But Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. Acts 15:40
Paul was the most influential figure in the establishment of the early church. However, he didn’t work alone. He had several key partners who gave him very necessary support. Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a closer look at some of these guys and learn how we can follow their examples even today.
Last week, we studied Barnabas. This week, let’s look at Silas. That’s a Greek name, which is significant in the early church. He is also called Silvanus, which is the Latin form. That reflects his ministry and reputation in Rome and other major cities in the empire. Silas is unique because not only did he travel with Paul on his missionary journeys, he also worked with Peter. Toward the end of Peter’s first letter, he calls him a faithful brother and entrusts Silas to take down the letter and then deliver it to the Jewish believers scattered across Asia Minor. (1 Peter 5:12)
We first meet him in Acts 15:22 where he is named one of the “leading men among the brothers”. The church held a council to address the crucial question of whether Gentile believers should also follow the Law and be circumcised. Of course, the answer was no, Gentiles are not bound by the Law. Silas along with Judas Barsabbas delivered that decision to the Gentile churches.
Are we trusted leaders in the body of Christ?
Now I know if everyone is a leader, there are no followers. But can we be counted on? Do we follow through on our commitments? Do we handle things with wisdom? Those things can make us “leading” men and women regardless of the positions we hold.
In Acts 15:32, we further learn that Silas (and Judas Barsabbas) were prophets who strengthened and encouraged the believers at Antioch. Being a prophet didn’t necessarily mean they told the future. It meant they were really good at explaining and applying Scripture to daily life. In fact, the Bible says they spoke at length about those things.
Can we explain and apply Scripture to our situations?
We can’t explain or apply what we don’t know. One twenty or thirty-minute sermon a week isn’t enough to equip us. Don’t make it an all or nothing proposition either. Explaining and applying SOME Scripture is a great start, and no one knows it all.
In Acts 15:40, Paul chooses Silas to accompany him on his second mission trip. Silas a great fit. We’ve already mentioned he was a good expositor (that’s a seminary word for explaining and applying Scripture). He was Jewish which would give him credibility in the Jewish communities they visited and he was also a Roman citizen which offered him some extra freedoms and legal protections.
Do we have talents and experiences that make us ready for the next step God calls us to take?
Certifications, licenses, degrees … all of those things can be used by God to accomplish His kingdom work.
In the well-known story of the Philippian jailer, Silas was praying and singing hymns in the jailhouse when the earthquake occurred. Mind you, this was after his clothes were torn off and he was beaten with a bundle of rods bundled together. All of which was illegal. That endurance of injustice led to the salvation of the jailer and his whole household.
How do we face unfair situations?
I tend to complain about how unfairly I’ve been treated. It’s hardly ever an occasion for prayer and praising.
In Acts 17:14, Silas stayed behind in Berea (with Timothy – more on him next week) after Paul was forced to leave. He displays courage in the face of strong opposition and a loyal commitment to the new believers in Berea giving them a good foundation.
Are we committed to making sure new believers have a strong foundation to build on?
Or are we more inclined to simply bump the number up by one and hope for the best? Maybe this seems like the pastor’s job, but the Great Commission was given to all of us, and discipling is one of the charges.
At some point, Silas rejoins Paul in Corinth before being sent off on a mission of his own to receive money the Macedonian believers had given for the relief of the Jewish Christians. After that, we see him mentioned on some of Paul’s letters and then in Peter’s but we don’t know where he ministered or what else he did. I like to imagine he taught at a seminary, training the next generation of pastors, preachers, and missionaries.
Whatever he ended up doing, Silas left an example of servant leadership, endurance, and partnership that we can definitely imitate.
Next week: Timothy.