son of consolation, the surname of Joses, a Levite (Acts 4:36).
His name stands first on the list of prophets and teachers of
the church at Antioch (13:1). Luke speaks of him as a "good man"
(11:24). He was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He
was a native of Cyprus, where he had a possession of land (Acts
4:36, 37), which he sold. His personal appearance is supposed to
have been dignified and commanding (Acts 14:11, 12). When Paul
returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas took him
and introduced him to the apostles (9:27). They had probably
been companions as students in the school of Gamaliel.
The prosperity of the church at Antioch led the apostles and
brethren at Jerusalem to send Barnabas thither to superintend
the movement. He found the work so extensive and weighty that he
went to Tarsus in search of Saul to assist him. Saul returned
with him to Antioch and laboured with him for a whole year (Acts
11:25, 26). The two were at the end of this period sent up to
Jerusalem with the contributions the church at Antioch had made
for the poorer brethren there (11:28-30). Shortly after they
returned, bringing John Mark with them, they were appointed as
missionaries to the heathen world, and in this capacity visited
Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Asia Minor (Acts
13:14). Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch,
they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church
there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts
15:2: Gal. 2:1). This matter having been settled, they returned
again to Antioch, bringing the decree of the council as the rule
by which Gentiles were to be admitted into the church.
When about to set forth on a second missionary journey, a
dispute arose between Saul and Barnabas as to the propriety of
taking John Mark with them again. The dispute ended by Saul and
Barnabas taking separate routes. Saul took Silas as his
companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while
Barnabas took his nephew John Mark, and visited Cyprus (Acts
15:36-41). Barnabas is not again mentioned by Luke in the Acts.