Home      Back to St. Barnabas





Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884


[JUNE 11.]

This festival is not of primitive antiquity, being unnoticed in the ancient Lectionaries and Sacramentaries. In the Calendar of the Venerable Bede it is the 10th instead of the 11th of June; and in the Eastern Church the name of St. Barnabas is associated with that of St. Bartholomew, the latter being also commemorated on August 25th. The day was omitted from the English Calendar of 1552, but the Service was retained. In Fothergill's MS. it is stated that the day was not observed because St. Barnabas was not one of the twelve. [Hence we find Bishop Wren in 1636 giving direction that "ministers forget not to read the collects, epistles, and gospels appointed for the Converts of St. Paul...and for St. Barnaby's Day." Card. Doc. Ann. ii. 202.]

The name of St. Barnabas derives its chief lustre from his association with St. Paul; yet, independently of this, he was one worthy to be ranked among the saints of the Church as an Evangelist, Apostle, and Martyr.

The Apostle St. Barnabas was born at Cyprus, but was a Jew of the tribe of Levi, and his original name was Joses or Joseph. Some of the Fathers record that he was one of the seventy disciples, and that he was brought up with St. Paul at the feet of Gamaliel. After our Lord's Ascension he received the name of Barnabas, or "Son of Consolation," from the Apostles; and showed his zeal for Christ by selling his property that the Apostles might distribute the proceeds among the poor; an act which possibly originated the name by which he has ever since been known. St. Chrysostom hands down a tradition that he was a man of very amiable disposition but commanding aspect. Having brought St. Paul to the Apostles he was associated with him for about fourteen years, and on several missionary journeys. After their separation nothing further is recorded of St. Barnabas in Holy Scripture; but the traditions of the Church represent that he spent the remainder of his life among his fellow-countrymen at Cyprus, and that he was stoned by the Jews at Salamis under circumstances somewhat similar to those which brought St. Stephen to his death. What was supposed to be the body of St. Barnabas was discovered four centuries after his martyrdom, a Hebrew copy of St. Matthew's Gospel lying next his heart, which was believed to have been written by himself. An Epistle is extent, bearing the name of St. Barnabas, which is considered by many scholars to be authentic.

The Gospel for the day is evidently selected with reference to the act of St. Barnabas in consoling the poor disciples in their poverty. He acted upon the command of our Lord in the spirit with which the example of the Good Samaritan is commended to us, and showed his love by going and doing likewise.

Introit.Thy friends are exceeding honourable unto me, O God: greatly is their beginning strengthened. Ps. O Lord, Thou hast searched me out and known me: Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising. Glory be.