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Friday, May 4 2012
Who Was Silvanus?
There are numerous men and women of Bible history (e.g. see the series of studies beginning with A History Of Jerusalem: In The Beginning) who are well-known (see What Do Leaders Do?). Peter and Paul, apostles of the LORD (see Peter's Ministry and Paul's Ministry), and Mary of Magdala, the first human witness of the resurrected Messiah (see True Witnesses Of The Resurrection), are familiar to millions of people. There are numerous others however who were just as faithful and courageous in their Christian lives and their service to others in the LORD (just as others were, to the same Messiah, "right" from the beginning - see Appearances Of The LORD God). Among them was Silvanus, also recorded as Silas.
The different name renderings are due not merely to an abbreviation of a Greek name, but that sil-oo-an-os ("Silvanus" in English), although Greek, was formed as a Roman rendering of the Greek name (just as Mark and Marcus, or Timothy and Timotheus), while see-las ("Silas" in English) is more directly Greek.
Silvanus / Silas is recorded (i.e. translated) as "Silas" in the book of Acts, which was written by Luke (see The Gospel By The Gentile). Notice again, that Timothy / Timotheus is another example of different name renderings for the same person.
"17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 17:15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed." (Acts 17:14-15 KJV)
In the epistles (i.e. letters) to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, written by the apostle Paul (an expert Hebrew speaker who had been one of the Roman-collaborating Pharisees in Jerusalem before his conversion; see The Passed Over Pharisees), he is recorded as Silvanus i.e. Greek-speaking Luke recorded them as "Silas and Timotheus" while Hebrew and Roman speaking Paul recorded them as "Silvanus and Timotheus."
"1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea." (2 Corinthians 1:19 KJV)
Did Silvanus / Silas have a preference? We may have a clue in the epistle of Peter, which was mostly spoken by Peter, but which was written by Silvanus i.e. "By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly." Also mentioned in these verses was "Marcus" (who Peter refers to as his "son"), who later became more well-known from his gospel book of Mark (i.e. most of then-youthful Mark's later eyewitness accounts of the ministry of the Messiah was from Peter - much of the gospel of Mark is actually the gospel witness of Peter).
"5:12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
"Silvanus, a faithful brother"
While some grew to prominence in the church after their introduction in the Biblical record, Silas was already regarded as a man worthy of trust in the service to the LORD.
"15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church [see Can You See The Church?], to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia." (Acts 15:22-23 KJV)
Silas was regarded as a "prophet" at that time, along with "Judas surnamed Barsabas" (apart from the traitor, there were numerous righteous men who had that popular name i.e. Judas, Judah, Jew; see Righteous Judas).
"15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 15:33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also." (Acts 15:30-35 KJV)
Silas / Silvanus became a close associate of Paul after a disagreement over the then-youthful Mark's inability to do a man's job. Mark later grew strong in his service, and was reconciled to Paul. As we read above, when Paul's ministry was nearing an end, both Mark and Silas / Silvanus joined with Peter - who was also martyred not long after.
"15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 15:41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." (Acts 15:36-41 KJV)
Silvanus thereafter became as persecuted as Paul - not only because he happened to be there. Notice that in referring to Paul and Silvanus, it was stated "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation."
"16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." (Acts 16:16-18 KJV)
Silvanus was imprisoned and tortured with Paul, at the behest of the men who had made a business out of the local religion (see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Is Your Church A Cult?; also What And Where Is Babylon Today?).
"16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
After "Paul and Silas prayed," the LORD answered their prayer with a powerful demonstration that He does not forsake those who do not forsake Him.
"16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
The ministry of Paul and Silvanus thereafter continued i.e. "some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few."
"17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." (Acts 17:1-4 KJV)
For a time, Paul and Silas / Silvanus were a single ministry i.e. "the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews."
"17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
The LORD eventually began to get people safely (relatively speaking) away from Paul - Paul's time of martyrdom was approaching, while Silvanus / Silas yet had work to do. The Scriptures do not record what happened to Silvanus, but considering all that is recorded about him, it seems unlikely that he survived to a natural death (the apostle John is the only apostle that is recorded to have survived to old age, for the purpose of writing the Book of Revelation; see Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?).
"18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
This Day In History, May 4
1415: "Protestant" reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus were condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance (ironically, like most of the "Protestant" world today, they were persecuted for rebelling against the Pope's leadership, not the Church of Rome's antichrist doctrines; see Antichristians, The Church Today, The Church In The End Time and The Church In The Kingdom Of God; see also What Do Leaders Do?).
1471: During the Wars of the Roses, the Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians in the Battle of Tewkesbury.
1493: Pope Alexander VI, a Spaniard (at the time, Christopher Columbus was exploring and claiming the "new world" for Ferdinand, the king of Spain who started the murderous "Spanish Inquisition" against non-Catholics in Europe), decreed that all new lands discovered west of the Azores were Spanish, in effect dividing the world between Spain and Portugal.
1626: Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrived in "New Netherland" (present day Manhattan Island).
1639: The St. Joseph and 2 other ships left Dieppe, France, for Canada; its travelers would eventually found a Jesuit College, a Hospitaliers house, and an Ursuline convent in "New France."
1675: King Charles II of England ordered the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
1814: The Bourbon reign was restored in France.
1886: The Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago by anarchist organized labour; 7 Chicago policemen were killed.
1910: The Royal Canadian Navy was created.
1919: The "May The Fourth" movement began in China when 3,000 students at Peking University launched a national protest.
1945: British Field Marshal Montgomery announced that all enemy forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark had surrendered unconditionally. on the same day, the U.S. 7th Army captured Hitler's country retreat of Berchtesgaden (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1947: The Etzel (a self-proclaimed "zionist" group - true Zionism is about Jesus Christ, not those who deny and reject Him - see A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace) launched a deadly assault on the British prison at Acre, several weeks after 4 of their gang were hanged there for murders that they committed. By dynamiting its walls, 251 convicted criminals were able to escape, although several of the condemned felons were later recaptured and hung (2 days after the executions, 2 British soldiers were taken hostage and hanged by the Etzel in "retaliation"). By the present-day definition, the Etzel were a terrorist group who ignored (or were just plain ignorant of the fact) that it was the British that liberated the land of Judah, and much of the rest of the Middle East, from centuries of rule and occupation by the Ottoman Empire (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate and listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) and that it was the British Balfour Declaration (listen to our Sermon The Balfour Declaration) that enabled the independence of the modern-day state of Israel. The Etzel were killing the people that were freeing them.
1961: During the U.S. civil rights movement, the "Freedom Riders" began a bus trip through the South.
1970: Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others.
1979: Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
1982: During the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, the destroyer HMCS Sheffield was struck by a French-made Exocet missile. 20 British seamen were killed and 24 others injured. The missile plowed through the very center of the ship, causing so much damage that it later had to be scuttled.
1994: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed a "peace accord" regarding Palestinian autonomy. It granted self-rule for "Palestinians" in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.