SILAS, A COMPANION OF PAUL AND PETER (Fr. Varghese Paul)

We know about Silas from the book of the Acts. There are also references to him in some letters of St. Paul and in the first letter of St. Peter. The word Silas or Silvanus means lover of words. If we take into consideration his contribution to the first letter of Peter, then we can know that Silas was a very gifted person with words.

The Apostles and the leaders of the early Church choose Silas together with Judas also called Barsabbas to take a message to Antioch. Acts says, They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas (Acts 15, 22).

Silas and Judas were chosen not only to take the message and accompany Paul and Barnabas but also to tell the message to the believers of Gentile birth at Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. A part of the letter which Silas was carrying says, The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules: eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things (Acts 15, 28-29).

After staying some time in Antioch, Silas joined Paul in his missionary journey through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the local Churches.

Silas and Paul spent several days at Philipi, a city of the first district of Macedonnia. There Paul cast out devil from a slave girl who predicted the future and brought money to her owner. With the evil spirit out of the slave girl, her owners lost getting money through her. So they dragged Paul and Silas to authorities accusing them that they were causing trouble in the city. The officials ordered Paul and Silas to be whipped. After severe beating they were put into prison. The jailer upon receiving the order threw the prisoners into the inner cell and fastened their feet between heavy blocks of wood.

Paul and Silas were freed from their chains, miraculously at midnight and the jail doors were open with an earthquake. The events, especially the behavior of Paul and Silas, led to the conversion of the jailer and to the baptism of his whole family. The jailer and his family were filled with joy and gave some food to Paul and Silas to eat and celebrate that the family now believed in God.

The subsequent events indicate that Silas was a Roman citizen like Paul. On the next day the Roman officials send word to the jailer through police officers that Paul and Silas be left free from prison. Let me quote the rest of the story from the Acts.

But Paul said to the police officers, We are not found guilty of any crime, yet they whipped us in public, and we are Roman citizens! Then, they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly. Not likely! The Roman officials themselves must come here and let us out.

The police officers reported these words to the Roman officials; and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. So they went and apologized to them; then they led them out of the prison and asked them to leave the city. Paul and Silas left the prison and went to Lydias house. There they met the believers, spoke words of encouragement to them, and left (Acts 16, 37-40).

Silas continued with Paul in his missionary journey and travelled on through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, the historical city and important port of the Aegean sea. There Paul, as his custom was, preached in the local synagogue on three consecutive Sabbaths with many men and women believing in Jesus. But some fanatic Jews accused Paul, Silas and Jason, a Jew of the Diaspora, of disloyalty to Roman emperor as they preached Jesus. While the Jews attacked Jasons house to find Paul and Silas, the latter two left the place that night and went to Beroea.

At Beroea too many people believed in Jesus through the preaching of Paul and Silas. But soon some Jews arrived there from Thessalonica and incited the mob against Paul and Silas. So Paul left the place while Silas and Timothy another disciple of Paul, remained at Beroea. Some time later Silas and Timothy joined Paul at Corinth.

Silas remained a considerable time at Corinth with Paul and Timothy. Pauls two letters written from Corinth to Christian community at Thessalonica mention the three names: From Paul, Silas and Timothy To the people of the Church in Thessalonica, who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours (1 The. 1, 1).

From Paul Silas, and Timothy - To the people of the Church in Thessalonica, who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace (2 The.1, 1-2).

We do not know how long Silas remained at Corinth or when and where exactly Silas joined Peter in continuing the ministry of proclaiming Jesus. We know for sure that Silas was associated with Peter as Peter mentions Silas name in his first letter: I write you this brief letter with the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful Christian brother (1 Peter 5, 12).

Silas must have worked a considerable time with Peter; for, Peter has recognized his talents and qualities that he is able not only to identify Silas as a faithful Christian brother but also, and above all, take his help in the writing of the letter and acknowledging him in it.

In some brief biblical references Silas is mentioned as Silvanus. The Good News Bible from which I take all biblical quotations mentions only Silas in all references.

અમારો સંપર્ક કરો

ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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