ĎBarnabas and Saulí versus ĎPaul and Barnabasí

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Ministry partners, Paul and Barnabas, commenced their friendship with Barnabas clearly taking the lead (Acts 9:26-27; 11:25-26). Acts begins with consistently listing Barnabasís name first when referring to the two (Acts 11:30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 7). Later, however, the order is reversed, with Paulís name appearing first in the next eight out of eleven times (an analysis appears below.)

This change seems to point to Paul rising in stature and gaining prominence (usually regarded as leadership) in the partnership. Of ten scholars consulted, none deny this, and eight specifically mention it, most quite confidently, the vaguest of which being F. F. Bruce.

Paul is listed first in Acts 13:43, 46, 50; 15:2 [twice]; Acts 15:22, 35, 36. Note also Acts 13:13.

From Acts 13:13, the only exceptions to Paul being listed before Barnabas seem to reflect not the relationship between the Paul and Barnabas but the way Christians in Jerusalem saw them (Acts 15:12, 25), or how pagans who considered them to be gods, saw them (Acts 14:12-14).


William Barclay The Acts of the Apostles (The Daily Study Bible) St Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1955, page 107

F. F. Bruce The Book of the Acts, Revised Edition (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 251

William Sanford Lasor Church Alive (Laymanís Bible Commentary) Regal Books, Glendale, California, 1972, page 200

Richard C. H. Lenski The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles Augsburg Publishing, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1934, Print Publication Date: 1961, page 502

I. Howard Marshall The Acts of the Apostles (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980, page 220

William Neil The Acts of the Apostles, (New Century Bible Commentary) Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981, page 156

Richard Belward Rackham The Acts of the Apostles: An Exposition, Ninth Edition (Westminster Commentaries) Methuen & Co Ltd, London, 1922, page 203

C.S.C. Williams Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Second Edition (Blackís New Testament Commentaries) A & C Black, London, 1964, page 160



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