Specific Account

Luke adds a specific account of this generosity and in this case he mentions a name:

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”); sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (4:36-37)

Here we are briefly introduced to Barnabas, of whom we will see much more later in the book. There is an interesting note here that we might not want to miss, for Luke notes that Barnabas was a Levite. The Levites served in the temple, and were not permitted to own property and so we must infer either that this practice was not observed in the first century or that Barnabas might have owned the property he sold through marriage, or perhaps that the non-ownership of property was only applied to those living in Jerusalem; as usual, scholars debate these things. Whatever the case was, Barnabas demonstrated his devotion to the community of believers and the leadership of the apostles in his act of generosity.

Barnabas also stands in marked contrast to what happens next in Like’s narrative…


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