Saint Barnabas

Saint Barnabas - The Encouraging Apostle
Saint Barnabas – The Encouraging Apostle. The image depicts Saint Barn a dignified, middle-aged man with a kind face and a full beard, dressed in traditional Biblical attire. He holds a scroll and a staff, symbolizing his role as a teacher and missionary. The serene Mediterranean landscape in the background reflects his travels and ministry.

The Encouraging Apostle

Saint Barnabas, originally named Joseph, was a pivotal figure in early Christianity, celebrated for his missionary work and his role in supporting and mentoring the Apostle Paul. His legacy as an encourager and a dedicated servant of Christ continues to inspire Christians today.

Early Life and Background

Barnabas was born in Cyprus to a Jewish family of the Levite tribe. He was a Hellenized Jew, well-versed in both Jewish and Greek cultures. His original name, Joseph (or Joses), was changed by the apostles to Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37). This name reflected his nature and his role in the early church (Encyclopedia Britannica)  (Wikipedia) .

Ministry and Missionary Work

Barnabas was one of the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. He sold his property and donated the proceeds to the apostles, exemplifying his commitment to the community. He played a crucial role in the early church by introducing Paul, who had been a fierce persecutor of Christians, to the apostles, advocating for his acceptance (Acts 9:26-27). This act of encouragement paved the way for Paul’s significant contributions to Christianity  (Christianity) .

Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem church to Antioch to oversee the burgeoning Christian community there. Realizing the magnitude of the task, he sought out Paul in Tarsus to help him. Together, they taught and strengthened the church in Antioch for a year. It was here that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:25-26)  (Encyclopedia Britannica)  (Franciscan Media) .

First Missionary Journey

Barnabas and Paul embarked on their first missionary journey, traveling to Cyprus, Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Lycaonia. They faced various challenges, including opposition and persecution, but also saw many converts. This journey solidified their partnership in spreading the Gospel. However, a disagreement later arose over John Mark, leading Barnabas and Paul to part ways; Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus while Paul chose Silas for his subsequent missions (Acts 15:36-39) (Wikipedia)  (Christianity) .

Legacy and Martyrdom

Barnabas continued his missionary work, focusing particularly on Cyprus. He is believed to have been martyred around 61 AD, possibly by stoning at Salamis in Cyprus. His unwavering dedication to his faith and his role as an encourager left an indelible mark on the early Christian church  (Catholic365)  (GOARCH) .

Patronage and Feast Day

Saint Barnabas is venerated as the patron saint of Cyprus and is also associated with encouragement and consolation. His feast day is celebrated on June 11, commemorating his life and contributions to the spread of Christianity  (Franciscan Media)  (Catholic Online) .


Saint Barnabas’ life exemplifies the power of encouragement and mentorship in the growth of a community. His support of Paul, generosity, and missionary zeal make him a significant figure in Christian history. His legacy continues to inspire acts of kindness, courage, and faithfulness among believers today.

Biblical references

Saint Barnabas is mentioned several times in the New Testament, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles and some of Paul’s epistles. Here are the key references:

  1. Acts 4:36-37: Barnabas, originally named Joseph, is introduced. He is described as a Levite from Cyprus who sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.
  2. Acts 9:26-27: Barnabas introduces Paul (then known as Saul) to the apostles in Jerusalem after Paul’s conversion. Barnabas vouches for Paul, describing his encounter with Jesus and his bold preaching in Damascus.
  3. Acts 11:22-26: The Jerusalem church sends Barnabas to Antioch to oversee the growing Christian community. Barnabas then brings Paul from Tarsus to help him in Antioch, where they teach for a year, and it is here that the disciples are first called Christians.
  4. Acts 13:1-3: Barnabas and Paul are set apart by the Holy Spirit for missionary work. They embark on their first missionary journey together, traveling to various cities including Cyprus and parts of Asia Minor.
  5. Acts 13:4-12: The mission in Cyprus, where Barnabas and Paul confront a false prophet named Bar-Jesus and convert the proconsul Sergius Paulus.
  6. Acts 15:36-41: Barnabas and Paul have a disagreement over John Mark, leading to their separation. Barnabas takes John Mark to Cyprus, while Paul continues his missions with Silas.
  7. Galatians 2:1-10: Paul mentions Barnabas as a companion during a visit to Jerusalem, where they discussed the gospel with the other apostles.
  8. Galatians 2:11-13: Paul recounts an incident in Antioch where Barnabas, influenced by Peter’s withdrawal from Gentile believers, also withdrew, prompting Paul to confront Peter publicly about his hypocrisy.

These passages highlight Barnabas’s significant role in the early church, his partnership with Paul, and his dedication to spreading Christianity.


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