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Paul, Silas, and Timothy

By: Scott Morton

1 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here in this epistle, we see that there are three individuals who are being spoken of as writing this epistle. These three are Paul (the Apostle to the Gentiles- Romans 11:13), Silas (Silvanus), and Timothy (Timotheus). This raises some questions, as this epistle is known as being from Paul, but there are three people indicated. Who are these three people, why are they all writing this epistle, and is this what God intended are the questions we will be looking at.

These three had been traveling together and had come to Thessalonica together in order to minister to them:

Acts 17:1-14

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: [2] And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, [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. [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. [5] But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. [6] And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; [7] Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. [8] And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. [9] And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. [10] And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. [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. [12] Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. [13] But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. [14] And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.

This lengthy passage from Acts is used to show who it was that was traveling at this time. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had traveled to Thessalonica and then to Berea. It is while they are at Berea that they make the decision to split up temporarily, in order to make sure that the gospel is going out at this time. The reason they would have done this is because Paul knew that his ministry was to make all men see what was the fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9). It is important to note that Paul did not make a decision about splitting up from them lightly. He cared for all of the saints and it caused a burden for him when he was split for them for any length of time. This can be seen in 2 Corinthians, where Paul has a discussion about how he feels when he has been split from Titus for a period of time and how he feels when they are reunited.

The above passage shows that the people of Thessalonica were familiar with the three of them. They had seen them for the three weeks they were in Thessalonica and had heard the teachings of the Apostle Paul, Timothy, and Silas. They were all mentioned in the beginning of this epistle in order to help the people realize that this was from God. Since God had sent these three to them in the first place, the epistle had to have been written by the three people who were seen as being the ministers of God. The people of Thessalonica did feel that these things came from God, as shown by:

1 Thessalonians 2:13

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

This is an important truth for all people to realize. The things written by the Apostle Paul are the Word of God for us today. This is something that has been under attack since Paul was ministering, because he was viewed as a radical teaching things that were contrary to the law and that he was making these things up. Many people were doing everything that they could in order to prevent Paul from being effective in his ministry. They would go into the places he had been ministering in and would teach them they still needed to keep the law. This would be contrary to the Word of God that had been committed to the Apostle Paul, that he teaches, so it can be taught to others (2 Timothy 2:2).

The saints of Thessalonica did not have this issue, as Paul writes they accepted what had been taught as the Word of God. Since this is the case, they have allowed it to produce faith in their lives (Romans 10:17) and are now allowing it to become effectual in their lives. This is the intention of God and why He would have had all three of them have their names at the beginning of the epistle. This would demonstrate the unity in the ministry and allow the faith to be able to continue in the church in Thessalonica.

The three individuals who wrote this epistle all had unique characteristics and it is interesting that these three were chosen to write this epistle. They all had been effective in bringing the message of the grace of God to Thessalonica and we will look at each of these individuals to show why they were important to the ministry.

Paul is the individual who is identified as the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). He was not always the individual who we think of, as he identifies that he was once in a position where he was not in a good standing with God:

Galatians 1:13-14

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: [14] And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

This does not sound like an individual who was truly doing what God intended. He thought he was, as he was a Pharisee and knew the things of the law. He had not put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ during the earthly ministry and would have been considered to have been lost. He was consenting unto the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58). He considered Stephen and the others who followed the Lord Jesus Christ to be blasphemers, which would have made them guilty under the law and deserving of death. This is why he is described in this manner:

Acts 8:1-3

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Saul, who will later have his name changed to Paul, made havoc of the church. This means he caused problems to where they were fearful of their lives. This led to the scattering of the little flock in order to prevent their capture. The only ones who do not flee Jerusalem are the twelve apostles, because they understand the instructions given to them in Acts 1:8. They are to remain in Jerusalem until the city is converted. Then they would be allowed to move on.

The individual who would be doing these things may have thought they were doing the work of God. However, Paul identified that this was being done ignorantly and in unbelief. He did not understand what was supposed to be done, which led to the problems that were occurring for the little flock.

The idea of havoc is that the individuals who were part of this program did not know how to handle what was going on. They were looking for the establishment of the kingdom on the earth and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not expect the problems that were being caused by Paul. This led to the havoc, because there would have been an impact on their faith. They may have started thinking that the things they had been taught were a lie and this led to them fleeing.

Paul does not allow this to be the end of the issue. Once he sees they are fleeing Jerusalem, he actually takes it a step further and starts to pursue them:

Acts 9:1-6

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, [2] And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. [3] And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: [4] And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? [5] And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. [6] And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Paul took it to the point of where he was going to round up these individuals in order to punish then for what he perceived to be their transgressions. It is at this point that he is saved. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:8) and immediately recognizes who He is. This leads to the salvation of Paul and the fact that he is going to be a chosen vessel (Acts 9:15-16). This is why he is called the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13) and it is stated that he received the information for this dispensation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12). He is the pattern for our salvation (1 Timothy 1:16), not because we have to be saved in the exact manner that the Apostle Paul was, but because we have to follow the message that he was given and that he has preached.

There were many things that he had suffered as a result of his work:

2 Corinthians 11:20-28

For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. [21] I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. [22] Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; [27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. [28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

This is a list of all of the things Paul suffered during his ministry up to this point. This is a long list of things that would have caused most people to have stopped what they were doing after only suffering part of this. Instead, he keeps going and continues to preach the Word of God as he had received it. This is what had led to the problems that were going on for him, as the message recorded in Romans through Philemon is contrary to the message given to Israel. This is what led to these problems, as those who were part of the law program were going and persecuting him because of what he had been teaching. However, he remained faithful and is a demonstration for us to do so as well. No matter what the problems are that we may be facing in our lives, we need to remain faithful to what has been given to us to proclaim during this dispensation.

The next individual who is brought up here is Silvanus (Silas). He was one of the people who traveled with the Apostle Paul during the Acts period:

Acts 15:22

Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole 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:

The council at Jerusalem that is recorded in Acts 15 shows that there were some problems going on with the two programs that were running, Israel's program (which was in the process of fading away) and the program of the Gentiles (which was increasing as God was dealing more with the Gentiles). This led to a discussion at Jerusalem where a decision needed to be made about what was to be the method of stating what was going on according to God�s will. This decision was made and James declares what will be done. He states they will send individuals with Paul and Barnabas to show the agreement that has come about. They name two individuals, one of whom is Silas. This indicates that he was a member of the Little Flock and was therefore saved under the law program. He is traveling here with the Apostle Paul in order to show that there is a unity with God's programs and also to be able to confirm what the council had decided, with Paul carrying the message to the Gentiles.

Acts 15:34-41

Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. [35] Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. [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. [37] And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. [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. [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; [40] And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. [41] And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

This separation of Paul and Barnabas related to the ministry occurs because Paul did not think bringing John Mark with them was the right thing to do, based on the fact that he had abandoned them in the past when the times became tough. This led to this separation, where Silas is the individual who is going to be accompanying the Apostle Paul during his journeys. This is an interesting mix, as there is an individual who has been given the message of grace being accompanied by an individual who is saved under the law program.

The two of them go out and teach the message given to the Apostle Paul as he is traveling. Silas is mentioned by name in both epistles to the church at Thessalonica and in the second epistle to the church at Corinth. The reason he would be mentioned in these epistles would be that the individuals Paul is writing to knew who he was making a reference to. They would have seen Silas during Paul�s trip to their city and had ministered with him. There would not have been any confusion on their part about why he was being mentioned as writing unto them and communicating doctrine that they needed. One example of the ministering with the Apostle Paul is recorded below:

Acts 16:19-24

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, [20] And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, [21] And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. [22] And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Silas learned what it meant to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ by the fact that he was thrown into prison along with the Apostle Paul. This was done because they were seen as causing problems through teaching things that were contrary to what was going on at Philippi. The individuals who did this thought they were doing the right thing, but they were not following God by doing this. It is also evident that this did not discourage Silas, this happened before they had traveled to Thessalonica. Evidently, Silas understood why these things were happening and decided to remain faithful to what he was given to do in order to be faithful to God.

Even though it appears that Silas was a member of the Body of Christ through the ministering that he was doing with Paul, that is not the case. He remained a member of the Little Flock. Peter makes a reference to him in one of his epistles:

1 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.

Petre makes a reference to Silvanus (Silas) and calls him a faithful brother. He is writing this epistle to Israel, the individuals who had received the earthly promises of God. He is stating that Silas is a faithful brother unto them. He continued to remain faithful to the information that had been given to them and their program, even though he was ministering with the Apostle Paul. This helps to show the uniqueness of the Acts period, as there was a time when people who were under two different dispensations that were ministering together and were able to bring forht the Word of God.

The last individual who is recorded in this epistle as being the author of it is Timothy. We see Timothy joining up with the Apostle Paul in Acts 16:

Acts 16:1-3

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: [2] Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. [3] Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

The first time we see Timothy mentioned it states that he was well reported of by the brethren. The brethren knew who Timothy was and they recognized the faithfulness that was present within him. They saw that he was doing the right thing in the eyes of God. Paul sees this individual and makes the decision to have him join him in his ministry. He brings up some information in his epistles to Timothy to show what it is that he saw in him:

2 Timothy 1:5

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

2 Timothy 3:15

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul saw the faithfulness that was present in Timothy. He knew that he had been studying the Word of God as a child and understood what it meant to be standing for the truth of God's Word. This is part of the reason that he sent Timothy out to different places, as he knew that he was a man like him and would remain faithful to the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 4:17

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Philippians 2:19-20

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. [20] For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. [21] For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. [22] But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. [23] Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

Timothy was sent to places that needed him to minister unto them. The church at Corinth needed him to come and help settles some of the problems that were going on in this church. Paul sent someone he could trust and that he knew the people in Corinth would respect and listen to as well.

He also send him to Philippi while he is in jail. He does this to be his representative and calls him his son. He also states that he is likeminded to the Apostle Paul. Since Paul states that we have the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16), this means this is the mind the Apostle Paul had. He is also stating that Timothy has this mind and that he will be an able representative for Paul to them.

Timothy is also given much responsibility as he is made an elder of the church at Ephesus. This is why Paul writes two epistles to him in order to help him maintain the faith that he has. Paul writes these to encourage him in the face of all the problems that would come to him.

These three individuals all were faithful men that the church at Thessalonica recognized. This would help them to realize that the message recorded here in this epistle was coming to them from God, as this is who these three represented.



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