Pastors BLOG
July 18, 2018, 1:12 PM

The Adventure Begins 48: Lessons From the Early Church - Acts 15:35-41

Acts 15:35-41 (NIV)
35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,
38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.
39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Last week I alluded to the fact that in ch. 15 there were some conflicts and differences of opinion that arose surrounding the way in which to further the mission of Jesus in His great commission to make disciples throughout the world. Last week we touched on the issue of the Jewish leaders placing unmerited restrictions on the new Gentile believers – requiring that they be circumcised to be saved. A council was born out of this conflict and they developed new doctrine to address this dilemma.

Here there is a “sharp disagreement” between two of the churches leaders and missionaries. We are going to look at this situation here to see that there can in fact be different perspectives, philosophies and processes in accomplishing God’s work.

Paul was disappointed with John Mark for not finishing what he started on the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 13:13 (NIV)
13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

Paul was done with John Mark, while Barnabas wanted to give him another shot.

While Paul gets most of the press in the scriptures and is lauded for his great work as a missionary/evangelist, Barnabas is often overlooked for the great mentor to disciples that he was. Paul of course was a great mentor as well, but his approach differed from Barnabas in relation to Mark. It is my conviction that God uses us differently in different situations – because 1. We are different people and 2. Because no two situations are alike either.

I typically err on the side of grace, but sometimes a more stern response is necessary.

Barnabas, as exemplified in how he treated John Mark, was a patient and gracious man who doled out second chances in his methods of discipling people. He must have been patient to disciple such a big personality as Paul, and yet he did such a magnificent job with Paul.

I want to remind you that we are all called to make disciples. Discipleship takes patience. Mentors are patient with their disciples.

Here again while Paul had moved on from John Mark, Barnabas patiently extended new opportunities to him. It is not that Paul’s response here to Mark was wrong either – we will get to that more later – but Barnabas exhibits patience and grace to Mark and his patience paid off in the long run.


Jesus was extremely patient with His disciples

…He could also be short with people if he needed to be…


Paul was short with Mark and had moved on because perhaps all he could see at that moment in John Mark was his failure from before and the urgency of his upcoming mission. Perhaps God directed him to react this way so that Barnabas would have the opportunity to extend grace – Law and Grace working side by side. Paul is often seen more as a black and white individual – He is very prophetic and a very powerful voice. God used his makeup in amazing ways as we have seen and will continue to see, but personality and individual SHAPE* and perhaps even God’s calling on him prevented him from seeing past John Marks past.


Barnabas saw potential beyond John Marks past. Mentors see potential in their disciples. Of course I am not saying Paul never saw potential in people he certainly did, but here with John Mark he missed it.


Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to follow him. The twelve disciples chosen by Jesus had more than likely been passed over by other rabbis, as exhibited by their full engagement in secular careers and by their eagerness to leave everything behind to follow Him. He saw their potential to change the world…


…He also moved on from his own hometown when people did not respond to his ministry there, and He had little patience with some of the assertions of the religious leaders often sharply rebuking them.


Mentors stick up for their disciples.

Barnabas exhibits his patience and sticks with him giving him a second opportunity, and even stands up for him to Paul.


Jesus the great shepherd laid down his life for his sheep…


Mentors live life and do ministry with their disciples.


Barnabas took John Mark with him on a dangerous missionary journey, knowing that he failed before, but that his potential would be to succeed. In many ways he was putting his life and the mission in Marks hands.


Jesus did everything with his disciples. Jesus did not just do ministry he had his disciples do the ministry, and he entrusted them to do it…


Matthew 10:1 (NIV)
1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

God uses different types of mentors to raise up disciples.


God used Paul and Barnabas to shape John Mark. Sometimes we need both voices: The sharp rebuke and the loving encouragement. Often times God uses different people to do these things – “the Good Cop, Bad Cop” routine…

In my life God has used both negative experiences and positive to make me who he wants me to be…


We need to be sensitive to the Lord and ask him to show us how he wants to use us in an individual’s life. He may ask you to share a hard word or he may call you to greater grace.


Jesus didn’t choose one person to change the world – he chose 12 – all differently skilled and uniquely gifted toward the same task of the commission.


John Mark turned out extremely well. He wrote Bible, being the author of the gospel of Mark. Paul later said…


Colossians 4:10-11 (NIV)
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.

No doubt God used both Paul and Barnabas to shape John Mark – Paul was used to release before Mark the gravity of his failure, while Barnabas was used to give him another shot.


*”SHAPE” is an acronym from Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, which describes an individual as the summation of their ”Spiritual Gifts, Heart (Passion), Abilities, Personality and Experiences”. While I differ from Warren’s understanding of what Spiritual Gifts are and how they function I appreciate the acronym and find it useful.

By Pastor Carl Friedel


07-18-2018 at 2:09 PM
Insightful!! As individuals, God can use us and our personal talents and experiences. And the encouragement here is to accept differing talents and personalities in others who will do and say things differently! The key is being unified in our mission and understanding how the Lord uses us and that is brought to the fore...thank you!!
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