1. “Joseph” (Acts 4:36) was the birth name of Barnabas. “Joseph” means “may [God] add” and brings to mind the better known biblical character by the same name in Genesis (specifically, chaps. 37, 39–50). Barnabas, like his Old Testament counterpart, wholeheartedly lived for God and sacrificially served His people.
  2. The name “Barnabas” (Acts 4:36) was given by the apostles and could mean either “son of encouragement” or “son of exhortation.” This fact spotlights his aptitude for offering consolation to his fellow believers in times of affliction and his giftedness in teaching others the truths of the gospel.
  3. Barnabas was a Levite who came from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Throughout the period of the Old Testament, there were three main categories of clergypersons: high priests, priests, and Levites. Levites such as Barnabas were subordinate sanctuary officials who oversaw the minor duties performed in the Jerusalem temple.
  4. Barnabas was a Jew of the dispersion, which refers to those forced out of Israel after various foreign conquests. His Levite heritage meant he knew the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, Barnabas probably spoke Greek and was familiar with Gentile life and Hellenistic Judaism. The latter refers to religious customs practiced by Jews who spoke Greek and observed Greek culture.
  5. In addition to his kind and generous spirit, Barnabas maintained an openhanded attitude toward material wealth. For example, rather than hoard his possessions, Barnabas sold a field he owned and gave the money he received to the apostles (vs. 37). Even though Levites traditionally lived off the temple system, Barnabas owned real estate (evidently on Cyprus). Yet, when he trusted in Jesus for salvation, Barnabas freely donated the proceeds from the sale of his property to meet the needs of others.
  6. Initially, only Barnabas was willing to associate with Saul (Paul) after his conversion (9:26-27). Barnabas helped Saul by taking him to the apostles in Jerusalem and explaining that the Lord had revealed Himself to Saul and spoken to him. Barnabas also testified that when Saul was in Damascus, he had evangelized courageously in the name of Jesus. Because Barnabas was highly respected by the Christians in Jerusalem, they accepted what he had to say about Saul. As a result, this once-violent opponent of the church was able to associate freely with Jesus’ disciples and proclaim the gospel to the unsaved (vs. 28).
  7. Barnabas possessed exceptional spiritual qualities. In particular, his life was under the control of the Spirit, and Barnabas had an unshakable confidence in God. Moreover, Barnabas had the understanding and affirming nature required for making an honest appraisal of the flourishing church ministry at Syrian Antioch (11:22-24). This was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria.
  8. After Barnabas spent some time in Syrian Antioch, he became convinced that the Gentile conversions occurring there were real. He was overjoyed to see the grace of God at work. In addition, Barnabas exhorted the believers to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts (vs. 23).
  9. Barnabas encouraged Saul to become a missionary leader. Indeed, the great spiritual awakening occurring at Syrian Antioch provided Barnabas an opportunity to contact Saul, who was ministering at his hometown of Tarsus. Barnabas was even humble enough to step aside when it became evident to him that Saul was the best person to lead the church in the new mission to the Gentiles (vss. 25-26).
  10. Barnabas, along with Saul, organized the collection of funds among Gentile Christians to help their fellow Jewish believers in Judea. They were languishing under a severe famine. Though one faith community was primarily Jewish and the other mainly Gentile, both groups strove for unity by helping the other in any way they could. Barnabas and Saul took the monies collected to Jerusalem, and the funds were distributed in an appropriate manner to the believers in need (vss. 27-30).
  11. Barnabas was one of the gifted prophets and teachers in the church at Syrian Antioch (13:1). The Prophets were authorized spokespersons and representatives of God before His people. The message of the prophet could contain elements of proclamation (namely, forthtelling) or prediction (namely, foretelling). Teachers were believers who instructed others in godly truth.
  12. The Spirit appointed Barnabas, along with Saul, to bring the gospel to the Gentiles living in the eastern Mediterranean region of the Roman Empire (vs. 2). While the church at Syrian Antioch was gathered together to worship the Lord and fast, they held a commissioning ceremony. This included the whole assembly laying hands on Barnabas and Saul before they were sent on their journey (vs. 3). That act was a way for the congregation to join with the missionaries in their work, as well as recognizing God’s call upon them.
  13. During their missionary journey, Barnabas and Saul evangelized on Cyprus, as well as in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (13:4–14:20). While at Cyprus, Saul started using the Roman form of his name, Paul. Also, initially, Barnabas was the prominent member of the pair. Yet, by the time he and Paul left Cyprus, the latter became the more prominent member.
  14. During one episode, a crowd at Lystra mistook Barnabas for Zeus and Paul for Hermes (14:12). Zeus was a Greek sky deity, while Hermes was a messenger deity. The evangelists did all they could to restrain the pagan priest of Zeus from offering sacrifices to them (vss. 13, 18).
  15. God used Barnabas, along with Paul, to bring many Gentiles to faith in the Savior. It is not difficult to imagine the excitement felt among the disciples in the church at Syrian Antioch, especially as they heard the missionaries recall the wonderful things the Spirit accomplished through them (14:26-27). In turn, Jesus’ followers welcomed the news that other congregations had been successfully established by the evangelists on their first missionary journey.
  16. Barnabas, along with Paul, supported himself on his missionary excursions by earning a living (1 Cor. 9:6). The two could have asserted their right to be sustained by the donations made by other Christians, especially since doing so would have enabled Barnabas and Paul to operate as full-time evangelists. Yet, at times, the two voluntarily set aside this option in order to offer the gospel freely to the unsaved (vss. 12, 18).
  17. Fourteen years after Paul’s conversion, Barnabas, along with Titus (an uncircumcised Gentile Christian), accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1). The goal of this trip was to secure the acceptance of the other apostles in the holy city for the gospel of grace the missionaries proclaimed to non-Jews. During a private meeting, the leaders of the congregation in Jerusalem affirmed the message the evangelists preached at the church in Syrian Antioch (vss. 2-10).
  18. On one occasion, Barnabas and Peter were led astray by religious legalists who claimed that faith was not enough for salvation (vss. 11-13). Evidently, Peter was among the first persons who openly refused to eat with Gentile Christians. Accordingly, Paul publicly rebuked Peter. Undoubtedly, Paul thought that by doing so, he could change the minds of others, too, including his former mentor, Barnabas (vs. 14).
  19. When religious legalists from Jerusalem again came to Syrian Antioch, Barnabas, along with Paul, vigorously opposed them. The two missionaries had witnessed the Spirit at work among uncircumcised Gentiles and lives changed in ways the Mosaic Law could never have accomplished. Barnabas and Paul joined a delegation of believers sent by the church at Syrian Antioch to Jerusalem to deliberate the matter among the apostles and elders there. Along the way, the entourage told Christians about the conversions of Gentiles in Antioch, along with the places Barnabas and Paul had visited (Acts 15:1-3).
  20. The Jerusalem church and its leaders welcomed Barnabas, Paul, and the rest of the delegation from Syrian Antioch (vs. 4). Then, during the Council that followed, Barnabas and Paul described how God had showed His acceptance of uncircumcised, believing Gentiles by enabling the missionaries to perform many signs and wonders among them (vs. 12). Undoubtedly, the evangelists mentioned the blinding of a sorcerer on Cyprus, the healing of a crippled man in Lystra, and the large numbers who followed the Lord in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
  21. At the conclusion of the Council, Barnabas, as well as Paul, Judas Barsabbas and Silas, carried a letter from the Jerusalem church to the congregation at Syrian Antioch. The letter apologized for the disturbance created by the legalists, discredited them, affirmed the integrity of Barnabas and Paul, explained why Judas and Silas had come to Antioch, and asked the Gentile Christians to avoid several behaviors offensive to Jewish believers (vss. 22-29).
  22. Barnabas and Paul had a sharp disagreement over whether to take John Mark (the cousin of Barnabas; Col. 4:10) with them on a second missionary journey. Previously, during the first missionary journey, as the group began to evangelize in Perga, John Mark abandoned the team and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13). Paul looked so dimly on this turn of events that he parted company with Barnabas over giving John Mark another chance. Consequently, while Barnabas returned to Cyprus with John Mark, Paul took Silas with him to evangelize Galatia (15:36-41).
  23. The legacy of Barnabas not only included him being a prophet and teacher, but also an apostle (13:1; 14:14). Also, according to the Acts of Barnabas (possibly written in the fifth century), Barnabas was martyred for the Christian faith on Cyprus in 61 d.


Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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