Barnabus, which means “son of consolation,” is best-known for being Paul’s missionary companion in the New Testament. He was Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, but the apostles used the surname of Barnabus. While not one of the twelve, he was still considered an apostle and worked with them extensively. He sold his land and took the money to the apostles, laying it at their feet.
After Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus, he presented himself to the disciples, wanting to join with them. However, they were afraid of him and were reluctant to accept him. Barnabus presented him to the apostles and shared with them the story of Saul’s conversion and his brave preaching in the face of danger.
In Acts, Barnabus is described as “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith:” Acts 13 referrs to Barnabus in a list of prophets and teachers.
When some of Christ’s followers preached successfully to the Grecians in Antioch, it was decided to send Barnabus to them. He was pleased by what he saw there and encouraged them to cleave unto the Lord. Then he traveled on to Tarsus, where Saul was. He brought Saul back to Antioch and they remained there a year, preaching the gospel. It was there that outsiders began referring to them as Christians. There also, Agabus warned of hardship among the brethren of Judea. The disciples agreed to send relief to them and it was delivered by Barnabus and Saul.
After Herod died, Saul and Barnabus completed the work they were doing in Jerusalem and left, taking with them John Mark. During a fast in Antioch, the Holy Ghost said to send Paul and Barnabus to do a specific work to which they were called. They began a missionary journey, preaching in a number of places. When they reached Perga, John returned to Jerusalem, but Barnabus and Paul continued on to Antioch. There, Paul preached a sermon in the synagogue and many wanted to hear him preach again on the next Sabbath. When the Jews saw the crowds that gathered for that sermon, they were jealous. Paul and Barnabus explained that the gospel needed to be preached to them first, but since they rejected the message, it was now going to the gentiles. The gentiles were very pleased and many converted. However, the Jews stirred up anger and began a course of persecution, followed by the decision to expel them. The two missionaries shook the dust of their feet against them and continued to the next place in their journey, which was Iconium.
In Iconium, they had great success among Jews and Greeks, but some Jews began turning the Gentiles against them. The city became divided over them and a plan arose among their enemies to stone them. They fled and began preaching in Lystra and Derbe. After Paul performed a miracle at Lystra, people called them gods, thinking Barnabus was Jupiter and Paul was Mercurius. The people prepared to do sacrifices to honor them, but they put a stop to it. Paul was stoned, but recovered and he and Barnabus left the city for a time.
In Antioch, a disagreement arose over circumcision. Paul and Barnabus were sent to consult the apostles. The apostles also debated the subject until Peter took charge and explained a vision he had received. This settled the question.
Paul and Barnabus returned to Antioch and preached. Then Paul decided they ought to revisit every city they had preached in on their mission, to determine how they were doing. Barnabus suggested they take John Mark with them, but Paul disagreed, because John Mark had left them part way through the mission and hadn’t been to all the cities. They got into an argument over it and parted ways as a result. Paul chose Silas as his new companion and Barnabus took Mark, heading for Cyprus.