Why Did Paul and Barnabas Disagree? How It Matters To You

Daily Bible Devotional Verses

Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:37-41 ESV)

Paul and Barnabas were friends and ministry partners.

Their newest venture was to, “Return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are” (Acts 15:36).

But even between these two renowned men of God, there was “sharp disagreement.” In fact, the disagreement was heated enough they “separated from each other.”

Two things come into view:

  1. We should not shrink from conflict.
    We must be willing to deal with issues that arise between us, rather than bury them, hoping they’ll go away. In fact, this is Jesus’ prescription for conflict resolution in Matthew 18:15.
  2. The reality that conflict exists in a situation does not mean God is not at work there. The Holy Spirit works through fallen, imperfect humans. This means that if impurities exist in the work, don’t blame the source, blame the vessels who themselves are impure. We bring baggage and debris of all kinds into our relationships, but we are still the method by which God has chosen to bear witness to the gospel of grace.

The Church is not a frictionless place. If even Paul and Barnabas disagree—there will be strife between people honestly seeking God together. But, conflict can be resolved in a biblical way.

Resolve conflict in the Church. After all, Paul did finally reconcile with Mark. Even mentioning what a help he is to him (2 Timothy 4:11).

Peace does not come by avoiding conflict—but by resolving it.

This is true in our own families just like it is in God’s.

Where have you shrank back from conflict with a brother or sister in Christ?

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