The Story of Saint Barnabas
We meet Barnabas first in chapter 4 of the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles and then repeatedly in later chapters as the story of these acts are told.
He was a Jewish Levite (assistant to the priests) of Cyprus and became one of the earliest Christian disciples at Jerusalem. His original name was Joseph, but he was renamed Barnabas by the Apostles because Luke interpreted the word Barnabas as son of encouragement.
Barnabas introduced Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem after Paul’s conversion and was sent by them to inquire into the situation at Antioch. There Christianity was being preached to Gentiles on a new scale. Having approved the Antioch situation, Barnabas fetched Paul from Tarsus to help him in the first missionary journey, beginning with Cyprus. Indeed, in this Barnabas was originally the leader, though Paul very soon became the more prominent.
At the Council at Jerusalem, Barnabas defended the claims of the Gentile Christians, and later he returned to Antioch with Paul. Owing to a dispute with Paul over John and Mark, they parted company, and Barnabas sailed for Cyprus. He probably continued to travel widely, as later Paul mentions him as if he were known to the Galatians, the Corinthians, and possibly the Colossians.
By tradition, Barnabas was founder of the Cypriot Church, and legend asserts that he was martyred at Salamis in A.D. 61.
Source: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford UP