Barnabas boosted First Century churchGreek-speaking native of Cyprus a key helper of the Apostle Paul

In one of the Bible’s most emphatic declarations of approval, Acts 11:24 describes Barnabas as “a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith” and while nothing he said is recorded in Scripture, he is remembered as the Apostle Paul’s right-hand man without whom Paul might not have succeeded on such a big scale.
Clergymen Kevin Fox, William Mark Bristow and Mike Atkins say Barnabas was from the Greek island of Cyprus, where he is believed to have been martyred around 60 A.D.
“It is sometimes the person behind the scenes who says the least who can make the biggest impact,” said Fox, minister of Westway Church of Christ in Midland. “We think of Barnabas, whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ as the one who allowed Paul to complete his bold work.
“Paul was more out in front, but his mission would never have been accomplished if it hadn’t been for Barnabas.”
Noting that Barnabas’ name was “Joseph” till he was renamed by the apostles in Jerusalem, Fox said, “He is sometimes referred to as the second best-known Joseph in Scripture.
“Paul chose to leave young Mark behind on one of his missionary journeys because Mark couldn’t cut it. Barnabas stood beside Mark and later in life Mark reconciled with Paul. So Barnabas took up for the underdog and spoke kindly on behalf of people who made mistakes.”
Asked if the excellent Greek in the Epistle to the Hebrews could mean Barnabas was the author, Fox said, “It’s within the realm of possibility.
“I don’t know if he saw Jesus’s baptism or the crucifixion, but something had a dramatic effect on him because we see him show up in the early history of the church in a prominent way. It’s safe to say he was impacted by the resurrection or the early miracles of the apostles.
“Barnabas had been the lone guy to stand up for Paul, saying, ‘Paul has changed and we need to accept him into the Church of Jerusalem because the Gospel has the power to transform even the vilest of sinners.’
“There are not a lot of Pauls out there, but everybody can be a Barnabas.”
The Rev. Bristow, pastor of Parker Heights Christian Church in Odessa and Grace Fellowship Church in Monahans, said Mark, or John Mark, to whom the second Gospel is attributed as an account of the Apostle Peter’s recollections, had gone with Paul and Barnabas, his cousin, to Cyprus but then left for Jerusalem rather than go with them to Perga in Pamphylia, Greece, where idol worship was rampant.
“Paul doesn’t want anything more to do with Mark and Paul and Barnabas get into such an argument that they split up and never work together again,” Bristow said. “After the Apostle Peter was martyred, the other apostles told Mark, ‘You know his teachings and stories better than anybody. Write them down.’
“Barnabas apparently mentored Mark and restored him toward the end of Paul’s ministry because Paul wrote in Second Timothy 4:11, ‘Luke alone is with me.
“Get Mark and bring him with you for he is very useful to me for ministry.’ I’d guess it was about a 20-year wait. If it hadn’t been for Barnabas, they would have lost John Mark and we wouldn’t have the Gospel of Mark.
“When the church was dispersed out of Jerusalem, they ended up 500 miles away in Antioch in north Turkey and it became an international church with a half-dozen or more races or ethnicities,” Bristow said. “The hand of the Lord was with them. They received people from other nations, trained them up and sent them out.”
The Rev. Atkins, pastor of Kingston Avenue Baptist Church, said Barnabas “was more Paul’s helper than an apostle.
“His name means ‘encourager,’ so that’s what he did,” Atkins said. “That’s what God called him to do. He was a valuable partner in both Paul’s and Mark’s lives.
“He made Mark more determined to preach the Word and to go and share Jesus with everybody. Barnabas put a fire under him. Barnabas was not one who wanted to be out in the front, but he knew that people needed Jesus because of what he had done on the cross.”