Discipleship: Mutual Apprenticing Plan

Day 4 of 4 • This day’s reading


Paul and Mark, Part 2

“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… 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” (Acts 15:36-39).

There is a sad break in Paul’s discipling relationship with Mark, and in his partnership in the Gospel with Barnabas. The good news is that Barnabas kept Mark under his care…

The even better news is that this was a temporary breach. Just check out these references: 

In Colossians 4:10-11: “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.”

In 2 Timothy 4:11: “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”

And in Philemon 23-24 23: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.” 

Mark had worked his way up from deserter to fellow worker, providing a comfort, and helpful in ministry. That’s quite a comeback! Implicit in Paul’s references here is that there this was a two-way relationship as ‘iron sharpened iron’. Mark had grown into a partner in the Gospel who engaged in mutual apprenticeship with Paul, receiving but also giving comfort while he was in prison, helping in his ‘ministry’, and being appreciated as a ‘fellow worker’. 

But it also gives us a glimpse at the long-term trajectory of mercy and grace in discipling. Even when there is short-term failure, there is still hope. We can continue to pray and believe and look for reconciliation. God help us in our discipling relationships. .