St BarnabasWhen he converted to Christ from being a Cypriot Jew, Joseph changed his name to Barnabas, a name that means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas seems to be the cousin of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark.

Barnabas’ conversion was total:  all of his money and property were given to the Church (Acts 4:32); he completely and unreservedly gave his life to Jesus. Like Paul, Barnabas was an apostle without being part of the 12. The Lord sent (the meaning of the word ‘apostle’) him as a powerful missionary and preacher; he worked with Saint Paul. Barnabas’ concern was to advocate that pagans (unbelievers) could be baptized as Christians without being circumcised. “The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch…for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11).

The Episcopal and Lutheran liturgical calendars note Barnabas as an Apostle and a martyr. Biblically, Barnabas is mentioned 27 times in the New Testament. He exhorted the Antioch community: “With steadfast purpose of heart remain with the Lord.” Good advice for all Christians.

Some will say that Barnabas was the first bishop of Milan and is credited with bringing Clement to Christian faith (who later became the 4th bishop of Rome). Saint Barnabas was martyred by stoning.