Monday, April 1, 2024

Unexpected Legacy Series: Joseph, The Levite

By Matthew J. Elliott

AI Generation of Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark

One of my favorite things to do is research. It inspires me in more ways than one, especially when it is biblical research. There are so many questions that are left untouched in scripture that we often find ourselves questioning things on our own, I know I do. One of the things I’ve questioned lately is the story of one of the main characters in my upcoming book, The Cyprus Journal, which is releasing in May. 

You see, when I write a story I want to know everything I possibly can know about the person I am writing about so I can find a way to relate to them and understand what kind of personality they could have had. It helps me write the stories I develop when I have this information. In this particular series, I’ve shared with you two of my favorite historical figures, Brother Lawrence and Madame Guyon. For this post, and the next one, we are going to go even further back in time, back to the ancient biblical times. I must admit upfront that this post, and the next months, focus on what I have learned writing The Cyprus Journal. The Legacy these two biblical characters built is about more than just their history, it is about how their actions changed the essence of the Early Church altogether.  

Barnabas curing the sick by Paolo Veronese

Joseph, The Levite, was one of the people who found their way to Jerusalem in the aftermath of the Crucifixion. Little is known about him before this point in history, but we do know that he was well off and sold everything so he could give all of the profits to the Early Church in support of their ministry. Contrary to what I’d love to believe, there is little evidence that this is Joseph of Arimathea, the man who gave up his tomb for the burial of Jesus. There is, however, sufficient evidence that he was the man who was eventually given the name Barnabas The Son of Encouragement. That evidence is provided in Acts chapter 4:32-37. It is here that scripture gives Joseph, The Levite, his new name, and it is also here that brings me back to my questions about Barnabas. His story has always been one of encouragement to me. He likely found his way to Jerusalem during one of the Passover cedars when Jesus was ministering there. Some have even said he was around when Jesus had his conversations with Nicodemus. This may further allude to the notion that Barnabas could have been Joseph of Arimathea, but that is not where this post will lead. 

Joseph, now called Barnabas, has something significant to add to the Legacy of the Early Church, and the choices he made ensured that two of the most prominent historical figures in the bible would continue the legacy the early church built, Paul and John Mark. Now, if I may, there is so much more to John Mark's story than one may realize, but I plan to write about him next month. This post's purpose is to highlight Barnabas's importance to the success of the Early Church.  Later in the book of Acts, we learn that Barnabas had a proven track record, so to speak, of being ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith.’ Because of this, the church in Jerusalem sent him to a more centralized area called Antioch. (Acts 11:19-30). Here, Barnabas found favor in the eyes of a community from Cyprus and Cyrene who fled from Jerusalem after The Martyrdom of Stephen and began spreading the Gospel. It was at this point that Barnabas found his way to Tarsus, where the newly accepted believer was holding out until the Disciples figured out how he could practice his newfound redemption.  A redemption made possible by, you guessed it, Barnabas, in the first place. If Barnabas ignored the signs, Saul would have never become Paul.

Wikimedia Illustration- Anonimo Lombardo

It was through Barnabas that Saul found himself accepted by the original disciples. It was through Barnabas that Saul, now calling himself Paul, was able to speak to the masses of people during the first missionary journey, which solidified Paul's place as a fellow believer. That is not all though, I mentioned John Mark too, he was there on that first missionary journey as well.  John Marks' time was a great deal less because he left the group right after the trip through Cyprus was completed. A few years after that whole ordeal was done, John Mark is brought back into the picture, but not in a positive light. John Mark was the brunt of a huge argument between Paul and Barnabas that led to them both going their separate ways. Paul headed one way with a scribe named Silas and Barnabas headed back to Cyprus with his nephew, the young man who abandoned them both. It was on this second missionary journey to Cyprus that John Mark's life began drastically changing, for the better. This apprenticeship would eventually give John Mark the courage to reconcile with Paul and embrace his church role as a gospel writer and a valiant defender of the faith.  

The Legacy here does not come from the unexpected past that Barnabas had to endure, it comes from the unexpected impact he had on the New Testament church as a whole. His ability to encourage and strengthen others still exists today. There is so much to say about Barnabas and the ministry he took part in, but even in the midst of weakness (Gal 2:11-16) he found his way. The struggle was always there, but he overcame it and helped others do it. His legacy is a legacy of encouragement and growth. Is it filled with unanswered questions? I believe it is, but the reality of it is more meaningful to me. How about you?


~ Biography ~

Matthew James Elliott (M.J. Elliott) is a passionate writer who loves to encourage and inspire others. He has served in various ministry roles for over 15 years, which has given him a unique perspective on people and Biblical History. Matthew holds a degree in Biblical Studies from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, with a focus on Pastoral Care, Christian Education, and Worship.

Matthew is happily married to Traci, and they have three children named Leyla, Caleb, and Hannah, who bring them immense joy and inspiration. As a writer, Matthew's goal is to share love, equip others, and edify them for the greater good. He loves connecting any amount of scripture to his stories and uses his knowledge of Biblical History to do so often.

You can find Matthew's works on AmazonGoodreadsFacebook, and His Website. He has written DevotionalsAn Episodic SeriesNovellas, and even Commentaries for The Gospel Daily.


~ Highlighted Release ~


The Cyprus Journal is Coming Soon!

One Young Man. His Significant Story. A Witness of the Early Church.

Many knew him as the young cousin to Barnabas the Encourager, the son of Mary who offered her home to honor the Savior and those who followed Him, or even the man who abandoned Paul on his First Missionary Journey, but there is more to his story. His story is one of new beginnings, a promise fulfilled, and a man who overcame fear of the unknown.


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Sources:

Scripture is from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting today. I appreciate the information on Barnabas. Looking forward to next month!

    ReplyDelete