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.

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    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 '14 at 3:05
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    @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.) – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jul 7 '14 at 4:51
  • @Wikis So, what do you think of my answer? Any thoughts? – Double U Jul 8 '14 at 0:26

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

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  • 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? – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jul 8 '14 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 '14 at 12:25
  • Tithes? Or gives? But yes, I think it is about the contrast. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jul 8 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 3:10

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