Saints Silas, Silvanos, Apainetos and Crescens of the Seventy

Memory celebrated 30 July

The first of the four commemorated on July 30 is Silas, whose close companionship with the mighty St. Paul was enough to place him among the saints and who, as one of the Seventy devoted apostles of the Messiah, contributed mightily to the cause of Christianity, the more so because he managed to elude the executioner and to live a full life, each day of which was pledged to the missionary work of the Saviour. St. Luke, the Glorious Physician and author of the Book of Acts of the New Testament speaks in chapter fifteen of 'Judas and Silas being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed.'

Serving in Antioch with Barnabas and Paul, Silas was chosen by the latter to project their mission into Syria and Cicilia, as recorded in Acts 15.40 wherein it says 'And Paul chose Silas and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the Grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cicilia confirming the churches.' These regions were hostile to the New Faith of Jesus Christ but in spite of the abuse and indignities heaped upon the apostles, the salvation of mankind was brought to crowds who could see the light of Christianity through the miasma of their irreligious way of life. Before he departed for Rome, Paul installed Silas as bishop of Corinth where he served honourably every day of his long life.

Another of the Seventy favoured of God was Silvanos who is mentioned in the New Testament in 1 Peter 5.12 which reads "By Silvanos, a faithful brother unto you, as 1 suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand." The great St. Peter uses the word "briefly" to acknowledge that much more can be said of the Apostle Silvanos, who as the bishop of Thessaloniki encountered more than his share of resistance to the worship of a carpenter from distant Nazareth by a Greek colony as proud of their idolatry as their art and literature. Bishop Silvanos did not find an easily swayed audience in his mission, but he did find audiences with an intelligence to which he appealed with huge success. His was another long service to Christ in a complete triumph of Greek Christian conversion which placed the ancient myths in their proper place, not as truth but as fancy that have since served to amuse readers of every civilised language.

Another gallant soldier lost in the ranks of the Apostolic Seventy was Apainetos whose unfamiliar name is inscribed for eternity in the New Testament when St. Paul states in Romans 16.5, "Salute my well beloved Apainetos, who is the first fruit of Achaia unto Christ." Chosen by the Apostles to serve as bishop of Carthage in Africa, Apainetos met with a Carthaginian crowd which was as hostile as any of the proud Greeks. But with the oratorical skill born of truth, he had remarkable success in the conversion to Christianity of those whose priorities lay elsewhere. The Christian religion became the pre-eminent influence in an ancient city of Africa which was much more familiar with the Hannibals that predated the Messiah by centuries.

The last of the sacred Seventy commemorated on this day, and certainly not the least, was Crescens, whose apostolic merit is to be found in the magnificent St. Paul's letter to Timothy in which he writes in 2 Timothy 4.10 the instruction 'Do thy diligence to come shortly to me ... and Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.' Following his mission to Galatia, Crescens was ordained bishop of Chalcedon, a city in which he firmly planted Christianity as a faith which found greater expression than in most other areas for centuries to come.

from Orthodox Saints, v. 3
by Fr George Poulos, Holy Cross Orthodox Press

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