First the timeline of events of Paul and Barnabas' falling out:

Acts 12:25:

When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Acts 13:13:

From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

Acts 15:36-40:

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.

Apparently, after this, John-Mark and Paul were reconciled; 2 Timothy 4:11b:

Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

Further evidence of their reconcilliation comes from Colossians 4:10, which has an interesting note in the Amplified version:

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner wishes to be remembered to you, as does Mark the relative of Barnabas. You received instructions concerning him; if he comes to you give him a [hearty]a welcome.

Footnote: a Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation: A very strong verb—thus translated “give him a hearty welcome.”

(2 Timothy and Colossians were likely written a long time after the events of Acts 15.)

Is there any evidence, either within or outside the Bible, to suggest that Paul and Barnabas were ever reconciled?

  • 1
    Wishing I could upvote this twice!
    – Frank Luke
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:14
  • @FrankLuke - thanks Frank, but why? Apr 29, 2014 at 13:25
  • 3
    because it is a good question that so few people think to ask. Most just make the assumption that the two parted badly and never spoke again.
    – Frank Luke
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:32
  • @FrankLuke, perhaps it is a question so few think to ask because "most" don't think they never spoke again. Many, like myself who have taught Bible for 40 yrs, think they reconciled as clear in scripture...not an all encompasing statement you made... ¢0:
    – rob
    May 1, 2014 at 21:14

4 Answers 4


The events of Act 15 are dated to AD 48. It is worth noting that Paul and Barnabas solved the immediate problem in a good way. When compromise was impossible ("I want X," "Not a chance"), they parted ways. This also wasn't the first time that Paul and Barnabas had disagreed on how to operate.

Galatians 2:12 Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. 2:13 And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy.

This is not the first time that Luke has shown internal conflict amongst the brethren. At the Council of Jerusalem and several times in the Gospel, he shows the early Christians with flaws and all. Moreover, Luke shows us that Paul was wrong. By the time Acts was written, the ministry of Mark and Barnabas had prospered and Paul admitted that Mark was useful in the ministry. Mark also ministered with Paul on at least two occasions after this event.

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him) (ca. AD 60)

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry. (AD 63 not long before Paul's martyrdom)

Tradition records that Mark later traveled with Peter to Rome and recorded Peter's preaching there. These sermons he collected as the Gospel (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 2.15.1-2; 3.39.15, quoting an early Christian writer Papias who lived ca. AD 60-120).

However, even though he shows their flaws and failings, Luke does not mention either Paul having negative opinions of Barnabas or Barnabas questioning the spirituality of Paul. Both did the work they were called to do. Their division furthered the spread the Gospel instead of impeding it.

In his subsequent ministry, Barnabas traveled to Cyprus with Mark and from there traditions break down and are unreliable. He is said to have been bishop of Milan and preached in Alexandria and Rome. While in Rome, he is said to have converted Clement, who became the fourth Bishop of Rome. Another tradition has Barnabas martyred in Cyprus.

Whatever Barnabas did later, he and Paul did not let this incident destroy their relationship. Later, when Paul was imprisoned, he speaks of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10 above ca. AD 62) and at another time (AD 54, still after the parting of ways) counts Barnabas on the same level as himself (comparing them to apostles):

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? (emphasis added)

Dates taken from Bible Timeline and Nunnally's Commentary on Acts.


The question sets out nicely the way in which Paul's broken relationship with Mark was healed and later flourished -- with, it seems, a new depth of character in Mark. Was it, one wonders, a case of Mark growing as a result of the relational trauma with Paul?

There are, however, fewer "dots" to "connect" in the case of Paul's relationship with Barnabas, his mentor and advocate from Paul's early days as a Christian convert, and as a teacher in the nascent Christian movement.

After the breach between Paul and Barnabas narrated in Acts 15:36-40 -- around 49 AD/CE -- there is very little evidence about their later relationship. Outside of Acts, there are, really, only two dots to try to connect on this front:

  1. [ESV] Galatians 2 : 1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. ... 9 ... [W]hen James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

    The letter to the Galatians reports events before the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), and was probably written around 48 AD/CE. While it shows Paul and Barnabas acting as trusted colleagues, it also shows sign of a fissure between them on their understanding of how the gospel related to Jews and non-Jews, with Barnabas siding with a group which Paul himself opposed.1

    Is it possible, then, that the fault-lines were already laid when, at the end of Acts 15, the rupture came over John Mark's involvement?

  2. [ESV] 1 Corinthians 9 : 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

    This is a fleeting reference, but from a letter usually dated to ~55 AD/CE, so a good few years after the break in the relationship. This is often regarded as indicating, at least, a thaw in relations between them. So F.F. Bruce writes:

    But even if there had not been this disagreement, it is doubtful that Paul and Barnabas would have been as happy in each other's company as they had once been. ... When Paul has occasion to refer to Barnabas after this, he does so with the warmth of old affection (cf. 1 Cor 9:6), but a change had set in nevertheless.2

So we don't have evidence of a complete "healing" of the relationship as we do for Mark, but a small signal nonetheless that the breach was not of an ultimate or final kind.3


  1. Richard Bauckham has offered a sensitive and nuanced reading of the Galatian evidence as it relates to Paul and Barnabas: "Barnabas in Galatians", Journal for the Study of the New Testament 1.2 (1979): 61-70.
  2. F.F. Bruce, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Eerdmans, 1977, 2000), p. 212. Much the same line is taken by J.B. Daniels, "Barnabas (Person)", Anchor Bible Dictionary, gen. ed. David Noel Freedman (Doubleday, 1992), vol. 1. pp. 610-11.
  3. But there was enough to inspire a novel (!): John W. Steen, Barnabas and Paul: Brothers in Conflict (Broadman, 1973).


“They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:39-41) NIV


There is actually no mention of a 'breach' which needed to be reconciled, merely a disagreement over one particular issue, which was speedily and effectively resolved.


It is unfortunate that most readers of the above passage focus solely on the disagreement as it arose and not on the overall solidarity and unity of purpose that followed. It should be noted that the sharp disagreement which arose between Paul and Barnabas was not over any doctrinal matter. Their difference of opinion revolved around conflicting viewpoints as to how best the immediate work of mission could be served. To their credit, neither Paul nor Barnabas allowed their personal opinions, however strongly expressed, to distract them from their respective roles as missionary leaders and servants of the gospel and of the local church.


The young church at Antioch had grown out of social and cultural diversity where, for the first time, Jews and non Jews rejoiced together over the good news concerning Jesus. Antioch soon became a vibrant missionary centre as a direct result of this oneness of faith and love, forged out of a diverse mix of social and cultural Christian expression.
The gospel message was found to be strong enough to bind together such an unlikely assembly. There remained differences, but to paraphrase a popular hymn, ‘their differences became one’. They were united with a zeal for the gospel which had power to carry the message of the cross over many continents.


Even when a sharp disagreement arose between its two leading missionaries, this loving and spirit led community were quick to commend a solution (Acts 15:36-41 Barnabas and Mark retained their original commission) which resulted in a strengthening and an expansion of the missionary arm of the church, to the blessing and benefit of all (2 Timothy 2:11; Colossians. 4:10-11; I Corinthians 9:6).


In spite of strong differences of opinion, there remained a sense of mutual respect and an on-going spirit of cooperation and selfless service (I Corinthians 9:6). Paul and Barnabas were acutely aware that the church is a community that works together as one, a communion of faith where individual differences are forged in a way that serves to strengthen and provide new opportunities, new approaches and new incentives to develop in the common work of the gospel. A lesson for us all.

  • 1
    Interesting thoughts. On your opening gambit: "(1) merely a disagreement over one particular issue, (2) which was speedily and effectively resolved." - (1) which occasioned a parting of the ways (ἀποχωρίζω), so minimally a "split" (looks like a "breach" to me!); (2) what is your evidence for the speed and completeness of of the resolution? They went different directions, and Paul only mentions Barnabas once more after this moment (as noted in a couple answers above).
    – Dɑvïd
    Sep 29, 2014 at 11:10
  • There is no suggestion of any animosity in the text whatsoever. What is clear is that the local church choses to meet the situation, not with any reprimand of either party, but rather by commissioning Silas and Paul, unreservedly, while, at the same time, re-confirming the commission of Barnabas and Mark. The degree of confidence the local leadership retains, in both missionary leaders, should strike us much more than should the original disagreement. Also, when we next hear Paul speak of Barnabas, it is with great fondness as a likeminded fellow-labourer in the Lord (I Corinthians 9:6).
    – Richard
    Sep 30, 2014 at 20:45

The simple answer is yes and as on here more than just ones say so is wanted in the answer, I will give someone else's evidence other than my 40yrs worth of studies...haha;

Bible Studies in the Life of Paul —Henry T. Sell

Second Missionary Journey

Scripture, Acts 15:36-18:22

The Inception - After the Jerusalem Council Paul returned to Antioch where he spent some time, "teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord with many others also." "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren

The Companions (Acts 15:37-40). -- Barnabas proposed to take John Mark, his nephew, with them on this second journey. But Paul strenuously objected, basing his objection on the ground that this young man had deserted them (Acts 13:13) at a very important juncture in the first journey. We are told that the contention was very sharp between Barnabas and Paul over this matter. It was finally settled by Barnabas taking John Mark and sailing for the island of Cyprus and Paul choosing Silas for his companion. When Paul came to Derbe and Lystra Timotheus was invited to join him, which he did (Acts 16:1-4). Luke, the author of the Acts, goes with this company into Macedonia (Acts 16:10). We can trace Luke's connection with the missionaries by the "we" passages.

That Paul was afterwards reconciled to Barnabas and John Mark is shown by his kindly mention of them in his Epistles (1 Cor. 9:6; Col. 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11; Philem. 24).

Hopefully this will add to already good answers and give them support and credence...bottom line I hope it helped the asker!


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