The Apostle Paul: Paul and Barnabas Separate.

36 “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (Acts 15:36–41).

The dispute between Paul and Barnabas began innocently enough. Most church disputes and arguments do. Following the Jerusalem Council, and the subsequent delivery of the council’s recommendations to the Gentile believers in Antioch (Acts 15:22-35), Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Barnabas must have thought it was a great idea. In fact, he wanted to take along with them his cousin John/Mark (Colossians 4:10).

This was the same John/Mark who initially accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their First Missionary Journey (Acts 12:25; 13:1-5), but later deserted them and went back home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement (Acts 4:36), sought to do for John/Mark what he had previously done for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:26-30; 11:19-26). He sought to be an encouragement to Mark, who most likely needed to be encouraged.

However, Paul was not in agreement with Barnabas. He thought it best to not take John/Mark with them on the trip. Why? Luke provides us with the answer. “Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.”

 This resulted in “a sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas. The phrase indicates that it was an intense argument and a contentiousness to the point of exasperation between the two brothers in Christ. Luke clearly reveals that there was no meeting of the minds between Paul and Barnabas.

Therefore, with no reconciliation in sight, Paul and Barnabas separated from each other.  From todays’ text, Luke records that “Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”

 Dr. R. C. Sproul writes that, “The split between Paul and Barnabas is a sad episode. But in the providence of God, there are now two teams of missionaries proclaiming the Gospel on separate fields. And in time, perhaps because of Barnabas’ mentorship, Mark will give Paul reasons to think differently about his fitness for missions work (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11).”  

 Soli deo Gloria!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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