The first time we read about Barnabas is in Acts 4:36-37, where we read that “Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” From the start, Barnabas is displayed as an example of his giving spirit (in comparison to Ananias and Sapphira talked about next), and is thereby encouraging the other believers.
The next time we read of Barnabas is in Acts 9:27 when Barnabas “took [Saul] and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” Again, Barnabas is encouraging the other believers by being an example of his loving spirit (in comparison to the other disciples who were afraid of Saul). Barnabas exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13:7 (“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.“)
Then we read about Barnabas in Acts 11:22-24 when the church in Jerusalem hears about the great things happening in Antioch, and they send Barnabas to check it out. “When [Barnabas] came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”
After that, in Acts 11:25-30, Barnabas, seeing the advancement of the gospel, goes to Tarsus to get Saul and go back to Antioch to further instruct many people. And when prophets came to Antioch with news that a great famine would come, Barnabas (with Saul) is sent to the brothers in Judea to sent relief.
Then, Barnabas accompanies Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14) to Cyprus (Barnabas’ home), Perga, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, and Derbe.
It is Barnabas (with Paul) who is appointed to go to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:2), and brought great joy to the brothers in Phoenicia and Samaria on his way (Acts 15:3). During the council, Barnabas (again with Paul) encourages the council by telling about all the great “signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:22). Barnabas gets to take the letter back to Antioch to encourage the believers there about the great news of the outcome, and “teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also” (Acts 15:35)
The last we hear from Barnabas is when he stood up for the young John Mark when Paul did not want to take him with him on the second missionary journey.
In summary, Barnabas is a great example of how, filled with the Holy Spirit, one can be a great example in giving, loving, teaching and preaching, exhorting, and defending other believers and the faith. He is truly a son of encouragement, and I feel greatly convicted (yet encouraged) by his example. But praise the LORD for Barnabas and the opportunity to always grow in walking in the Spirit. And what Paul said of himself, Barnabas can surely say about himself too, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).