Acts 15:30-41 Paul and Barnabas Part Company
We will pick up from the council of Acts 15, and review the happenings from the council until Paul begins his second missionary journey. Paul's second missions trip will cover four years; 50 a.d. to 54 a.d. Assuming that the apostles were near the same age as Jesus, this second mission trip will put Paul around 50 years of age at its beginning.
The council of Acts 15 played a major role in releasing the Jesus Messianic movement from its Judaic matrix, and from any bindings of the covenant of Moses. And now that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were in the same boat, the Jewish harvest would begin to slacken over time. The gospel had to be presented to the Jew first. Then it was to go into the many cultures of the world. This was God's plan. The whole world must be given the gospel of God's saving grace.
From this point the Acts of the Apostles will center almost exclusively on the apostle Paul. We know very little about the twelve apostles other than legends, but with Paul we are given a major portion of the New Testament. His writings are the earliest we have of the Christian canon, and it is Paul's writings that help give Christianity its spiritual shape throughout the church age. His role in the spread of Christianity is without comparison. (This will be one of our shorter studies.)
This is Acts030 - Acts 15:30-41 Paul and Barnabas Part Company.
Vss30,31: "So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement."
.... The overwhelming joy was due to fact that it was now certain. All the apostles and elders in Jerusalem were in full accord with the truth of the gospel. Believers in the new covenant are to be given Christian liberty. But it wasn't a matter of discarding the writings of the Hebrew prophets. It was a matter of understanding covenants. The older testament could be used as a tool of instruction, as long as it was used 'lawfully.' (That is, in light of the new covenant, and of our salvation by grace through faith.)
Vss32-35: "Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message. After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out. But it seemed good to Silas to remain there. But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord."
.... A larger group of men accompanied Judas and Silas to Antioch. When Judas returned to Jerusalem with the group, Silas and others of the group chose to remain. There was much teaching to the be done. And Silas is going to become a partner in missions with Paul.
Vss36-41: "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.' Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 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. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."
.... These few Scriptures are full of history. But since Acts is a basic chronology on the early Church development, we are left with a number of spaces. What we see happening at this point is the developing of two mission teams. Paul and Silas will be one team. Barnabas and John Mark will make up the other. However, this is also the last mention of Barnabas or John Mark in Acts.
Perhaps it should also be noted that not all disagreements between believers are necessarily fleshly. Sometimes the Lord is working behind the scenes and the outcome will be a blessing. So was Paul simply lacking in grace in his refusal to take John Mark with him? Or was there more to the story. And why did John Mark leave Paul and Barnabas on their first mission's trip? Is it possible that Mark was not yet ready for the message he heard Paul preaching? Perhaps the Jerusalem council helped settle his heart. (Of course this is all conjecture.)
In any event, at some point Mark does become a blessing to Paul. While in prison, Paul wrote Timothy, saying, "Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service." (2Tim4:11)
Let's leave off on this study for now.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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