New Testament Bible Class

Barnabas (Joseph) called “Son of Encouragement”

Joseph called Barnabas by the Apostles

  1. Acts 4:36 & 37
    Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
  • Levite – from tribe of Levi, was not to own property because they were supported by tithe’s given at the Temple.  But Barnabas’ field was outside the Holy Land on the island of Cyprus.
  1. Acts 9:27
    But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
  2. Acts 11:22
    News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
  • Sent there by leaders in Jerusalem to check on the new Christian churches there.
  1. Acts 11:25 & 26
    Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
  2. Acts 11:30
    This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
  • Gifts were gathered by Gentile Christians in Antioch to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  The events of Galatians 2:1 happened at the same time as the delivery:
    Fourteen years later I (Paul) went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.  (Titus was a Gentile Christian who was later left on the island of Crete to oversee the church there.)
  1. Acts 12:25
    When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.
  2. Acts 13:1 & 2
    [ Barnabas and Saul Sent Off ] In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
  3. Acts 13:7
    who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God.
  • Note that the first stop on their first missionary journey took them to Barnabas’ home of Cyprus!
  • I wonder if there is meaning to the changing Saul’s name to Paul during his first missionary journey with Barnabas and John Mark (compare Acts 13:7 and Acts 13:42) and the simultaneous change from reporting on “Barnabas and Saul” to “Paul and Barnabas”.  Paul became the main speaker.  Later some Greeks renamed Barnabas “Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.” (Acts 14:12)  Barnabas must have been a humble man to accept the prominence of his understudy.
  1. Acts 13:42
    As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.
  2. Acts 13:43
    When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
  3. Acts 13:46
    Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
  4. Acts 13:50
    But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
  5. Acts 14:1
    [ In Iconium ] At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.
  6. Acts 14:3
    So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
  7. Acts 14:12
    Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
  • Zeus (pronounced /ˈzjuːs/) is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak..
  • Hermes (pronounced /ˈhɜrmiːz/; Greek Ἑρμῆς) is the Messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of thieves and road travelers, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures, of invention, of general commerce, and of the cunning of thieves and liars.[1] His symbols include the tortoise, the cock, the winged sandals, and the caduceus. The analogous Roman deity is Mercury.
  • These 2 disciples of Jesus Christ must have been horrified to be labeled Greek gods.  At that time, people actually believed in the Greek/Roman gods.
    • This is where we learn that Barnagas and John Mark are closely related (could that have influenced Barnabas to risk splitting with Paul over taking John Mark along on the Third Missionary Journey) and that Mark and Paul were reunited (After all Mark was with Paul who was imprisoned in Rome) and so possibly by extension with Barnabas.  I hope so!
  1. Acts 14:14
    But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
  2. Acts 14:20
    But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
  3. Acts 14:23 (The Second Missionary Journey of Paul and Barnabas- only briefly mentioned unlike the First and Third journeys.)
    Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
  4. Acts 15:2
    This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
  5. Acts 15:12
    The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
  6. Acts 15:22
    [ The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers ] Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers.
  7. Acts 15:25
    So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul—
  8. Acts 15:35
    But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
  • Silas and Judas Barsabbas had been sent to Antioch at about this time.
  1. Acts 15:36
    [ Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas ] Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”
  2. Acts 15:37
    Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,
  3. Acts 15:39
    They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
  • Scripture tells us that the disagreement was over whether to take along John Mark who had left them at the beginning of the first missionary journey.  I wonder if it also had to do with Barnabas, like Peter, behaving like they were still under the law when law-living Jews were present and living like they were free from the law (correctly) when those Jews were not present.  See Galatians 2:13.
  • This is the last time Barnabas is mentioned in Scripture.  Like all of the apostles there are traditions that fill in the rest of his life which I won’t bother with here.
  1. 1 Corinthians 9:6
    Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
  • Like Paul, Barnabas worked to earn a living while serving as a missionary.  Paul worked with canvas.  I wondered if Barnabas did the same.
  1. Galatians 2:9
    James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
  2. Galatians 2:13
    The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
  • This incident is mentioned above.  I can’t find an explanation for when this took place but expect that it  must have been before the Third Missionary Journey of Paul before which he and Barnabas split. 
  1. Colossians 4:10
    My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)

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