Online Bible Commentary
The Second Journey Begins
Acts 15:36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing." 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (NKJV)
After returning from the Jerusalem Council in A. D. 49 Paul and Barnabas spent some time in their home church at Antioch, Syria. They spent “some days” ministering to the predominantly Gentile church (v. 36a).
Then it came to Paul that he and Barnabas should return to the churches they had established during their first missionary journey (v. 36b). According to the original Greek, Paul said “let us look after our brothers.” Paul had a heart for discipleship. He knew that these new churches would be full of new believers and there was very much a need for them to be discipled.
During the First Missionary Journey Barnabas’ cousin, Mark, had accompanied them on the journey. He ministered with them on the island of Cyprus, the birthplace of Barnabas. However, when they arrived in Asia Minor, Mark left the party in Pamphylia. This did not set well with Paul.
So when Barnabas again asked that Mark accompany them on the second journey Paul objected, citing that Mark had not been a part of starting the churches in Asia Minor, specifically Galatia (vv. 37-38). According to the original Greek, “there was Then sharp feeling, so as to separate them from each other” (v. 39a). Barnabas decided to take Mark with him and set sail for the island of Cyprus (v. 39b), while Paul traveled overland to Asia Minor.
Paul chose Silas, short for Silvanus, to accompany him on his Second Missionary Journey (v. 40a). The sending congregation in Antioch “commended” Paul on his journey, but apparently no such commendation was given to Barnabas (v. 40b). This is the last mention of Barnabas’ ministry in the Bible.
This was not the first dust up that Paul had with Barnabas. Paul had written the Book of Galatians while in Antioch prior to leaving on his Second Missionary Journey. In his writings Paul mentions that he had disagreements with Peter and Barnabas because of their refusal to eat with the Gentiles in Antioch (Gal. 2:11-13). Perhaps, this previous disagreement contributed to the argument over Mark, and the eventual split of Paul and Barnabas.
Remember that Barnabas had originally sponsored Paul to the church in Jerusalem, when Paul was still considered a persecutor of Christians. Then, later, Barnabas came for Paul when he had retreated to Tarsus and brought him to the church in Antioch that would later sponsor his missionary journeys. Paul and Barnabas had been very dear friends, until now. Even in the first century church there was conflict. When men and women are passionate for Christ these things sometimes happen.
So Paul and Silas, not Paul and Barnabas, traveled north through Syria and then west through Cilicia until they reached the churches in Galatia. There, they spent their time “strengthening the churches” that Paul and Barnabas had previously started (v. 41).
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey has begun. What started out as just a visit to the churches of Galatia would lead to very extensive travels westward all the way to present day Greece.