And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas.—The better MSS. give the name as Joseph. It is possible, as Rabbinic writers often give Jose for Joseph, that both were but different forms, like Simon and Simeon, of the same name. The later friendship between the Levite of Cyprus and St. Paul makes it probable that there had been some previous companionship (see Notes on Acts 9:27; Acts 11:25), and it may well have been that he was sent from Cyprus to receive his education in the famous schools of Tarsus, or practised with Saul in early life the craft of tent-making, for which Tarsus was famous, and in which they were afterwards fellow-labourers (1Corinthians 9:6). As a Levite he had probably taken his place in the ministries of the Temple, and may, therefore, have been among our Lord’s actual hearers. His relation Mary, the mother of John surnamed Marcus, was, we know, living at Jerusalem. (See Note on Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:10.) A tradition, as early as Clement of Alexandria (Strom. ii. § 116), makes him one of the Seventy, and this agrees with the prophetic character which we have seen reason to think of as attaching to that body. (See. Note on Luke 10:1.) The new name which the Apostles gave him, literally, if we look to its Hebrew etymology, The son of prophecy, or, taking St. Luke’s translation, The son of counsel, implies the possession of a special gift of persuasive utterance, in which the Apostles recognised the work of the Spirit. The Paraclete had endowed him with the gift of paraclesis, in the sense in which that word included counsel, comfort, admonition, application of divine truth to the spiritual necessities of men. (See Excursus G. on St. John’s Gospel.) In Acts 11:23, we find him exhorting the Gentile converts at Antioch, the verb being that from which paraclesis is derived. He was, i.e., conspicuous for the gift of prophecy as that gift is described in 1Corinthians 14:3. The several stages in his life come before us later. An Epistle bearing his name, and recognised as his by Clement of Alexandria and Origen, is still extant, but its authenticity is, to say the least, questionable. It consists mainly of allegorical interpretations of Old Testament narratives. Some critics have assigned the Epistle to the Hebrews to his authorship, as the expounder of St. Paul’s thoughts. It should be noted that a little further on his kinswoman Mary’s house is the chief meeting-place of the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and that her son John, surnamed Mark, is mentioned by St. Peter (“Marcus my son,” 1Peter 5:13) in words which make it almost certain that he was converted by that Apostle.Acts 4:36-37. And Joses — Among the rest of those primitive converts who so generously contributed of their substance for the relief and subsistence of the poor believers, in these extraordinary circumstances, there was one Joses, by the apostles surnamed Barnabas, The son of consolation — Not only on account of his so largely assisting the poor with his fortune, but also of those peculiar gifts of the Spirit whereby he was so well qualified both to comfort and exhort. A Levite — And yet so far from being prejudiced against this new religion, which might seem to oppose his temporal interest, that he gladly devoted himself to its service; of the country of Cyprus — Where, it seems, he was born and brought up. Having land, sold it — As he was a Levite, he could not have sold, or alienated, his paternal inheritance; (see Leviticus 25:34;) but the land or estate here spoken of, might either have been some legacy, or purchased land, in Judea, to which he might have a title till the next jubilee, or, perhaps, some land in Cyprus. And we may suppose it mentioned, either as the first foreign estate sold, or as of some extraordinary value. Acts 11:24, Acts 11:30, 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, Acts 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, Acts 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, Galatians 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, Acts 15:35-41. See the following places for particulars of his history: Acts 11:22, Acts 11:25, Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:1-2, Acts 13:50; Acts 14:12; Acts 15:12; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1, Galatians 2:9.
Who by the apostles was surnamed ... - The practice of giving surnames, as expressive of character, was not uncommon. Thus, Simon was called Peter, or Cephas, John 1:44; and thus James and John were surnamed Boanerges, Mark 3:17.
Barnabas, which is ... - 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 παράκλησις paraklēsis, translated "consolation," means properly 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 the qualification for administering comfort or consolation in an eminent degree, but on account of his talent for "speaking," or "exhorting" the people to holiness, and his success in preaching. Compare Acts 11:23.
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 oldest son succeeded him, and the remainder of his sons were "priests." All the others of the tribe of Levi were called "Levites," and were employed in the work of the temple, in assisting the priests in performing sacred music, etc., Numbers 3; Deuteronomy 12:18-19; Deuteronomy 18:6-8; 1 Chronicles 23:24.
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 Acts 13:4; Acts 15:39. The island is near to Cicilia, and is not far from the Jewish coast. It is said by Dion Caccius (lib. 68, 69) that the Jews were very numerous in that island - Clark. Barnabas afterward became, with Paul, a distinguished preacher to the Gentiles. It is worthy of remark, that "both" were born in pagan countries, though by descent Jews; and as they were trained in pagan lands, they were better suited for their special work. The case of Barnabas is that of a man who had property when he entered the ministry, and who 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 among 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.
son of consolation—no doubt so surnamed from the character of his ministry.
a Levite—who, though as a tribe having no inheritance, might and did acquire property as individuals (De 18:8).
Cyprus—a well-known island in the Mediterranean.Joses; some read Joseph; the Hebrew names, when turned into Greek, meet with divers terminations or endings.
Surnamed Barnabas; full of consolation; not only in that he gave so liberally towards the relief of the poor, parting with his possessions for them; but that he excelled in propounding inward and spiritual comfort unto poor and rich, being of a mild disposition, and fitted to handle gently such wounds as the terrors of the law had made.
Though a Levite he might have land, either in right of his wife, or given to him and his ancestors; as we read was to Phinehas, Joshua 24:33; otherwise the Lord was the Levites’ portion in an especial manner.
The Jews being dispersed all over the known world, some dwelt in Cyprus, as Joses’s parents; Saul’s parents dwelt at Tarsus; though at this time both Saul and Joses dwell in Jerusalem. Matthew 13:55 and another called "Joses Barsabas"; and it may be to distinguish the one from the other this is called "Joses Barnabas"; for so it follows,
who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas: his name before his conversion was "Joses", or "Joseph", or "Josiah"; and afterwards, or at least after he came to be acquainted with the apostles, and to be in their company, they called him "Barnabas", The Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, "who was of the apostles"; and so Barnabas is spoken of as if he was an apostle, 1 Corinthians 9:5
which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation; or "of exhortation"; from the excellent gift and talent he had at exhorting; see Acts 11:23 and from the use he was of for the comforting of distressed minds; for "Naba, to prophesy", includes both exhortation and comfort; and he having the gift of prophecy or preaching the Gospel, was called "Barnabas", a son of comfort, or a comforter, or an exhorter: and so Jerom (r) interprets it, "the son of a prophet". Drusius conjectures that his right name was , "Bar Nachama", and by contraction "Barnama", and with a Greek termination "Barnamas"; which properly signifies, in the Chaldee and Syriac languages, "the son of consolation", as it is here interpreted; and he observes, that the letters "M" and "B" are sometimes used one for an other: thus one and the same man is called "Berodach" and "Merodach", 2 Kings 20:12 and the same river is called "Abana", 2 Kings 5:12 and in the margent "Amana"; but others think he had his name from the same word that Noah had his, and which signifies rest and comfort, as appears from the reason of his name. "This same shall comfort us", &c. And so the name of this man in the Chaldee or Syriac language was , which may be literally rendered "the son of the fathers' rest", or "comfort". And this man is said to be
a Levite; of the tribe of Levi, and of the priestly race:
and of the country of Cyprus; or "by birth", or "nation, a Cyprian"; for though he was a Jew, as is clear from his being of the tribe of Levi, and was born of Jewish parents, yet in Cyprus, and so was a native of that place. The Ethiopic version renders it, "of the city of Cyprus"; but Cyprus was not a city, but a country; wherefore the Syriac version renders it, "of the place, or country of Cyprus", as we do: it was an island in the further part of the Mediterranean sea; it had its name from the plant Cyprus, and is now by the Turks called "Kibris". According to Pliny (s), it lay to the east and west of Cilicia, and was opposite Syria, and was formerly the seat of nine kingdoms; its circumference was three hundred and seventy miles, and had been called by various names; as Acamantis, Cerastis, Aspella, Amathusia, Macaria, Crypton, and Colinia; in it were fifteen towns or cities, which wcre Paphos, Palsepaphos, Curias, Citium, Corineum, Salamis, Amethus, Lapethos, Solce, Tamaseus, Epidarum, Chytri, Arsinoe, Carpasium, and Golgi. According to the same writer (t), it was by an earthquake divided from Syria; and that part of it which lay to the east from Syria, is said to be less than a hundred miles distant from it. And according to Mela (u), its chief cities were Salamis and Paphos, mentioned in Acts 13:5. And according to Ptolomy (w), it had on the west Pamphylia, on the south the Egyptian and Syrian seas, and on the east the Syrian sea, and on the north the straits of Cilicia: it was inhabited by people of various nations, and, among the rest, by Jews; and R. Benjamin makes mention of Jewish Rubbans in Cyprus, in his time (x).And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 4:36-37. Δέ] autem, introduces, in contradistinction to what has been summarily stated in Acts 4:34-35, the concrete individual case of an honourably known man, who acted thus with his landed property. The idea in the δέ is: All acted thus, and in keeping with it was the conduct of Joses.
ἀπό (see the critical remarks)]: as at Acts 2:22.
υἱὸς παρακλήσ.] בַּר נְבוּאָה, son of prophetic address, i.e. an inspired instigator, exhorter. Barnabas was a prophet (Acts 13:1), and it is probable that (at a later period) he received this surname on the occasion of some specially energetic and awakening address which he delivered; hence Luke did not interpret the name generally by υἱὸς προφητείας, but, because the προφητεία had been displayed precisely in the characteristic form of παράκλησις (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:3), by υἱὸς παρακλ. At Acts 11:23 also, παράκλησις appears as a characteristic of Barnabas. We may add, that the more precise description of him in this passage points forward to his labours afterwards to be related.
Λευΐτης] Jeremiah 32:7 proves that Levites might possess lands in Palestine. See Ewald, Alterth. p. 406. Hence the field is not to be considered as beyond the bounds of the land (Bengel).
ὑπάρχ. αὐτ. ἀγροῦ] Genitive absolute.
τὸ χρῆμα] in the singular: the sum of money, the money proceeds, the amount received. Herod, iii. 38; Poll. 9. 87; Wesseling, ad Diod. Sic. v. p. 436.Acts 4:36. Ἰωσῆς δὲ: δέ introduces the special case of Barnabas after the general statement in Acts 4:34.—ὁ ἐπικ., cf. Acts 1:23. On what occasion this surname was conferred by the Apostles nothing certain is known (ἀπό as often for ὑπό, Acts 2:22), although the fact that it was conferred by them may indicate that he owed his conversion to them. Possibly it may not have been bestowed until later, and reference may here be made to it simply to identify him (Nösgen).—βαρνάβας: most commonly derived from בַּר נְבוּאָה (“quod neque ad sensum neque ad litteras prorsus convenit,” Blass) = properly υἱὸς προφητείας. But St. Luke, it is argued, renders this υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, because under the threefold uses of prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14:3, the special gift of παράκλησις distinguished Barnabas, cf. Acts 11:23. So Harnack (whose full article “Barnabas” should be consulted, Real-Encyclopädie für prot. Theol. und Kirche,” xv., 410) explains it as indicating a prophet in the sense in which the word was used in the early Church, Acts 15:32 (Acts 11:23), παράκλησις = edifying exhortation. But not only is בַּר an Aramaic word, whilst נבואה is Hebrew, but the above solution of St. Luke’s translation is by no means satisfactory (see Zöckler, in loco). In 1 Corinthians 14:3 παράκ. might equally mean consolation, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, and it is translated “comfort” (not “exhortation”) in the R.V. In St. Luke’s Gospel the word is used twice, Luke 2:25, Luke 6:24, and in both passages it means comfort, consolation, cf. the cognate verb in Acts 16:25. Another derivation has been suggested by Klostermann, Probleme im Aposteltexte, pp. 8–14. He maintains that both parts of the word are Aramaic, בר and נְוָחָא, solatium, and that therefore St. Luke’s translation is quite justified. Blass however points out that as in the former derivation so here there is a difficulty in the connection between βαρνάβας and the somewhat obscure Aramaic word. In the conversion of Barnabas, the first man whose heart was so touched as to join him, in spite of his Levitical status and culture, to ignorant and unlettered men, the Apostles might well see a source of hope and comfort (cf. Genesis 5:29), Klostermann, p. 13. It is also worthy of note that the LXX frequently uses παράκλησις as a translation of the common Hebrew words for comfort or consolation; cf. Job 21:2, Ps. 93:19, Isaiah 57:8, Jeremiah 16:17, etc., and cf. Psalms of Solomon 13, title, παράκλησις τῶν δικαίων. On the whole question, Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 175 ff., should be consulted. Deissmann, referring to an inscription recently discovered in Northern Syria, in the old Nicopolis, probably of the third or fourth century A.D., explains the word as follows: The inscription contains the name βαρνεβοῦν, which . considers rightly = Son of Nebo; cf., e.g., Symmachus, Isaiah 46:1, who renders נְבוֹ, Nebo (transcribed by the LXX, Aquila and Theodotion, Ναβώ), by Νεβοῦς. The view of the connection or identity of βαρνάβας with βαρνεβοῦς is facilitated by the fact that in other words the ε sound in Nebo is replaced by ; cf. Nebuchadnezar = LXX Ναβουχοδονοσορ, so Nebuzaradan = LXX Ναβουζαρδαν. Very probably therefore βαρναβοῦς will occur instead of βαρνεβοῦς—and the Jews themselves might easily have converted βαρναβοῦς into βαρναβᾶς—ας being the constant termination of Greek names. In his Neue Bibelstudien, p. 16, Deissmann is able to refer to an Aramaic inscription from Palmyra, dating 114 A.D., with the word Barnebo, and cf. also Enc. Bibl., i., 484.—Λευεΐτης: although the Levites were not allowed to hold possessions in land, since God Himself was their portion (Numbers 18:20, Deuteronomy 10:9), yet they could do so by purchase or inheritance, cf. Jeremiah 32:7-12, or it is possible that the field of Barnabas may not have been in Palestine at all (see Bengel, but, on the other hand, Wendt, in loco), and that the same Messianic regulations may not have applied to the Levites in other countries (Wetstein). It would also seem that after the Captivity the distribution of land, according to the Mosaic Law, was no longer strictly observed (Overbeck, Hackett (Hastings’ B.D.), “Barnabas,” e.g., Josephus, a Levite and Priest, has lands in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and gains others in exchange for them from Vespasian, Vita, 76.—Κύπριος τῷ γένει: soon after the time of Alexander, and possibly before it, Jews had settled in Cyprus, and 1Ma 15:23 indicates that they were there in good numbers. This is the first mention of it in the N.T.; see also Acts 11:19-20, Acts 13:4-13, Acts 15:39, Acts 20:16, and the geographical notices in Acts 21:3, Acts 27:4. From the neighbouring island, Cyprus, Barnabas might well have been sent to the famous University of Tarsus, and so have made the acquaintance of Saul. In this way the previous acquaintance between the two men goes far to explain succeeding events, Acts 9:27 : see “Cyprus,” B.D. (Hastings), Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i. 2, 216.—γένει, “a man of Cyprus by race,” R.V. not “of the country of Cyprus”: γένει refers to his parentage and descent, cf. Acts 18:2; Acts 18:24.
 A(ntiochena), in Blass, a fair rough copy of St. Luke.36. And Joses] The same name as Joseph, which form the oldest MSS. give.
who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas] He was the companion of St Paul in his first missionary journey (Acts 13:2), and is often mentioned by St Luke. He was invited by St Paul to join him on his second journey, but as they disagreed about taking John Mark with them, they did not labour again, as far as we know, in the same field, and the writer leaves Barnabas (Acts 15:39) with the mention that “he took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.”
which is, being interpreted] The explanation is added for the sake of Theophilus, who may have had no knowledge of the Hebrew (see Acts 1:19).
Song of Solomon of consolation] More probably, Song of Solomon of exhortation. The Greek may be thus rendered, and the Hebrew noun nebuah is from the same root as the common word for prophet. The title may have been given to Barnabas from his ability as a preacher (Acts 11:23), though in this he seems (Acts 14:12) to have been less prominent than St Paul, as most men must have been. In describing the work of Barnabas in Acts 11:23 the verb used, “he exhorted,” is that from which the noun in this verse is derived, and is akin to the word “Paraclete,” which is so often translated “Comforter” when applied to the Holy Ghost, but rendered “advocate” in 1 John 2:1 when used of the intercession of Jesus.
a Levite] The Levites in the Holy Land had no inheritance given to them, but were scattered through all the tribes; the same regulation may not, however, have applied to the Levites in other countries; and we are not informed where the field was situated which Barnabas sold. He may also have been a married man, and have held lands from his marriage.
of the country of Cyprus] The island still so called in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. We find Jews settled there in the Maccabean times (1Ma 15:23). It was one of the places to which Paul and Barnabas went in their missionary journey, and it had been previously visited by some of the Christian teachers who were driven from Jerusalem by the persecution which succeeded the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19).Acts 4:36. Ὁ ἐπικληθεὶς, who was surnamed) A new specimen of the apostles’ high dignity, to give surnames to believers.—υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, the Son of consolation) A Gospel surname. De Dieu on this passage, and Hiller, Onom. p. 300, explain the etymology.—ΛΕΥΐΤΗς, a Levite) Instead of Levitical ordinances, those of Christianity flourish. The priests also follow, ch. Acts 6:7, “A great company of the priests was obedient to the faith.”—Κύπριος τῷ γένει) So ΠΟΝΤΙΚῸς Τῷ ΓΈΝΕΙ, ἈΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΕῪς Τῷ ΓΈΝΕΙ, ch. Acts 18:2; Acts 18:24.
 The παρακλήσεως has evident reference to the Παράκλητος, alluded to in ver. 31.—E. and T.Verse 36. - Joseph for Joses, A.V., as Acts 1:23; Son of exhortation for The son of consolation, A.V.; a man of Cyprus by race for and of the country of Cyprus, A.V. Joseph. In the variation of manuscripts it is difficult to say which is right. Some (Grotius, Alford, etc.) consider the two forms as mere variations in writing the name Joseph. But it seems more probable that Joses is the same name as Josiah, only without the addition of the Divine Name (Jab) at the end (see Simon, 'Onomast.'). It is found as a proper name in the T.R. of Matthew 13:55; Matthew 27:56; Mark 6:3; Mark 15:40, 47; Luke 3:29 (Jose); and is not likely to have been substituted for the common name of Joseph. The Codex Sinaiticus has Joses only in Mark 15:40. The R.V. has Joseph in Matthew 13:55, and Joses in Matthew 27:56; Mark 6:3; Mark 15:40, 47. In Luke 3:29 the R.V. has Jesus. But Joses is probably right both here and in the above-cited passages. Barnabas; literally, son of prophecy; i.e. a prophet, as he is called in Acts 18:1. Probably his exhortations under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the Church assemblies were particularly stirring and edifying. The Greek version of the name, υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, should be rendered, as in R.V., Son of exhortation, for "son of consolation? is a meaning which can hardly be got out of the Hebrew. The apostles seem here to have followed our Lord's example in naming the sons of Zebedee, sons of thunder. A man of Cyprus by race. The A.V. is less accurate, but it gives the sense better. Cyprus was the country where he was born and lived, as, it is likely, his fathers had done before him. But he was hardly, in our sense of the words, a Cypriot by race. We know that a great many Jews were settled in Cyprus (Philo, 'Leg. ad Caium.,'§ 36; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 13:4; Alford, on Acts 11:19); and we learn from Acts 13:5 that in Salamis alone there were several synagogues.
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