After Stephen was martyred the persecution of Christians arose. Those who were scattered travelled as far as Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch preaching the Word of God to the Jews only. The Hand of the Lord was with them and great numbers believed and turned unto the Lord.
News reached Jerusalem and Barnabas was sent to Antioch. He met with Saul and for a year they assembled with the church there and they taught many. It was here in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’. Agabus, a Christian from Jerusalem, prophesied the coming famine which later came to pass. The small group of Christians gathered what money they could between them and sent it to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Saul.
King Herod at that time attacked the church seeing that it pleased the Jews to do so. He killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter. The church prayed continuously for Peter and he was miraculously delivered from prison by an angel. King Herod was later struck dead by God. The Word grew and multiplied and Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem to Antioch.
It was here we believe that Saul made a very serious mistake that was to affect his ministry for the rest of his life. Certain prophets and teachers were with Barnabas, Saul and others as they worshipped and fasted when the Holy Ghost said ‘separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them‘. The Holy Spirit had made known His will.
When the church had fasted, prayed and laid hands on them, Barnabas and Saul set off with John Mark on the first missionary journey. Soon after preaching in Paphos John Mark left Paul and Barnabas without giving them a reason or seeking their consent. This had repercussions later when Paul and Barnabas were about to leave Antioch on their second missionary journey.
Having returned to Antioch from their first mission, Paul suggested to Barnabas that they travel around the churches again. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark but Paul would have none of it after his behaviour last time. They argued so strongly about this that they split the ministry; Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and departed going through Syria and Cilica.
In our opinion, in doing this Paul was in serious error. In splitting the ministry, directly against the explicit instructions of the Holy Spirit, Paul was also splitting the anointing. This led to a lot of hardship in his ministry as the enemy (satan) was able to influence the situation because of this division.