Monday, February 27, 2017

The “Silvani”

Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! (1 Peter 5:12)

It is easy to read over the names mentioned in the Bible while we search for spiritual truths, physical facts or theological information and fail to recognize the significance of a specific individual.  Peter closes his letter with "Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him)."
The mention of this name seems so very insignificant. No book is named after him and no real attention is afforded him as is others.  Yet, here is a very significant statement by Peter regarding a man who he expects the readers will know.  He must have been a powerful and influential man to these believers. 

Sometimes we forget that churches are not made up primarily of the vocal few but the quiet and effective faithful.  This is who Silvanus represents.  Powerful churches are not the product of powerful preachers and staff members.  They are what they are because of those who Elton Trueblood calls the “company of the committed.”  Laypersons who are responsible to carry out their calling as a part of the body of Christ.

We know this man better by the name of "Silas".  Though not an apostle or disciple he was a special part of the formation of the early church.  We best remember him for what is told in Acts 15-16.  Silvanus (Silas) was chosen by the early church to fill the gap left by Barnabas and go with Paul as he followed the call to Macedonia. He was a layman willing to go when called on.
Being a Roman citizen and a man of reputation and education, his influence with the Romans was important to the spread of the Gospel.  He was a man bold in his faith and was beaten, arrested and thrown in jail for preaching.  Willing to suffer for his faith, he exampled the commitment of believers in the early church. 

Acts 15: 22 speaks of this layman as one of the "leading men among the brethren."  He was regarded with respect among his brothers; a leader in service and example.  He was willing to go as well as send... to do as well as pray.  As a matter of fact, he was evidently a pretty good preacher (although scripture says he was a bit long-winded).  Silvanus (Silas) was able to proclaim the gospel with conviction though he is not known as a pastor.

So who was Silvanus?  He was a good church member; a lay missionary, preacher, evangelist, writer and beloved friend Paul and Peter.  He was content to be only a name, content to take second place, and content to serve in the background so long as God's work was done.  It is men like this who make preachers look good.

Peter speaks with additional authority when he says, "through Silvanus".  Any preacher or pastor has those for whom can fondly say, "faithful brother for so I regard him."  On such the church is built.
Today, let’s all take time to thank God for those who serve our Lord His church faithfully and diligently.

Scripture to Claim

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5)

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