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 St. Barnabas 31. Evangelization in Asia.

      Continuing our lengthy biography of St. Barnabas, last week we discussed his and St. Mark’s evangelization on the island of Cyprus (about 50 AD and following). The next reference in Scripture is St. Paul’s reference to Barnabas in 1 Corinthians 9 (written about 54 AD) which, from the context, indicates that the Corinthians (in Greece) must have known Barnabas first-hand, with the reasonable probability that Paul and Barnabas had evangelized together.

      It is further interesting that in Philemon24, Paul includes Mark in a list of “fellow workers” sending greetings (and thus there with Paul), but Barnabas is not included. Also, in Colossians 4:10 Paul writes, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions–if he comes to you, receive him).” Paul also says these two, and Justus, are the “only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers” (Col 4:11) and so Barnabas definitely was not there. Although scholars differ when and where Philemon and Colossians were written, we think the analysis of N. T. Wright is most persuasive that they were written from Ephesus, while he was in prison, about the years of 55-56 AD.

      So it seems reasonable to piece together the following possible history: On Paul’s second missionary journey, and somewhere during his 18 months in Corinth (Ac 18:11) from late 51-53 AD (when Paul went to Jerusalem then back to Antioch of Syria, Ac 18:20-22), Barnabas and Mark may have gone from Cyprus and joined Paul in evangelizing the Corinthians. (Or they may have come to Corinth to continue the evangelization after Paul left.) Next, Paul stopped in Ephesus on his way back to Jerusalem, which was the first time he was in Asia (today’s Western Turkey), and he made his first convert of Asia, Epaenetus (Ro 16:5). Knowing Paul did evangelization work in Ephesus at that time, then it is also possible Barnabas and Mark could have come with Paul to Ephesus, perhaps staying there to continue evangelization after Paul left.

Colossae, Turkey (today)
      Then by 54 AD Paul is back in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Around 55-56 AD he is imprisoned in Ephesus. Mark remains there with Paul, but Barnabas has now left to do evangelization in Asia (again, today’s Western Turkey). Per Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul knows that “instructions” about Barnabas (typically a letter affirming the Apostolic authority of traveling Apostles) has been sent to the Church at Colossae, and Paul also personally urges the Church to receive Barnabas if he comes there. So clearly Barnabas was now (55-56 AD) evangelizing in Asia.

      We will look at the last Scriptural hint about Barnabas next week.

Dibby Allan Green
Originally published in the print edition of the Mojave Desert News  dated December 9, 2021.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is located in California City, CA. Visit our website at

Dibby Allan Green has a BA in Religious Studies (Westmont College, 1978) and MA in Theology (Augustine Institute, 2019), is a lay Catholic hermit, and a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.