40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:40–41)
One of the results of God’s providence in permitting Paul and Barnabas to separate was that now there were two missionary teams. Barnabas and John/Mark sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:39) while Paul chose Silas from Jerusalem (Acts 15:22) to be his new missionary companion. The Church of Antioch commended them to the Lord’s grace.
Paul and Silas then revisited the churches God started through the work of Paul and Barnabas. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey had begun. However, what do we know about Silas?
We have already seen that Silas was a respected leader in the Jerusalem church, who was also called Silvanus (2 Corinthians1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12). The name “Silas” is possibly the Aramaic form of the Hebrew name “Saul,” which when given a Latin form became Silouanos (Silvanus). Therefore, Silas had two names—a Latin name and a shorter, Jewish name. The name Silas was known in the Hellenistic Greek era and appears in various inscriptions. Luke used the name Silas throughout the Book of Acts. Paul and Peter used the Roman name in their epistles.
Silas’s name appears eight times during Luke’s account of the Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:19, 25, 29; 17:4, 10, 14–15; 18:5). His service as a prophet may be evident in Acts 16:6, when the Holy Spirit redirected the missionaries. Silas accompanied Paul through the hardships suffered at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. When Paul safely left Macedonia (17:14), Silas remained behind with Timothy to oversee the work already begun in the region.
Later in Corinth (18:5), Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul. Their report prompted Paul to correspond with the church at Thessalonica. This may explain Silas’s name in the prescript of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
Silas appears to have been well known to the Corinthians. Not only did he stay in the city with Paul for a year and a half (Acts 18:11), but also stayed behind in Corinth after the dispute before Gallio. Paul, on his final missionary journey, wrote to Corinth from Ephesus and mentioned Silas again (2 Corinthians 1:19), reminding the Corinthians of his earlier ministry among them.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “He (Silas) was perfectly suited to be Paul’s companion, since he was a prophet and could proclaim and teach the Word. Being a Jew gave him access to the synagogues. Because he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), he enjoyed the same benefits and protection as Paul. His status as a respected leader in the Jerusalem fellowship helped to reinforce Paul’s teaching that Gentile salvation was by grace alone through faith alone.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary records that, “Some believe Silas was a respected Christian scribe. Silas’s involvement in 1 and 2 Thessalonians is often mentioned, pointing to Paul’s sustained use of the first person plural. Some scholars find resemblances among 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the decree of Acts 15, and 1 Peter, where Silas is mentioned as a scribe (1 Peter 5:12). This latter association with Peter is intriguing and has led to the speculation that Silas ultimately joined Peter and ministered in north Asia.”
The church has many Silas’. These are individuals who don’t mind playing second chair. They contribute harmony to another person’s melody. Like Silas, they are to be appreciated. If you are a Silas type of individual, thank you for your faithful service.
Soli deo Gloria!