Trials in Friendship

So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

Acts 15:30-41

Every good friendship endures a trying time. If that friendship can withstand the test of a sharp disagreement, that friendship is extra special. The relationship that sustains through difficulty ends up being a strong, family-like relationship that is built on much more than just enjoying the personality of the other person. As believers, we have an everlasting reason to have sweet fellowship with other believers. Our bond is Christ.

The group of four travelled to Antioch and had great ministry together. The Gentile church was relieved to hear the decision made by the Jerusalem church and enjoyed the ministry and preaching of Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas. After a time, Silas, Paul and Barnabas extended their ministry in Antioch. I imagine that Judas went home to Jerusalem, but I can’t find a verse confirming that fact.

More time passed and Paul got the urge to take another missionary trip to check on the churches. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along and Paul was firmly against that idea since John Mark bailed on them for the first trip. Things got heated and Paul and Barnabas separated, Paul taking Silas and Barnabas taking John Mark. Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Cyprus, Barnabas’ home and a two-day journey from Antioch, and Paul and Silas travelled to Syria and Cilicia, churches that Paul and Barnabas visited before, to strengthen them.

Paul and Barnabas experienced that sharp disagreement and they needed a break from each other. There are two perspectives in this disagreement and as we read of this conflict that happened many years ago, it is easy for us to choose sides and to sympathize with both sides at the same time. I love it that the friendship ended up coming full circle as years later Paul refers to his friendship with Barnabas in I Corinthians 9:6 and John Mark earns Paul’s respect in II Timothy 4:11.

Obviously, there is a big lesson in forgiveness in this passage. Paul and Barnabas had to learn to forgive each other even if they disagreed. God is so good and gracious that He used both Paul and Barnabas despite their disagreement. God is that gracious with us too. He forgives us and He is gracious with us. Do we extend that forgiveness and graciousness to others?

Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.
To contact Kaye Dee, leave a comment, message us on Facebook or email

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