The Son of Encouragement: Acts 4:36-37
“36) Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37) and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭36‬-‭37‬ ‭
Joseph, who went by the name Barnabas was the real deal. He was a born-again Levite who came to faith in Jesus Christ through the gospel. The very translation of his name meant, “Son of Encouragement.” He went on to become a leader in the early church and was “sent out” to help the church in Antioch. (See Acts 11:22-26)
As to the significance of him selling a tract of land and laying it at the apostles feet, it appears that this showed that he was both sincere and single minded in following Jesus. What he did was voluntary and in response to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. He was a giver and not a taker. It proved that he was not motivated by greed or self interest.
Later in Acts 11:24, he had the reputation of being “a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” This brief mention in Acts 4:36-37 of him selling a tract of land displayed his single minded devotion to live by faith. He was “all in” when it came to following Jesus.
The condition of many today is more like Ananias and Sapphira in the next paragraph. We want to present the picture of being “sold out” for Jesus, but the truth is that we are double minded and inwardly embrace fleshly and worldly values. These two were motivated by greed and deception and not faith and truth. They wanted recognition and leadership bestowed on them but they were fakes and frauds. They were motivated by a false and twisted agenda.
By contrast, Barnabas was honest, sincere and genuine. He wasn’t campaigning for recognition or self promotion. He was following the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. He was a humble servant of Jesus Christ. As his name indicated, he become a source of great encouragement to the early church. He was the man that embraced Saul and mentored him into ministry. (See Acts 9:26-30; Acts 11:25-26; Galatians 2:1) Barnabas was an effective disciple maker.
I am motivated by leaders who are willing to sacrifice much to follow and serve Jesus. At some point the glamour of living by faith can wear thin. Barnabas most likely was not married and was free to follow Jesus with unusual freedom, flexibility and abandonment. He was willing to work when needed to pay his own way in ministry. (1 Corinthians 9:4-7) It is no wonder that he was sent out with Paul by the Holy Spirit to carry the gospel to the regions beyond. (Acts 13:2-4) I really admire this guy!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global