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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 4 - Verse 36
Verse 36. And Joses. Many manuscripts, instead of Joses, here read Joseph. The reasons why this individual is selected and specified particularly were, doubtless, because he was a foreigner; because it was a remarkable instance of liberality; and because he subsequently distinguished himself in the work of the ministry. He gave himself, his property, his all, to the service of the Lord Jesus, and went forth to the self-denying labours of the gospel. He is elsewhere mentioned with honour in the New Testament, Ac 11:24,30; and usually as the companion of the apostle Paul. The occasion on which he became connected with Paul in the ministry was, when he himself was sent forth by the church at Jerusalem to Antioch. There, it seems, he heard of the fame of Paul, and went to Tarsus to seek him, and brought him with him to Antioch, Ac 11:22-26. Before this, he had been acquainted with him, and had introduced him to the other apostles at a time when they were afraid of Paul, and unwilling to acknowledge him as an apostle, Ac 9:26,27. At Antioch, Barnabas was led into dissimulation by Peter in regard to the Gentiles, and was reproved by his friend and companion Paul, Ga 2:13. He and Paul continued to travel in fellowship until a dispute arose at Antioch about Mark; and they separated, Paul going with Silas through Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas with Mark sailing for his native place, Cyprus, Ac 15:35-41. See the following places for particulars of his history: Ac 11:22,25,30; 12:25; Ac 13:1,2,50; 14:12; 15:12; 1 Co 9:6; Ga 2:1,9.
Who by the apostles was surnamed, etc. This name was doubtless given by the apostles. The practice of giving surnames, as expressive of character, was not uncommon. Thus Simon was called Peter, or Cephas, Joh 1:42; and thus James and John were surnamed Boanerges, Mr 3:17.
Barnabas, which is, etc. This word properly denotes the son of prophecy. It is compounded of two Syriac words, the one meaning son, and the other prophecy. The Greek word which is used to interpret this, paraklhsewv, translated consolation, means properly also, exhortation, entreaty, petition, or advocacy. It also means consolation, or solace; and from this meaning the interpretation has been given to the word Barnabas, but with evident impropriety. It does not appear that the name was bestowed on account of this; though it is probable that he possessed it in an eminent degree; but on account of his talent for speaking, or exhorting the people to holiness, and his success in preaching. Comp. Ac 11:23,24.
A Levite. One of the descendants of Levi, employed in the lower services of the temple. The whole tribe of Levi was set apart to the service of religion. It was divided into Priests and Levites. The three sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Of the family of Kohath. Aaron was descended, who was the first high priest, His eldest son succeeded him, and the remainder of his sons were priests.
Of the country of Cyprus. Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean; an island extremely fertile, abounding in wine, honey, oil, wool, etc. It is mentioned in Ac 13:4; 15:39. The island is near to Cilicia, and is not far from the Jewish coast. It is mentioned by Dion Cassius, (lib. 68, 69,) that the Jews were very numerous in that island.—Clark.
Barnabas afterwards became, with Paul, a distinguished preacher to the Gentiles. It is worthy of remark, that both were born in heathen countries, though by descent Jews; and as they were trained in heathen lands, they were better fitted for their peculiar work. The case of Barnabas is that of a man who had property, who entered the ministry, and gave up all for the Lord Jesus. The great mass of ministers, like very many who have been distinguished in other professions, have been taken from the poor, and from humble ranks in life. But all have not been. Many have been wealthy, and have devoted all to Christ; and in regard to others, it is to be remarked, that a very considerable proportion of them could have gained more wealth in some other profession than they do in the ministry. The ministry is a work of self-denial; and none should enter it who are not prepared to devote all to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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