The book of Barnabas

Daily Reading for June 11 • St. Barnabas, Apostle

Greetings, sons and daughters, in the name of the Lord who loved us, in peace. so great and abundant are the righteous acts of God toward you that I am exceedingly overjoyed, beyond measure, by our blessed and glorious spirits. For you have received such a measure of this grace planted within you, the spiritual gift! And so I share your joy all the more within myself, hoping to be saved; for truly I see that, in your midst, the Spirit has been poured out upon you from the abundance of the Lord’s fountain—so amazed have I been by the sight of your face, which I have so desired.

And so, since I have been persuaded about this and realize that I who have spoken to you know many things (since the Lord has traveled along with me in the path of righteousness), I have also felt fully compelled to love you more than my own soul. For a great faith and love dwell within you in the hope of his life. I have thus come to realize that I will be rewarded for serving spirits like yours, if I care for you enough to hand over a portion of what I have received. I have hastened, then, to send you a brief letter, that you may have perfect knowledge to accompany your faith.

There are three firm teachings of the Lord of life: hope, which is the beginning and end of our faith; righteousness, which is the beginning and end of judgment; and love, which is a testament to our joy and gladness in upright deeds. For through the prophets the Master has made known to us what has happened and what now is; and he has given us the first fruits of the taste of what is yet to be. And as we see that each and every thing has happened just as he indicated, we should make a more abundant and exalted offering in awe of him.

From “The Letter of Barnabas,” chapter 1, translated by Bart D. Ehrman, who notes: “The second- and third-century Christians who refer to the book attribute it to Barnabas, the companion of the apostle Paul. But this may have involved little more than guesswork on the part of Christians who were eager to have the book read and accepted as ‘apostolic.’ It was considered part of the New Testament Scriptures in some Christian communities down to the fourth century.” Quoted in The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader by Bart D. Ehrman (Oxford University Press, 2004).

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