Barnabas the apostle.

Companion of Paul and cousin of John Mark.


Attributed text(s).
Epistle of Barnabas 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, 17-21.
Epistle to the Hebrews 1-4, 5-8, 9-13.

Related text(s).
Apostolic fathers.

Useful links.
Barnabas in the Online Encyclopedia.
Barnabas in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Barnabas appears frequently in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 4.36 he is a Levite of Cyprian birth, also called Joseph. He meets Paul in Acts 9.27, and he and Paul are both associated with the church at Antioch in Acts 11.22, 30; 12.25. He accompanies Paul on his first missionary journey in Acts 13.1-14.28 and attends the conference in Jerusalem, afterward returning to Antioch, in Acts 15.1-35. Paul and Barnabas part ways in Acts 15.36-41. Paul mentions Barnabas several times in his extant epistles. He mentions him in passing in 1 Corinthians 9.6 and in narrative in Galatians 2.1, 9, 13. According to Colossians 4.10 Barnabas was the cousin of Mark.

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 2.20:

Οπως δ ημεις του διαβολου τας ενεργειας και τα πνευματα τα ακαθαρτα εις την του αμαρτωλου ψυχην επισπειρειν φαμεν ου μοι δει πλειονων λογων, παραθεμενω μαρτυν τον αποστολικον Βαρναβαν, ο δε των εβδομηκοντα ην και συνεργος του Παυλου, κατα λεξιν ωδε πως λεγοντα· Προ του ημας πιστευσαι τω θεω, ην ημων το οικητηεριον της καρδιας και ασθενες, αληθως οικοδομητος ναος δια χειρος, οτι ην πληρης μεν ειδωλολατρειας, και ην οικος δαιμονων δια το ποιειν οσα ην εναντια τω θεω.

But how we say that the energies of the devil and the unclean spirits sow seed into the soul of the sinner needs no more words from me, adducing as witness the apostolic man Barnabas, and he was one of the seventy and a fellow worker of Paul, and he speaks in the following words: Before we believed in God, the housing of our heart was also sickly, truly a temple built with hands, since it was full of idolatry, and it was a house of demons on account of doing as many things as were against God.*

* Refer to Barnabas 16.7.

Eusebius, History of the Church 2.1.4, writing of Clement of Alexandria:

Ο δε αυτος εν εβδομω της αυτης υποθεσεως ετι και ταυτα περι αυτου φησιν· Ιακωβω τω δικαιω και Ιωαννη και Πετρω μετα την αναστασιν παρεδωκεν την γνωσιν ο κυριος, ουτοι τοις λοιποις αποστολοις παρεδωκαν, οι δε λοιποι αποστολοι τοις εβδομηκοντα, ων εις ην και Βαρναβας.

And the same man in the seventh book of the same work* says also these things concerning him: The Lord after the resurrection delivered knowledge to James the just and to John and to Peter, and they delivered it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.

* From context, the Outlines or Hypotyposeis.

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.8:

Εξηγουμενος δε το ρητον του προφητου Βαρναβας επιφερει· Πολλων πυλων ανεφγυιων, η εν δικαιοσυνη, αυτη εστιν η εν Χριστω, εν η μακαριοι παντες οι εισελθοντες. ....

And, exegeting the word of the prophet1, Barnabas notes: Though there are many gates open, the one in justice, that is the one in Christ, in which blessed are all who have gone in.2 ....

1 From context, Psalm 118.19 (LXX 117.19).
2 Refer to 1 Clement 48.4; here Clement of Alexandria evidently confuses Barnabas with Clement of Rome.

Tertullian, On Modesty 20.1-5 (Latin text modified from that of Munier; English translation modified from that of Thelwall):

Disciplina igitur apostolorum proprie quidem instruit ac determinat principaliter sanctitatis omnis erga templum dei sacramentum et ubique de ecclesia eradicat omne sacrilegium impudicitiae sine ulla restitutionis mentione. volo tamen ex redundanti alicuius etiam comitis apostolorum testimonium superducere, idoneum confirmandi de proximo iure disciplinam magistrorum. extat enim et Barnabae titulus ad Hebraeos, a deo satis auctorati viri, ut quem Paulus iuxta se constituerit in abstinentiae tenore: Aut ego solus et Barnabas non habemus operandi potestatem? et utique receptior apud ecclesias epistola Barnabae illo apocrypho pastore moechorum. monens itaque discipulos omissis omnibus initiis ad perfectionem magis tendere nec rursus fundamenta paenitentiae iacere ab operibus mortuorum: Impossibile est enim, inquit, eos qui semel inluminati sunt et donum caeleste gustaverunt et participaverunt spiritum sanctum et verbum dei dulce gustaverunt, occidente iam aevo cum exciderint, rursus revocari in paenitentiam, refigentes cruci in semetipsos filium dei et dedecorantes. terra enim quae bibit saepius deuenientem in se humorem et peperit herbam aptam his propter quos et colitur, benedictionem dei consequitur; proferens autem spinas reproba et maledictioni proxima, cuius finis in exustionem. hoc qui ab apostolis didicit et cum apostolis docuit, numquam moecho et fornicatori secundam paenitentiam promissam ab apostolis norat. optime enim legem interpretabatur et figuras eius iam in ipsa veritate seruabat.

The discipline, therefore, of the apostles properly [so called], indeed, instructs and determinately directs, as a principal point, the overseer of all sanctity as regards the temple of God to the universal eradication of every sacrilegious outrage upon modesty, without any mention of restoration. I wish, however, redundantly to superadd the testimony likewise of one particular comrade of the apostles, aptly suited for confirming, by most proximate right, the discipline of his masters. For there is extant an epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas, a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence: Or else, I alone and Barnabas, have not we the power of working? And of course the epistle of Barnabas is more generally received among the churches than that apocryphal Shepherd of the adulterers. Warning the disciples, accordingly, to omit all first principles and to strive rather after perfection, and not lay again the foundations of repentance from the works of the dead, he says: For impossible it is that they should be again recalled unto repentance who have once been illuminated and tasted the heavenly gift, and who have participated in the holy spirit and tasted the word of God and found it sweet, when they shall have fallen away, their age already setting, since they crucify again for themselves the son of God and dishonor him. For the earth, which has drunk the rain often descending upon it and has borne grass apt for those on whose account it is tilled, attains the blessing of God; but, if it should bring forth thorns, it is reprobate and nigh to cursing, whose end is unto utter burning. He who learned this from apostles and taught it with apostles never knew of any second repentance promised by apostles to the adulterer and fornicator. For excellently was he wont to interpret the law and keep its figures even in the truth itself.

Origen, Against Celsus 1.63:

Γεγραπται δη εν τη Βαρναβα καθολικη επιστολη, οθεν ο Κελσος λαβων ταχα ειπεν ειναι επιρρητους και πονηροτατους τους αποστολους, οτι, Εξελεξατο τους ιδιους αποστολους Ιησους οντας υπερ πασαν ανομιαν ανομωτερους.

Now it is written in the catholic epistle of Barnabas, whence perhaps Celsus took the saying that the apostles were infamous and most evil men, that Jesus elected his own apostles as men who were guiltier beyond all lawlessness.*

* Refer to Barnabas 5.9.

Eusebius, History of the Church 6.14.1-4:

Εν δε ταις υποτυπωσεσιν ξυνελοντα ειπειν πασης της ενδιαθηκου γραφης επιτετμημενας πεποιηται διηγησεις, μηδε τας αντιλεγομενας παρελθων, την Ιουδα λεγω και τας λοιπας καθολικας επιστολας, την τε Βαρναβα και την Πετρου λεγομενην αποκαλυψιν.

And in the Hypotyposeis, to speak briefly, [Clement] has made concise accounts of every testamental scripture, not even leaving out the disputed ones, that of Jude, I say, and the rest of the catholic epistles, and that of Barnabas as well as that called the apocalypse of Peter.

Και την προς Εβραιους δε επιστολην Παυλου μεν ειναι φησιν, γεγραφθαι δε Εβραιοις Εβραικη φωνη, Λουκαν δε φιλοτιμως αυτην μεθερμηνευσαντα εκδουναι τοις Ελλησιν, οθεν τον αυτον χρωτα ευρισκεσθαι κατα την ερμηνειαν ταυτης τε της επιστολης και των πραξεων.

And he says that the epistle toward the Hebrews is also of Paul, but it was written to Hebrews in a Hebrew voice, and Luke honorably translated it and published it for the Greeks, for which reason the same style is found, because of this translation, both in the epistle and in the Acts.

Μη προγεγραφθαι δε το Παυλος αποστολος εικοτως, Εβραιοις γαρ, φησιν, επιστελλων προληψιν ειληφοσιν κατ αυτου και υποπτευουσιν αυτον, συνετως πανυ ουκ εν αρχη απετρεψεν αυτους, το ονομα θεις.

But [he says that] the words: Paul an apostle, were not prefixed, and that customarily, for, he says, in writing an epistle to Hebrews who had formed a prejudice against him and were suspicious of him, he very cleverly did not drive them away at the beginning by placing his name there.

Ειτα υποβας επιλεγει· Ηδη δε, ως ο μακαριος ελεγεν πρεσβυτερος, επει ο κυριος, αποστολος ων του παντοκρατορος, επεσταλη προς Εβραιους, δια μετριοτητα ο Παυλος, ως αν εις τα εθνη απεσταλμενος, ουκ εγγραφει εαυτον Εβραιων αποστολον, δια τε την προς τον κυριον τιμην δια τε το εκ περιουσιας και τοις Εβραιοις επιστελλειν, εθνων κηρυκα οντα και αποστολον.

Then under that he says further: But already, as the blessed elder used to say, since the Lord, being an apostle of the almighty, was sent toward Hebrews, Paul through modesty, as one sent to the gentiles, does not inscribe himself as apostle of Hebrews, both through honor toward the Lord and on account that he wrote the epistle to the Hebrews from his abundance, being a preacher and apostle of gentiles.

Jerome, On Famous Men 6:

Barnabas Cyprius, qui et Ioseph Levites, cum Paulo gentium apostolus ordinatus, unam ad aedificationem ecclesiae pertinentem epistolam composuit, quae inter apocryphas scripturas legitur. hic postea propter Ioannem discipulum, qui et Marcus vocabatur, separatus a Paulo, nihilominus evangelicae praedicationis iniunctum sibi opus exercuit.

Barnabas the Cyprian, who is also Joseph the Levite, ordained as an apostle to the gentiles with Paul, wrote one epistle, valuable for the edification of the church, which is reckoned among the apocryphal writings. He afterwards separated from Paul on account of the disciple John, who was also called Mark, but nonetheless exercised the work enjoined upon him of preaching the gospel.