It’s not unusual for Paul to include others in letters he writes to various churches. In 1 Corinthians he includes, Sosthenes. In his second letter, he includes Timothy. These men are included most likely because the people in Corinth are familiar with them in some way. The same must be true for Silvanus and Timothy concerning Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. It begins, “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.” Silvanus is the Latin spelling for “Silas.” Most of us readily recognize that name. The interesting thing about Silas is that he served as secretary or “amanuensis” for both Paul and Peter. As we see in the book of Acts, Silas was an important figure in the churches of Macedonia, especially in the Church at Thessalonica. Paul includes him in both of his letters to them.

Paul opens his letter with a very familiar greeting that commended “Grace and Peace” to his readers. Grace always appears first in these greetings because there can be no real peace with it. Grace is what God freely gives to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. One website defines grace correctly. It says, “In Christian terms, grace can be generally defined as ‘God’s favor toward the unworthy’ or God’s benevolence on the undeserving.’ In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us, despite the fact that we fall short of living righteously.”[1] Grace must come first because without it we can have no real peace with God. Possibly, it’s impossible to have peace with others without it as well. Richison adds, “Peace is the consequence of appropriating grace to our life. We cannot reverse this order. If we bypass grace, we cannot possibly have peace in our life. We can have neither grace nor peace without accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we have a personal relationship with Him, we have His grace and thus His peace.”[2]

There is another aspect of grace that’s important to understand. Paul makes it clear to the Ephesians and others that “we are saved by Grace….” There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve salvation. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this issue regarding synergistic and monergistic theologies. It reads, “In Christian theology, synergism is the position of those who hold that salvation involves some form of cooperation between divine grace and human freedom. Synergism is upheld by the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Churches, Anabaptist Churches and Methodist Churches. It is an integral part of Arminian theology.”[3] Monergists, like myself and Martin Luther, and John Calvin, hold that salvation is totally God’s work. The completed verse quoted above goes, “It is by grace you are saved, through faith, it is not of works lest any man should boast.” I see man’s work involved in living a healthy and happy life in this world but not as a basis for gaining admittance into heaven. Another author says, “The Bible irrefutably states that God is solely responsible for salvation and entirely sovereign in His election. As much as a single idea can attempt to describe salvation, monergism is the only biblically viable option. Yet synergism, while perhaps not ‘as correct,’ is not entirely wrong in every facet.”[4] Paul writes to the Romans, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5-6).


[2] Richison, Grant. 2006. Verse by Verse through the Books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems.