Power 120 Acts Series
This evening, we are going to discuss the split which took place between Paul and Barnabas. • Most people have taken the approach that this was a negative event. • I look at it differently. • That is why I titled this teaching: The Parting—What Really Happened. • Instead of The Split—The Really Sad Story.
Most take 1 of 3 approaches to this parting: • Barnabas – is the bad guy. • They reason that he should’ve submitted to Paul’s leadership. • And, they conclude that this is the reason Barnabas is not mentioned in the rest of the book of Acts. • Paul – he was too hard on Mark and should’ve listened to Barnabas, the encourager. • Look at how well Mark turned out—he wrote the Gospel of Mark. • He eventually became Paul’s helper too.
Somewhere in the Middle – the truth is always somewhere in the middle. • The truth may slant more one way over the other, but it is always in the middle. • When Luke described this event, he never said one was right and the other was wrong. • Remember the context of this is a missionary team traveling into unreached areas with the Gospel. • Looking at it from that perspective will give you a fresh take on this.
Acts 15:36 – After some time Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing." • By this time, Paul was firmly entrenched as the leader of the missionary team. • He desired to return to the cities where they had planted churches and see how they were doing. • The circumcism issue had been settled at the Jerusalem Council. • And Paul wanted to encourage the new Gentile believers.
After all Paul and Barnabas had been through, it was natural that they go together again. • The Bible doesn’t say, but they may not have prayed about who should do this. • When they left on their 1st missionary journey, the Holy Spirit clearly said, Set apart Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them to (Acts 13:2). • But, here there is no mention of that. • It was God’s will to go back to visit the church and then launch from there into Greece. • But, Was it His will for Barnabas to go on this trip?
Just because it worked that way the last time, we cannot assume that it will work the next time. • We should never be presumptuous and just assume God will guide the same way every time. • If you look at the healing stories in the Gospels, Jesus does not heal the same way twice. • Every situation is unique. • Pray and obey!
37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. • Remember that Mark was Barnabas’ cousin and the son of Mary the intercessor. Acts 13:13 – Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. • The mention of Mark’s desertion is almost an afterthought. • And, the real reason for his going home is not known although there has been much debate.
The issue, however, for us is that Barnabas wanted to give him a 2nd chance and Paul was not willing. • At this point in his life, Paul no doubt operated under the premise of “Deceive me once, and it is your fault. Deceive me twice, and it is my fault.” • Mark had failed them once when they needed him. • He wasn’t going to let him do it again. • Barnabas, the encourager, on the other hand, looked at this differently. • He saw potential in Mark and was willing to give him a 2nd chance. • It was a risk, but one he was willing to take.
38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Why was Paul so resistant to Mark coming along? • There are many reasons given by commentators: • Homesick • Character defect • Not totally committed to Christ • He’s the one who had reported to the Jerusalem Church that Paul was not circumcising Gentiles.
From a frontline missionary’s perspective, there may be another possibility. What had happened right before Mark’s desertion? • Paul had a power encounter with the demonic forces on Cyprus. • In particular, he had to confront the sorcerer Bar-Jesus. • When some people encounter the demonic forces like this for the 1st time, it freaks them out! • They want nothing of it. • This may have been the case for Mark. • He wasn’t ready for the challenges of this trip.
From experience, Paul knew more encounters like this would occur. • And, he needed everyone on the team to be battle ready and eager. • He didn’t want to have to babysit a team member who couldn’t stomach this frontline ministry. • But, we will see that Mark changed.
Did you know that the # 1 reason missionaries leave the mission field is not being able to get along with other missionaries? • Personal conflict ¬ being able to resolve them. • It amazes me how few people know how to resolve disagreements and conflict in a godly manner. • Many who have endured splits can look at this and take comfort. • Important point: this did not break their fellowship. • Paul still had admiration for Barnabas (1 Cor. 9:6). • Luke who later wrote Acts described him as a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:24).
Many people look at all the Christian groups and denominations and make disparaging comments. • I don’t. • As long as there is spiritual unity, the more diversity there is, the more unsaved can be reached. • This is a natural process which happens over time. • Groups, as they grow, usually split and form smaller groups. • Pastor Phil’s Question • Task Oriented (Paul) vs. Relationship Oriented (Barnabas)
My point is not to say that Paul was wrong and Barnabas was right. • But, we need to understand our call and where it fits. • Barnabas was well-suited for local church ministry. • And Paul for advancing the Gospel into the wild, unreached areas. • God gives us the personalities we have to match the calling He has placed on our lives. • Thus, their respective callings and leadership styles was at the heart of this split.
Barnabas • Relational/People-oriented • Need to like people and to be liked • An Encourager • Probably a strong Pastor’s anointing • Peace and harmony are high values • Being is as important as doing • The process is as important as the goal • Discipline is not strictly applied
Paul • Generally more task-oriented • People are important but largely to how they contribute to the goal • Discipline is stricter and pressure to perform is greater • They get things done, but their turnover rate is high • Being is important but doing is more important
Can you see how their respective personalitiescontribute to their individual callings? • The whole Body of Christ is needed. We are not all an eye are we? • John Hagee’s wife’s prayer • God gives us our personalities to match our callings. • Now, that is not to excuse rough or rude treatment of others. • Even though Paul may have been more task-oriented early on in his ministry . . . • He mellowed & worked with people more. • While not sacrificing the task, he learned to value the development of the people in the process.
In Romans 16, one of his last letters, we can see Paul’s love for people and the emphasis he placed on relationships. • From verses 1-16, he mentions nearly 30 people by name and affirms each one by mentioning what each meant to him. • He was affectionate and grateful to others throughout the chapter. • He even singles out women which was quite rare for his day.
Some use the excuse that their personality is naturally task oriented. • That is the way God made them, and they cannot change. • Translation: that usually means they do not want to change even if it means becoming more fruitful and obedient to the Lord. • Our personality should not be an excuse. • We may have a tendency to be more one way or the other. • But through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can all change.
It is also important to note that Luke does not give a commentary on this parting. • There is no Good Guy vs. Bad Guy. • He just presents the facts and moves on. • Both personalities are needed to accomplish the goal of reaching the nations. • The Paul’s are pushing into unchartered territories. • The Barnabas’ are discipling the new believers. • During the 1st Missionary Journey, I can see Paul wanting to push on and Barnabas saying that they needed to stay longer to disciple the new believers. • There was a healthy tension there.
That is why I call this a parting and not a split. • The separation was inevitable because the calls were different. • Also, both were apostles and having 2 heads often creates a monster. • Besides that, there were now 2 teams going forth and not just 1. • This verse is the last time Luke mentions Barnabas. • Some believe the silence treatment is Luke’s commentary on this event. • Remember, Peter is no longer mentioned in Acts either.
2 reasons for this: • Luke follows the ministry of Paul for the remainder of the book. • Luke probably never even met Barnabas. • In Ch. 16, we read that Luke did not join Paul and become his traveling companion until v. 10. • We know this because Luke switches to “we” (1st person)from “he, she or they” (3rd person). • Luke probably never traveled with Barnabas. • His focus was on Paul from this point. • And, that is the reason that neither Barnabas nor Peter is mentioned past Ch. 15.
What happened to Mark? • Mark later became the author of the Gospel which bears his name. • Not only that, but Mark was Peter’s assistant & his Gospel was written from Peter’s perspective. • The 2nd thing about his life can be deduced from a rather obscure verse in Paul’s final letter. 2 Timothy 4:11 – Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. • Paul told Timothy to bring Mark when he came to see him because Mark was helpful in the ministry.
This is the same Mark who had split the missionary team many years earlier. • Now Paul wanted him along. • Much had happened in both men’s lives—Paul and Mark’s. • Mark had learned to fight devils. Who is the only common denominator in Mark’s transformation? • Barnabas What happened between 2 Timothy 4 and Acts 15? • Barnabas mentored Mark and helped transform him into a quality, faithful servant of the Lord.
40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord's gracious care. Why Silas? • He was just introduced at the end of the Jerusalem Council: Acts 15:22– Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. • Silas was a respected elder in the Jerusalem Church.
Acts 15:32– Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. • Silas was a prophet and not an apostle. • He would have been a good companion gift with Paul apostolic anointing. Acts 16:38 – When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. • Like Paul, Silas was a Roman citizen. • This would be an advantage in the Roman world. • They had rights & protections not given to non-citizens.
Put all those reasons together, and you can see why Silas was a great companion to Paul. 41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there. • Luke practically brushes over Paul’s ministry in the churches he had planted. • But, this emphasizes Paul’s calling—press into unreached areas to plant churches.
Romans 15:20 – My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. • Paul wanted to keep moving and planting. • Leave the mentoring and discipling to the Barnabas’. • Paul would return from time to time to provide apostolic oversight, but he wouldn’t stay long. • There were new places that needed to hear!
Power 120 Acts Series