Who is Barsabbas?

Who is Barsabbas?

Barsabbas is by no means a familiar character in the Bible. In fact, he is only mentioned twice—both times in the book of Acts. What makes him an intriguing fellow is his character and integrity.

You see, Barsabbas, along with Matthias, were both considered to become Judas’s replacement, to become the twelfth disciple. Instead of conducting interviews (as would be done nowadays) or even taking a vote, the decision was made by a game of chance. That seems a cavalier and unspiritual thing to do.

To do this, the people prayed for God’s guidance in this process, trusting him in the outcome—and then they drew lots. Matthias was selected (Acts 1:23-26). Barsabbas could have pouted, felt rejected, left the group in a huff, or been mad at the leaders.

He could have even been angry with God. After all, if God’s hand was really in this selection, as they had prayed, then it was God who decided to not pick Barsabbas. Its one thing for a person to tell you “no,” but for God to say “no” carries much more weight.

Yet we don’t hear of him having any of these negative responses. We see no indication that he reacted with disappointment. Apparently, he stuck around and continued to make God his priority and focus, for we next hear of him in Acts 15:22 where he was chosen to be part of an important delegation sent to Antioch.

He proved his true character in how he reacted to not being chosen—that’s integrity.

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

2 Comments

  • Linda Vogt Turner Posted February 24, 2021 12:01 pm

    Knowing the Scriptures and the names chosen for the “key” characters and the meaning of those names is important. For instance Barsabbas means son of the Sabbath. In Mathias’ [Matthew’s] Gospel Account, In chapter 12 verse 8, Jesus says the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. The name Mathias means “the Gift of God”. The name Nathaniel also means the Gift of God.

    Barabbas was not chosen to replace Judas. Mathias was. Judas in Hebrew means Praise…the elevated one. The Trinity is also important in ciphering, figuring out the Cipher, the interconnected, interwoven key characters of the Resurrection known as the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Barabbas for instance means Son of the Father. He was not chosen. The crowd demanded he be released from prison…Mmm…who else was put in prison? John. So the crowd of witnesses demanded Jesus the One called the Nazarite …with the shaved head…be the chosen one for the Tree…so they crucified Jesus the Christ. In the Pauline Letters one can read how the One called Paul was crucified with Christ and how Christ was not divided (1 Corinthians 1: 11-13; Galatians 2:20). Paul means “least” little, tiny. (Phillipians 2:5-8; Luke 9:48)

    The plot thickens or gets more complicated and interwoven as good stories always do. In John’s Gospel for instance it is the Woman Jesus called Mary who goes to the Garden overlooking the tombs for her LORD. She supposes Jesus the Teacher is her Lord and has stolen her Lord’s body. He tells her that he is not a robber. [Resistance Leader yes] He has not taken her Lord’s body. He is not the Gardener, her HUSBANDMAN…the VINEDRESSER. She is not to cling to HIM the Rabboni.

    So thank you Peter for bringing up the name Barsabbas. Because of this, I delved even further into the name and discovered that Barsabbas was chosen as the Bishop of a city that was free! Just goes to reinforce the Christian saying, the Truth will set you free. Did you know that Nazareth was never an actual city during the first century. Nazareth is a word that means TRUTH.

    • Peter DeHaan Posted February 24, 2021 1:16 pm

      Linda, I’ve never thought of Jesus as a “Resistance Leader,” but it’s a fitting label given all he did for us. Thank you for this nice nugget of truth!

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