>Commemoration: Saint Silas
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Annually on July 13
Missionary Companion of St. Paul
From the Society of Archbishop Justus:
Silas is chiefly remembered as the companion of the Apostle Paul who was arrested with him at Philippi (Acts 16:19-40). They were beaten severely and confined in the inner prison, with their feet in stocks. There they sang hymns in the night, and an earthquake shook the prison, and released them. As a result, the jailer and his household became believers.
The first mention of Silas is earlier. Paul and Barnabas went on a missionary journey (A 13:1-5), taking with them John Mark, who (for unspecified reasons) parted from them and went home in the middle of the journey (A 13:13). Paul and Barnabas completed their mission and returned to Antioch. They had made many Gentile converts on their mission, and the question arose whether a Gentile could become a Christian without also becoming a Jew, being circumcised if male, and undertaking to observe the Law of Moses (A 15:1). The congregation at Antioch referred the question to the Apostles at Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to present their case. A council of apostles and elders at Jerusalem judged that, with a few specified exceptions, the Law of Moses was not to be imposed on Gentile Christians, and they sent two men from Jerusalem back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to convey their reply. The men were Judas Barsabbas (not otherwise mentioned) and Silas (A 15:22).
Eventually Paul and Barnabas undertook to visit again the congregations they had founded on their previous journey, and Barnabas wished to take John Mark with them, but Paul thought this unwise, and so they determined to travel separately, Barnabas taking Mark, and Paul taking Silas (A 15:36-40). And so Paul and Silas (joined in progress by Timothy and by Luke) went through part of what is now Turkey and then crossed over into Europe and preached at Philippi (where they made converts and were arrested as described above), and went on to Thessalonica and Berea, being the center of riots in each place (A 17:1-13), after which Paul went on to Athens and thence to Corinth, and was soon joined there by Silas and Timothy (A 18:5). And that is the last we hear of Silas.
The name "Silas" is a shortened form of "Silvanus", and the Silvanus whom Paul mentions in his writings to the Corinthians (2 C 1:19) and the Thessalonians (1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:1) is almost certainly the Silas of Acts, and probably the same as the Silvanus who carried the Apostle Peter's first letter (1 P 5:12) to its scattered recipients.
Further details of the life of Silas are not known, but he is customarily honored as a martyr.
PRAYER (traditional language):
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Silas, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evengelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.