Acts 12.24—13.5; Psalm 66; John 12.44-50
Paul and Barnabas formed a great team ministry. Barnabas became Paul’s promoter after his Damascus Road conversion and offered reassurance to those who weren’t convinced that Paul was really a Christian disciple. [Acts 9.26-30] Together they went to Antioch [11.25-26], the capital of the Roman province of Syria, and to Barnabas’ native Cyprus [13.4]. Together they organised a fund for the relief of impoverished Christians in Jerusalem [11.30] and at the Council of Jerusalem [15.5-29] they jointly advocated a mission to the Gentiles. [15.12, 22]
Sometime later, however, Paul and Barnabas fell out after a violent quarrel [15.39]. Perhaps the disagreement concerned Barnabas’ cousin John Mark [15.37-39; Colossians 4.10], but Paul’s own account suggests more fundamental differences between them. [Galatians 2.11-13] In time Paul and Mark worked together again [II Timothy 4.11; Philemon 24] but if Paul and Barnabas ever reconciled the New Testament doesn’t record it.
Both Paul and Barnabas continued their missionary work, however, Barnabas with Mark and Paul with Silas. [Acts 15.39-40] Their estrangement is a sad, discordant note, a reminder of the difficulties that strong and passionate people can find in working together as the instruments of God. But God brings good even out of human sin. By the break-up of this successful team, the proclamation of the word of God is doubled! The work of each of them bore lasting fruit. [John 15.16] Both Barnabas and Paul ended their lives as martyrs.