Acts 4:36

ESV Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus,
NIV Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means 'son of encouragement'),
NASB Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement),
CSB Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement),
NLT For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means 'Son of Encouragement'). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.
KJV And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

What does Acts 4:36 mean?

Of the more than five thousand believers in Jerusalem, Barnabas has made a name for himself. "Bar" is a Hebrew prefix meaning "son of." The concept of sonship, in Semitic cultures, is often used to reflect a person's character. Jesus differentiated between the "sons of the kingdom" of God and the "sons of the evil one" (Matthew 13:38).

Cyprus is an island about 44 miles south of modern-day Asia Minor and 64 miles west of modern-day Syria. In the Old Testament, it is known as Kittim, probably after the city of Kition. By the time of Barnabas, Greek influence had overtaken the older Phoenician culture. It is under the management of Cilicia, the province in the southeast of Asia Minor where Paul is from. A decent number of Jews live there, but in AD 117, the Jews will revolt and Hadrian will remove the Jews from the island.

After the persecutions against the church begin in earnest in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), Jewish Christians flee to Cyprus and later spread the gospel among the Gentiles in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:19–20). Barnabas and Paul will go to Cyprus on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4–12), and Barnabas will later return there with his cousin John-Mark (Acts 15:39).

Barnabas plays a key role in the spread of the gospel. When the apostles hear that Gentiles are accepting Christ in Syrian Antioch, they sent Barnabas to confirm (Acts 11:22). When Paul refuses to take John-Mark on his second missionary journey, Barnabas splits with Paul in favor of his cousin (Acts 15:36–39).

Most importantly, however, Barnabas eases Paul's entry into the church. Paul becomes a Jesus-follower in Damascus, about two hundred miles from Jerusalem. When he returns to Jerusalem, the church leaders doubt the sincerity of his conversion—the reason he went to Damascus was to find and arrest believers. Barnabas takes a chance on him, acting as a liaison between the new convert and the people he had previously sought to destroy (Acts 9).

Paul had been on close terms with the Sanhedrin and a student of an important teacher of the Pharisees (Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 26:10; 22:3). His conversion breaks his ties with this community. As a missionary to Gentiles, Paul works with a great deal of autonomy, but the point of the early church is unity; it's because of Barnabas that the church leaders accept him into their family.
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