Daily Word

Broken relationship | Acts 15:36-41

36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return and visit the brothers and sisters in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul was of the opinion that they should not take along with them this man who had deserted them [y]in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.

39 Now it turned into such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas, and left after being entrusted by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Acts 15:36-41 (NASB) 中文


The first missionary journey of Paul (and Barnabas) is complete. The issue of Gentiles needing (or not) to follow Jewish customs, like circumcision, to be followers of Christ has been resolved. Now Paul gets the idea to re-visit the churches from the first missionary journey and encourage them. But a key relationship breaks down.

Problem surfaces

Paul gets the idea, desire to go back and shares with Barnabas. Barnabas wants to take John Mark, who accompanied them on the first journey. Paul rejects that idea since John Mark had deserted them at the start of the ministry. “He’s not reliable and Kingdom-minded”, he may have thought. Knowing Barnabas, he likely wanted to encourage John Mark in the faith. He wanted to give him another chance.

Broken relationship

Their disagreement was so sharp that they split up. Why? A difference in priorities it seems. Paul was focused on the task of building up the church and needed “all hands on deck”, the whole team focused on this task. Barnabas indeed wanted to help the new churches but also wanted to build up someone he saw as a potential leader. So they split. Barnabas and John Mark headed to Cyprus. Paul went to the original churches.

But there is a good ending. Barnabas was successful in discipling John Mark. Paul recognizes him in his 2nd letter to Timothy. “Only Luke is with me. Take along Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” (2 Timothy 4:11) We can assume the relationship between Paul and Baranabas was also restored. 

Paul’s 2nd missionary journey

As Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus, somehow Paul connected with Silas (the leader from Jerusalem mentioned in the last passage) then heads back to encourage the churches of the previous trip. Note that most of these cities kicked him out and one even stoned him – yet he wants to go back! Another thing to note is that the church blessed Paul’s trip – “entrusted by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (v40). But Luke records nothing about Barnabas’ venture. Paul and Silas become a dynamic duo going forward.


  • Have you experienced a broken relationship? You’re encouraged to work to restore it. Do your part. We are part of one body in Christ and should love one another. We don’t have to like one another and be best friends, but must forgive and accept one another. 
  • Imagine the courage of Paul to head back to the same cities where he was persecuted – even stoned and left for dead! That might serve to encourage us as we face trials and persecution.
Two sailboats sailing in opposite directions. Generated by Gemini

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