37 now barnabas wanted to take with them john called mark. 38 but paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 and there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. barnabas took mark with him and sailed away to cyprus, 40 but paul chose silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 and he went through syria and cilicia, strengthening the churches. – [acts 15:37-41]
brothers in the gospel
as believers, it is okay when we disagree on methods for ministry.
it is not okay if we allow those disagreements to create severed relationships, anger, or bitterness towards one another.
as we read about this ‘sharp disagreement’ over whether to bring john mark on the mission journey, we must remember that these men were brothers in the gospel.
it was barnabas who brought paul to the apostles when they were still suspicious of his motives, and the two had worked side by side in many cities. they both loved the Lord and had devoted their lives to his service.
what brought these brothers to separate?
paul and barnabas both had a desire to spread the good news, but they went different ways with different partners for different reasons. we know the disagreement was about john mark, but we don’t know why barnabas wanted to take john mark, and we don’t know who was right or wrong. at the end of the day, it did not matter, as this disagreement did not hinder the work of the gospel, but ultimately multiplied it.
however hurt or angry these men may have been when they chose to go separate ways, we do know that he decision to separate did not lead to a split in the church, a complete dissolution of relationship, or any bitterness causing believers to ‘choose sides’.
we know that later on, paul said that john mark was “useful” to him “for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11), and that john mark is most likely the ‘mark’ who writes one of the four gospels. he had clearly grown in his faith, and his relationship with paul remained intact despite the earlier disagreement.
there is evidence that although they separated, paul, barnabas, and the others remained brothers in the faith and co-workers in the gospel.
~ jason soroski