The lives of the first Christian missionaries can be described with many words, but boring is not one of them. There were days of great excitement as men and women who had never heard of Jesus responded to the gospel. There were dangerous journey’s over land and sea. Health risks, sickness and hunger were part of the daily routine. And there was open and hostile resistance to Christianity in many cities. Silas was one of the first missionaries, and he found out that serving Jesus Christ was anything but boring.
Silas’s name appears in Acts at the end of the first church council on the Jewish/Gentile problem. The majority of early Christians were Jews who realized that Jesus was the fulfillment of Gods Old Testament promises to his people; however, the universal application of those promises had been overlooked. Thus, many felt that becoming Jewish was a prerequisite to becoming a Christian. The idea that God could accept a Gentile pagan was too incredible. But Gentiles began to accept Christ as Saviour, and the transformation of their lives and the presence of Gods Spirit confirmed their conversions. Some Jews were still reluctant, however, and insisted these new Christians take on various Jewish customs. The issue came to a boiling point at the Jerusalem council but was peacefully resolved. Silas was one of the representatives from Jerusalem sent with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with an official letter of welcome and acceptance to the Gentile Christians. Having fulfilled this mission, Silas returned to Jerusalem. Within a short time, however, he was back in Antioch at Paul’s request to join him on his second missionary journey.
Paul, Silas and Timothy began a far-ranging ministry that included some exciting adventures. Paul and Silas spent the night singing in a Philippian jail after being severely beaten. An earthquake, the loosening of their chains, and the resulting panic led to the conversion of their jailor and his family. Later, they narrowly missed another beating in Thessalonica, prevented by an evening escape. In Berea there was more trouble, but Silas and Timothy stayed to teach the young believers, while Paul traveled on to Athens. The team was finally re-united in Corinth. In each place they visited, they left behind a small group of Christians.
Silas leaves the story as suddenly as he entered it. Peter mentions him as the co-author of 1 Peter, but we do not know when he joined Peter. He was an effective believer before leaving Jerusalem, and he doubtless continued to minister after his work with Paul was completed. He took advantage of opportunities to serve God and Christ and was not discouraged by the setbacks and opposition he met along the way. Silas, though not the most famous of the early missionaries, was certainly a hero worth imitating.
STRENGTHS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A leader in the Jerusalem Church, Represented the Church in carrying the ‘acceptance letter’ prepared by the Jerusalem Council to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Was closely associated with Paul from the second missionary journey on, Sang songs of praise to God while in jail with Paul in Philippi, worked as a writing secretary for Paul and Peter.
LESSONS FROM HIS LIFE: Partnership is a significant part of effective ministry, God never guarantees that his servants will not suffer, Obedience to God will often mean giving up what makes us feel secure.
VITAL STATISTICS: WHERE: Roman citizen living in Jerusalem, OCCUPATION: One of the first career missionaries, CONTEMPORARIES: Paul, Timothy, Peter, Mark, Barnabas.
KEY VERSES: ‘So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas(not Judas Iscariot) and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question’ ACTS 15:25-27
Silas’s story is told in Acts 15:22-19:10. He is also mentioned in 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: NLT STUDY BIBLE ~ STUDY NOTES ~ Silas. pg. 1859