Paul and Mark

There’s a passage in Acts that I always find interesting. It’s when Paul and Barnabas split up because Barnabas wants to take Mark with him but Paul does not. The passage says he doesn’t want to take Mark because Mark had “withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work”. Honestly, I can’t blame Paul for not being Mark’s biggest fan. Mark seemingly deserted him at one point along Paul’s journey and didn’t really help him do stuff.

However, there’s an equally telling verse at the end of 2 Timothy. Here, Paul asks Timothy to “get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me in ministry”. WHAT?!?! Granted, these could be two different Marks but that’s pretty unlikely considering the fact that we already know of a Mark from Acts who helped Paul in ministry. Thus, these two passages actually blow my mind. First, Paul separates from Barnabas because he doesn’t want Mark to be a part of his crew and then, in what seems like his last days (I should check up on when 2 Timothy was written), he asks Timothy to reunite him with this guy he so fiercely separated himself from before.

Don’t worry, God, as I write this sentence, the irony is not lost on me at all.

I can’t help but wonder what changed Paul’s mind. Was it just that his circumstances changed? Was it just time? Was it introspection?

You don’t get any answers to this question in the biblical text. Instead, I like to imagine what the answer could have been, what might have happened. Maybe as time goes by, Paul sees something in Mark that he didn’t see before. It’s not like Paul just enlists Mark because he’s done ministry before and so he would work for now; Paul says Mark is “very useful” to him in ministry. I don’t know, this is a question I’ll probably think about for a while. It’s just so cool when you get to see the Bible as a real book, about real people with real problems. It’s easy-ish to see that in the OT, especially Genesis, but it becomes less obvious in the NT. It’s probably because in our minds we like to separate the God of the OT from the God of the NT but in reality He’s the same God. And His people are still kinda messed up. And Peter isn’t the only apostle to do some questionable things.


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