Epistles of Paul
As mentioned before, Saul, A.K.A. Paul, was a great persecutor of the early Christian church. After his
conversion experience, Paul became one of the greatest proponents of the Christian faith. He is also the
most prolific writer in the Bible.
Most Christians accept Paul as the author of 13 NT letters. These are 1and 2 Thessalonians, 1and 2
Corinthians (canonical), Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 and 2
Timothy, and Titus. There are some scholars who contend that Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are
by a Paulinist disciple rather than by Paul. The reasons range from grammar to vocabulary to style and
historical context. Yet, most persons still hold to Paul’s authorship. While some argue for Paul’s
authorship of Hebrews, we are more certain that Paul did not write it than we are who did.
As we have said before, the first book of the NT to be written was 1Thessalonians (CE 50-51). Paul’s
letters are also listed in the NT from the longest to the shortest. While this is typical, 1 & 2 Corinthians
may be an exception. There may be portions of 4 different letters in what the church designated as 1 & 2
Corinthians, and 1 Corinthians is actually the second letter he wrote to them.
So, how can we identify and understand Paul’s letters? In addition to some theological and grammatical
evidence, Paul’s letters usually follow a particular format. We will describe briefly the “Typical
divisions of Paul’s letters.”
1) Opening- The opening contains the sender (Paul, etc), Addressee (to the saints at…), and a typical
greeting (“grace to you and peace to you”). This may be short (1 Thess) or lengthy (Romans 1:1-7).
2) Thanksgiving- The thanksgiving is typically something like “I thank my God for you”. There is one
major exception- Galatians. If you will go to Galatians and begin reading, you will find that there is not
a thanksgiving after the opening. Paul immediately begins chastising the people. A part of this has to do
with his being caught between two groups within these churches. One group, the Judaizers, is from a
strong Jewish background. They believe that one must become a Jew first, submit to all the Law and
circumcision, and then become a Christians. When Paul indicates that the Law is important but is not the
means by which you are saved, the Judaizers attack him, say that he is not an apostle, and accuse him of