A controversy arose over whether or not these new Gentile believers needed to be circumcised like the Jewish believers were.  The book of Acts is a transitional book and now the Gentiles were one with the Jewish Christians.  After much debate it was resolved that no, the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised in order to be a part of the body of Christ.  Bodily circumcision was only a symbol of the circumcision of the heart, which occurs at the point of one's salvation.  A letter was sent by Paul and Barnabas to let the rest of the Jewish believers know that there was no need to hold these new Gentile believers to the physical act of circumcision since God had already accepted them and done a change in their hearts.

Now in the rest of this chapter we find Paul wanting to return to the places where they had previously preached to encourage the people who had already accepted Christ.  It is not good to just leave them without further teaching and instruction.

A dispute occurs over John Mark.  Barnabas wanted to take him with them, but Paul thought that it was best not to because he had deserted them when the going got rough and returned home.  Paul apparently didn't feel John Mark was mature enough to take on this important work as yet.  John Mark was a nephew of Barnabas, so we see him take a solid stand on taking him along with.  The expression "blood is thicker than water" seems to hold true in this instance.  They were in such sharp disagreement on the matter that to settle the issue they decided it was best to split up into two separate teams.  Paul chose Silas to travel with him and Barnabas took his nephew John Mark and went another way.  Thus despite their dispute over the matter, now they had two teams traveling and giving out the gospel message, thus doubling their effectiveness in reaching people for Christ! 


This tells me that whether right or wrong, there can be disagreement among the Lord's workers.  It is better to settle these kinds of disagreements as peacefully as we can and allow each other some freedom and grace in serving God according to their own convictions.  Later on, we find Paul asking for John Mark to come with Barnabas and he even calls him a valuable servant. 




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