Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What’s in a Name?

Acts 4:32-37  Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33  With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35  They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36  There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"). 37  He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Here we have a new follower of Jesus introduced to us: Joseph of Cyprus. We know a few things about him:
1.     He is a Jew of the family of Levite . This makes him a member of a family that includes Moses, Aaron, Samuel, Ezekiel and Malachi. The descendents of this family were designated as the priestly class. Deuteronomy 18:2 tells us that when Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan, the Levites were not given land because they were to trust God for their sustenance:  “the LORD is their inheritance”.   
2.    He comes from a Greek island that had been taken over by the Romans in 58BC.
3.    He has been given a nickname by the apostles: “Barnabas”. The Aramaic of this is  בר נביא, (bar nayā), meaning 'the son (of the) prophet'.  However, the Greek text of the passage quoted above explains the name as υός παρακλήσεως, hyios paraklēseōs, meaning "son of consolation" or "son of encouragement".

Joseph is given the name Barnabas, because people recognised a quality of generosity in his life. He gives away his land. Here was a Levite who was willing to return to his roots and trust God for his financial security. 

If the people around you, or me, were to name us for our reputation – what do you think we would be called? Would “generous”,” kind” or “compassionate” come to mind? Let us be challenged to grow a reputation for being Jesus-like people.

“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That's what the reputation is. You can't control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
Wayne W. Dyer

29 The Church of the Spirit
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 184.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment