Barnabas - Son Of Consolation

INTRODUCTION: Since Barnabas was from the country of Cyprus, and was a Levite, a little background from scripture is in order regarding that information. Leviticus 25:32-33 "Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel." There were towns and villages assigned in each of the territories of the twelve tribes of Israel for possession by the Levites, but the Levites had no single separated territory that was exclusively theirs as was the case with the other tribes, for their inheritance was to be the Lord. Joshua 14:4 "For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance." All the descendents of Levi were Levites, but only the descendents of Aaron were to be priests. The other Levites had duties for the tabernacle as it moved with the nation, during the wilderness wandering, and through the period of the Judges. Numbers 1:50-53 "But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony."

Then similar but reduced Levite duties were defined for the temple that was built at a fixed location in Jerusalem.
1Chronicles 23:25-32 "For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof. For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above: Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God; Both for the shewbread, and for the fine flour for meat offering, and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the pan, and for that which is fried, and for all manner of measure and size; And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even; 31 And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD: And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service of the house of the LORD."

So for centuries during the period of the kings, the Levites had many mundane duties of support to the priests such as cleaning, baking, warehousing, etc. Some of them were also musicians.
2 Chronicles 5:12 "Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)"

When the remnant returned from captivity and the temple was rebuilt, the service of the priests and Levites was reinstituted, to remain down to the time of Christ.
Ezra 3:10 "And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel."
Ezra 6:18 "And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses."

NOTE: All Bible text is from the 1769 KJV.


A - The beginning of the church at Jerusalem

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:41,44-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ... And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 4:1-4 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

COMMENTS: In Acts 1 the scripture records a group of believers numbering about 120, then a number of 3,000 is given in chapter 2, and by the beginning of chapter 4 another event indicates 5,000 added to the church. The text does not reveal a time line from chapter 1 to chapter 4, or precisely when Barnabas became part of the church, but he seems to be respected by the apostles when we first learn of him in chapter 4.


B - The first reference to Barnabas

Acts 4:31-37 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation<3874>,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

COMMENTS: Peter healed a man lame from birth, and then used that event to begin preaching Jesus to the crowd. He and John were apprehended and threatened by the Jewish leaders that they not preach Jesus, then they were released. The above passage describes events after Peter and John return to the disciples. Barnabas seems to be part of the group that is filled with the Holy Spirit at this juncture, though definitive detail is lacking. The sale of personal property for the benefit of the whole, is something done by those of means in the church. We learn several things about Barnabas from this reference:
1) his name is Joses (or Joseph),
2) the apostles surnamed him Barnabas,
3) he was a Levite,
4) he was from the country of Cyprus, and
5) he sold land that was his property.

Barnabas is a compound word of Aramaic origin, and the verse tells us the meaning is son of consolation (or encouragement, exhortation, advocacy). The more direct meaning of "nabas" in Aramaic is prophet (or one who speaks forth), so the mode of comfort from Barnabas was likely conveyed most often in his skill with words. But his actions were consistent with his words, as was demonstrated in this passage by his sale of his personal property and the gift of the full sum to the apostles for the benefit of those in need in the church.

These next three passages provide a little extra depth of meaning for the Greek word denoted by the <3874> Strong's number.
2 Corinthians 1:4 "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort <3874> wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
1 Timothy 4:13 "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation <3874>, to doctrine."
Philemon 1:7 "For we have great joy and consolation <3874> in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother."


C - Barnabas is first to support the converted Paul in Jerusalem

Ac 9:26-28 "And 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. But 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. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

COMMENTS: Barnabas exhibits the character of his surname by becoming an advocate for Paul, and his persuasive speech convinces the apostles that Paul had a direct encounter with the risen Christ, and has already preached boldly in the name of Jesus at Damascus. The text does not provide the detail of how Barnabas made his assessment that Paul was a genuine disciple of Christ, but the results speak well enough for the process. The success of Barnabas to unite Paul with the apostles is succinctly recorded that Paul "was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem." After that, Paul became such a strong representative for Christ that some Greeks in Jerusalem plotted to kill him, and he was assisted to make a discrete exit to go to his home area of Tarsus, while Barnabas apparently remained in Jerusalem.


D - Barnabas sent to Antioch by the apostles

Ac 11:19-23 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then 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. Who, 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.

COMMENTS: It is important to appreciate that a brief but intricate narrative does not always follow a strictly chronological course, but overlaps in time frames as different threads of history are described. . Such is the case with the mention of those dispersed upon the persecution related to Stephen. This dispersion began after the stoning of Stephen: an event at which Paul was present. Some years passed during which Paul was converted, became joined with the apostles in Jerusalem, and subsequently went to Tarsus. Those who had gone to Cyprus after the death of Stephen took their message of Christ only to Jews. But then some of these ordinary believers from Cyprus and Cyrene carried the gospel to Greeks in Antioch and saw the blessing of the Lord as men were converted. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard of the developing church among gentiles, they apparently had sufficient confidence in Barnabas to send him to Antioch as their representative to strengthen the church. Earlier, Peter had made similar trips to other cities in areas of Samaria and even to Gentiles in Caesarea. This passage closes with a comment of exhortation characteristic of the surname for Joses: when he "had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord."


E - Barnabas goes to Tarsus and brings Saul back to Antioch for ministry

Ac 11:25-30 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And 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. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And 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. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

COMMENTS: Here we find the first detail of Paul's ministry to a church after he had left Jerusalem, and Barnabas provided the impetus for their partnership for about one year. Barnabas again brings Paul into the center of ministry and fellowship, as he had done in Jerusalem by presenting Paul to the apostles. When the church at Antioch (in Syria) determined to send some relief to the needs of those in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul became the emissaries, and Barnabas's named is listed first. In the narrative in Acts, there is some alternating of which name comes first when listed together; but near the end of their joint ministry, Paul seems to clearly be the focus of the text, and he is no longer called Saul after they part company.


F - Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch, taking John Mark with them

Ac 12:24-25 But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

COMMENTS: Chapter twelve details events taking place in Jerusalem before Barnabas and Saul arrive from Antioch. The disciple James is killed by Herod's order, then Peter is imprisoned awaiting a similar end to please the Jews. Peter is miraculously released by the angel of the Lord, stops to see those who had been praying, then he drops out of sight for a time. It is interesting to note that Mark is part of the group that had been praying for Peter. Later, Herod is struck down by the angel of the Lord and dies. The chapter closes with the two simple statements above.


G - Barnabas and Saul begin to travel together for ministry

Ac 13:1-15 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

COMMENTS: Barnabas and Saul were in a list of five men identified in the above passage as teachers and prophets. This gives some indication of the strong base for the church that was present in Antioch. After prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit directed (in an unspecified manner) that Barnabas and Saul were to be sent out for the work to which they have been called. The passage reveals that John [Mark] was in their company, and they traveled first to Seleucia, the seaport for Antioch, which was down river from Antioch at the mouth of the Orontes. Then they sailed to Barnabas's home country of Cyprus, and began by taking their message of Christ to Jews in the synagogues. There perhaps was a need to strengthen and expand the base of believers in Cyprus: the men who had carried the message to Antioch had come from Cypress. The first city they visited in Cyprus was Salamis, on the southeastern side of the island. Then the conversion of the deputy of the country took place at Paphos, the capital on the western shore of the island. The next stop was on the mainland at Perga in Pamphylia, where John left the party and returned to Jerusalem. Barnabas and Paul next continued to Antioch in Pisidia.


H - The Lord provided success for Paul and Barnabas even through the opposition of the Jewish leaders

Ac 13:43-52 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

COMMENTS: The above passage takes place in Antioch (a city in Pisidia) following a dissertation by Paul when he was given an opportunity to speak in the synagogue. The reception of the truth was not nearly as good in this Antioch as it had been in Syrian Antioch. There were however, a number of gentiles in the synagogue who wanted to hear more on the next Sabbath, as described in the early part of the above passage. The Jewish leaders had their way in the end, as Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region. But the success of the gospel is expressed in the portion that says, "when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region."

The text in the above passage also provides a more clear definition of the "work whereunto I have called them" mention in part G of this study. "The Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." The success of the gospel in Antioch of Pisidia is further emphasized at the close of the passage with "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."


I - Iconium became another city divided by the gospel

Acts 14:1-7 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel.

COMMENTS: The text indicates that Barnabas and Paul both went into the synagogue and spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and gentiles believed the gospel. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the gentiles against Paul and Barnabas, but the grace of the Lord allowed them to continue speaking boldly for a long time and to perform signs and wonders. The city was divided, part holding with the Jews and part with the apostles. The Greek word used here for apostles is the same word used for the twelve chosen by Christ. When the unbelieving Jews and gentiles plan to use violence against Barnabas and Paul, they fled to Lystra and Derbe.


J - Turning men away from vain worship in Lystra

Acts 14:8-20 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

COMMENTS: The previous section ended with the statement that after Paul and Barnabas fled Iconium, they preached the gospel in the regions of Lystra and Derbe. Without mention of how long they had first been in Lystra, it is recorded that Paul healed a man lame from birth, and that precipitated a movement among the people to offer sacrifices to honor Paul and Barnabas as gods. Paul and Barnabas strongly declared that they were just men, and they gave testimony about the true and living God that was just enough to stop the offering of vain pagan sacrifice. Without any distinct transition, we next find that certain Jews came from Antioch (of Pisidia) and from Iconium. They were able to set people against Paul to the point of stoning him, and leaving him for dead. The text simply says that disciples stood around Paul, he got up, and the next day left the city with Barnabas for Derbe.


K - Passing back through cities despite previous hostilities there

Acts 14:21-23 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

COMMENTS: They (Barnabas and Paul) preached the gospel and taught many in Derbe. Then they began a return trip through Lystra, Iconium, and the Antioch of Pisidia. They were confirming the disciples and exhorting (an expected thing for the man surnamed Barnabas) them to continue in their faith, noting that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. The last statement of the passage has three key elements: selection of elders in every church, prayer and fasting, and committing the believers to (or setting them before) the Lord upon whom they had believed. This third item is of paramount importance, because the security for our continuance in the faith is in the Lord, not in any man.


L - Completing the circuit and returning to Syrian antioch

Acts 14:24-28 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.

COMMENTS: This passage once again provides some definition for the work they were to have conducted through the grace of God, and it says they had fulfilled that assignment. When they made their report they said God had done these things with them, and that God had opened the door of faith for the gentiles, thus directing all praise to the Lord. The passage closes with the indication that Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch for a long time after their return.


M - Disputed doctrine to be settled by the apostles at Jerusalem

Ac 15:1-2 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Ac 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

Ac 15:22-23 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

COMMENTS: When the dispute arose in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were quick to defend the legitimacy of gentile believers having full participation in Christ without the need to follow Jewish laws for conversion to Judaism. Since Barnabas was a Levite and Paul had been a member of the strict sect of the Pharisees and a pupil of Gamaleo, they were certainly voices worth consideration in the matter. The consensus in Antioch was, however, to seek the authority of the apostles in Jerusalem for the most definitive settlement of the question. When Paul and Barnabas presented the case in Jerusalem, there was at first a very strong voice in favor of Jewish proselytes. Peter and James provided the deciding support in favor of the gentiles, and a letter was dispatched for Paul and Barnabas to take to the church at Antioch, and for them to be accompanied by two other spokesmen from the Jerusalem church for further verification of the ruling. The letter and the emissaries were received in Antioch with "rejoicing for the consolation."


N - Paul and Barnabas part company

Ac 15:35-41 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

COMMENTS: The text does not reveal when Mark had gone again to Antioch, but he is there when this segment begins. After the disagreement with Paul, Barnabas and Mark headed for the home country of Barnabas, which had been the portion of the first journey when John [Mark] had accompanied both Barnabas and Paul. This then is the last reference to Barnabas in the book of Acts. Barnabas apparently had enough confidence in Mark as a believer, that he was willing to separate from Paul and support the development of another man to grow in service to the Lord. Many believe that this Mark is the author of the gospel account that bears that name, and that some years later Paul was reconciled to mark.


O - References to Barnabas in Paul's letters

Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Galatians 2:9-14 And 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. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

1Corinthians 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

COMMENTS: The passages from Galatians are points of personal history that Paul is describing to the readers. The referenced trip that Paul and Barnabas made to Jerusalem was likely the first trip when sustenance was carried from the church at Antioch for the needs of those in Jerusalem. Paul provides additional detail found in no other scripture, that Peter apparently made a trip to Antioch. Peter and Barnabas then apparently began to draw away from the Gentiles in agreement with the Jews of Antioch, about maintaining some separation from Gentiles. Paul vigorously disputed this position by Peter and Barnabas to have such separation within the Christian church.

Some years later, Paul and Barnabas first jointly defended Gentile rights in Antioch, then traveled to Jerusalem and obtained support from Peter and James, regarding the status of Gentiles in the church which was confirmed by letter, and by two other emissaries who accompanied Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. Paul, Silas, and Timothy were in Corinth together, but there is no evidence in Acts that Barnabas was ever there. Perhaps reputation alone was enough for the reference passage from 1Corinthians to have meaning to those in Corinth, and it does seem to indicate that Paul still had respect for Barnabas even though they had separated at Antioch after the first missionary trip together. The passage from Colossians is generally accepted as evidence that Mark was the nephew of Barnabas, and this is just another interesting bit of information about Barnabas the son of consolation.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, I thank you for the life of Barnabas and the many ways in which he was used of the Spirit in the early church. He first show great generosity by selling his personal property to share with others in the Jerusalem church. His part in supporting Paul to the apostles in Jerusalem, and in bringing Paul into active ministry in Antioch were marks of his sensitivity to the needs of the church for strong leadership. He was then very willing to travel with Paul to touch the lives of many as the gospel message was spread through diligent teaching and witnessing, even in the face of hardship. May the inspiration of his attitude and actions continue to encourage me and many other believers to be available for service to the Lord, though it may be in secondary or supporting roles.

Thank you also that he was able to overcome deeply held traditional patterns as a Levite to the point of being a strong advocate for Gentiles to be fully accepted into the church of Jesus Christ. His faith in John Mark's place in ministry, even though he had to differ with Paul about a second chance for service to the Lord, is evidence of his desire to support others despite the necessity of making a difficult choice. Barnabas is part of the framework to better understand that the body of Christ can have variations in its members even to the point of causing some separation, while that body is still held together by the Spirit of the Lord, with hope of reconciliation as one in Christ. Help me Lord to be flexible when others directly or indirectly make it evident to me that I need to make some change within my Christian walk, yet keep me firm enough to defend the character of others within the body of Christ. Amen.

Published 11 June 2006