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Contention Separates (Acts 15:36-40)

Introductory Thoughts

The church at Antioch sent out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-4). These men were missionaries seeking to win the lost and edify the children of God. They travelled far and wide on their first missionary journey and then returned to Antioch to offer the believers a report of the work (Acts 15:30). Soon thereafter, Paul determined that he and Barnabas should make a second trip to check on the growth of those to whom they previously ministered (Acts 15:36). Barnabas sincerely desired to accompany Paul but also thought it wise to take John Mark (who had previously quit on Paul and Barnabas). Paul disagreed with taking John Mark and the Bible describes that the “contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other” (Acts 15:39).

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): King Saul and his son Jonathan loved David (1 Samuel 16:21-22; 1 Samuel 18:1-2); however, Sauls love quickly turned to hatred (1 Samuel 18:8-9). David had to flee for his life. He only saw Saul twice more after that (not under good conditions) and only saw Jonathan one more time.
  • (For everyone): Have you ever spent time serving the Lord with someone only to have the fellowship broken as a result of some kind of strife? What kind of an effect did it have on you and the work of the Lord?
  • Who was wrong in the conflict between Paul and Barnabas? What was the outcome of their conflict? In the end, does it really matter who was right and who was wrong?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to protect you from such splits.
  • Ask the Lord to give you grace with other believers.