Daily Devotional: Tuesday 5th May

by William Moody

Acts 15:30–41

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.1 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Footnotes

[1] 15:33 Some manuscripts insert verse 34: But it seemed good to Silas to remain there

(ESV)

The church in Acts was facing attack from the devil, from outside through persecution and then from the inside from sin and division. The council of leaders that met in Jerusalem helped prevent division over circumcision as they focused on the Gospel of grace.

Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Judas (v22) were sent to the church in Antioch to share the results of the Jerusalem council meeting, which declared that circumcision was not needed by Gentiles. This encouraged among the Gentiles sensitivity to their Jewish brethren.

The letter declaring this was received with joy and the people were strengthened in their faith (v30-32). Division had been wisely avoided.

The devil though does not give up and he now seeks to cause division between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark (v36-38). It has often been asked who was right here. We can say Paul was right in not wanting their mission harmed by an unreliable person. But we can also say Barnabas was right in wanting to give a second chance.

Later on Paul would be able to speak of John Mark’s faithfulness (2 Tim. 4 v11) and he would be used in writing the second Gospel.

Sadly two great men separated over this issue. We all need to be watchful about division. But God in the end overruled and instead of one team there were now two teams going out (v39-40).

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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