Summary: God given relationships make all the difference in where you spend eternity.
Acts 15:35 But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching, with many others also, the word of the Lord.
36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are."
37 And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also.
38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
39 And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.
40 But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
16:1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,
2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.
3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
4 Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees, which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.
5 So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
In today’s scripture, we look at how God takes a team leadership conflict and turns it into two teams that campaign for Christ. We then follow Paul and Silas team and meet Timothy, a young man of faith and devotion to Christ. But first there is this conflict matter between Paul and Barnabas. Luke allows us to overhear the topic of the personal dispute that brought it all about. It centers around who should be allowed to go on a mission trip and who should not. They disagree strongly about this. The end result is the separation of two great coworkers for Christ and the formation of two new mission teams, one to Cyprus and one to Galatia and beyond. I don’t know about you, but I still hate to see the breakup of a great team.
I remember when the Chicago Bulls were on top in Basketball. It was a sad time when they finally went their separate ways. Do you remember when Michael Jordan left the Bulls to try his hand at baseball? That was a learning experience! When he came back to the team, they welcomed him and again went to the top. It’s a good thing their coach wasn’t Paul. He might have never been allowed to come back!
Isn’t it amazing how God’s word invites you into the lives of the men and women within it, some who have followed God’s will and some who have not? Through the eyes and ears of the inspired writers we observe their lives and see not just them, but, if we look carefully, we also see ourselves.
In Acts 15:36-41, Look at the way Paul and Barnabas deal with what to do with John Mark.
While this sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas explains how the team of Paul and Barnabas became the team of Paul and Silas, this little glimpse into the private conversation here is also a confirmation that Acts is authentic and accurate historically. We see the humanity of these men. Even though God worked it together for good, this is still an example of conflict among great Christian leaders. These are not weak and fleshly novice Christians; these are seasoned mature missionaries who have the Holy Spirit. They are biblical heroes. Select followers of Jesus Christ who the Holy Spirit called for the first great missionary journey! What are they doing here? What were their differences? Paul viewed John Mark’s desertion as a character flaw that made him an inappropriate team member. Barnabas viewed Mark’s desertion as an immature decision on the part of one who needed another chance. Mark was also Barnabas’ cousin. But this is classic Barnabas type behavior! Son of Encouragement that he is! It was Barnabas that helped Paul find acceptance in Jerusalem among the church after his conversion to Christ. And it is Barnabas who went to Antioch and welcomed the Gentiles into the church. It was Barnabas who went to get Saul, now Paul, to come work with him at Antioch, and it was Barnabas and Saul that the Holy Spirit chose to make the first missionary journey. And now it is Barnabas who stands with John Mark and says, “Let’s give him another chance!”