Part XV

The Holy Spirit’s Continuing Ministry

Some time later, Paul and Barnabas planned to go on another trip to visit believers in the various places. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along, but Paul was reluctant to do so for John Mark had left them halfway on a previous trip, as we can read in Acts 15:36-41

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers 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 brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Paul and Barnabas could not come to an agreement as what to do with Mark, so they separated. This disagreement may have happened in part because of their particular personalities and giftings. Paul was very focused on ministry and he could not afford to have someone on his team on whom he could not rely . Barnabas was an encourager, as we know from the fact that he sought Paul out when he was a very new believer, as we can read in Acts 9:23-27

After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul (or Paul) learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul (or Paul) on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how he had preached fearlessly in Damascus in the Name of Jesus.

And Acts 11:25

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul (or Paul), and when he found him he brought him to Antioch.

Barnabas’ special gift was that of encouraging others. Very likely that is why he wanted to give Mark another chance, but Paul did not want to risk it. However, Barnabas did the right thing by taking Mark with him for eventually he proved very helpful to Paul, as we can read in II Timothy 4:11

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

And Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark.

Thankfully, God continued to bless the ministries of these two men and they both chose their partners to minister with. Paul took with him Silas, and later on a young disciple named Timothy joined them. They tried to enter certain regions but the Holy Spirit stopped them, as we can read in Acts 16:6-7

Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

We don’t know why the Holy Spirit did not allow them to go these areas at that time, for He did not tell them why this was so. It seems Paul did not question the Holy Spirit as to why they were not allowed to go to these places; they simply obeyed by not going. However, they knew they should not just go home for they were called to preach the gospel. It did not take too long before they discovered which place they were to go to, as we can read in Acts 16:9-10 

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us. “ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

This time, God showed them the place they were to go to, Macedonia. Having been given direction, Paul set off for his destination, Philippi, which was the leading city of Macedonia. While there, he met a group of women who had gathered for prayer. One of them was a businesswoman named Lydia, as we can read in Acts 16:13-15 

On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

She accepted the gospel message and invited Paul to stay in her home.

Part XVI