SILVANUS – A FAITHFUL BROTHER – 1.Pet.5:12
By Tommy Thornhill
As Peter closes his first epistle he names two brethren, Silvanus and Mark, who he commends to the brethren. Reading the various epistles of Paul we find that both of these men had been very useful in helping spread the gospel to the Gentile world. Their usefulness is recorded for a reason and I believe it is profitable to study what the Bible reveals about their work. There are certainly some good lessons to learn from such characters. In this lesson I want to study about Silvanus. In another lesson I will study about Mark.
Who was Silvanus? At the time of Peter’s epistle he had been doing evangelistic work with him in preaching the gospel, possibly in the area around Rome (spiritual Babylon – 1.Pet.5:13). I understand this as a necessary implication, not by a direct statement, since he is the bearer of Peter’s epistle 1.Pet.5:12, to the “pilgrims of the dispersion…” (the area throughout Asia Minor) 1.Pet.1:1.
He is first mentioned in Acts 15:22 where he is known as Silas (Greek name) and becomes Paul’s co-worker on his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys beginning in Acts 15:40. He is mentioned 12 times in Acts – 15:22, 27, 32, 34, 40; 16:25, 29; 17:4, 10, 14, 15:18:5.. Paul calls him Silvanus in 2.Cor.1:19; 1.Thes.1:1; 2.Thes.1:1; as does Peter. He would be known by the brethren to whom Peter wrote 1:1 in Asia Minor (now known as Turkey) since he had accompanied Paul in that area on his 2nd missionary journey. He was a Roman citizen as was Paul Acts 16:37.
Peter refers to him as “our faithful brother as I consider him.” He would have been known to be a faithful brother by the brethren in Asia Minor because of his past work with Paul on his 2nd missionary journey. Peter adds his testimony to this fact. Just as he had been faithful with Paul, so he would be with Peter. When Peter says “as I consider him” (I suppose – KJV) he uses a word (logizomai) which means “to think, believe, be of the opinion” (Arndt and Gingrich-477) “deem or judge” (Thayer-379). Peter was of the opinion that he judged Silvanus to be completely reliable in doing whatever was required of him. He shows a high level of confidence in him. The word “faithful” (Gk. pistos) means “trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust or faith,” (AG-670). Thayer-514 defines the word as “trusty, faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties” Silvanus was a man that could be trusted or relied on to do anything he was sent to do and had earlier proven himself to be such a man Acts 15:25-27.
What about us today? Could it be said we are faithful in carrying out what is expected of us in the church? (Things such as Bible study, prayer, attendance, visiting, teaching, living) 1.Tim.4:12-16. Can we be depended on to do whatever needs to be done? (Teaching a class, serving at the Lord’s Table, leading singing or other things that need to be done)?
He is also known as a prophet Acts 15:32, probably possessing the supernatural gift 1.Cor.12:10. He was one who speaks for God. Today we don’t have the spiritual gifts that some in the early church received by the laying on of the apostles hands Acts 8:14-19, but we have the message inspired men left us in the New Testament.. We have the responsibility to speak it just as it is written 1.Pet.4:11; 2.Tim.2:2. Are we faithful as we teach others the word of God? We cannot change the message that has been “once for all delivered” Jude 3; Gal.1:11-12. We are to be faithful stewards with the word of God 1.Cor.4:2. We cannot speak what people want to hear, we have to tell them the truth, sound doctrine 2.Tim.1:13.
He was a man who inspired Paul Acts 18:5 both as a co-worker and encourager. He inspired (encouraged) Paul in his work when he came to Paul in Corinth. Paul says after he came he was “constrained (compelled) by the Spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.” How about you? Don’t discredit yourself from what you may be able to do in influencing someone else. Do you have someone from whom you can draw strength and courage?
Yes, a study of Silvanus (Silas) teaches us a great lesson in faithfulness Rev.2:10.
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