Barnabas the Holy Apostle
Reading from the Synaxarion:
Saint Barnabas, one of the Seventy, was from Salamis Cyprus, a Levite, meaning that he was the rabbinic tribe, and he also was a fellow disciple with the Apostle Paul under Gamaliel, the leading rabbi of the Sanhedrin. (Gamaliel is also a convert to Christianity but prior to that was called Nasi and Rabban
(our master) and held a reputation of being one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism:).
Barnabas was called Joses, but was renamed Barnabas, which means “son of consolation,” perhaps to distinguish him from the Joses (usually this is translated to Joseph) called Barsabas and surnamed Justus (Acts1:23).
Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” 26 Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.*
Saint Barnabas had a field, which he sold. He brought the money to the Apostles (Acts 4:36-37). Before the conversion of Saul to Paul, it was Barnabas who was the leader of the Seventy Apostles, the first in preaching and chief spokesman.
36Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 owned a tract of land, & sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
After Saul’s vision on the road to Damascus, it was Barnabas who joined him to the Apostles when the others, because of Saul’s reputation as a persecutor of the Church, still feared him (Acts 9:26-27); again it was Saint Barnabas who conscripted Paul as a preacher, bringing him from Tarsus to Antioch after the stoning of Stephen, to assist in spreading the Gospel (Acts 11:25-26).
25And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
27Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them who was named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. 30 And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.
Saint Barnabas preached the Gospel in many places, traveled together w ith Paul, and finally was stoned to death by the Jews in his native Cyprus. During the reign of Zeno the Isaurian,
in the year 478, his sacred relics were found, amongst them on his chest the Gospel according to Matthew written in Greek by Barnabas’ own hand. This Gospel was brought to Zeno. Because of this the Church of Cyprus received the right of autonomy, and its archbishop was given the privilege, like the emperor, of signing his decrees and encyclicals in vermilion.
*The need to replace Judas was important because it the 12 apostles were symbolic of the original 12 tribes of Israel. St Luke himself refers to the Christian church the new Israel at the last supper.
The Role of the Disciples. 24]Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; 26 but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.27 For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. 28 It is you who have stood by me in my trials; 29 and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The “Epistle of Barnabas”
should not be confused with the apostle as it is considered by someone else years after the Apostle had reposed.
Apolytikion of Apostle Barnabas in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion of Apostle Barnabas in the Third Tone
To thy Lord, O Barnabas, thou wast a genuine servant; and among the Seventy Apostles, thou wast the foremost; and with Paul, thou shonest brightly in thy wise preaching, making known unto all men Christ Jesus, the Saviour. For this cause, we celebrate thy divine memorial with hymns and spiritual songs.