There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a f alse prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing. Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye.
Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid His hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.”
Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord. . . Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.Acts 13:5-13
Take note of the brevity associated with John Mark. I told you in Gem 1610 that you could go to John Mark for the answers to any questions you had on the journey. What I didn’t mention was that you had better get your questions in quick because he won’t be with us for long. John Mark lasted all of ten verses. Luke introduces us to him and then he is gone. We had the first mentions of him in Chapter 12 but as quickly as he was included on this mission, in a short time he is gone. And seemingly of his own choice. There is no mention of any reason why he left. He just suddenly up and left. In fact notice below in Acts 15:38 that it is recorded John Mark deserted them in Pamphylia. Deserted them no less; that is the way Paul felt it and expressed it. It is interesting that it is recorded that he deserted them in Pamphylia because Acts 13:13 tells us “Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.” Landing at the port town of Perga in Pamphylia, John Mark deserts them. You may recall a couple of Gems ago I reduced his name to Mark. John Mark you can call Mark. Yes we are talking about Mark, of Mark’s Gospel fame. That John Mark. He starts the trip to Salamis as the assistant to Barnabas and Saul and finishes his time with them as one of the companions of Paul, but not for much longer. As soon as they land in Perga, Mark is gone. You will see from the verses I have clipped for you that it leaves a bad taste in Paul’s mouth.
When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.Acts 12:12
When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.Acts 12:25
There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.Acts 13:5
Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.Acts 13:13
Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.Acts 15:37-39
One of you wrote to me with the comment, “I did notice that in verse 13 it is ‘Paul’ and Saul has been laid to rest, as God’s chosen one takes the lead, an intelligent well educated man who was inspired by God and the Holy Spirit can advocate for Christ with all the rhetorical power of a lawyer. The desertion by John Mark must have irritated him immensely. I love it!” Oh the intrigue behind the scenes. It is the stuff soap operas are made of. We are not told why Mark left but we are clearly told that he deserted them and took off back to Jerusalem. That’s a strong word – deserted. There we have the essence of the action in a nutshell. Mark deserted them as soon as his feet touched ground again. All seems fine back on Cyprus but the moment he gets to Perga he is gone.
- Was he missing mummy?
- Did something happen on board ship?
- Did he find the confined space and sea voyage too taxing?
- Did he get his nose out of joint because suddenly his cousin was no longer the leader?
- Was he just not cut out for the kind of schedule Paul kept?
- Did Paul push him too far?
It is clear that Paul expected a lot of his followers and gave a lot himself. Maybe that was too much for Mark.
There are other reasons that have been put forward as the reason for John Mark’s desertion. I just haven’t listed them all. I am sure you could come up with some more of your own if you thought about it. I can’t answer those questions for you? To get the real inside story you will have to ask Mark, Paul or perhaps Barnabas who might be more forthcoming on the matter.
However let me also draw your attention to the fact that Barnabas and Saul now become Paul and Barnabas. During the time in Cyprus and on the ship to Perga, Saul has become Paul and taken over the leadership of the team. This is the point at which Luke refers to the Missionary Journey of Paul, not Barnabas and Saul but Paul and Barnabas. Now the focus is Paul and Barnabas is just one who once accompanied him. Here are the references through the whole of the New Testament.
Barnabas and Saul
Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.Acts 9:27
This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.Acts 11:30
When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.Acts 12:25
Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”
So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus.Acts 13:1-2, 4
He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.Acts 13:7-8
Paul and Barnabas
But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia. On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services.Acts 13:14
As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.Acts 13:42-43
Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles.Acts 13:46
Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town.Acts 13:50
The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas.Acts 14:1-2
While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sittingActs 14:8
They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.
Acts 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting,Acts 14:12, 14
But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.Acts 14:18
After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, . . . Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.Acts 14:21, 23
While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. . . . When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them.Acts 15:1-2, 4
Acts 15:12 Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas.Acts 15:22
So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,Acts 15:25
Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there. After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.”Acts 15:35-36
You can see there is a clear line of demarcation between Saul being referred to as Saul and the switch to Paul. It happened between Salamis and Perga. Not only that but the order of Barnabas and Saul has now become Paul and Barnabas. As I indicated above there has been a change of leadership. Maybe it was that which caused Mark to head home. We are not told and I wouldn’t be surprised if you find no one is talking about it. Not Paul, not Mark and not Barnabas, but you can try to get it out of them when you see them. I wonder if they are all being true to Paul’s principle in 1 Cor 13 – love covers over. We don’t need to share the dirty laundry. That indeed is what soap operas are premised on. But this is not a soap opera although it is very real.
There is something else for you to note as well but I will let you find it for yourself. But I will promise to deal with it when the time is right.
Notice one more thing before I close this Gem. The men of God in ministry are most often mentioned in pairs. Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas. Notice too they often take along a younger man to accompany them. Just as Timothy accompanied Paul and Silas so too John Mark accompanied Barnabas and Saul. Interesting isn’t it.
Oh there is one more thing that is interesting in this glimpse behind the scenes but I have to leave something for the next Gems, don’t I?
Have you ever noticed how the Bible tells the story warts and all? It is the most honest book on the face of the earth. Nothing is swept under the carpet.Ian Vail
Go ye and do likewise – with your own baggage; not someone else’s.Ian Vail
One strong lesson from this Gems to learn is that you don’t have to air another’s dirty laundry. Just keep the details to yourself. Everybody doesn’t have to know.Ian Vail
I hope Hillary and Donald read this Gem.Ian Vail
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.Gore Vidal