BARNABAS -Apostle and Encourager-

Barnabas was a respected Leader of the Church, The Body of Christ, and he was one of the most influential Apostles. (an apostle is one set apart for those sent on a mission). His real Jewish name was Joseph, but was nicknamed 'the son of encouragement', which is Barnabas, because he was always encouraging believers.

His gifts from God were not only an exhorter, but an apostle, a prophet, missionary, teacher and Preacher. He was a man of insight, willing to move with others, was amiable and sensible. He was drawn to people he could encourage and was a great help to those around him. He was the only one brave enough to meet with Paul, their enemy, who claimed that Jesus is Lord.

Barnabas was a Jew from the Isle of Cyprus, and he was a Levite, the priesthood tribe. Although in Palestine, he did not have inherited land, according to the Law of the Mosaic Covenant, (the law did not apply to foreign land). He owned a block of land on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, which he sold and gave the money to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Radical changes of hearts were worked by The Holy Spirit to care for fellow Christians.

The early church shared each others expenses and property, for new converts to Christianity from Judaism lost all they had, in some cases, their families disowned them as more and more were expelled from the Judaism Religion and from the Jewish Temples and synagogues. They were shunned by society at large.

These converts lost their homes, all their properties and their occupations. The action of giving and great-heartedness, by Barnabas' sharing was a good example for others. Through this persecution of fellow Jews by those who had rejected Christ, some traveled to Antioch, the third largest important City in the Roman Empire (15 miles inland from the north eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, (south of modern day Turkey).

The first large Jewish and non-Jewish Christian Church was located at Antioch and it was there where the believers were first called Christians, after Christ, 'the anointed ones'. News came to the church at Jerusalem and the church council sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived he was thrilled at God's Grace upon the local church and encouraged them to remain faithful to the Truth of Christ.

Barnabas was a good man, full of The Holy Spirit and with great faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. The church in Antioch grew in number. It was at this time when Barnabas remembered Paul in Tarsus, he traveled there, found him and brought him back to Antioch.

Prophets at the church predicted through The Holy Spirit a famine that would effect the believers in Jerusalem, so those in Antioch decided to give gifts, to be taken by Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem. Mark, Barnabas' cousin returned to Antioch with them. This famine came to pass and is recorded in the History of The Roman Empire.

As the church grew, The Holy Spirit, through one of the prophets called apart Barnabas and Paul for special work. The elders fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon the two and sent them on their way. Mark joined them, and The Spirit led them to Cyprus, 46 A.D.

They traveled throughout the island, which was part of the Roman Provinces, and The Roman Governor sent for them for he wanted to hear the Word of God. He became a believer for he witnessed the Power of God against the power of the devil. The Proconsul was convinced by what he had heard, as well as what he saw.

Mark left them just as the Missionary journey was about to begin. As they traveled through Asia, (modern day Turkey) Paul and Barnabas would always go to the local Jewish Synagogue in each town or city, and they would preach the Word of God boldly.

Gentiles were drawn to the Judaism because of the high standard of morality they witnessed throughout the Roman Empire, so being at the Jewish synagogues they heard Barnabas and Paul teach of Christ. Many were added to the Body of Christ where they traveled. The Word of God was confirmed by great signs and wonders.

The Lycaonians in Lystra, a Roman Town (in modern day Turkey) called Barnabas, Zeus, the patron god of the City, and wanted to offer sacrifices to the two apostles. Both Paul and Barnabas stopped them and explained who is the True Living God of Heaven, the Creator of earth.

All the areas where they traveled, churches grew as believers were added to their numbers, they appointed elders who in turn with the people appointed deacons. Paul and Barnabas had the right to receive the tithe of the tithe for daily living, their food and clothes from the people, but they chose to work rather than give the new churches added burdens to their expenses.

Then they both traveled back to Anticoh and reported on all the wonderful things that God had done. The door was opened for non-Jewish people to believe and hear of Christ, their Saviour from destruction, The Messiah, who was sent from God, The Father.

Many Jewish Christians believed that the non-Jews had to be circumcised, to be saved, as well as believing in Christ. Barnabas and Paul traveled to Jerusalem to defend the case of the non-Jews.

Those in the Council Meeting in Jerusalem were told of the reports what God was doing among the Gentiles (non- Jews) who were believers in Christ, His Life, Death and Resurrection. The Elders in Jerusalem prayed and searched the scriptures for the answer.

Both left Jerusalem with documents and scriptures for the Gentiles to prove to them that Gentiles do not have to follow any Jewish traditions or customs. Man-made decisions conflict with The Word of God.

A second missionary trip was planned between Paul and Barnabas, 'the encourager' took his cousin to Cyprus to encourage the believers and Paul took Silas to strengthen the churches in Asia (modern day Turkey).

At one time in his life, at Antioch, Barnabas was led astray by Peter, becoming hypocrites and thinking they were better than the Gentiles, and Paul had to publicly rebuke Peter, for not being a true witness of the Gospel. He followed the Law of Moses in front of James, the step-brother of Jesus. In their weakness, they were mingling pride and legalism with the grace of God, the work of The Cross. It was very hard for the Jewish people to believe that God included Gentiles in the New covenant.

God accomplished his purposes through both Barnabas and Paul.

People need constant encouragement in their life as it is very effective in establishing strength in the persistance of keeping true to God's Word. This is done by The Holy Spirit through people and the Word of God.

Many theologians think perhaps the Book of Hebrews could have been written by Barnabas, as the author is unknown.

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Managed by Stefan Kreslin,Last updated 26 April 1997