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Featured How do you interpret the theology of the division of Paul & Barnabas?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by drivenfuture, Mar 28, 2020.

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  1. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    Specifically curious about the reformed theology on the matter. For those who aren't aware, a brief synopsis on the situation is Paul & Barnabas were both great teachers who sailed together, but there came a rift due to differing viewpoints considering Jon-Mark, another fellow believer. Some believe they reconciled, some believe they did not.
    To summarize the theological debate, many consider this a hateful division, or at least a sinful division left unreconciled; while many others might say the division was a mutually agreed upon departure for the sake of the Gospel---this text often comes into play in the non-reformed camps when there is a division that leads to the "let go and let God" heresy, generally claiming it is a loving thing to just let things be. There is probably much more than that to dive into, but that's a base start for the sake of this discussion.
     
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  2. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
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    I think it's pretty simple. Jon Mark was young and made a youthful error of quitting in mid-stream.

    When Paul wanted to re-visit people groups and churches already visited, Barnabas said, "Let's take Jon Mark". Paul said "No".

    They split - partially in my opinion - because Barnabas and Jon Mark were cousins.

    Now, look what happened! Now there were TWO teams - Paul/Silas and Barnabas/Jon Mark. Think how much Jon Mark probably grew under the guidance and encouragement of his cousin. Look how much the gospel was furthered with two teams.

    Eventually, there was a reconciliation. Paul wanted to see Jon Mark.

    I really don't understand the reformed vs. non-reformed attitude towards this event. I think it's a wonderful story of how God uses his people even if they don't always work well together.
     
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  3. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    My opinion is that Reformed theology has enough fish to fry without jumping into a hypothetical morass to advance some purpose that is more polemical than edifying. There is an aroma of cage stage Calvinism in the air ...
     
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  4. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    Bible Gateway passage: Acts 15:36-41 - New International Version

    Seems as though it was a division solely based on the disagreement, and done in anger or something similar.

    BTW - Where in the Bible is the reconciliation mentioned? I have yet to find this.

    P.S. I don't have an agenda other than learn the texts that have always been troubling/confusing to me.
     
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  5. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    "Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is useful to me in the ministry."

    But all this aside, what is your point? You surely have one.
     
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  6. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    For me personally, this has always been a conundrum - Jesus was ABSOLUTELY CLEAR on his instructions, in the Sermon on the Mount, that if a brother has an offense with you, go and work things out, yet here we have Paul & Barnabas, both regarded as great teachers (in particular Paul), and yet both seemingly unwilling to resolve this bibllically (at least from any teaching I've received). If we might say that Barnabas sinned and walked away despite attempts to reconcile--that would be another story, but the dichotomy of Jesus's teaching and the disobedience of such a basic instruction of Jesus has always left me uncomfortable with Paul's authority; unless someone can point me to the reconciliation story, which I have yet to find.
     
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  7. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    Wow. You want to take an incident of which we have only the most sketchy details and say it makes you "uncomfortable with Paul's authority."

    Did Paul comply with Jesus' teaching? You don't know and I don't know. Your are assuming facts not in evidence. Did they agreeably part? We don't know. Was Paul at fault? We don't know.

    But we know that Peter (according to Paul) violated the spirit of the Council of Jerusalem and Paul — in scripture, no less — criticized him for it. Did Paul take it to the assembly as Jesus suggested? We don't know. But Paul's criticisms did not diminish the authority of Peter, who spoke agreeably of Paul's writings. And we can be certain that Paul sinned — as all of us do — but it should not diminish the authority of the man who elucidated the great doctrines of Christianity in what are likely the earliest extant Christian documents.

    It seems you want to make a theological mountain out of an ontological molehill.
     
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  8. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    I did not deny Paul's authority, only stated it left me uncomfortable. This is not a denial of Scripture but rather a request for clarity. Literally ALL of the Bible should be, continuously, leaving people uncomfortable as it transforms hearts and minds, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
    HOWEVER, the precise reason it makes me uncomfortable is from this statement: It disobeys and denies the BASIC INSTRUCTIONS of Jesus. To your point, we don't have every detail listed out, and this is important, however, if you had a pastor who had a division with his Christian cousin in the same ministry, would he not be questioned, possibly even disqualified from the pulpit? It is important to dissect the Scriptures so that we come to an agreed upon conclusion.
     
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  9. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Active Member
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    Onviously, things were repaired

    You are making a big todo about nothing. Sometimes Cians disagree. Its that simple. Whats remarkable is how God used it for His glory and purposes
     
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  10. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    Please provide the Scripture (or historical document) that says it was repaired.
     
  11. AustinC

    AustinC Active Member

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    I am looking to see what theological issue caused the split between Paul and Barnabas, as the OP suggests, but I don't find a theological conflict in Acts 15. What I find is a confidence problem. Paul is not confident that Mark will be strong and courageous.

    Will the OP state what he thinks is the theological issue?

    Acts 15:36-41 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.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 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. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
     
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  12. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    The theoogical issue is this: Warn a divisive person once, then twice, then have nothing to do with them.
    Let there be NO (as in ZERO) divisions among you.
    Now, when we're referring to unrepentant sin, false doctrine, or false teaching, this is a separate issue--we don't have that issue here. We have a personal rift based on personal opinion considering another brother. We're not told who (if anyone) sinned, but we know that division is a sin. If this was due to Barnabas' unrepentance, I concede, but I don't see that. Most people say this was repaired...can someone please point me to ths?
     
  13. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Active Member
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    You have been given explanations, but refuse to accept them

    Where was sin committed?

    John Mark was under no obligation, he was young immature and chose to return home. Obviously, he became someone who was useful. He obviously was accepted by others why is it our business to question the nuts and bolts of what happened. If forgiveness was required, obviously it was given by those impacted
     
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  14. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Well-Known Member

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    "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." ( 2 Timothy 4:11 ).

    I cannot tell you about Barnabas ever having an unresolved conflict with Paul, as it is not mentioned that I can find.
    Regardless, we know that we as believers are to love one another, despite our faults ( John 13:34, John 15:12, John 15:17, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23 ).
     
    #14 Dave Gilbert, Mar 29, 2020
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  15. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    No. I consistently am told Paul & Barnabas reconciled. I consistently ask for the Scripture saying this. I am consistently given further debate and questioning without answering the question with Scripture.
     
  16. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you will find Scriptures that are directly related to your question, of Paul and Barnabas ever reconciling.
    However, as believers with a duty to follow Christ's commands, I'm sure that they eventually did reconcile.

    We are simply not told by the Lord when this occurred.
    I hope that is enough to answer your question.

    Perhaps this serves as a good reason to dig in to His word and find that answer for yourself, to your own satisfaction.
     
    #16 Dave Gilbert, Mar 29, 2020
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  17. AustinC

    AustinC Active Member

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    We are not given any information about Barnabas after this conflict.
    We know that Barnabas name means "son of encouragement" and that Mark went with Barnabas while Silas went with Paul.
    We know that Mark continued on in mission work, which implies that Barnabas encouragement worked to help Mark persevere.
    We know that Paul and Mark reconciled.
    We know that God ordained the conflict so that two groups of missionaries went out to spread the good news.
    We saw earlier that God used conflict in Jerusalem to move his children to go elsewhere and spread the good news.
    Nowhere do we read of Paul and Barnabas having a theological disagreement. Their gospel was the same. Their difference was in partnership, not message.
    Since God chose not to show us direct resolution between Paul and Barnabas, I believe it is unwise to make conclusions from silence. It is enough to know that the gospel went out by more than one team of missionaries and that these teams ultimately show some of them had rejoined later on in time.
    This is what we know.
    Let us not create positions from silence or claim things in which God is silent. Instead, let us be content with the unresolved revelation of God. God used two missionary teams instead of one. God used an argument to make two teams with the same gospel. Rest in the blessing that God brought about in His ordained conflict between believers.
     
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  18. drivenfuture

    drivenfuture Member

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    I am not saying their disagreement was theological, I said it seemed to be a rift based on personal opinion regarding another Christian brother. What is troublesome to me, is that we see Paul, very clearly, indicate, "warn a divisive person once, then twice, then have nothing to do with them, it is evident they are under judgment." It seems quite likely that this disagreement was sinful, as noted in the text of being "a sharp" disagreement. What I will tell you, is that many on the Arminian camp will say that Paul (or possibly both) men sinned here, as they say Paul was commended to the "grace of the Lord," saying that he was under a "let go and let God" kind of forgiveness from the brothers who stayed. I find it quite important to discover the truth of this passage, because IF such a position holds true that Paul was so sinful he refused to repent, this would create the downfall of Calvinist theology from anything past the Gospels. I say this because I believe it is quite vital to understand the truth of this event in order to defend the theology of repentance and forgiveness.
     
  19. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I agree with @Scarlett O. in post #2.
    I think the Lord sometimes overrules disagreements among Christians for His own sovereign purposes.

    There was a church in Cardiff, Wales where they had had one Pastor for around 50 years. Toward the end of his time there, he brought his son in as 'assistant to the Pastor' with a view to his taking over when he retired.
    However, the elders and the majority of the congregation took a different view and appointed someone else to the post when the Pastor finally retired. But about 50 members of the congregation left the church and set up a new one with the Pastor's son as the minister.

    While this is all regrettable in many ways, the result is that there are now two fine Bible-believing churches where there was formerly one. I don't know the situation well enough to say if they are now fully reconciled or not, but I believe God has used an unfortunate situation for His glory.

    [N.B. I am not saying that there are only two Bible-believing churches in Cardiff. PTL, there are many more than that, but there is one more than there used to be]
     
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  20. AustinC

    AustinC Active Member

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    I think it is presumptuous to claim Barnabas was being divisive. I don't think he was. I think God caused this division so there could be two mission groups instead of one.
     
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