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. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.Acts 15:37-41 NIV
This is such a sad note in the early history of the church. The first missionary team broke up after a sharp disagreement over a former member of their team. Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance. But there was no second chance in Paul’s way of thinking. Luke does not take sides in the disagreement; he simply records it. But, it seems to me that Paul was at fault here. Even though he is one of my heroes of the faith, he was still capable of making an error in judgment.
But, due to this disagreement and breakup, there were now two missionary teams traveling around the Mediterranean. We know little of Barnabas and Mark after this time. Paul does mention Barnabas later, in 1 Corinthians 9:6. And in 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul expresses that he has come to find value in Mark. So it would seem that this dispute was healed in time.
What I find comforting about this passage is that our human disagreements do not get in the way of God’s work. God sovereignly works in all things, even our failures. As troubling as it is to see the many divisions in the church today, God is still sovereign and uses each of us. Many who identify as Christians or churches are not a part of God’s kingdom. But he uses all those that are to advance his kingdom around the world. Despite our differences and disputes, God is sovereign.