Acts 4:32-37:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

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.

Since many people were making donations of land or houses, I'm wondering why Barnabas was singled out for mention? Was it a way to introduce him to the narrative? Was this how he got his nickname (Barnabas)? (I think that is unlikely because he was the only one named; no other field / home seller is called encouraging.)

Finally, it seems to me that all the money from the sale of a house or a field would be a huge donation. Is that correct?

* I apologise for asking multiple questions at once; I'm doing so because I think they may be related, but I'm open to splitting this up, if requested.

  • 1
    It may be composed this way in order to paint a clear contrast between a man of God and Ananias. (cf. "But . . ." in the very next verse)
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 7, 2014 at 3:05
  • 1
    @Jas3.1: I like that, good point! That, plus Barnabas later having such a pivotal role, is probably the reason. (Note to self: don't treat chapters as natural boundaries.) Jul 7, 2014 at 4:51
  • @Wikis So, what do you think of my answer? Any thoughts?
    – Double U
    Jul 8, 2014 at 0:26

4 Answers 4


Barnabas was singled out for mention, because it is assumed that he disentangled himself from the affairs of this life in order to preach the gospel to the world, and made a generous donation to the church. It's a way to introduce him to the narrative, not only as a devoted, faithful Christian who tithes, but also as a preacher who spreads the word and inspires (encourages) others to do the same. Hence the name, Barnabas. And yes, selling a house or field is a huge donation.

Source: Matthew Henry's Commentary

  • Re: your comment above, sorry no reply / upvote so far. I agree but don't think it is complete. That's why I liked @Jas3.1's comment - that explains why one individual had to be highlighted, and in this case it made sense it was Barnabas. I will +1 if you include those comments. Perhaps Jas3.1 will add his own answer? Jul 8, 2014 at 6:57
  • So, it highlights a contrast between a man of God (one who tithes) and Ananias (one who keeps for himself and lies).
    – Double U
    Jul 8, 2014 at 12:25
  • Tithes? Or gives? But yes, I think it is about the contrast. Jul 8, 2014 at 12:27
  • @Wikis Nowadays, the word "tithing" no longer means 10% of the income. It means any donation to the church. But then, we're talking about earlier times, which may have been different. So, I would say gives.
    – Double U
    Jul 8, 2014 at 13:51
  • @Anonymous That is exactly what it means. Providing "any donation" is referred to as donating. There are plenty of synonyms for giving. Words mean things.
    – Brad Werth
    Jul 9, 2014 at 3:10

I was trying to finf out why Barnabas the encourager had only sold one of his fields in Cyprus and brought the money to Jerusalem. The other members there had given, or sold, everything as seems to be the calling of God's will to launch these first churches. Since it has been brought up that a tithe is no longer concidered 10% but whatever you decide to give I wonder if you can show scripture to that affect. I know that less than 12% of people who call themself Christian actually do give 10% or more of the wealth that God has given them. I'm what some might call old school and I praise God for His gifts and for the privledge to support the Church with at least 10% of all that He has given me because I'm always amazed at what God is capable of doing with what comes in this way and the fruit it yields. I feel like if I just gave a little now and then that, that woud affect my Church and God's house. Maybe that's why so many churches are closing their doors. It's like choosing to love God only when you feel like it or it's convient for you. I learned a long time ago that God doesn't accept a 10% or 20% commitment from belivers. You are either all in or your not in at all. Personally I enjoy the love and benefits of being all in.

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    – Dottard
    Mar 4, 2021 at 8:58

From a narration perspective, Luke introduces Barnabas and singles him out as the special case in Acts 4:36

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement")

This is the first mention of this character in Luke's stories. His name means Υἱὸς παρακλήσεως which sounds a lot more forceful in Greek than in English. παράκλησις (3874 paráklēsis) is cognate with παράκλητος (3875 paráklētos).

The Holy Spirit is referred to as Παράκλητον in John 14:16

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate [3875] to help you and be with you forever

Was this how he got his nickname (Barnabas)? (I think that is unlikely because he was the only one named; no other field / home seller is called encouraging.)

We don't know whether the apostles give this special name on this first occasion. In any case, the name foreshadows what is to come later for him in the story of the Acts.

Barnes has this comment:

It does not appear that the name was bestowed on account of this, though it is probable that he possessed the qualification for administering comfort or consolation in an eminent degree, but on account of his talent for "speaking," or "exhorting" the people to holiness, and his success in preaching.

It seems to me that all the money from the sale of a house or a field would be a huge donation. Is that correct?

I would think so as it is even today. At least to Barnabas, it was a big deal.

Matthew 19:21

Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me."


He gave up his right as a Levite to the Apostles. Only the Levites could collect tax but because of this act , spiritually he transferred his right to the apostles that is Why it is allowed for preachers today to collect tithes.

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    Jul 21, 2021 at 2:04

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