Verse 36. "Joses" - Or, Joseph, as many excellent MSS. read; but who he was, farther than what is here said, we know not.
"Surnamed Barnabas" - Or, Barsabbas, according to the Coptic.
"The son of consolation" - uiov paraklhsewv; As paraklhsiv signifies exhortation, as well as consolation, and is indeed distinguished from the latter, 1 Cor. xiv. 3, the original name was probably abn rb Bar naba, or aybn rb Bar nebia, which signifies the son of prophecy or exhortation; and this is certainly one sense which prophecy has in the New Testament; and in this way Barnabas distinguished himself among the apostles. See chap. xi. 23. And Barnabas EXHORTED them all that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord.
"A Levite, and of the country of Cyprus" - Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, off Cilicia, and not very distant from the Jewish coast.
The Jews were very numerous in that island: see Dion. Cas. lib. 68, 69.
Though he was a Levite, he might have had land of his own by private purchase. The Levites, as a tribe, had no land in Israel; but the individuals certainly might make purchases any where in the country: but, as Barnabas was of Cyprus, his land probably lay there; and as it is likely that he was one of those strangers that came up to Jerusalem to the late feast, and was there converted, he might have sold his land in the island to some of his own countrymen who were at Jerusalem at this time; and so, being called to the work of the ministry, continued to associate with the apostles, travelling every where, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God.
He was the constant companion of St. Paul, till the separation took place on account of John Mark, mentioned chap. xv. 36-39.
IT is worthy of remark that the two apostles of the Gentiles, though of Jewish extraction, were both born in Gentile countries; Paul in Cilicia, Barnabas in Cyprus: this gave them many advantages; served to remove prejudices from the heathens; and gave them no doubt much facility in the Greek tongue, without which they could have done but little in Asia Minor, nor in most parts of the Roman empire where they traveled. How admirably does God determine even the place of our birth, and the bounds of our habitation! When under the influence of the grace of Christ, every thing is turned to a man's advantage. The man whom he calls to his work he will take care to endue with every necessary qualification. And is it too much to say that God never did call a man to preach the Gospel whom he did not qualify in such a manner that both the workman and the work should appear to be of God? Some have said that ignorance is the mother of devotion. Devotion and religion are both scandalized by the saying. Enlightened piety has ever been the most sincere, steady, and active. God makes those wise who turn unto him; and by experimental religion all the powers of the mind are greatly improved. Every genuine minister of Christ has an enlightened heart; and, to this, it is his duty to add a well-cultivated mind. Exodus quovis ligno Mercurius non fit: A blockhead never did, and never can, make a minister.