there was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. thus joseph, who was also called by the apostles barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a levite, a native of cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. [acts 4:34-37]
it can be easy to skip over a verse like this, because it seems to be out of context to us. sell everything i have and give the money away? what does this look like in 2023? can you imagine selling lands and homes, then taking the money and giving it to someone else? what happens next?
coming off the miracle of pentecost, this reveals the deep trust the church had not just in the apostles, in one another, but ultimately in the all-surpassing power of Christ. when the religious leadership imprisoned, scourged, and commanded told them to stop talking about Jesus, they instead doubled down by going 100% all-in. there was no backup plan, and there was no exit ramp.
enter joseph. joseph was known to all as an encourager, so much that this is how he became known to people. barnabas (son of encouragement) becomes the name he is forever known by, and this is the last time in the scriptures we see him referred to as joseph.
God has clearly gifted him with this encouragement, and barnabas appears regularly throughout acts encouraging people.
he encouraged the church in jerusalem to accept paul the persecutor turned apostle (acts 9:27).
he encouraged john mark so that he would later to ‘useful for ministry’ (ii timothy 4:11).
yet this gifting begins with a dedication to give all he has for the sake of the gospel. similarly, we are called to be ready to hold no earthly possession tighter than the gospel of Christ. whatever God asks of us, there can be no second thoughts, no glances back.
God continues to use encouragers like barnabas, willing to surrender all they are and have, using their gifts for the cause of Christ.
~ jason soroski