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Summary: A difference of opinion between them lead to each going his separate way. Barnabas went to Cyprus, and we hear no more of him in Acts. Paul remains the focus of attention as he returns to Galatia and then embarks on a new enterprise.

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January 6, 2015

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: IV.C.1: Paul and Barnabas Disagree on John Mark (15:36-41)

Scripture (Acts 15:36-41; KJV)

36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

41And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

Introduction

The outcome of the Jerusalem council (a decision in favor of accepting the gentiles without circumcision and adherence to Jewish Law) naturally gave added impetus to the spread of the gospel. Paul and Barnabas would have had no doubts that their earlier decision to go to the Gentiles had been the right one, but to have the approval now of the other apostles and the elders of the church in Jerusalem must have been as encouraging for them as for their converts. A “second missionary journey” was therefore proposed. But they were destined not to make it together. A difference of opinion between them lead to each going his separate way. Barnabas went to Cyprus, and we hear no more of him in Acts. Paul remains the focus of attention as he returns to Galatia and then embarks on a new enterprise.

Commentary

36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

“And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas . . .”

Paul was a tireless servant of Christ; he and Barnabas had been preaching and teaching in Antioch after their return from the Jerusalem Conference (15:35). We do not know how long he remained in Antioch after the reading of the apostolic epistle. All we are told is “And some days after,” which was probably as spring approached and it again became possible to travel. Paul suggested to Barnabas that they should revisit “our brethren in every city” of their previous journey to tell them the good news of the apostolic epistle and to see how they were doing. Nothing more than this is suggested, but it may already have been Paul’s intention to start a new work once this visitation was done.

Like any good pastor, Paul wanted to go back over the ground which he had already covered. The Judaizing element in those churches had misled some of the converts with its false propaganda. With the backing of the council, Paul was certain that he could lead the converts back to the truth of the gospel. Good pastors know that you cannot convert a man and then let him drift. The follow-up is perhaps even more important than the original contact. Paul wanted to follow-up what he had done; he wanted to see “how they are doing.” People do not spring into spiritual maturity overnight. Once the seed is planted it must be cultivated; once the life is undertaken it must be encouraged, confirmed, and trained. The faithful pastor, like Paul, goes back again and again to see how his people are doing. Sometimes they are not doing so well and they’d need his guidance or his warning; sometimes they are doing well and they need his friendly interest in their well-being and happiness. Above all they need to be reminded that the Christian life is not something that can be developed in a two-year course and then dropped. It is something that a person must go over again and again; going back over the same questions, the same affirmations, he can grow in stature and in spiritual wisdom.


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