Acts 15:30–41 ‘Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 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.’ (vv37–38)

The apostle Paul had many who worked with him, but it wasn’t always smooth, and Luke records how Paul was convinced that John Mark was a liability because he hadn’t stayed with them on a previous trip.

The text talks of a ‘sharp disagreement’ which caused them to part company. The word used implies ‘a provocation which literally jabs (cuts) someone so they must respond’!

Such is the disagreement that Paul and Barnabas did not travel together again. Barnabas takes his cousin John Mark and Paul takes Silas.

It is important to note that the book of Acts is descriptive and not prescriptive. Just because something happened in Acts does not mean that God is pleased with it!


It may be that you have had a sharp disagreement with someone in your church fellowship or network of friends.

It is always sad when this happens and if you can repair things you need to do so. But this is not always possible, as Paul and Barnabas found.

It was some years before there was a resolution. Paul later mentions that John Mark was with him (Col. 4:10), suggesting that he was ‘back on the team’.

We will never get on with absolutely everyone and, providing we always put out the welcome mat in our minds and hearts, we need to be able to press ahead, moving on from relationships that haven’t worked and knowing that God can bless these other people as He can bless us.

And in John Mark’s case, he would go on to write one of the four Gospels. So, if you have to part ways, don’t write the person off too soon!


A Prayer To Make:
‘Help me to know how best to tackle disagreements that come up. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
If you have had a painful disagreement, attempt to resolve it. If you can’t, move on!

Scripture To Consider:
2 Kgs 5:15–27; John 13:18–30: 2 Tim. 4:9–18

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.