Barnabas was a missionary from the early church who became known for his generosity. He evangelized several places in the Roman empire and was the mentor of the apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry owed much to Barnabas’ support.
Barnabas was a Jew from the tribe of Levi, a native of the island of Cyprus, who became a Christian. His name was Joseph but the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “encouraging”, or “son of consolation”. Barnabas was a valuable member of the church.
In addition to being encouraging, Barnabas was very generous . He sold land that was his and gave the entire money to the church as an offering ( Acts 4: 36-37 ). Later, when the church in Antioch gathered an offering for the poor believers in Judea, they entrusted the money to Barnabas.
See also: what does the Bible say about generosity?
Barnabas and Paul
When Saul (also known as Paul) was converted, no one trusted him, because he had previously been a persecutor of Christians. But Barnabas took courage and trusted Paul. Thanks to Barnabas’ intervention, Paul was accepted by the apostles and was no longer excluded from the Christian community ( Acts 9: 26-27 ).
Later, the church sent Barnabas to look after the church that was growing in Antioch. Seeing that there was a lot of work, he called Paulo to help him. Over a year, Barnabas and Paul converted many people and strengthened the church in Antioch ( Acts 11: 25-26 ).
After this mission, God called Barnabas and Paul for a great missionary trip. Beginning in their homeland of Cyprus, Barnabas and Paul traveled through various territories, preaching the gospel, performing miracles and establishing churches. Many people were converted but they also faced a lot of persecution and in some places they were almost killed.
The mission over, Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch. There they came into conflict with Jewish Christians who wanted to impose the Law of Moses on other Christians. The two were chosen to go to Jerusalem to talk to the church leadership on the matter ( Acts 15: 1-2 ).
When Barnabas and Paul told about everything that God had done among Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians, without the Law of Moses, all church leaders agreed that it was no longer necessary to obey all the rules of Judaism. This news made the Christians of Antioch very happy, who were almost all Gentiles.
See Paulo’s story here .
Barnabas and John Mark
Barnabas was also the mentor of his cousin John Mark , who was the person who probably wrote Mark’s gospel. On their missionary trip, Barnabas and Paul had taken John Mark but he had given up halfway. So when Barnabas suggested taking him on yet another missionary trip, Paul disagreed ( Acts 15: 36-38 ).
Barnabas and Paulo fought over João Marcos and that broke the team. Paul went on yet another trip through several territories but Barnabas took João Marcos back to Cyprus. The book of Acts of the Apostles does not tell what happened next to Barnabas, but Paul’s letters indicate that he was reconciled to Barnabas and John Mark.
Despite not being as well known as Paul, Barnabas remained in history for being a good man, who helped others to realize their potential. Because of Barnabas’ confidence and support, both Paul and John Mark made a major contribution to Christianity.