Si'las (Σίλας), an eminent member of the early Christian Church, described under that name in the Acts, but probably as Silvanus (q.v.) in Paul's epistles, B.C. 47-55. The Alexandrine writers adopted somewhat bold abbreviations of proper names, such as Zenas for Zenodorus, Apollos for Apollonius, Hermas for Hermodorus. The method by which they arrived at these forms is not very apparent. Silas first appears as one of the leaders (ἡγούμενοι, ) of the Church at Jerusalem, (Ac 15:22), holding the office of an inspired teacher (προφήτης, ver. 32). His name, derived from the Latin silva, "wood," betokens him a Hellenistic Jew, and he appears to have been a Roman citizen (Ro 16:27). He was appointed as a delegate to accompany Paul and Barnabas on their return to Antioch with the decree of the Council of Jerusalem (15:22, 32). Having accomplished this mission, he returned to Jerusalem (ver. 33; the following verse, ἔδοξε δὲ τῷ Σίλᾷ ἐπιμεῖναι αὐτοῦ, is perhaps an interpolation introduced to harmonize the passage with ver. 40). He, must, however, have immediately revisited Antioch, for we find him selected by Paul as the companion of his second missionary journey (ver. 40; 17:40). At Beroea he was left behind with Timothy while Paul, proceeded to Athens (ver. 14), and we hear nothing more of his movements until he rejoined the apostle:at Corinth (18:5). Whether he had followed Paul to Athens in obedience to the injunction to do so (17:15), and had been sent thence with Timothy to Thessalonica (1Th 3:2), or whether his movements, were wholly independent of Timothy's, is uncertain (Conybeare and Howson, Life of St. Paul, 1, 458, note). His presence at Corinth is several times noticed (2Co 1:19; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1). He probably returned to Jerusalem with Paul, and from that time the connection between them appears to have terminated. Whether he was the Silvanus who conveyed Peter's first epistle to Asia Minor (1Pe 5:12) is doubtful; the probabilities are in favor of the identity, the question is chiefly interesting as bearing upon the Pauline character of Peter's epistles (De, Wette. Einleit. § 4). We have to notice, for the purpose of rejecting, the theories which identify Silas with Tertius (Ro 16:22) through a Hebrew explanation of the name (שָׁלישׁ), and again with Luke, or at all events with the author of the Acts (Alford,
Prolegom. in Acts 1:1). The traditions (ap. Dorothaeum et Hippolytum) regard Silas and Silvanus as different persons, making the former bishop of Corinth, and the latter bishop of Thessalonica (see Fabricins, Lux Evang. p. 117; Cellarius, Diss. de Sila Viro Apostol. Jen. 1773). SEE PAUL.