'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
The absence of Barnabas from history after he and Paul separated has posed many questions that seem unanswerable in any satisfactory way. Did he continue to minister in Cyprus with Mark? Did he die or meet some other untimely death? (Acts 15:36-39}. The sharpness of their disagreement and the long term result is unique in all the New Testament after the Gospels.
Could this event in the life of Barnabas be related in some way to the Book Of Hebrews?
Mark had returned apparently from Cyprus some time later, and was finally accepted by Paul as a helper in his ministry. Perhaps the recipients of the letter already knew who wrote it, so the writer deemed it unnecessary to give a greeting that included his name, rank, etc. The Apostles usually identified themselves by name and rank somewhere in the greeting of their letters. The best that we can honestly do, is guess, employ what logic seems reasonable, and resort to supposition. This being said, there seems to be some reasonable suppositions, although we will perhaps never know until Jesus return. And then, perhaps it will not be His will to ever reveal the destiny of Barnabas, other than the initial one of Cyprus, after he and Paul separated.
It seems to this writer that there is a possibility that Barnabas wrote the letter of Hebrews, mostly for at least one plausible reason. First of all Barnabas was a Levite. Hence his intimate detailing of many tenets and requirements of Jewish history and practice of Judaism of that time. After he and Paul went different ways, almost all focus turned toward Paul the other Apostles. If Barnabas continued to actively preach the gospel, most of those to whom Paul was active with could have had less than a deep love and respect for Barnabas, due to the intensity of their disagreement. After all, here is Paul. Where is Barnabas, other than where it is stated that he went? Why the author of Hebrews is not revealed by the writer could be explained as (assuming Barnabas was the writer) a desire on his part to avoid the possible bias against what is written if they knew who wrote it. Then, the emotion, the tenor, the writer's general approach to his readers, and the scope of the letter, all could point to Barnabas.
It is witnessed of Barnabas that "he was a good man". No other had received such a description. He was described as the "son of consolation (encouragement)". Apparently he was sensitive, dynamic, sympathetic in nature, felt deeply, and was very expressive. The letter glows with intensity and urgency. The directness of the segments of warning could seem excessive strong. However, the profoundness of the letter tends to undercut any negative feelings or bias that could have diminished his desired affect. Reading through Hebrews as an overview, these characteristics seem to bolster the importance and general affect that the writer intended. He was protecting his readers from themselves, by not immediately being identified.
Often truth is stunted and becomes ineffective due to the personalities of the one delivering that truth. It could be so relating to Barnabas and the book of Hebrews. Only one of the "church fathers" believed the writer to be Barnabas. Various opinions were distributed among the ancients. Today, most scholars believe that the Apostle Paul wrote it. The strongest evidence for this conclusion apparently is the the last three verses of the book, which seem very strongly to indicate that Paul wrote Hebrews, or at least the Benediction (Hebrews 13:20-25). However, we do not know now for sure who wrote it. Lets us not be overly concerned about the "who". Only with "what" is written in the pages of this marvelous book in the Word of God.. As was once said of the head of the Soviet Empire who apparently had made a particularly profound and truthful statement, "Lets us just be thankful that he has this truth".
There is much encouragement in the words of the Book of Hebrews. There are also some very strong words of warning as well. Even in this, it is unique among all the letters in the New Testament. Let us be thankful for the wonderful truth unveiled in the Book of Hebrews, regardless of who penned it. And may we take it into our hearts in the same way that the writer wrote it, and intended for us to take it.
May we be encouraged and warned by the loving concern of the author of the Book of Hebrews - no matter who it turns out to be.
"Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it)." - Hebrews 13:20-21 (AMP)
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