Separated to Scatter


Don’t you just love the way the Holy Spirit, through Luke, shows us again and again just how committed God is to his mission? We have seen that he uses suffering to scatter his missionaries all over the place. The ancient pastor Tertullian was right when he said that the blood of the saints is the seed of the church. In this passage, we see that God even uses human frailty to continue his purposes and expand his kingdom. Here, God doubles his labor when Paul and Barnabas separate over a disagreement about the usefulness of another brother with a questionable track record. Not only did the people of Cyprus hear the gospel, but so did the people of Syria, Cilicia, and Galatia!

  • What trial or mess has God used in your life to spread the fame of his name?


36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What was the reason Paul was hesitant to bring Mark along?
  2. Can you imagine how the church felt when they saw two key leaders in a “sharp” disagreement? What did the separation of Paul and Barnabas do for the mission of God?
  3. How does the fact that God will even use human frailty encourage you and embolden you in your daily walk as an ambassador of Christ?


The sovereignty of God over all things—including when two brothers in Christ sharply disagree—is deeply comforting. It shows us that God will accomplish his purposes. They cannot be thwarted, regardless of our poor choices or mistakes. This passage shows us just how committed God is to his mission, and it should cause us to reflect on our commitment to his mission in the world. This vision of his commitment should also give us courage to take risks for his glory. We can’t mess it up, and when we think we do, he is often working in and through us in ways we didn’t expect.

  • Ask God to shape your heart to reflect his passion for the spread of the gospel.
  • Ask God to redeem situations where we can only see the “sharp disagreement” side of the picture.
  • Thank God that he uses human frailty for his glory.