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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Judas Barsabbas

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After the Council of the apostles and elders held at Jerusalem to settle the matter in dispute between the Jewish and Gentile Christians at Antioch, it was resolved to send to Antioch along with St. Paul and Barnabas two deputies entrusted with the letter containing the decrees of the brethren of Jerusalem. These deputies were Judas Barsabbas and Silas (Acts 15:22). The fact that they were selected as deputies of the Jerusalem Church on this important mission proves that they were men of considerable influence in the Church. They are called chief men among the brethren (ἡγουμένους), and were probably elders. The narrative tells us that both wore endowed with the prophetic gift (Acts 15:32) and that they continued a considerable time in Antioch teaching and exhorting the believers there. After their work, the restoring of peace among the contending factions, was accomplished, they were free to depart. Judas returned to Jerusalem, while Silas remained and became the companion of St. Paul on his second missionary journey. The contention of some critics that Silas returned to Jerusalem with Judas and that Acts 15:34 is spurious, is met by the view of Ramsay (St. Paul, p. 174f.), who holds that Acts 15:33 simply means that freedom was given to the two deputies to depart, and that Acts 15:34 was omitted by a copyist who misunderstood Acts 15:33 (cf. Zahn, Einleitung, i. 148).

Beyond these facts nothing certain is known of Barsabbas. It has been suggested that he was a brother of Joseph Barsabbas who was nominated to succeed Iscariot in the early days of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 1:23), as Barsabbas is a patronymic son of Sabbas. If this be so, Judas had in all probability, like Joseph, been personally acquainted with Jesus, and a disciple. This would account, to some extent at least, for the influential position he seems to hold at the Council of Jerusalem. Attempts have been made to identify him with others bearing the name Judas, but all such attempts must be relinquished. The Apostle Judas ‘not Iscariot’ was the son of James (Luke 6:16 Revised Version ), and in the narrative in the Acts Barsabbas is clearly distinguished from the apostles. Some have suggested that he may be the writer of the Epistle that bears his name, but the writer describes himself as the brother of James (Judges 1:1), and this James must either have been the son of Joseph the husband of the Virgin or the son of Alphaeus (see article Jude)-in any case, not the son of Sabbas.

Literature.-R. J. Knowling, ‘Acts,’ in Expositor’s Greek Testament , 1900, p. 326; W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 1895, p. 174f.; T. Zahn, Einleitung in das NT3, 1906-07, i. 148; articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Encyclopaedia Biblica .

W. F. Boyd.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Judas Barsabbas'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/j/judas-barsabbas.html. 1906-1918.

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