Silas - Bold Missionary for Christ

Profile of Silas, Companion of Paul

Paul and Silas
Paul and Silas praise God in prison. Distant Shores Media / Sweet Publishing

Silas was a bold missionary in the early church, a companion of the Apostle Paul, and a loyal servant of Jesus Christ.

The first mention of Silas, Acts 15:22, describes him as a "leader among the brothers."  A bit later he is called a prophet.  Along with Judas Barsabbas, he was sent from Jerusalem to accompany Paul and Barnabas to the church at Antioch, where they were to confirm the decision of the Jerusalem Council.

  That decision, monumental at the time, said new converts to Christianity did not have to be circumcised.

After that task was accomplished, a sharp dispute arose between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas wanted to take Mark (John Mark) on a missionary journey, but Paul refused because Mark had deserted him in Pamphylia.  Barnabas sailed to Cyprus with Mark, but Paul chose Silas and went on to Syria and Cilicia.  The unexpected consequence was two missionary teams, spreading the gospel twice as far.

In Philippi, Paul cast a demon out of a female fortune teller, ruining the power of that local favorite.  Paul and Silas were severely beaten and cast into prison, their feet put in stocks.  During the night, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God when an earthquake broke the doors open and everyone's chains fell off.  Paul converted the terrified jailer.  When the magistrates learned both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, the rulers were afraid because of the way they had treated them.

  They apologized and let the two men go.

Silas and Paul traveled on to Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth.  Silas proved to be a key member of the missionary team, along with Paul, Timothy, and Luke.

The name Silas may be derived from the Latin "sylvan," meaning "woody."  However, it is also a shortened form of Silvanus, which appears in some Bible translations.

  Some Bible scholars call him a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew, but others speculate Silas must have been a Hebrew to have risen so quickly in the Jerusalem church.  As a Roman citizen, he enjoyed the same legal protections as Paul.

No information is available on Silas' birthplace, family, or the time and cause of his death. 

Accomplishments of Silas:

Silas accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys to the Gentiles and converted many to Christianity.  He also may have served as a scribe, delivering Peter's first letter to churches in Asia Minor.

Strengths of Silas:

Silas was open-minded, believing as Paul did that Gentiles should be brought into the church.  He was a gifted preacher, loyal traveling companion, and strong in his faith.

Life Lessons from Silas:

A glimpse into Silas' character can be seen after he and Paul had been viciously beaten with rods at Philippi, then thrown into prison and locked in stocks.  They prayed and sang hymns.  A miraculous earthquake, along with their fearless behavior, helped convert the jailer and his entire household.  Unbelievers are always watching Christians.  How we act influences them more than we realize.  Silas showed us how to be attractive representatives of Jesus Christ.

References to Silas in the Bible:

Acts 15:22, 27, 32, 34, 40; 16:19, 25, 29; 17:4, 10, 14-15; 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12.

Key Verses:

Acts 15:32
Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. (NIV)

Acts 16:25
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (NIV) 

1 Peter 5:12
With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.  (NIV)

(Sources:  gotquestions.org, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, general editor; Easton's Bible Dictionary, M.G.

Easton.)   

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.