Conflict occurs when Paul rejects Barnabas' proposal that John Mark accompany them on their second missionary journey, to visit those who had responded to the Gospel on their previous journey. Paul counter-insists that John Mark not accompany them-"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" (Acts 15:38). Because of John Mark's earlier desertion, Paul cannot envision his being a help on the second missionary journey. Barnabas therefore takes John Mark with him to Cyprus, and Paul takes Silas with him to Syria and Cilicia; they go their separate ways. Conflict. The division of one mission team into two.
At the time of departure, little does either team know what lies ahead of them. Providence spares a spiritually unprepared John Mark from that experience!
A tense situation develops in the city of Philippi when a slave girl possessing a spirit of divination is liberated, "But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities . . . the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison" (Acts 16:19, 22-23).
Paul and Silas respond by praying and singing! Their praying and singing cause an earthquake and create an opportunity to share the Gospel, and the keeper of the prison and his family come to faith in Christ.
Imagine John Mark's response when he hears about the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas! Picture his gratitude that he has been spared that "adventure" before he is ready!
This scene reveals a number of truths about rejection, ministry conflict, and providence:
Describe the ministry relationship between Barnabas and Paul prior to their separation in ministry. What does this reveal about their relationship? Their spiritual maturity?
Describe the process that God uses to lead Paul to the places where He is at work.
What new ministry partnership is formed during Paul's second missionary journey? What does this reveal about ministry?
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