“By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.”
Silvanus was probably a Latin name for Silas. The New Testament uses “Silvanus” and “Silas” for the same man. Luke, in Acts, prefers the name, Silas.
Silvanus was a prophet from the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:22, 32). That church dispatched him along with Paul and Barnabas to take the decree from the Jerusalem conference to the church in Antioch. Silvanus’ background as a servant was similar to Barnabas and John Mark.
At Antioch, Paul and Barnabas quarreled about Mark’s defection from the team on an earlier mission trip (Acts 15:36-41). Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10). They split over him. Paul refused to take Mark on his next mission; instead, Paul chose Silvanus to accompany him on his missionary expedition to Asia Minor and, ultimately, to Macedonia and Achaia. Barnabas chose Mark to go with him (Acts 15:41-18:5). An opportunity of a lifetime came to Silvanus because he was available for God to use him.
Setting out from Antioch, Paul made his way through Syria and Cilicia to the towns of southern Galatia (Derbe and Lystra), where he took Timothy as a companion (Acts 16:1- 3). From there, he passed through Phrygia to northern Galatia (Pessinus, Ancyra, and Tavium) and founded new churches. Prevented from proceeding to Bithynia, Paul moved on from Galatia into Mysia and Troy. Here Luke joined (Acts 16:10-17) the team. Thus, Silas accompanied Paul through Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Thessalonica.
When Paul left for Athens, Silas stayed at Berea and joined Paul later at Corinth (Acts 16-18). Silas was an influential figure in the churches in Macedonia. Acts 18:18 suggests that he may have remained in Macedonia when Paul left. His early connections with the church in Jerusalem helped add theological legitimacy to Paul’s missionary enterprises. Silas was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-38) and a Jew. His credentials were a help to Paul as well.
Paul mentions Silas in the introductions to some of his epistles (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:19). Except in 2 Corinthians 1:19, Paul mentions him in reference to the writing of these epistles. He was a secretary to Paul and both secretary and a courier for Peter. He is not named again until the reference to him here in First Peter.
The fact that Silvanus worked closely with both Paul and Peter shows the theological closeness of Paul and Peter. Although their theology is close, the way of expressing that theology was very different. Today, some people try to make us believe that Paul and Peter were at odds. This verse gives a lie to that assertion. There was no schism in the early church between Paul and Peter. There was an apparent cordial alliance between them.
Silvanus probably penned the epistle of First Peter. But Peter may have written the conclusion by his own hand. It was a general practice of writers of Scripture to use amanuenses (secretaries) to write their epistles (Galatians 6:11-18; 1 Corinthians 16:21-23; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18). Silvanus was also the person who carried this epistle to the countries listed in 1 Peter 1:1.
Silvanus now stands in a similar relationship with Peter that he did with Paul. After ministering with Paul as a secretary, he now joins Peter. Paul was probably in prison by now. He was conversant with and known to the churches to whom this epistle was addressed (1 Pe 1:1). They knew what kind of man he was. They knew his character.
Scripture records no syllable that Silvanus/Silas ever said. This silence affirms the importance of subordinate work. One tiny chip in a computer can cause the computer to stop operating. There is an importance to little things. Small things are indispensable to the whole. More glory shows up on the monitor. Undoubtedly, some people will receive more recognition for Christian work than others. Glory, however, is not how God measures things. God places value on faithfulness to the role He gives us.
God uses unknown, unsung believers for his glory.
The two greatest missionaries of the first century were Paul and Peter. Both of these mighty missionaries depended on Silvanus. Neither Paul nor Peter could have done what they did without Silvanus. He was their right-hand man. Who has thought much about this man Silvanus?
Silvanus was available for God’s use. It did not matter whether he played the second man. This man played second fiddle to both Paul and Peter. He did not seek glory for himself but only for his Lord. That is why he could serve the way he did.
Paul and Peter were the “stars” of the first-century community. God left for the fortune of Silvanus to be a satellite to move around the more extraordinary orbs. If God calls you to this lot, will you be willing to accept it no matter whether you receive recognition or not?
May God give us many more servants like Silvanus.
“Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us–by me, Silvanus, and Timothy–was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:17-20).
A principle in the nation of Israel was that some were to “stand by the stuff.” “As his part is that goes down into battle, so shall his part be that tarries by the stuff; they shall part alike.” Stand by the stuff in your service for the Lord!!