Acts 15:36-41 contains another awkward moment (there’s a lot of those in the Bible). It’s kind of uncomfortable having it in our Bible. Paul and Barnabas, both of which are godly Spirit filled men, have a fall out. Barnabas wants his relative Mark to go along on a strengthening trip with Paul. Paul objects on the grounds that John Mark earlier deserted them (Acts 13:13). Then, something rather odd happens. Paul and Barnabas have a “sharp disagreement.”
The Greek word used here for “sharp disagreement” is the word paroxysmos. Simply put, it means a heated discussion. So heated in fact, it led to Paul and Barnabas splitting ways (v. 39). Two Christian men who disagree over something so strongly that it caused them to split ways. Does this whole situation or conflict between these two unnerve you a little? It does me. But, like I said last week, I hate conflict!
For kicks and giggles: I found a great quote that goes along with this, written by Phillip Melanchthon.
“In essentials unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things charity.”
Just some simple questions to throw at you this week:
- Do you think this “sharp disagreement” should have even come up?
- Who do you think was right in this argument?
- Who would you have sided with in this argument?
- Paul or Barnabas?
*Side note: This may make you feel a little better about this whole situation. It seems this “sharp disagreement” wasn’t the death of Paul, Barnabas, and Mark’s friendship. Check out these verses where Paul mentions them: 1 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Timothy 4:11, Colossian 4:10.