Mat 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

Mat 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

Mat 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

Mat 10:4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

Mat 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The issue of others being designated “apostles” besides the 12 apostles in God’s program with Israel, and besides the apostle Paul in connection with the present dispensation of God’s grace, can seem puzzling at first. However what needs to recognized is that “apostle” can be used not only with the meaning of an official title for one who is specifically chosen by God to head up and to authoritatively oversee the administration of His program, but it can also be used to designate ones within God’s programs who are entrusted with special ministries that involve them being sent out to various places to accomplish various things in connection with the program. (Even within the secular Greek world the word “apostle” could be used in the same two ways. Hence there were ones who could be officially entitled “apostles” by the head of the government as they were given the authority and office to carry out government policy in a particular area. While others who were sent out by some branch of the government to carry out a mission in some area of the country could also be called “apostles” in connection with their particular mission, though they themselves did not hold the government office.)

Mat 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Mat 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Briefly put, in God’s program with Israel the 12 apostles (with Matthias replacing Judas) are the ones God chose to head up and authoritatively oversee the administration of Israel’s program during and throughout its climactic and final stage. They are 12 in number in accordance with the basic government setup in Israel consisting of their 12 tribes, each one having a designated prince and counselor as its head. Hence the Lord said to the 12 apostles what He did, for example, in Matthew 19:27–28 when He told them about the governmental positions over Israel that they would possess once the kingdom of heaven is established on the earth. Now in God’s program with Israel only the 12 hold this type of official ministry and apostleship. However in Israel’s program there are some others who were designated as “apostles.” But they were so designated in accordance with them being given special ministries within the administration of the overall program, and they were sent out (or ‘apostled’) to various places to accomplish those ministries.

Mat 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

In fact, the Lord told the rebellious, unbelieving rulers of Israel to expect to see such individuals. In places like Matthew 23:34–35 and Luke 11:47–51 He said to them in connection with the program entering its final stage that He would be sending to them a number of individuals with special ministries. These He called “prophets and apostles,” and “prophets, and wise men, and scribes.” These wouldn’t necessarily be the 12 apostles themselves, for they had already been chosen by the Lord for their special role long before this, and they had already been functioning for some time. These others would be other members of the believing remnant of Israel who would be functioning along with the 12 during the coming final installment of God’s program with Israel. And among them were ones like Stephen and Barnabas.

Luk 11:47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

Luk 11:48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

Luk 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

Luk 11:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

Luk 11:51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

Now when God in accordance with providing for fulfilling “the mystery of Christ,” suspended His program with Israel following the events of Acts 1–7 and ushered in this present dispensation of His grace to the Gentiles, He raised up Paul to be His apostle for the new dispensation and to head it up and to authoritatively oversee the administration of it. Hence as Paul says to us in his epistles to us, he is the one to whom God revealed “the mystery of Christ” and to whom was given the dispensation of God’s grace for us Gentiles. Paul alone, therefore, holds the office of “the apostle of the Gentiles.” He holds the only official and authoritative office of apostleship of God for this present dispensation of God’s grace.

Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Rom 1:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

Rom 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

Rom 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Rom 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:


However, as it was in God’s program with Israel so also at the beginning of this present dispensation of grace there were others who were also called “apostles.” For example, Paul called Timothy and others with him “apostles.” And just as those others who were called “apostles” in Israel’s program were ones who were sent out with special ministries within the program and were under the administration of the 12, so also did Timothy and others like him function as “apostles” within the program for this present dispensation and were under Paul’s administration. Hence we find Paul sending out (or ‘apostle-ing’) Timothy and others to accomplish certain ministries.

Act 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

Act 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

Act 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

Now since you specifically asked about Barnabas, my understanding is that after God had suspended His program with Israel, had raised up Paul as His new apostle, and had ushered in the dispensation of His grace, Barnabas and some others functioned in a very special way at the beginning of this dispensation. For example, Barnabas was sent out (or ‘apostled’) by the 12 when it came to initially finding out about and investigating the Lord’s unique activity in Antioch. However, upon realizing what was taking place there, he also went to get Paul and stayed there with him in Antioch, having previously come to understand and appreciate the basic issue of Paul’s special apostleship and what God was now doing.

1Co 4:9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

1Co 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

In addition, my understanding is that he also functioned in a special way with Paul at the beginning of this dispensation when it came to the issue of testifying to and bearing witness to the “stumbling” and the “fall” of Israel, which preceded God suspending His program with them. This issue clearly was testified to, and also needed to be testified to, during that time. And my understanding is that Barnabas in particular functioned in accordance with this, and was sent out (or ‘apostled’) to go with Paul during the beginning of this dispensation to provide for that testifying and that witness.

Keith Blades

Enjoy The Bible Ministries

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