The apostle Paul had dozens of colleagues. We have already looked at a handful: Timothy, Titus, Phoebe, and Demas. Soon we'll take a look at Lydia, Luke, Apollos, Barnabas, Priscilla & Aquila. Yet there are many more—Epaphras, Trophimus, Gaius, Urbanus, Sopater, Tychicus—many of whom remain unsung heroes. This character study (19 minutes) focuses on Silas.

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  • Silas is mainly referred to in Acts 15-18. “Silas” first appears in Acts 15:22. He is referred to by his full name, Silvanus, in 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; and 1 Pet 5:12.
  • His ministry is rich:
    • Silas is a prophet—one of two who encourage the faithful in Antioch (15:32). In some sense, bringing the Word of God—or a word from God.
    • He's also a writer. He assisted both Paul (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1) and Peter (1 Pet 5:12).
    • And he is Paul's colleague in ministry. After Paul's disagreement with Barnabas, Paul takes Silas with him (in lieu of Barnabas himself) on the trip to the cities where Paul and Barnabas had established congregations (Acts 15:40). Compared with Barnabas, Silas is perhaps more an assistant than a partner. Nevertheless, especially considering their Philippian experience, they must have been bonded.

Acts 16:19-40

  • The situation in Acts 16:16ff. – economic motivation for persecution.
  • Notice the verbs: seized, dragged, stripped, beaten, flogged, thrown, fastened.
  • Lack of due process. Both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. When I’m treated unfairly, do I pout?
  • I often assumed these were happy songs. Maybe so, yet the Psalms include many darker, though situationally more appropriate, prayers.
  • Praying and singing are excellent therapy for the cuts and bruises, and even for the injustice.
  • The miraculous release reminds us of Peter’s release from prison in Acts 12.


  • Thessalonica: After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 17:1). Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas (17:4a). While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. (17:5b).
  • Berea: That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea (17:10). When Paul leaves Thessalonica, Silas stays behind with Timothy, and is thereafter associated exclusively with him and only secondarily with Paul (17:14, 17:15b, 18:5a).
  • Corinth: Preached there along with Paul and Timothy (Acts 18:5). The trio are also mentioned in 2 Cor 1:19.

For us:

  • Don’t be afraid of opposition. An extra reason—besides Jesus’ and Paul’s promise that it is unavoidable, and Peter’s promise that the spirit of glory will rest upon us—is relational. It draws people together when they shareabout their hardships—or share them, going through them together.
  • When you’re in trouble, sing (Acts 16:25)!
  • Be faithful. Peter tells us Silas is a “faithful” brother.
    • We will not be perfect, but we can be faithful.
    • It’s nice when busy people need us, and can depend on us. Silas was such a person.
  • Accept differing degrees of closeness between Christians, even when they spend a significant amount of time together.
    • Consider Jesus and the 3, or Paul and Timothy.
    • And that’s okay! Be content to be the "number two guy."