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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 15 - Verse 41

Verse 41. Syria and Cilicia. These were countries lying near to each other, which Paul, in company with Barnabas, had before visited.

Confirming the churches. Strengthening them by instruction and exhortation. It has no reference to the rite of confirmation. See Barnes "Ac 14:22".

 

In regard to this unhappy contention between Paul and Barnabas, and their separation from each other, we may make the following remarks:

(1.) That no apology or vindication of it is offered by the sacred writer. It was undoubtedly improper and evil. It was a melancholy instance in which even apostles evinced an improper spirit, and engaged in improper strife.

(2.) In this contention it is probable that Paul was, in the main, right. Barnabas seems to have been influenced by attachment to a relative; Paul sought a helper who would not shrink from duty and danger. It is clear that Paul had the sympathies and prayers of the church in his favour, Ac 15:40, and it is more than probable that Barnabas departed without any such sympathy, Ac 15:39.

(3.) There is reason to think that this contention was overruled for the furtherance of the gospel. They went to different places, and preached to different people. It often happens that the unhappy and wicked strifes of Christians are the means of exciting their zeal, and of extending the gospel, and of establishing churches. But no thanks to their contention; nor is the guilt of their anger and strife mitigated by this.

(4.) This difference was afterwards reconciled, and Paul and Barnabas again became travelling companions, 1 Co 9:6; Ga 2:9.

(5.) There is evidence that Paul also became reconciled to John Mark, Col 4:10; Phm 1:24; 2 Ti 4:11.

How long this separation continued is not known; but perhaps in this journey with Barnabas, John gave such evidence of his courage and zeal as induced Paul again to admit him to his confidence as a travelling companion, and as to become a profitable fellow-labourer. See 2 Ti 4:11, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry."

(6.) This account proves that there was no collusion or agreement among the apostles to impose upon mankind. Had there been such an agreement, and had the books of the New Testament been an imposture, the apostles would have been represented as perfectly harmonious, and as united in all their views and efforts. What impostor would have thought of the device of representing the early friends of the Christian religion as divided, and contending, and separating from each other? Such a statement has an air of candour and honesty, and at the same time is apparently so much again, st the truth of the system, that no impostor would have thought of resorting to it.

{b} "confirming the churches" Ac 16:5

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