Barnabas and the New Ministers of the Storehouse


In the Old Testament, the tithe and some special offerings belonged, respectively, to the Levites and the priests of the family of Aaron. These offerings were also called “holy” or kodesh (Numbers 18).

In addition to freewill offerings, animals, houses, and fields could also be consecrated (Leviticus 27:1–28), becoming holy and, in due course, should be given to the storehouse (Malachi 3:8–10). Once promised, they could no longer be used by the owner at his discretion, for they were holy and belonged to the Lord.

Therefore, consecrated things were as holy (kodesh) as the tithe. There was, however, an important difference: to be holy (kodesh), tithing was not dependent on a desire or promise on the part of the worshiper. Tithing, like the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8–11), was previously holy by divine appointment (Leviticus 27:30, 32).

In this article, we will approach the system of the storehouse as the receiving center of the holy things, with the Levites and the priests as managers. We also emphasize the move to the new ministry and the new storehouse indicated particularly in Acts 4:34–37 in the example of Barnabas, a Levite converted to the faith in the Lord Jesus.

The Storehouse in the Old Testament

In the Bible, the holy things, their trustees, and the storehouse are integrated into a God-appointed administrative system (Leviticus 27:8–33; Numbers 18; Malachi 3:8–10). In this context, it was the right of the Levite and the priest (kohen, Levite of the family of Aaron) to be maintained by holy things—an indication of the legitimacy of their ministry and mission as guardians of the storehouse.

A Levite was entitled to a greater portion of the tithe (Numbers 18:21–24), and the priests were entitled to a part of the tithe and certain consecrated offerings (Numbers 18:7–20, 26–28). Among these holy things, already mentioned above, were fields and houses (Leviticus 27:14–23).

It is important to remember that the tithe would be levied (2 Chronicles 31:6) on the consecrated things (kodesh) and their proceeds. The same occurred with unconsecrated property (Leviticus 27:30–33). In addition, when sold, the entire value of the consecrated property should be given to the treasury. But if the owner who consecrated it wanted the property back, he should pay the value of the property stipulated in the priest's valuation, and add twenty percent to the value given by the kohen (Leviticus 27:19). It was the same practice with the tithe (verse 31).

In this sense, consecrated things were treated similarly to the tithe, that is, the owner could not withhold them in whole or in part, which reminds us of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–4), who withheld a portion of what was promised.

The fact that the Levites and priests were chosen as depositaries of the tithes, as well as the offerings and the consecrated things that were given to God, made them guardians of the system established by God and, therefore, they should be considered as His representatives. Giving to the priest was the same as giving to God, something that is very clear in the Bible (see Leviticus 2:1, 2, 8; 5:7, 8; 7:35; 23:10, 11; Numbers 18:28). Thus, not bringing the tithes and offerings into the treasury (storehouse), which was administered by God's representatives, was equated with robbing God (Malachi 3:8–10).

On the other hand, the faithful giving of tithes, offerings, and things consecrated to the storehouse is connected to the idea of spiritual revival in several biblical examples  (1 Chronicles 29:1–20; 2 Chronicles 31:1–21; Nehemiah 10:32–39; 13:9-13; Malachi 3:7–10).

Holy Things and the Pentecost

In the revival experienced during Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4; see also chapters 4 and 5), faithfulness and generosity were an integral part of the giving of consecrated things. The negative example of Ananias and Sapphira, who did not fulfill their vow and tried to cover up their sin with a lie, is a clear divine rebuke to greed.

In this passage of Acts, there is also a new fact regarding the destination of things consecrated to the Lord. Whereas in the Old Testament consecrated property was brought to the Levites (see Leviticus 27:14–23), in this account of the book of Acts, converts sold their property and placed the entire proceeds of the sale at the apostles' feet (Acts 4:34, 35).

After being dedicated to God, these resources were considered holy. However, instead of being taken to the temple, to the Levites, and the kohen, they were placed “at the feet,” that is, under the coordination of the apostles, to meet the needs of the believers (and obviously of the ministers) during the crisis the community was facing.

The episode of Ananias and Sapphira suggests that this gift was more than a mere occasional offering or an ordinary spontaneous contribution to charity. The account makes more sense in the biblical context of the daily life of the Jewish temple, in which the holy thing concept was very present, as reported in Leviticus 27. The couple of Acts 5 had promised to make their donation in full, thus making the field kodesh—holy to the Lord. But at the time of handing it over, they just pretended to be giving everything, even though they were withholding a part of it. Then the Spirit revealed to the apostle that the kodesh was being violated, as they were lying with the intention of not giving it in full. As Ellen G. White well observes: “Ananias and Sapphira had made a pledge to give to the Lord the proceeds from the sale of certain property” (Acts of the Apostles, 71). White also states: “When the heart is stirred by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and a vow is made to give a certain amount, the one who vows has no longer any right to the consecrated portion” (Acts of the Apostles, 74). But Ananias and Sapphira “talked the matter over, and decided not to fulfill their pledge” (White, Acts of the Apostles, 72).

Although the amount of the sale was not yet defined, the total value that would be obtained for the field had to be given to the church, because the property was now a holy thing (kodesh).

The account does not record Ananias stating that the offer was equal to the full value of the property. Therefore, the condemnation by the apostle stemmed from a revelation of the Spirit, which required that Ananias' statement was true to what was promised in the couple's vow, which caused the property to become kodesh. They would have avoided sin if they had only promised a portion of the field (Leviticus 27:16).

According to the law, as mentioned above, holy things were also to be tithed     (2 Chronicles 31:6). Thus, when properties were sold, the entire amount was taken to the apostles, which indicates that the tithe was also handled at that time.

Furthermore, as the Bible indicates, the tithe was designed for the support of the Levites and the kohen (who received the tithe of the tithe), but they were not the owners. Centuries before the Levites existed, the tithe had already been given to support the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18–20), the same Melchizedek who, later on, would represent Jesus, the living Eternal Priest, in His non-Leviticus ministry (Hebrews 7:1–10). Jesus is the true owner of tithes and offerings, and at different times He gives them to whomever He wants for the support of His ministers and the work of preaching the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19).

The Testimony of Barnabas

Having understood this, still in the context of the effects of the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Luke made a point of also mentioning another donation, as he identifies an emblematic donor—Barnabas. Why did Luke mention Barnabas among so many others who had already sold their lands and houses and consecrated them to the Lord (see Acts 4:34–37)?

Barnabas, a Levite acquainted with the law, had the duty of leading people to the truth (Malachi 2:4–7). Therefore, he set aside the dying Levitical tradition—which had already fulfilled its role—and, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, he accepted the appointment of a new ministry (Acts 13:2, 3).

Barnabas understood that the original divine mission which Israel had neglected was to bring the blessing of Abraham not only to Jews but to the whole world (Acts 13:46, 47). Thus, as Luke recorded the emblematic offering of the Levite Barnabas, he reinforces the new orientation indicated by the Holy Spirit practiced by Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism. Now they "brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34, 35, NKJV). By the Spirit, the apostles, instead of the Levites, came to be recognized as the new depositaries of the holy offerings (kodesh) due to the Lord (which included tithes and offerings).

A new ministry had emerged. The first one had been the order of Melchizedek, centuries before the Levites. The second, the ministry of the Levites and the kohen in the Israelite nation, while the temple functioned. The third, as we have seen in the biblical historical succession, is the ministry of the apostles and the ultimate, most sublime ministry of Jesus Himself, the Word, the High Priest, the true Kohen (Hebrews 8:1, 2).

By his example, the Levite Barnabas recognizes that the apostles are God’s new ministers. They represent Him and also the church, which is His body. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas recognizes that his ministerial right had changed hands.

Instead of requesting from the Levitical system the proceeds of the sale of land and houses, that is, the consecrated things (Leviticus 27:14–23), and of the tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33; Matthew 23:23), he acknowledges that the right to holy things now belongs to the church and its Spirit-appointed leadership. Thus, the Levite laid the total proceeds of the sale of the field that he had consecrated to the Lord at the feet of the apostles, who were not Levites and did not have the legal function of kohen.

Instead of leading everyone toward the temple, which was previously the recipient of consecrated gifts, Barnabas bows and recognizes in the apostles the new and legitimate ministry of the storehouse, who succeeds the Levites as they succeeded the physical priestly order of Melchizedek.

The Temple Ceases, but the Gospel Continues On

In this way, indicates the Holy Spirit, the Lord transferred to the church (represented by its leadership) not only the right to receive the gifts (now conferred to the new storehouse) but also the duty to preach the Gospel to the whole world, a duty which had been neglected by the Israelite nation.

And as a concrete sign that the Levitical ministry had ended, the Lord definitively took away their temple and dispersed the Levitical and kohen lineage. The torn veil of the sanctuary (Matthews 27:51) also indicated that the Levitical ministry had come to an end, which is later ratified by the destruction of the temple. As a people, the Israelites rejected the Lord, the True Priest, and so the ministry passed into other hands. As examples of this change, the Bible says that God's people are the church built by Jesus (Matthews 16:18); that salvation (Abraham's blessing) to all nations is preached by the church (Matthews 28:19, 20); and that, according to the Spirit, power and holy things have been given to the church (Acts 2; 4:34–37). It was the Spirit that moved many who owned lands or houses to sell them and “[bring] the proceeds of the things that were sold” (Acts 4:34, NKJV).

Why does the author of Acts identify Barnabas, pointing out the fact that, even though he was a Levite, he also sold a field, and “brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37, NKJV)? This mention cannot be accidental. A new ministry had been inaugurated, no longer based on the Levitical lineage and the Aaronic priesthood, but on the apostles, the ministers of the church of Jesus, at whose feet the gifts and holy things hereafter were to be placed both by Jews and Gentiles.

Since Barnabas was a Levite, his example is an endorsement of the church's right to receive, in place of the priests, the tithes and offerings of the old Levitical system in order to support the ministry and the preaching of the gospel.


The system of the Levites has ceased; the temple is no more. God gives the tithe and the holy offerings, kodesh, to whomever He wants, as the Bible indicates.

Jesus, our Priest, is alive and is entitled to tithes and offerings (Hebrews 7:1–8). For a while, He gave the tithe to the order of Melchizedek. Later on, He gave it, along with the offerings, to the Levitical system, whose temple was only a copy of the model (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30) and a shadow of the gospel (Hebrews 10:1–10). But now, finally, He has given that right to the church that preaches the everlasting gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:6–12).

The true ministry is that of Jesus (Hebrews 7:1–12), and His ministers now are those who exclusively serve Him through their ministry and preaching. That’s why the right of the altar and the ancient temple belongs to the ministers of the gospel

(1 Corinthians 9:13, 14). Barnabas, who was a Levite, lays his own offering at the feet of the apostles (Acts 4:36, 37), for the care of church leadership. A brand-new storehouse is thus established for the new ministers of Jesus' church (Ephesians 4:10, 11; 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).

Demóstenes Neves da Silva

Dr. Demóstenes Neves da Silva (Doctor in Psychology, Master in Family and Theraphy) retired in 2018 as a professor at Faculdade Adventsta da Bahia, Brazil.