Summary: The study of Paul and Barnabas' conflict
God work's through conflict
Scripture … Ac 15:36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Intro. We have here our first sharp contention between the Apostles. But does this imply anger or ill-will on either side? Certainly not. Here, these two apostles differed, and were zealous, each in support of their desired outcome.
"Paul being influenced only with the love of righteousness;
“Barnabas being actuated by love to his relative."
John Mark had been tried in trying circumstances, and he failed; Paul, therefore, would not trust him again. But the affection of Barnabas led him to hope the best, and he wanted to give him another chance.
Barnabas would not give up: Paul would not agree. They finally agreed to depart from each other, and take different parts of the work. Barnabas took John Mark, and sailed to Cyprus: Paul took Silas, and went into Syria.
In order to try to understand this difficulty, we need to look into why John Mark decided to leave them in Pamphylia in the first place. And remember we are only making educated guesses..
1. John objected to Paul's itinerary. Obviously Cypress was Barnabas' home territory and John was related to Barnabas. So we might assume that he too had roots in this island or at least friendly family connections. When the trip went beyond this familiar territory John might have balked.
2. John got homesick.
3. John was frightened. The area they were headed was known to be full of bandits. John may have been frightened by the prospect of getting beat up. Paul's track record is conflict..
5. John may have objected to Paul's leadership. In the beginning of their journeys Barnabas was clearly the leader. He introduced Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem. He verified the work in Antioch. He recruited Paul to help with the work. He gets top billing both on their mission of mercy in Jerusalem (chp 11) and their evangelistic tour on Cyprus (chp 13). Suddenly, Paul not only changes his name but takes the lead over Barnabas. John Mark may have been jealous for his kinsman when he took a back seat to Paul.
6. John may have objected to Paul's preaching. As Paul's message of grace turns toward Gentile audiences, it becomes clear that he will not require them to be circumcised. John may object to Paul's views as other from Jerusalem did.
John Mark … is a fascinating character, in many ways unexceptional. We don’t hear of him performing great miracles, preaching great sermons or founding new churches in remote places. Nevertheless he played a solid and effective part in the life of the early New Testament Church. He was called both John, and Mark. John was his Jewish name, and his Roman name was Mark. He was the son of Mary, who owned a house in Jerusalem where the church often prayed. Peter referred to Mark as his "son." His family was wealthy enough to own a large home with at least one servant. They frequently hosted gatherings of believers.
We must also try to understand Paul … John Mark leaving in the middle of the first missionary tour was evidently a "big deal" to Paul. In fact, he says that John Mark "abandoned" them on the trip. Clearly for Paul there was more than this one missionary journey at stake in John's "breach of contract." His entire integrity in ministry was jeopardized.
Paul was persistent: It is calculated that Paul’s earthly life and labors spanned some thirty-three years.
National Geographic Magazine, estimates that Paul’s missionary endeavors consumed some twelve thousand miles, some by ship. Hundreds of miles were traversed by land. He visited approximately fifty cities.
Yet within the thirteen epistles known to have been written by Paul, there is no complaint of fatigue, no whimpering at the hardships, no disappointment expressed of having been “crucified with Christ,” or of wasted years, or lack of family, wealth, or fame—just the joy of serving his Lord, and for the blessed hope of life to come.
Paul was not only persistent; Paul was Patient; Paul was Courageous
It is scarcely necessary to argue the case for Paul’s courage. It is unrealistic to imagine that Paul was never afraid. In Corinth the Lord spoke to his apostle in a night vision, cautioning: “Be not afraid” (Acts 18:9). The force of the Greek expression is: “Stop being afraid.” Courage is not the absence of fear; it is doing what is right even when you are afraid!