SHARP DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN PAUL AND BARNABAS
Updated: Jan 17
After some days after the church resolved the issue of circumcision, Paul asked Barnabas to return to the places they went in their first missionary journey to visit the believers to find out how they were doing. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark with him, but Paul did not want to bring him because John Mark deserted them in Pamphylia on their first missionary Journey. As a result, Barnabas and Paul had a sharp disagreement that they parted ways. Paul took Silas with him and went through Syria and Cicilia, and Barnabas took John Mark with him and went to Cyprus. The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was not a light or small disagreement, but it was a major disagreement that they split ways. They went away from each other without reconciliation. It was surprising to witness how two godly church leaders could have such a sharp disagreement. We have to understand that Paul and Barnabas were just like us, with different temperaments and personalities. There are times when our temperaments and personalities can clash with others. (Acts 15:36-41).
Barnabas was a typical person that has a tendency to encourage others. He was the one who encouraged Paul when the apostles and other believers hesitated to accept Paul when he was just converted to Christianity. Most likely, Barnabas wanted to encourage John Mark and wanted to take him on another missionary journey to build his confidence. After all, John Mark was his nephew (Colossians 4:10). Paul, on the other hand, had a strong leadership personality. He wanted to bring a person he could rely on on a very difficult journey. Paul must have been very disappointed with John Mark when he left them in Pamphylia, especially when they were going through a difficult time. Paul did not want to go through it again.
Paul and Barnabas eventually reconciled (Galatians 2:9), and John Mark and Paul became traveling companions later on (2 Timothy 4:11). The lesson we can learn from their sharp disagreement is that disagreement happens in our relationship with others no matter how mature we are in our walk with the Lord. However, we need to pursue reconciliation and restore love and peace. So often, we keep our resentment towards those we disagree that we do not want to forgive and restore relationships. Jesus commanded us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15).
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). What do I do when my personality and temperament clash with another person? Am I willing to forgive? Am I willing to pursue peace with those I disagree with?
Father in Heaven, would you please continue to teach me to respond in a situation when I have a strong disagreement with others? Please do not let my flesh take over me, but your Spirit that works within me. I want to forgive and pursue peace with others, but I admit that I need your help in this area. Please help me to have an attitude that pleases you so that others may see you in me. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.