Please reload

Recent Posts

Last week I opened up the topic of hearing God’s Voice and I gave you the list of ways in which God had spoken to our Jakarta based Cell Group over th...

Are you Filtering God Out? (Hearing God’s Voice 2)

May 15, 2020

1/10
Please reload

Featured Posts

Bible Gemz 1675 - The Sharp Disagreement between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41)

February 6, 2018

After some time Paul said to Barnabas, "Let's go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing." 

Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark.

But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.

Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.

Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord's gracious care.

Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there. (Acts 15:36-41)

 

 

It is probably no coincidence that this chapter of the Book of Acts is right in the middle of the historical account Luke has written for us. It’s a Hebrew technique to use the beginning, the middle and the end to say the most important things. Hebrew Chiastic Structure (an hour glass arrangement of poetic material) uses the middle position to make a strong point. Here we find Luke has attempted an impossible task – to give an account of how it came to pass that an agreement was reached between the strict Jewish believers in Jerusalem and the rather more liberal Gentile church in Antioch. Luke has also given us a glimpse behind the scenes of the inner workings of the inner circle. How Paul and Barnabas came to represent two different approaches to mission activity concerning the Gentiles. This Chapter marks a turning point in the understanding of the mission thrust to the Gentiles. But not only that it gives us an insight into the tensions and disagreements within the inner circle. Believe me, once again I feel like I am living what I am writing about. 

 

Some of you have responded to what I wrote in the previous Gemz about the contradiction between 15:33, 34 and 40. One person commented on what I wrote and asked, “Where you get this stuff? Do you just make it up yourself? I have looked and not found that stuff anywhere Ian.”  (That put a smile on my face. I have resources you know not of.) 

 

I have included a note from my friend Tim that I have clipped from his email with comment from Wilbur Pickering’s translation on the portion we dealt with yesterday. The quote Tim is taken from Wilbur’s footnotes which I have copied here.  

 

15 Verse 34, as in the AV, is to be found in about 30% of the Greek manuscripts, but contradicts verse 33, that seems to require that Silas returned to Jerusalem; "they were sent back . . . to the apostles", and "they" refers to Judas and Silas. The ‘problem’ is that in verse 40 Paul chooses Silas to accompany him, so he had to be in Antioch, not Jerusalem. Accordingly the longer reading was created to solve the ’problem’. The "some days" of verse 36 could well have been a month or two. From Antioch to Jerusalem would be a trip of less than 400 miles. Silas had time to go to Jerusalem and get back to Antioch.

 

Now we come to the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. The phrase “after some time” mentioned in the text, accords with Wilbur Pickering’s note concerning the “some days”, giving ample time for Silas to get back to Antioch, as I had written. Once Silas is back in Antioch again, Paul told Barnabas "Let's go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing." Barnabas agreed to Paul’s proposal – essentially to go back to the places where they had been preaching and see how the believers were going. Teaching them and strengthening the believers in the places they had already visited.  

 

Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. 

 

The suggestion to go back and check on the believers and strengthen them was not the point of disagreement. They had already been doing that. 

After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)

Now others are doing it too:

Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. (Acts 15:32)

 Paul and Barnabas have been doing just that. Judas and Silas have doing that as well, following Paul and Barnabas’ lead. 

 

But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.

 

Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.

Paul chose Silas, and traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

What do you imagine that Barnabas and John Mark did? That’s right, strengthened the churches on Cyprus. 

 

Now take the time to notice: 

Who Paul and Barnabas chose to go with.

What they do when they get there?

Where they choose to go to do the church strengthening? 

 

Go back and read again the background to the dispute. Let it sink in why it was they parted. 

What was this sharp dispute about?  

Note the kind of dispute it was. It was a sharp dispute.

 

Take note of the flow or structure:

Barnabas agreed . . . 

Paul disagreed strongly . . . 

Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated.

 

The various translations contain words like: sharp contention/disagreement/argument, big fight, hard feelings, tempers flared, disagreed so sharply, 

 

The Greek reads ἐγένετο / οὖν              / παροξυσμὸς / ὥστε  / ἀποχωρισθῆναι

                          became / so, certainly / contentious   / so as / to tear apart

 

For the background you need to go back to: 

So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. 

There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. (Acts 13:4-5)

Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:13)

 

Clearly a lot happened between these ten verses. Take time to read it through and ponder on the background to this significant dispute between Paul and Barnabas which led to a parting of the ways. We will bring in the counsellors next Gemz.  

 

 

The devil hasn't changed his game...it's just that more people are now willing to play it.

 

Never give permanent feelings to a temporary person! Rick Godwin

 

Opinions are not facts. Facts belong to everyone. Your opinions belong to only you. You can share them. But no one has to agree. Hart Ramsey

 

May your faith be unshakeable and your will unbreakable. Tristan Bishop

 

You are not what you have done; you are what you have overcome. Ian

 

Put your shoulders back, hold your head high. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of you. Lavonia Grabau

 

 

 

Please reload