Barnabas, whose name means “son of consolation” or “son of encouragement,” was the surname of Joses, a Levite (Acts 4:36). His name is first in the list of prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Luke speaks of him as a “good man” (Acts 11:22-24). He was a native of Cyprus, where he had land (Acts 4:36-37) he sold for the sake of the Gospel. When Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas took him and introduced him to the apostles (Acts 9:27). They may have been companions as students in the school of Gamaliel.
The prosperity of the church at Antioch led the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to superintend the movement. He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and labored with him for a year (Acts 11:25-26). At the end of this period. the two were sent up to Jerusalem with the contributions the church at Antioch had made for the poorer brethren there (Acts 11:28-30). Shortly after they returned, bringing John Mark with them, they were appointed as missionaries to the heathen world, and in this capacity visited Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Asia Minor (Acts 13:14). Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch, they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:2: Gal. 2:1). This matter having been settled, they returned again to Antioch, bringing the decree of the council as the rule by which Gentiles were to be admitted into the Church.
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving on a second missionary journey, a dispute arose about the wisdom of taking John Mark with them again. The dispute ended by Paul and Barnabas taking separate routes. Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Barnabas took his nephew John Mark, and visited Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). He is credited with founding the church in Cyprus.
–Based on Easton’s Bible Dictionary, 1897