upon their return from this first missionary tour, they were sent, with other representatives of the church at Antioch, to confer with the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem concerning the obligation of circumcision and the ceremonial law in general under the
Tertullian, followed in recent years by Grau and Zahn, regard him as the author of the Epistle to the He. The document published among patristic writings as the, and found in full in the Codex Sinaiticus, is universally assigned today to a later period. "The writer nowhere claims to be the apostle Barnabas; possibly its author was some unknown namesake of ’the son of consolation’ " (Lightfoot, , 239 f).