Monday, 10 April 2023
but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. Acts 15:40
The great dispute that led to the parting of Paul and Barnabas came about in the previous verse. Because of it, Barnabas and Mark sailed to Cyprus. Continuing that thought, it next says, “but Paul chose Silas and departed.”
Here, Silas is reintroduced into the narrative. The dispute over whether verse 15:34 is authentic or not was discussed at that time. It could be that he stayed in Antioch all along, or it could be that he returned with Judas to Jerusalem and came back to Antioch later. Regardless of that matter, he was approved by Paul for his conduct and reliability and so Paul chose him to accompany him on his second missionary journey. In their departure, it next says, “being commended by the brethren.”
This is a blessing bestowed upon them as they headed out. The congregation met, prayed over them, and commended them to the task set before them. Because of what is said here, many scholars take the incredible stand that this means they took Paul’s side in the dispute that had arisen between him and Barnabas. That is an argument from silence, and it ignores the fact that the narrative is focused on the ministry of Paul.
For all we know, the church could have had a party with balloons, falafel, and herbal tea for Barnabas and John Mark. After that, they could have heaped blessings upon them and sent them off with a ten-piece band playing the 126th Psalm. The point is that the contents of Acts is highlighting the ministry of Paul now, just as it had highlighted Peter from Acts 1-12.
There is a transition from Jew to Gentile taking place. Paul is the one to effect that transition as it occurs, being the apostle to the Gentiles. Barnabas was mentioned because he was relevant to the account in relation to Peter and then to Paul. Now that he is not connected to Paul any longer, there is no need to focus on what has happened to him. As for Paul and Silas, they were commended by those at Antioch “to the grace of God.”
It is of note that some Greek texts say, “to the grace of the Lord.” As Jesus is God, and as God bestows His grace through the Lord, the change in texts does not change the significance of what is said. The blessing upon them is given and they will depart to carry on the work set before them.
Life application: It is fine to speculate on matters such as the blessing of the church upon Paul and Silas, but it is not appropriate to take sides where the Bible does not do so. As noted, that is an argument from silence, a fallacy. A fallacy is a belief that is mistaken because it is based on an unsound argument. There is a failure to properly reason out what is taking place. When a conclusion is made, the argument is rendered invalid because of this error in thinking.
There is an almost innumerable list of fallacies used by people. Take time to brush up on them and then try to avoid such errors in your words. This is important because once a fallacy is introduced, the rest of the argument has no further standing on that particular point. And it may be that particular point that the entire argument stands or falls on.
Lord God, help us to be reasonable in our thinking, discerning in how we present our thoughts and logical in evaluating arguments that arise. May this especially be so when we consider Your word. Help us not to insert fallacies into our perceptions about what You are telling us. Instead, give us wisdom to think things through in a right and clear manner. Amen.