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Dictionaries :: Barnabas

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Easton's Bible Dictionary

Barnabas:

son of consolation, the surname of Joses, a Levite (Act 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" (Act 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 (Act 4:36,37), which he sold. His personal appearance is supposed to have been dignified and commanding (Act 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 (Act 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 (Act 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 (Act 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 (Act 15:36-41). Barnabas is not again mentioned by Luke in the Acts.

Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary

Barnabas:

son of the prophet, or of consolation

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Barnabas:

bar'-na-bas (Barnabas, "son of exhortation," or possibly "son of Nebo"): This name was applied to the associate of Paul, who was originally called Joses or Joseph (Ac 4:36), as a testimony to his eloquence. Its literal meaning is "son of prophecy" (bar, "son"; nebhu'ah, "prophecy"). Compare word for prophet in Ge 20:7; De 18:15,18, etc. This is interpreted in Ac 4:36 as "son of exhortation" the Revised Version (British and American), or "son of consolation" the King James Version, expressing two sides of the Greek paraklesis, that are not exclusive. The office of a prophet being more than to foretell, all these interpretations are admissible in estimating Barnabas as a preacher. Deismann (Bibelstudien, 175-78) considers Barnabas the Jewish Grecized form of Barnebous, a personal Semitic name recently discovered in Asia Minor inscriptions, and meaning "son of Nebo" (Standard Bible Dictionary in the place cited.).

He was a Levite from the island of Cyprus, and cousin, not "nephew" (the King James Version), of the evangelist Mark, the word anepsios (Col 4:10), being used in Nu 36:11, for "father's brothers' sons." When we first learn of him, he had removed to Jerusalem, and acquired property there. He sold "a field," and contributed its price to the support of the poorer members of the church (Ac 4:36 ff). In Ac 11:24 he is described as "a good man and full of the Holy Spirit" (compare Isa 11:2; 1Co 12:8,11) "and of faith," traits that gave him influence and leadership. Possibly on the ground of former acquaintanceship, interceding as Paul's sponsor and surety, he removed the distrust of the disciples at Jerusalem and secured the admission of the former persecutor into their fellowship. When the preaching of some of the countrymen of Barnabas had begun a movement toward Christianity among the Greeks at Antioch, Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to give it encouragement and direction, and, after a personal visit, recognizing its importance and needs, sought out Paul at Tarsus, and brought him back as his associate. At the close of a year's successful work, Barnabas and Paul were sent to Jerusalem with contributions from the infant church for the famine sufferers in the older congregation (Ac 11:30). Ordained as missionaries on their return (Ac 13:3), and accompanied by John Mark, they proceeded upon what is ordinarily known as the "First Missionary Journey" of Paul (Ac 13:4,5). Its history belongs to Paul's life. Barnabas as well as Paul is designated "an apostle" (Ac 14:14). Up to Ac 13:43, the precedency is constantly ascribed to Barnabas; from that point, except in 14:14 and 15:12,25, we read "Paul and Barnabas," instead of "Barnabas and Saul." The latter becomes the chief spokesman. The people at Lystra named Paul, because of his fervid oratory, Mercurius, while the quiet dignity and reserved strength of Barnabas gave him the title of Jupiter (Ac 14:12). Barnabas escaped the violence which Paul suffered at Iconium (Ac 14:19).

Upon their return from this first missionary tour, they were sent, with other representatives of the church at Antioch, to confer with the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem concerning the obligation of circumcision and the ceremonial law in general under the New Testament-the synod of Jerusalem. A separation from Paul seems to begin with a temporary yielding of Barnabas in favor of the inconsistent course of Peter (Ga 2:13). This was followed by a more serious rupture concerning Mark. On the second journey, Paul proceeded alone, while Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus. Luther and Calvin regard 2Co 8:18,19 as meaning Barnabas by "the brother whose praise is spread through all the churches," and indicating, therefore, subsequent joint work. The incidental allusions in 1Co 9:6 and Ga 2:13 ("even Barnabas") show at any rate Paul's continued appreciation of his former associate. Like Paul, he accepted no support from those to whom he ministered.

Tertullian, followed in recent years by Grau and Zahn, regard him as the author of the Epistle to the He. The document published among patristic writings as the Epistle of Barnabas, and found in full in the Codex Sinaiticus, is universally assigned today to a later period. "The writer nowhere claims to be the apostle Barnabas; possibly its author was some unknown namesake of ‘the son of consolation' "( Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, 239 f).

Written by H. E. Jacobs

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Barnabas:

(son of consolation or comfort). a name given by the apostles (Acts 4:36) to Joseph (or Jose) a Levite of the island of Cyprus, who was early a disciple of Christ. In Acts 9:27, we find him introducing the newly‐converted Saul to the apostles at Jerusalem. Barnabas was sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11:19-26) and went to Tarsus to seek Saul, as one specially raised up to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17). He brought him to Antioch, and was sent with him to Jerusalem (Acts 11:30). On their return, they were ordained by the church for the missionary work (Acts 13:2) and sent forth (A.D. 45) From this time Barnabas and Paul enjoy the title and dignity of apostles. Their first missionary journey is related in Acts 13:14. Returning to Antioch (A.D. 47 or 48) they were sent (A.D. 50) with some others, to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1; 15:36). Afterwards they parted and Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, his native island. Here the Scripture notices of him cease. The epistle attributed to Barnabas is believed to have been written early in the second century.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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