v 35. Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there.
Right through this lengthy passage Barnabas and Paul are always mentioned together, and neither man is named alone. This was Team Mission, working together when they travelled, standing together to speak about the conversion of Gentiles, and then preaching and teaching together in Antioch, which was their home church.
BUT, something then changed: if you read on a few verses you discover that the partnership is broken. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them on the next trip, but Paul was opposed to the idea because Mark had previously let them down. Hence ‘ Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas.‘ Paul felt that Mark was a liability and so could not be trusted; Barnabas was willing to give Mark a second chance, and so the partnership was split. What should be done when disagreements of this kind arise? Difficult isn’t it. But as it happened to a couple of the most prominent missionaries in the early church, we shouldn’t be over-surprised if it happens even today.
From this point onwards in the book of Acts Barnabas never gets a mention at all. It is worth noting however that Paul links up later with Mark. In one of his last letters; Paul writes from his Roman prison, ‘Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.’ (2 Timothy 4:11) The rift with Mark had been healed and he and Paul could work together again.
A careful reading of the next chapter, Acts 16, reveals a significant development: the writer changes from ‘they’ in verse 8 to ‘we’ in verse 10. This is the point in the story at which Paul is joined by Luke who then records the subsequent events as he accompanies Paul. So there is new team: Paul is joined by Luke, Silas and Timothy. We will pick up more of this team building in tomorrow’s reading.