"Joseph, a Levite, born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (son of encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles." (Acts 4:36f). This is the first mention we have of Barnabas. He has been honored with the title of apostle, although he was not one of the original twelve.
His new name fits what we know of his actions. When Saul (or Paul) came to Jerusalem after his conversion, most of the Christians there wanted nothing to do with him. They had known him as a persecutor and an enemy of the Church. But Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. He looked him up, spoke with him, and brought him to see the other Christians, vouching for him. Later, Paul and Barnabas went on a missionary journey together, taking Mark with them. Part way, Mark turned back and went home. When Paul and Barnabas were about to set out on another such journey, Barnabas proposed to take Mark along, and Paul was against it, saying that Mark had shown himself undependable. Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance, and so he and Mark went off on one journey, while Paul took Silas and went on another. Apparently Mark responded well to the trust given him by the "son of encouragement," since we find that Paul later speaks of him as a valuable assistant (2 Tim 4:11; see also Col 4:10 and Phil 24), Paul also refers to him in his letters to the Corinthians and Galatians.
Legend has it that Barnabas was martyred at the hands of the Jews of Salamis in Cyprus. Pray that God raises up men in the church to be apostles for Christ, and that they may be, like Barnabas, a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith .
Saint Barnabas the Apostle - 11 June
O LORD God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost; Leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them alway to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Acts xi. 22.
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. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 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.
The Gospel - St. John xv. 12.
THIS is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Reference and Resources