Sylvanus – Paul’s Companion, 1 Thess 1

Sylvanus - Paul's Companion, 1 Thess 1The following is an outline of the life of Silvanus, a.k.a. Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey.

Silvanus was a co-salute in the letter to the Thessalonians.

Let’s start with the second and third Greek words in Thes 1:1:

Kai – καί (kahee) = And, Even, Also, But, (Coordinating Conjunction) = “And” or “Or”

Coordinating Paul with the next addressee.  This shows that Paul is placing Silas and Timothy on par with him in the writing of this letter, even though Paul originated the letter.

“Silvanus” – (noun; nominative, masculine, singular)

“Silvanus” is a Latin (Roman) name derived from the Latin word “silva” meaning, “wood.”

Silas is the Grecized version which implies he was a Hellenistic Jew.

Silas like Paul was a Roman citizen with Civitus privileges, Acts 16:37.

His name most likely stems from the Aramaic name Sheila.

(Saul) Silas was a Hebrew, for only a Hebrew would have been a leading man among the Brethren at Jerusalem, Acts 15:22.

His double character, Hebrew and Roman, was in itself a qualification for a coworker of Paul.

Silas had the gift of prophecy and spoke Biblical truth to the church at Antioch, Acts 15:32.

“Prophet” = One who is divinely inspired through a direct prompting of the Holy Spirit, to communicate God’s will to His people as the human instrument thereof, and to disclose the future to them.

The prophets frequently appeared in the role of:

  • Social and political reformers, (Codex 1, 2, 3 of Israel).
  • Stirring preachers of righteousness, (John the Baptist).
  • Revivalists, (Jonah).
  • Announcers of the will of God, (Moses to Pharaoh).
  • Callers for complete obedience, (Moses and the Brazen Serpent).
  • Predictors of judgment or blessing, (John on the Judgment Seat of Christ).

Scripture presents prediction as a manifestation of God’s power glorifying:

  • His Person, (the Tabernacle).
  • Exalting His redemptive work in Christ, (John the Baptist).
  • Setting forth the Divine character of His revealed Word, (Paul’s epistles and letters).

The Bible also clearly states that Prophecy will cease when the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit arrives along with the completed Canon of Scripture.

John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

1Cor. 14:3, “But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.”

Acts 15:22-34, Silas was sent to Paul in Antioch from Jerusalem to deliver a letter from the church in Jerusalem providing exhortation and the decrees of the Jewish council regarding certain conduct.

Paul then asked Silas if he could join him on his missionary work and become his companion, Acts 15:40, 41; 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1.

The choice of Silas was due to his special fitness for the work, which Paul recognized during his ministry at Antioch.  He had shown tact and sympathy in managing the questions arising from the relations of the Gentile Christians to the Jews. His positive volition toward the teaching of Christ had been shown when he preferred to remain with Paul and the congregation in Antioch, when he could have freely returned to Jerusalem.

During their mission, Silas shared in Paul’s many persecutions, including imprisonment in Philippi, Acts 16:19-40. 

The Roman side of his character gave way to narrow escape from Judaistic prejudice and more severe persecutions.  Silas, Paul, and Timothy were driven from Thessalonica by jealous Jews and a mob which the Jews aroused, Acts 17:4-10.

Paul left Silas at Berea to continue to edify the church.  Paul had to leave because the Judaizers from Thessalonica had followed them to Berea, Acts 17:14. 

Silas rejoined Paul at Corinth where Paul wrote the letters to the Thessalonians, Acts 17:15; 18:5.

After his missionary work with Paul, Silas return to Jerusalem and later assisted Peter, including delivery of Peter’s epistle from Rome to Asia Minor, (i.e. Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia), 1 Peter 5:12.