Acts 4:36 MEANING

Acts 4:36
(36) 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 (1 Corinthians 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 1 Corinthians 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," 1 Peter 5:13) in words which make it almost certain that he was converted by that Apostle.

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.

4:32-37 The disciples loved one another. This was the blessed fruit of Christ's dying precept to his disciples, and his dying prayer for them. Thus it was then, and it will be so again, when the Spirit shall be poured upon us from on high. The doctrine preached was the resurrection of Christ; a matter of fact, which being duly explained, was a summary of all the duties, privileges, and comforts of Christians. There were evident fruits of Christ's grace in all they said and did. They were dead to this world. This was a great evidence of the grace of God in them. They did not take away others' property, but they were indifferent to it. They did not call it their own; because they had, in affection, forsaken all for Christ, and were expecting to be stripped of all for cleaving to him. No marvel that they were of one heart and soul, when they sat so loose to the wealth of this world. In effect, they had all things common; for there was not any among them who lacked, care was taken for their supply. The money was laid at the apostles' feet. Great care ought to be taken in the distribution of public charity, that it be given to such as have need, such as are not able to procure a maintenance for themselves; those who are reduced to want for well-doing, and for the testimony of a good conscience, ought to be provided for. Here is one in particular mentioned, remarkable for this generous charity; it was Barnabas. As one designed to be a preacher of the gospel, he disentangled himself from the affairs of this life. When such dispositions prevail, and are exercised according to the circumstances of the times, the testimony will have very great power upon others.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

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).

(r) De Nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 105. I.((s) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 31. (t) Ib. l. 2. c. 88. (u) De Orbis Situ, l. 2. p. 66. (w) Geograph. l. 5. c. 14. (x) Itinerar. p. 30.

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