This week we encounter one of the sharpest and most surprising disagreements our Bible records. Two spiritually-mature heroes of the faith, Paul and Barnabas, reach such a significant relational impasse they have to separate and travel in opposite directions. This happens and it happens to humble and faithful followers of Jesus.
In terms of background, Paul is a Hellenistic Jew raised in Tarsus at one of the leading philosophical schools in the Mediterranean world. He was raised outside of Israel, spoke fluent Greek and Latin, and was fully immersed in Jewish culture as a Pharisee. Paul was comfortable in both Jewish and Gentile cultures. This uniquely qualified him to help the church expand its message to non-believing Jews and Gentiles.
This is why Barnabas recruits Paul. Barnabas needs help delivering the message of Jesus to non-Jewish people. Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement,” has a deep passion to come to the aid of the discouraged and poor. In Acts 4 we learn that Barnabas sells some of his real estate to help the poor people in his community.
This week we’ll explore the sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, the consequences of their impasse, and how they eventually reconciled. As we wade into this material, take a moment and offer a prayer asking God to reveal broken relationships that need reconciling in your life.