Acts 4:36, 37
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite…
That of Joses, or Barnabas. This man was the companion of St. Paul in his first missionary journey (Acts 13:2). For his character, position, and influence in the Church, etc., see the Commentary. His was by no means the only case of self-sacrifice, but it was, for some unexplained reasons, the most striking case, and it was regarded as a typical one. Possibly the subsequent influence gained by Barnabas led to the preservation of this narrative of his noble self-denial. And we may learn from him what a mission opens for those who can make great sacrifices for Christ.
I. RICHES ARE OFTEN A RELIGIOUS HINDRANCE. Illustrate from our Lord's teaching respecting the "camel and the needle's eye." "How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God!" "Not many mighty, not many noble, are called." The poor in this world are often the "rich in faith." Barnabas's property might have kept him from Christ, or made him only such a timid and weak disciple as rich Nicodemus and rich Joseph of Arimathaea were.
II. RICHES OFTEN BECOME A TEST OF RELIGIOUS FEELING. Illustrate from the case of the "rich young ruler," who had some feelings and desires, but could not wholly follow them. Love of position and of wealth was stronger even than longing for "eternal life." Compare Demas.
III. RICHES MAY BECOME A MEDIUM OF RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION, AND SO A MEANS OF RELIGIOUS CULTURE. It did in the case of Barnabas. He used his talents and his gifts for Christ's service and his Church's good, and he further found out how he might, for the same purposes, use his money and his lands. He was both blessed in himself and a means of blessing to others in so doing. Still those who have the trust of riches need the impulse of the example of Barnabas, and may even reach towards the completeness of his serf-sacrifice. Explain that there is sometimes an exaggeration in the surrender of all property, and assumption of voluntary poverty, which is in no sense commended by this example. To use our property wisely and well in the service of Christ is a far nobler thing than to shirk our personal responsibility by surrendering it all to others. The lesson to learn from the record concerning Barnabas is that we should hold all we have - riches, talents, position, influence, everything - at the call and service of our living Savior, and be ready even to sacrifice it all, if in that form we are required to testify our "zeal for the Lord." But the imitation of a high example has this peril. It may be merely the imitation of the act, and not an act dictated by the same motives and done in the same spirit. The followers of "them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" are those, and those only, who act in the hallowing and ennobling influences of the same "constraining love." We must yield and give only for Christ's sake. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,
WEB: Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of Encouragement), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race,