Acts 4:36

36 Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, whom the apostles named Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement,

Acts 4:36 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 4:36

And Joses
The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, read "Joseph", and so do Beza's most ancient copy, and two of his manuscripts, and the Alexandrian copy, and others; for "Jose", or "Joses", is only an abbreviation or contraction of "Joseph"; though according to others it is the same with "Josiah": there is one of this name, who was the sort of Alphaeus, and brother to two of the apostles, James and Jude, ( 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 1 Corinthians 9:6 )

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 ) ( 14:22 ) and from the use he was of for the comforting of distressed minds; for (abn) , "Naba, to prophesy", includes both exhortation and comfort; and he having the gift of prophecy or preaching the Gospel, was called (abnrb) , "Barnabas", a son of comfort, or a comforter, or an exhorter: and so Jerom F18 interprets it, "the son of a prophet". Drusius conjectures that his right name was (amxn rb) , "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 ) ( Isaiah 39:1 ) 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" And so the name of this man in the Chaldee or Syriac language was (aba xn rb) , 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 F19, 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 F20, 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 F21, its chief cities were Salamis and Paphos, mentioned in ( Acts 13:5 Acts 13:6 ) . And according to Ptolomy F23, 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 F24.


F18 De Nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 105. I.
F19 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 31.
F20 Ib. l. 2. c. 88.
F21 De Orbis Situ, l. 2. p. 66.
F23 Geograph. l. 5. c. 14.
F24 Itinerar. p. 30.

Acts 4:36 In-Context

34 For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,
35 and laid them at the apostles' feet. This was then distributed to each person as anyone had a need.
36 Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, whom the apostles named Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement,
37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
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