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The Epistles of Paul, to Whom Were They Written
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Introduction and Research Area
Studying theology involves knowing the nature and aspects of God in various ways. The New Testament was written to explain and encourage people especially Christians on how to live and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul is one of the authors of some books in the New Testament which are written in the form of letters or epistles. These letters cover a large portion of the New Testament and their context addresses various aspects of the Christian life. The letters are said to be addressed to various audiences and recipients depending on the way Paul had interacted with them or the various challenges the people were facing because of Christianity. Some letters which Apostle Paul wrote were meant to guide, counsel, warn or encourage the recipients in their Christianity lifestyles and their relations with God.
In his letters, Paul is seen to address churches, individual Christians, leaders of the churches and political leaders in the various societies. Paul’s letters were important to the people at the time he was writing as well as at the current Christian life because of, many aspects and factors affecting the theological concepts. The ancient churches had many challenges and so are the modern churches. Through the epistles of Paul, however, Christians and the leaders of the churches can draw guidance and doctrines and even inspiration or motivation. Paul’s letters taught the Christians on the various ways they should relate to each other and also to the non-believers in the societies they live.
Being a person with a background of persecuting the Christians and thereafter a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul was influential in the ways he explained to the people the way of living as a righteous person which is important in the theology world (Conibear, & Howson, 1875). In his letters, he explains the importance of Christianity and the requirements of the Christians and the relations they should have with each other and other people in society. Paul can also be regarded as a missionary of the gospel of Christ in many cities and places where he visited and started churches against some Jews who regarded Christianity as the preserve of the Jews only (Schreiner, 2011). Some leaders who were opposed to the missions of Paul used the Jews traditions like circumcision as a definition of Christians but Paul in his letters explains to the various people who were non-Jews but Christians on what the almighty God requires of them.
Paul is regarded as one of the most influential and also as an apostle who gave birth to most of the churches in the ancient and modern world. The behavior and the practice of the churches are attributed to various letters Apostle Paul wrote during his time (Bengt, 2004). Paul guided and counseled the followers of Jesus Christ and showed them the relevance of Christianity and living a righteous life (Michael, 2019). This paper will explore the epistles Paul wrote and their possible audience or recipients. The relevance of the epistles in the time they were written and their importance in the modern world will be analyzed and opinion given according to findings.
Various opinions and suggestions have been raised since the ancient times about the number of letters apostle Paul wrote and the possible audience or recipients of the letters (Conibear, & Howson, 1875). According to some scholars, some of the books in the new testament that are attributed to Paul are not his original work but the context in his books is similar to those attributed to him. This paper will look at the thirteen books attributed to Paul and the impact or the importance to the audience. The paper will analyze the different recipients Paul referred his letters to and the situations he was in and the recipient’s environments at the time the letters were written.
This research will be based on the epistles written by Apostle Paul and the volumes of books he wrote in the New Testament. The chronological order of the letters Paul wrote will not be considered in the paper but the aspects which affect the research question and the topic will be covered conclusively. The paper will mainly dwell on the audience or the recipients of the letters and the messages Paul was intending to communicate to the diverse audience of his letters.
Reasons for this Topic
My thesis topic is on the various epistles or letters which were written by Paul and the possible recipients of the letters. The thesis is based on the exploration of the various letters attributed to Apostle Paul and the context he wrote the letters (Conibear, & Howson, 1875). The meaning and the importance of the letters are covered in the thesis as presented earlier and also the authenticity and originality of the letters. The way the letters are relevant in modern theology and also in the ancient times is stressed in the paper in regards to the impacts the letters had and have in the churches and the Christians.
Many scholars and surveys on the letters of Paul have been carried out and various conclusions made on the context of the letters. The research aims at explaining the different letters and their relevance to the context they were written and the impact they have on the Christians living in modern times (Bangt, 2004). This research is vital in theological studies because it affects the knowledge various people have about the gospel of Christ and the relationship between God and Human beings.
The modern and the ancient churches have some common challenges which Paul addressed in his letters. In his letters, Paul taught both the church and the Christians on how to live and relate with others in society. Paul also taught the importance of faith and the promises of Jesus Christ to those people who believed in his teachings (Schreiner, 2011). Paul also focused on warning his audience on false and misleading doctrines. Most of the churches targeted by Paul had been invaded by false apostles who aimed at opposing Paul’s gospel of Christ and message. Paul therefore struggled to warn his converts and members of the churches he focused on the need to be careful so as not to be misled by the wrong and false teachings (Müller, 1955). Moreover, Paul placed a lot of emphasis on defending his apostleship as one that comes from God and not from other human beings (Müller, 1955). The reason for his defense was the fact that many other apostles had come up with false and wrong doctrines and claimed to have derived their power and authority form God.
Many people and scholars are divided on the views about the letters of Paul and have diverse opinions when it comes to the number of books Paul wrote, and the people he was directing the letters to or targeting. However, the most important thing to know is that Paul wrote his letters to praise and glorify the Almighty God. The epistles of Paul or the Pauline communications are the accounts or pieces of literature written by Paul which give guidance and the insights to the beliefs of Christians, and the challenges faced by the early Christianity. The epistles of Paul are found in the New Testament and define the ethics and practices of various parties in the context of the church or Christianity. Most scholars place the number of the epistles of Paul at thirteen or fourteen books in the new testament of the bible and they consider the style and the content in the books while determining if it’s Paul’s epistle or not. The epistles of Paul were however written to direct various parties in the Christianity aspect such as the congregation, the church leaders, and everybody in the community.
The epistles attributed to Apostle Paul include, “Titus, 1Timothy, 2 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, Galatians, Philippians, and Hebrews” (Neal, 2017). Some Scholars do not however consider Hebrews as an epistle of Paul but it’s attributed to him because of its content. Most scholars give the number of the epistles of Paul to be thirteen while others consider seven books. These disparities arise from the fact that some of the scholars have the impression that Paul was given credit for writing some epistles which they believe is not true (Müller, 1955). Some of the reasons as to why Paul’s authorship of some of the epistles has been questioned are his style of writing which is not uniform as it is expected. The styles vary from one epistle to the other making it difficult to believe that he was the one who wrote the epistles.
Many scholars have different arguments on the epistles of Paul and the aspects of the nature of the epistles. There is a need to investigate the audience or the recipients of the epistles which Paul wrote and what he was after in drafting the letters (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). The letters of Paul can be divided into three main categories with each category having its specific purpose as it will be later discussed in the paper. These categories are the travel epistles, the pastoral letters, and the prison letters. The letters as the names suggest were written at different times in the life of Paul and were addressed to different recipients depending on the message he wished to pass to the recipients.
Out of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is attributed to 13 books making him the single largest author of the New Testament and the originator of the modern Christianity after the death of Jesus Christ. There is a need to investigate the exact people Paul was writing the letters to and define them conclusively through research. Are the letters of Paul relevant in today’s Christianity or were they just meant for the time he wrote the letters? Did Paul’s letters influence the political aspects of the people he wrote the letters to? Was Paul targeting only the Christians or was he concerned with everybody in society. What impact did the letters of Paul have in the spread of the gospel to various people in the society? Did Paul target individuals in the various societies he addressed his letters to or were they meant for the general public? This study aims at investigating the above-stated questions through an analysis of various scholarly materials and circumstances in which Paul wrote the letters.
Importance of the Study
The epistles of Paul are established in different life situations which can apply to any individual and so analyzing them in the study is important for different people in society. The epistles of Paul were addressed to people in different places and thus they can apply to people from different cultures and regions. Paul also addressed different classes of people in society and people facing different hardships in life so they are applicable to different aspects of life in the community. In this case, the study of the epistles can help churches in dealing with some of the problems affecting them especially in the modern days. Even though times are different, churches are still experiencing similar problems as those Paul was addressing through letters. This makes the letters more relevant in the current churches. Moreover, the study of the epistles can also help in addressing some of the gaps and problems facing different social classes. This is considering the fact that these groups experience different problems that must be addressed in different ways. Paul therefore through the epistles provides some of the solutions to deal with such problems.
Paul was himself not a Christian and he used to persecute Christians and followers of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem and Judea. At first, he was an enemy of the Christians until when he was on his journey to Damascus when he was converted to a Christian. The reason I chose the topic of the Epistles of Paul and the audience it targeted is that the letters of Paul are the foundation of the church and describes the ways and reasons why people should adopt Christianity. The letters educate, equip and encourage Christians to face life situations with faith and hope.
Each book or letter of Paul addressed the importance of the aspect of submission to God, spiritual gifts, relations and cooperation with others in the society. For example, in the book of Romans Paul being a Roman emphasizes the love for one’s community. Paul also stresses the importance of faith and hope in God and the need to be moral (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). He stresses on the second return of Jesus Christ and the events that would unfold before the second coming of Christ and the need to repent. In the book of Philemon, Paul emphasizes on the need for forgive especially from the people from a high social class. This is considering the fact that Onesimus had offended his master Philemon by stealing some of his property and ran away (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). Paul demonstrates that the relationship between a master and his servants should not be an oppressive one and people should learn the art of forgive which is very important. Paul therefore expresses different messages and ideas through his epistles and this is determined by the specific problems facing the different churches.
In a nutshell, the epistles of Paul were addressed to everyone in the society and also tackled every aspect affecting human life in society. He stressed on the importance of believing in Jesus Christ as the savior of people no matter how evil the society viewed them and the need to have faith and hope in Christ. Paul also gave the guidelines and roles of various persons in church after defining the meaning of church in his epistles. Paul also explains the relations between various churches and beliefs of various communities. This is reflected in the book of Timothy where Paul tries to define the different roles played by different people in the church. It is in this book that he also gives the characteristics of different persons in church and how they should carry out themselves (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). This is important since even in the modern times, different people still do not understand the different roles they play in the church or still do not understand what they are expected of while serving God in the church. The epistles therefore serve as manual for the church and the congregation.
The relevance of the Study
Exploring the epistle of Paul is important to Christians and theology students in many ways. Paul is considered as the father of theology because of his contribution to the growth of the church since the time he transformed from a Christian persecutor to a preacher of the gospel of Christ (Michael, 2019). Paul started many churches in the areas which people could not think churches would be established. He advised the people in those churches and places on the ways Christians should relate with each other and the need for faith in Christ. He stressed the importance of righteousness and the need to have faith in God.
Paul also in his letters stressed the importance of love between Christians and how the Christians should relate with other people in society. He explains the kind of life the Christians and followers of the gospel of Christ will live after death and the second coming of Jesus (Calvin, 2007). Studying the epistle of Paul is important in the Christianity and theology life because the letters are applicable in the modern world by the Christians and can relate to the ancient and modern Christianity (Bangt, 2004). The challenges faced by churches and Christians in the ancient times are in some ways relatable to the challenges Christians faces today.
The study will also try to explain the various doubts people in society have about Christianity and the purpose of Jesus Christ in the world. The gentiles were viewed as outcasts in the society but Paul introduced the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ to them and through his letters advised and guided them in the righteous ways (Bangt, 2004). He stressed the importance of love and the relationships between Christians through his letters thus the importance of studying who the letters he wrote were addressed. He was therefore a mediator between the Gentiles and the Jews who were treating each other as enemies. He also emphasized on the fact that the old traditions that were guided by the law had long gone and there was a need to embrace the new rules and the blood of Christ (Calvin, 2007). According to him, the blood of Christ was enough to break all boundaries and traditions as they were practiced by the Jews. This is even after the Jews insisting on remaining hooked and locked up on the traditions and the law as it was in the Old Testament.
Paul explained Christianity in his letters to the areas where he had not traveled to or had previous contact with. In some of his letters, he used various styles to express himself to the people and thus creating contact with the people. These letters were relevant because they explained the love of Christ to his people and the importance of the gospel to them. Through the study, we shall know the places and audiences Paul impacted with his letters and the relations of those places to modern Christianity (Calvin, 2007). The most crucial relevancy of the study is how the letters have led to the development of theology and the spread of the gospel of God in modern times.
Organization of the Study
The study will be divided into various sections covering different aspects of the epistles of Paul. The background of Paul will be reviewed so as to get the overview of his life before conversion and the knowledge and experiences Paul had encountered in his life. The paper will then explain the various contexts of the letters Paul wrote and the messages he intended to pass to the recipients of the letters.
Different aspects of the epistles will be analyzed to come up with conclusions and analysis of the epistles and therefore determine the exact target of Paul in his letters. The theological growth of the churches and the spread of the gospel to non-Jews will be analyzed to come up with opinions and conclusions of the nature and target of the epistles.
The study will also look at the mode or the style in which the epistles were written and the significance of the style to the messages Paul intended to pass to the recipients of the letters. The use of metaphors by Paul and the use of unique vocabulary when writing the letters and the importance of these styles will be analyzed different opinions according to findings given. The paper will also look at how different people received the messages in the letters and their reactions after getting what Paul wrote in the letters.
Various kinds of literature and previous works done on the topic will be reviewed in the paper and the challenges in the paper will be addressed. The paper will look at the teachings, warnings, and messages of hope given by Paul through his letters to Christians and other leaders in society. The paper will then have the conclusions and recommendation pages which will now use the resources gathered in the course of research to draw opinions and recommendations.
This paper will have six chapters with each chapter covering different aspects of the paper. The first chapter is an introduction and has six different parts which are problem statement, the significance of the study, structure of the paper, methods used, delimitations and definition of terms part. Chapter two will look at different aspects of Paul teachings and the life and works of Apostle Paul.
Chapter three of the study will look at the originality authorship and authenticity of the epistles and the style Paul used when writing the letters. Chapter four will look at the period of politics and Paul imprisonment and the various letters he wrote at the time such as the “Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians”. Chapter five will look at the various problems associated with Paul epistles and the motive and compilation of the epistles. Chapter six will have a summary of the study and conclusions of the study and will give opinions according to the analysis of the study. The paper will then have a reference page citing various materials used in the study and analysis of the epistles.
This paper will investigate the various letters of Paul to different societies as outlined in the New Testament. The paper will use the bible as the primary source of data and also some other written articles, journals, blogs, magazines and other scholarly materials for analysis of the Paul letters and decide the audience he was targeting. The paper will analyze various bible verses especially in the epistles of Paul, and also use personal opinion in coming up with the conclusions about the topic. The paper will look at the various epistles of Paul and come up with the conclusion on the audience Paul was targeting in the letter.
This paper will mainly use secondary sources of data. Various scholarly articles will be reviewed and analysis is given from the way the scholars view the topic. I shall refer to the “Good news version of the Bible” especially the “New Testament” and the thirteen letters of Paul in my analysis. The book of acts explains the life and the various works of Paul from the time he was a persecutor of Christians to the time he converted to a preacher of the gospel of Christ on his way to Damascus.
The paper will analyze various aspects of the modern form of theology and how it is affected by the letters of Paul. The aspects of modern theology which draws inspiration from the letters Paul wrote will be analyzed and conclusions made from the analysis. Various teachings of Paul which are incorporated in the modern theology teachings will be reviewed through the study and the relevant opinions given.
This paper will not cover the whole aspect of the Epistles of Paul but will look at the areas which address the research question. Different verses which bring out the target group of people by Paul’s letters will be used and others ignored. The paper will analyze the aspects of the apostle conclusively and come out with conclusions and will not look at other epistles.
The paper will look at the letters which were written by Apostle Paul and will not look at the other epistles in the New Testament. The survey will involve the audience and the importance of the letters of Paul and will not be concerned with other aspects of the epistles.
The paper will also be concerned about the effects of the letters of Paul to the development of theology and the modern church doctrines. Paul was concerned with the practices and the behavior of Christians and so the paper will be based on the impacts of letters to the various recipients.
Definitions of Terms
Epistles refers to a written message or a letter addressed to a person or a group of people.
Paul refers to the person, known by the Jewish name Saul of Tarsus who lived during the first era and taught about of Jesus Christ to the Jewish and Romans.
Church refers to a community of believers of Jesus Christ and also the building people congregate to worship God.
New Testament refers to the second part of the bible which teaches about the life of Jesus Christ, aspects of life and the earliest followers of Jesus Christ and includes the book of Revelation.
Jesus refers to an ancient preacher and leader who is believed to be the son of God and his teachings are followed by Christians.
Holy Spirit refers to a person who resides in a person who has converted to Christianity or believes in God. The Holy Spirit guides believers to do the right things once they receive Christ.
Gospel refers to the message of Jesus Christ to the world and his teachings to his followers.
Righteousness refers to the aspect of one being morally right. It can also refer to the aspect of one being justifiable.
Wisdom refers to the aspect of being knowledgeable or having a lot of knowledge about something. Paul tries to distinguish between wisdom among men and God’s wisdom.
Unity refers to aspect of together or rather oneness.
Supremacy refers to the state of being more powerful than others in terms of power, knowledge or wealth.
Sanctification refers to setting people aside by making them clean or pure from other things which might not make them pure.
Retribution refers to a form of punishment that is given to someone for having committed a given crime or offence.
Dikaiokrisia refers to a righteous judgment.
Didaioma refers to a righteous action or ordinance.
CHAPTER 2: PAUL TEACHINGS
Paul was known as Saul in his early life. Paul was born in Tarsus and that granted him Roman citizenship. He was, however, a Jew and was brought up in Jerusalem as a student of Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3 Good News Version). Good news version). Saul was known as an active persecutor of Christians and was involved in the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7: 58 Good News Version). One day on his way to Damascus to conduct further persecutions, a vision of Christ came to him and changed the whole of his life. Saul went to Damascus with the help of the people who had accompanied him because he could not see (Acts 9:7 Good News Version). He was then baptized by Ananias who was sent by God and changed his name to Paul. Paul can also be identified as a church leader, a preacher and a missionary (Neal, 2019). By his own review, Paul regarded himself as the best Jew and also the best Pharisee of his time and also an apostle of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:4 Good News Version).
At the time Paul was born, the cultural background and the identity of a person determined their religious affiliation. Cultures of people at the time were divided into the faith they had towards God. Jews were affiliated to Christianity and Gentiles were not recognized as followers of the gospel of Christ (Stendahl, 1977). Paul grew into two different cultural backgrounds and thus could influence both the Jews and other communities. To him, the cultural differences did not affect the faith in the Almighty God and so head to teach people on the right ways of Christianity and faith in God.
Paul was himself a persecutor of Christians and was involved in the persecution of Stephen (Acts: 7:58. Good News Version). Paul could be regarded as a Roman citizen according to the book of Acts (Acts: 16. 37, 22: 25. Good news version). He was also a Pharisee according to his own confession in the book of Philippians which is one of his letters. He describes himself as a son of A Pharisee with Pharisaic teachings (Philippians: 3. 5. Good News Version). Paul was taught by a Pharisee teacher by the name of Gamaliel, who is considered as a great teacher of the Jews traditions and norms.
Paul had knowledge intent making and traded in the art even after transformation or conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul began persecuting Christians in the city of Jerusalem (Acts: 7.58. Good News Version). One day on his way to Damascus to carry out more persecutions he encountered the Holy Spirit, the event which converted his whole life. Previously, before conversion, he was known as Saul of Tarsus but from the encounter with the Holy Spirit, he changed his name to Paul. From the encounter and conversion, Paul became the preacher and he spread the gospel of the Messiah to many nations especially the gentiles who were not familiar with the Jewish traditions.
Life and Works of Paul
After conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a Christian himself, Paul played a great role in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was one of the most influential church leaders of his time. He spread the gospel and preached to the gentiles and his missionary works made him tour the entire Roman Empire (Neal, 2019). He moved from region to the other in the bid to spread the gospel to all both the gentiles and the Jews. His main aim was to ensure that gap between the Jews and the Gentiles reduced and that they started to view at each other as brothers. He can be said that he came to be one of the people who advocated for peace and a peaceful coexistence between the two groups.
As a child, Paul (then Saul), learned to trade and work with his hands. He used to make tents and continued even after conversion to a Christian as he was traveling with his tools as he spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. He could write with his own hands and could be referred to as a common laborer. However, his work did not stop him from spreading the gospel as it was given to him by Jesus Christ (Stendahl, 1977). He still had the energy to spread the gospel as he went with his duties as a tent maker and a common laborer. This is an indication of the fact that he was an industrious man who could go far with his work as well as the task of spreading the gospel. He was a vocal apostle who never feared anything meaning that no one could stop him from the role of spreading the gospel of Christ.
Paul spent his life at first oppressing Christians and arresting the preachers of the gospel. Paul’s motivation in persecuting the Christians is not known clearly but it could be due to his connection with the Pharisees. After conversion to Christianity, Paul went to Arabia and later returned to Damascus (Williams, 2009). After three years from returning to Damascus, Paul went to Jerusalem where he mingled with the Apostles. After meeting the Apostles, Paul started his missions of preaching the Gospel, when he first preached in his native home of Syria (Galatians 1:7 Good News Version). From his home area, Paul went into many regions and nations as an ambassador of Christ making him known to many corners of the world. Many wondered how a man who had been an earlier persecutor of the church could turn out to be a minister of the gospel and the word of God. However, this was a reality as according to him, God was capable of doing anything in the lives of his people.
When preaching and during the following years Paul started many churches in Asia and Europe. In the course of his missions, Paul saw that the spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles was bringing the conflict to the Christians of the Jewish race. They believed that for the Gentiles to follow Christianity, they had to convert to Jews first (Sanders & Pelikan, 2018). To end this conflict, Paul went to Jerusalem and struck a deal with the leaders that Peter would be the apostle of the Jew and Paul would be the Apostle of the Gentiles (Sanders & Pelikan, 2019). The churches Paul led were to remit some cash to Jerusalem which was at the time in need of finances.
When Paul returned to Jerusalem from preaching to the Gentiles with some of the cash he had raised and was accompanied by some of his Gentile converts, he was arrested (Sanders & Pellkan, 2019). He was accused of bringing Greeks and gentiles near the temple and preaching against the beliefs of the Jews (Acts 21:28. Good News Version). Many people caught him and were beating him in the temple where they had shut the gates (Acts 21: 29 Good News Version). The Roman commander and his soldiers, however, came and arrested him before the people could kill him and took him to the barracks chained.
Epistles Form and Function
The letters Paul wrote were structured in some form which determined the structure of the epistles. The letters had opening salutation which included, the name of the writer (in this case Paul). Paul referred to himself as the Apostle of Christ in the salutation part to show people the responsibility he had from God (Carson, Moo, & Morris, 1992). The second feature in the letters of Paul was the recipient’s name such as to all Bishops, all Christians and the location of the recipient, for example, Philippi and Rome. Paul used this section to identify the audience with their works and functions they had in the community (Schubert, 1939). To make some of the recipients proud he used words like saints, holy and sanctified by the Lord Jesus. This was also important to show that Christ was responsible for the blessings and sanctification of people in the community (Walter, Elwell, &, Yarbrough, 1998). Paul also greeted the recipients in the first parts of his letters for example by saying “grace to you or peace from God our father” and the “Lord Jesus Christ” (Walter, Elwell, &, Yarbrough, 1998). The greetings in the epistles were to introduce the main context of the letter and also attract the attention of the recipient of the epistles.
In the epistles, Paul would then give a prayer of thanksgiving, and a blessing. The thanksgiving section served the function of showing the recipient the deep concerns of Paul in the Christian life of them (Murphy, 1995). He would then report a certain circumstance that has happened to him and the significance of the circumstance to him and his work, faith in God, and the hope in Christ. The circumstance served to remind people that challenges are prone to humankind and that God delivers people from the problems. The circumstance also served to show people that no matter who they were in society, they all had a responsibility to God and other people who they care about (Williams, 2009). Paul would then write the body of the letter and would include all the contents and messages he wants to convey to various recipients. Some of the content would be in the form of requests, encouragements and sometimes warnings.
Paul would end the letters with final greetings and a farewell message. He would also greet others and write well wishes for the recipients or the audience of the epistles for example by wishing God’s grace and protection to the audience and their peers (Williams, 2009). This was a common style that is seen in most of his letters as he maintains the same across most of the letters he wrote to the different nations he visited.
The form of the epistles did not necessarily follow the above structure always but this was the basic form. For example, the letter to the Galatians Paul omitted the thanksgiving parts and goes straight to the body of the letter (Bratcher, 2018). Most of the epistles by Paul were meant to serve a large community and not individuals in the community in fact only Philemon letter of all the epistles is addressed to an individual as a personal letter (Bratcher, 2018). The epistles were like sermons to the people and community at large and so they lacked the personal elements of a letter.
The epistles were written to a certain group of people or groups of people to address certain concerns and topics affecting the community. The functions of the epistles were to give the community well versed with the gospel of Jesus Christ and also remind them of the consequences of unrighteousness. The epistles form is useful in today’s life though they were written a long time ago, they remind us of our responsibility to God and the ways to relate with others in society. They show us the need to give thanks to the lord for the care and love he has toward us and the blessings he gives us (Bratcher, 2018). The circumstance part of the letters reminds us even today that if we face hardships in life, we need to turn to God for relieving.
Paul was concerned about the existence of the church and its impact on the following of the teachings of Christ. In his most epistles addressed to various churches, Paul advised the need of the church to involve in teachings about faith in God and living in the righteous ways other than following the laws of the land or the traditions of the communities (Murphy, 1995). At one time Paul was seen as to if he was against the Jews traditions especially the rite of circumcision which he was seen as condemning. From the epistles, we either learn that Paul was stressing the need for people to concern with the heavenly life and not the traditions in their communities (Furnish, 2009). This is vital in Christianity and theology because Christianity spread thereafter to non-Jews who had not adopted the art of circumcision at the time.
Paul needed to advise the Christians and followers of the gospel in the experiences he had undergone and was undergoing through at the time he was writing the epistles. Some of the letters were written while he was under arrest and in prison and so he had to encourage the Christians that the life of Christianity was not as smooth as they may have thought and that the most important thing in the Christianity life was the life after death and the resurrection of Christ.
Some of the letters of Paul were warnings on the consequences of not having faith in the teachings of Christ and the evils people were engaging in at the time. Paul had interacted with various people in the mission work and his various tours and had learned of the many practices of the people in different places (O’Brien, 2009). He wrote some letters so to warn the people in the places he had seen living unrighteous life in those places and teach them the need to live in righteousness.
As opposed to the other Epistles written by Paul, Romans was not written to address specific problems. The Epistle was written to fulfill three important functions. The first reason as to why the Epistle was written was to inform the Romans about his visit. This was after his visit to Jerusalem and therefore wanted Rome to prepare for his visit (Roman 15:24 Good News Version). He also used the Epistle in informing the people of Rome about his major plans while he visits and the idea was to give them a chance to pray for the fulfillment of his plans while he visits them in Rome (Roman 15:30-32 Good News Version). The second purpose of the Epistle was to outline to the Romans the message God wanted him to proclaim to them. In Romans 1:15 he claims that he was coming to Rome to proclaim the message of Christ specifically for them. Moreover, he wanted them to have a deeper understanding of the word he was coming to proclaim to them in three major aspects (Furnish, 2009). The first perspective of the word he wanted them to understand is the life and past which can be termed as justification.
Paul also wanted them to understand the present situation of the word which is termed as sanctification and lastly, he wanted them to understand the future of the word of God which can be termed as glorification. The third purpose he was going to address was the question of the impact of the Gospel on the Law and some other older traditions among the Jews such as circumcision (O’Brien, 2009). This was a question that had led to some uncertainties among the Jews and the Gentiles. In essence, the Epistle to the Romans was addressing the plan for salvation among both the Jews and the Gentiles. This is because the Jews were feeling sidelined and separated.
Paul in 1 Corinthians targets several pertinent issues that were facing the church in Corinth’s. Corinth was a city that was prosperous and wealthy and Paul kept on wondering the effect the gospel of Christ would have on the city. Moreover, the city had a reputation of sin and materialism which had spread across most of the people in Corinth (O’Brien, 2009). The city was also full of temples and shrines signifying the presence of idols in the city and this was one of the major concerns had Paul had. Another major problem that was facing the city was immorality and this had spread and was being a serious concern to Paul. Paul felt like had a little control among the Jews as it was like he had won more of the Gentiles as opposed to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Good News Version). The religious and moral conditions of the church had greatly been affected and this therefore informed the main purpose of the Epistle.
The purpose of the Epistle was therefore to explain to the people of Corinth on how their new life would be applied in such conditions as they were at that time. According to Paul, the new life required the converts to adopt a new way of life which was to be led by the Holy Spirit (Porter & Dyer, 2016). They were also being taught on how they were going to apply God’s wisdom in their new adopted life so as not to fall into any of the temptation. The Epistle was therefore written as a pastoral corrective letter to the Corinthians. This is because the church was facing some serious divisions as the problems had taken over more of the converts and their attentions were being diverted with time (Porter & Dyer, 2016). Paul therefore felt the need to have the problems addressed through the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians is the only Epistle among Paul’s letters that is more intimate and personal. It is through the Epistle that he affirmed his steadfast love and commitment for the people of Corinth amid all the problems and challenges that were facing the region. Among the concerns that Paul was addressing through the Epistle were the presence of false teachers who had come up claiming to be teachers of the word. However, they ended up promoting their ideas and message. The Epistle was written to defend the authenticity of Paul has his message as an apostle of God (Porter & Dyer, 2016). Scholars have noted that there was a need for Paul to defend his authenticity because of the presence of many other apostles who were spreading false message about Christ. He therefore wanted his converts to understand the essence of adopting the right gospel of Christ as opposed to other versions of the Gospel which were being spread across the region. In the process, Paul expresses his happiness towards the manner in which people in Corinth accepted his message (Porter & Dyer, 2016). Moreover, he emphasized his desire to have the people of Corinth remain committed to the word and the Gospel. Lastly, he was aiming at defending his apostolic authority and commitment.
The letter to the Galatians is considered as a cry for reformation and has been termed as a means of justification by faith. According to Luther, the Epistle was regarded as Charter of Christian Liberty and in this case, a peculiar Epistle. The Epistle to begin with stands out as powerful message against Judaizers who were spreading the gospel of legalism (Greer, 2011). They were specifically insisting that some of the ceremonies that had been practiced in the Old Testament were still valid and would still be practiced. Paul was therefore using the Epistle to make it clear that most of those practices were no longer important and were not to be practiced any more (Stendahl, 1977). Moreover, the Judaizers were posed to discredit Paul’s apostleship among the people of Galatia.
It is due to this reason that Paul uses the first two chapters of the Epistle to justify his apostleship and message of Christ. This was important as without justifying his apostleship, it would be very difficult for him to preach to the converts and have the message of Christ accepted as a true message to them (Greer, 2011). He therefore uses the third and the forth chapter to justify his doctrine and message to the people. Some scholars argue that the manner in which Paul justifies his doctrine would lead to the belief that it needed a license. However, Paul insists on the fact that his doctrine of liberty does not require any license as it is free from Christ Jesus (Stendahl, 1977). Christians must therefore strive to embrace the message of Christ and make more powerful by invoking the Spirit of Christ which according to him has power and strength to lead them through their new life.
It is apparently clear that Paul in this Epistle continues to justify his doctrine and message of Christ. This is one of the purposes as to why he is writing to the people of Thessalonian. This is a purpose that is seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. This is an indication of the fact that the church did not believe in his message of Christ and most of them thought it was not authentic. The people could not have been blamed because of the fact that the early church had some other false apostles who had come up with a different type of message (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). Paul also used the Epistle to thank God for what he was doing in the lives of the converts in Thessalonica. Paul was an apostle of Christ who was mindful of the life of his people and any other place he established the church. He also used the Epistle to encourage them on the need to remain steadfast and committed to the gospel (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). This was important as the converts faced the danger of being convinced to back to the wrong doctrine which they had abandoned and embraced Christ especially after Paul’s visit to them.
Paul’s Epistle to the Thessalonians was informed by three main reasons. First, Paul had been briefed about the increasing rate of persecution that was going on against the early church. The second reason was the fact that other apostles were taking advantage of the situation and started preaching against Paul’s message. Moreover, many people were misinterpreting Paul’s message on the second coming of Jesus Christ and the day of rapture. It was therefore critical for Paul to write the second letter in which he was to address the issues conclusively (Williams, 2009). First, he wanted to make the church to understand that his gospel and message were from Christ as opposed to the message from the other false apostles and teachers. He also used the letter to make some clarification on the second coming of Christ and what it meant to them as new believers. The letter can therefore be looked at as one that was intended at correcting and making things clear about the Gospel and message of Christ (O’Brien, 2009). The early church had been hit by false apostles who wanted to dilute the message Paul had initially passed to the coverts as a way of turning them against the correct message.
Teachings of Paul to Christians and Church
The epistles of Paul serve various purposes in teaching Christians and the church on the foundations and principles of the Gospel and Christianity. In Romans, Paul aimed at teaching the people the importance of salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. Romans also teach the Christians on the need to be righteous to all people irrespective of the race (Williams, 2009). The letter thus teaches the churches not to discriminate the people they serve and that salvation is meant for all mankind.
Paul teaches Christians in his epistles of the love of God towards mankind. He teaches the Christians that Jesus died for us and that every sin can be forgiven through Christ’s love for his followers. The epistles teach the Christians on the need for harmony and love towards each other (Romans 6:23 Goods News Version).
In 1 Corinthians, Paul’s letter teaches the church on how to address the relations of members of the church. He teaches Christians to agree with each other to avoid divisions in churches (1 Corinthians 1:10 Good News Version). He also teaches Christians that the only person to follow and believe in is Jesus Christ who died on the cross for them and not to follow Peter or other apostles (1Corinthians 1:13 Good News Version).
In 2 Corinthians, the letter by Paul teaches Christians on the need to worry about the earthly things but be concerned about heaven where they will dwell forever (2 Corinthians 5:1 Good News Version). He teaches Christians the need to cooperate with fellow Christians and the need to help each other (Hampton, 2016). Paul also teaches the Christians on the need to avoid non-believers in chapter six of 2 Corinthians and says that the body of the believers is the temple of Christ and should be kept holy.
In Galatians, the letter Paul wrote teaches about faith and how Jews and Gentiles are saved. He teaches Christians the aspect that puts people to be right with God is not by adhering to the law but by faith to Jesus Christ and refers to the faith of Abraham (Williams, 2009). Paul stresses that the gospel of Christ is meant for all the people regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Paul also teaches the church and Christians on the ways of battling Satan and temptations. He stresses the use of the Holy Spirit in guidance of the Christians on every task they undertake and the need for prayers. The letter to Philippians teaches Christians on the need to be joyful and happy while serving the Lord (Philippians 4: 4 Good News Version). Paul teaches Christians and churches on the need to have hoped that Christ will resurrect and that they will rejoice when the Christ returns.
Paul taught the Christians on the need to comply with the teachings and the beliefs in Jesus Christ. He taught people through his letters that there was a need to comply with the laws of God and disregard the laws of the land. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasized the belief in Christ disregarding the norms and beliefs of their traditions.
Paul also taught the Christians in his epistles on the need to live in harmony with each other and the love and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6: 10. Good News Version). Paul taught the Christians and believers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to have hoped since Christ had died on the cross for all the believers in his teachings. Paul faced many challenges in his life including imprisonment which he used to encourage the Christians and the churches that the journey of Christianity was not as smooth as they thought (Müller, 1955). He used metaphors and other linguistic styles to describe his challenges to the Christians and give them hope after death. In one of his letters, he described his challenges as a race while in other he used the word fight to show the people how much he had struggled due to his belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his faith in God.
Paul taught Christians on the various ways they could relate with Jesus Christ through the help of the Holy Spirit. He spoke of reconciliation with God and his believers through the love of Jesus Christ who died because of their sins (Müller, 1955). Most scholars can thus argue that Paul continued the works started by Jesus Christ in making the will of the almighty God known to the world and the need to live a righteous life.
Paul taught the churches in various ways they need to ensure the relationships of Christians and non-Christians. For the purpose of this paper, the non-Christians are referred to as non-believers in the teaching of Jesus Christ or the gospel of God (Furnish, 2009). Christians were also addressed through the letters on the ways they should relate with non-believers. This shows that Paul was concerned with the harmony in the society and co-existence of different people in society.
From the teaching of Paul through the letters he wrote to various churches and individuals such as Philemon, we can see that he transformed the view of Christianity. Prior to the conversion of Paul, Christianity was confirmed to one community of the Jews who incorporated their traditions in Christianity and believed that one had to be circumcised to be a Christian (Furnish, 2009). However, Paul advised people to conform to the teaching of Jesus Christ and not their traditions. His teachings, on the other hand, did not lender well with the authorities and this led to his arrest at one time in Jerusalem.
Paul taught Christians especially the married couple on how they should relate with their spouses. In his letter to the Ephesians, he directs the wife to submit to their husbands and the husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5: 21. Good News Version). He teaches the spouses on the need to care for each other and to respect each other.
Chapter 3: Authorship, Authenticity, and Originality
Paul wrote most of his letters in his own words using his own hands as he describes in the book of (2 Thessalonians: 3.17. Good News Version). This shows the author of the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians was actually written by Paul himself using his own hand.
There are some of the Paul letters which have disputes on the author of the Letters. These contested letters include, “2nd Thessalonians”, “Colossians”, “Ephesians”, “1st and 2nd Timothy”, and “Titus”. Contested kinds of literature are considered as the ones are written using the school of thought of Paul or were the disciples of Paul who helped him in writing his letters. Paul had grown old and could not see clearly (Schreiner, 2011). Some of these letters were written after his death by the disciples but used his ideas in writings. The letters however continued with Paul’s mission and communicated his intended mission to the recipients.
Some scholars have questioned Paul’s authorship claims of the Epistle. In fact, some scholars consider the Epistle to Colossians as a “deutero-Pauline” implying that some of the language and vocabulary used in the Epistle was not common with Paul. In this case, it is being argued that the Epistle was written by one of the disciples of disciples (Schreiner, 2011). The disciple in this regard is said to have had a strong connection with the Apostle’s language and style of presenting his theological ideas. This explains the reason as to why though not exactly Paul’s style of writing is reflected in the Epistle, the style adopted has many similarities with his style of writing. Some scholars have also argued that the Epistle has a totally different vocabulary and words from the other Epistles written by Apostle Paul (Calvin, 2007). According to them, this makes the Epistle different and proves the fact that there is likelihood that it was not written by Paul. However, it is important to note that the Epistle was dealing with issues which were very unique as opposed to the other Epistles written by Paul. This is given as the reason as to why Paul might have considered to use a different language and different vocabulary as compared to the other Epistles.
Another important argument presented about the authorship of the Epistle to the Colossians is with regard to its theology. Scholars argue that the theology of this Epistle goes beyond the theology of other Epistles written by Paul (Calvin, 2007). Moreover, it is argued that the theology of Colossians goes beyond cosmological theology as it is categorized and that it is more of soteriological theology. At this time, the idea of Christ as the creator and the fullness God is much beyond the Paul. These are ideas that are derived from the Gospel of Saint John but they came out thousands of years alter. Moreover, Paul’s idea of Christ as he present it in the Colossians also appears in some of his other Epistles. For example, in 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul identifies Christ as whom all other things originated from and mankind lives with him (Schreiner, 2011). This is a clear indication of the fact that the idea of Christ being the sole origin of everything had already been imparted into his mind and was ready to make the idea gain popularity in Colossae and among his other converts. This is the main reason as to why he fronts this idea across the Epistle to the Colossians.
There have been questions as to Apostle Paul’s authorship of Ephesians. One of the arguments that have been presented in this dispute is the fact that the Epistle lacks an emphasis on justification which is common element to all Paul’s Epistles. However, Greer (2011)a theological scholar argues that this is not enough evidence to deny Paul the authorship of the Epistle. It is her assertion that justification is not the main message in most of the Epistles written by Paul and therefore no reason as to why it should repeated in all his Epistles. Paul might have decided to take a different approach during the writing of the Epistle due to some of the problems that the church might have been going through (Williams, 2009). Another argument is the fact that Paul fails to mention the death of Christ numerous times as he does in the other Epistles. Moreover, the cross is mentioned only ones in the Epistle which raises some concerns as to whether he is the one who wrote the Epistle or not. This is an argument that has been refuted on several grounds (Greer, 2011). For example, the cross is only mentioned ones in 1 Corinthians while it is mentioned three times in Galatians. It is therefore clear that this argument cannot be adopted as a reason to refute Paul’s authorship of the Ephesians. The reason for the difference in the use of various aspects in the Epistles is because of the fact that they address different issues and carry different messages to the churches in question. It is therefore critical that the authorship of the Epistle to the Ephesians be granted to Paul as it has so many similarities with other Epistles he wrote.
The Epistle to the Philippians has little or no dispute as to its authorship as some other Epistles. The authorship of the Epistle can be confirmed in the manner in which it is introduced in Philippians 1:1. Paul first identifies himself and Timothy as apostles of Christ. Scholars have indicated that fact that Paul’s authorship of the Epistle has been widely accepted by most theologians as well as the early church (Greer, 2011). This is also based on the style, remarks and content in the Epistle. It is much affiliated to Paul’s style and way of writing his Epistles. However, there is still a contentious issue arising from the contents of the Epistle. Paul notes that he wrote the Epistle from prison (Philippians 1:13-14 Good News Version).
The contentious issue is the exact period when Paul wrote the Epistle as he had been imprisoned several times. The first time he had been imprisoned was between 52 and 55 AD during his imprisonment in Ephesus. The second period of his imprisonment which can mark the specific time he must have written the Epistle was between 57 and 59 AD when he was imprisoned in Caesarea (Porter & Dyer, 2016). However, most scholars have the argument that the Epistle must have been written either in 61 AD or 62 AD while he had been put under house arrest in Rome (Act 28:16 Good News Version). It is also believed that the Epistle to the Philippians was written as a series of letters which were send to the converts in Philippi before they were compiled. On the other hand, the change in the content and tone of the Epistle makes some to believe that the Epistle was written in different parts at different times. For example, in the first two verses of chapter three, Paul transits from an exhortation tone to a joyous one (Porter & Dyer, 2016). He further moves from a rejoicing tone to a confrontational tone an aspect that has been witnessed in most of his Epistles.
1st Timothy, Titus, and 2nd Timothy are known as Pastoral Epistles because they include teachings about looking after the church. Paul was writing to his young co-workers, Timothy and Titus, who he addresses as his own sons. Their authorship has been the most debated with some critics disputing Pauline authorship, while there is stronger evidential defense of Pauline authorship. According to analysts there is a lot of similarities between 1 Timothy and Titus, but 2 Timothy is different indicating that the first two are from same author the other one a different author. The critics have based their arguments on chronological discrepancies, linguistic styles, instructional, ecclesiological, and doctrinal aspects.
Regarding chronological aspects, it is noted that nowhere in the book of Acts is mentioned about Paul going to Macedonia and leaving. Hence, for the critics, the book of 1 Timothy is not logically consequent of Acts, and the conclusion is that 1 Timothy was not written by Paul. In the same token, in Titus, it is mentioned that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:5) and that there is a time he stayed in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12), which are not indicated anywhere in the book of Acts. Based on that critics disqualify Titus as a Pauline Epistle. However, in support of Pauline authorship it is argued that it erroneous to think that all Paul’s letter should be in line with Acts’ events. As Date (2016) notes nowhere in the books of Acts is mentioned about Paul writing letters to the churches; this includes the undisputed Pauline epistles (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians). Therefore, it is not in order to single out Pastoral Epistles based on chronological argument.
Concerning linguistic style, it is identified that there is huge dissimilarity between the vocabulary used in Pastoral Epistles and other Pauline Epistles. It is shown that the Pastoral Epistles have 848 new words, and about a third of them cannot be found in the rest of the Pauline Epistle and 175 hapaxes. It is identified that different words are used to mean same thing in 1st and 2nd Timothy compared with other letters of Paul. In addition, the writing style of the Pastoral Epistles is distinguishable from other Epistles of Paul in terms of tone, grammar, and character. All these, according to critics, creates doubt on Paul’ authorship of the three Epistles. On the other hand, there is strong defense of authenticity of Pauline authorship of these Epistles despite their distinct linguistic style. As pointed out by Guthrie (1956), Paul was catching up with old age at the time of writing the Pastorals and this could have affected his writing style and language. Moreover, language could have transformed over generations until now when Paul is old and thus uses the day’s vocabulary which is distinguishable from the earlier years when he was writing other Epistles. The old age of Paul is evidenced in various verses of the Pastoral Epistles that depict an aging man’s tone (1 Tim 1:12 -17; 2 Tim 1:1-8; Titus 1:5 and 3; 12-13). Moreover, it is expected that at old age Paul would be reminiscing about the past, which makes the tone in Pastoral Epistles different from the previous Pauline Epistles, which he wrote when he was younger.
Still, in regard to linguistic style, it was common for authors to uses secretaries to write their ideas on their behalf. It is, therefore, possible that Pastoral Epistles were written by Paul’s secretaries on his behalf. This is demonstrated in Romans 16:22, where is found out that the Paul’s Epistle to Romans was written through a secretary known as Tertius as it states “I, Tertius, the writer of this letter …” The secretaries can have different writing style and grammar provided they write the correct message intended by the author.
In regard to ecclesiology, some skeptical schools of thought note that the church structure as portrayed in the Pastoral Epistles is unrealistic for a first century church. It is argued that it is in the second century when the church started having a definite hierarchical structure, therefore, titles such as described in 1 Timothy 3: 1-13, 1 Timothy 5: 17-20, and Titus 1: 5-7 could not be existing in the 1st century during Paul’s lifetime. In defense of Paul’s authorship concerning ecclesiology it has been shown that in Paul’s lifetime and during his missionary period, the church had already started having a hierarchical that included deacon and church elders. The supporters of Pauline authorship cite Acts 14: 23, where it states “In each church they appointed elders…” Furthermore, in Philippians 1:1 Paul addresses the “church leaders and helpers. “ It should be noted that Philippians is one of the unquestionable Epistles by Paul. This disapproves the critics assertion that in the first century. The fact is that church had already formed a sense of leadership structure during Paul’s lifetime, which proves Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. In the same vein, it can be argued that Paul had foreseen the church being “attacked” by false teachers and thud there was a necessity to establish structured church leadership to protect the church from such teachers.
It has been asserted that the theology or doctrinal aspects presented in the books of Timothy and Titus is more in line with second century context rather than 1st century. This is based on the observation that Gnosticism was common in the second century, hence, it is not plausible for Paul to write against it as seen in the Pastoral Epistles. In the same token, it is identified that the Pastoral Epistles’ doctrine of sin is very dissimilar from the rest of Pauline Epistles. For example, in 1 Timothy 1: 4 it talks about “legends and ancestors” discussions, which was common in the second century. Therefore, it is believed that the Pastoral Epistles were not authored by Paul. Nevertheless, the criticism have been disapproved by the fact that in the Pastoral Epistles Paul was simply against false teachings and distorted knowledge and not necessarily about Gnosticism. In addition, the Pastoral Epistles has some theological features that are consistent with the other Pauline Epistles; for example, description of Jesus or God as the Savior ( 1Th 5:9, Phil 3:20; 1 Tim 1:1; Titus 1: 3-4).
Although critics have disputed the internal evidence where in the salutation (1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1; and Titus 1:1) the author introduces himself as Paul there exists external proof that the Pastoral Epistles were indeed authored by Paul. Early Christian scholars and bishops who were close to the apostles held that the Pastorals were the works of Paul. These include Clement of Rome who in his letter to the church of Corinth acknowledges Paul as the author of the Pastoral Epistles, particular 1 and 2 Timothy. Others were Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyma both who were close to Apostle John. In addition, Tertullian and Iranaeus heavily referenced the New Testament including the Pastoral Epistles in their writings. It can be unbelievable for the church fathers to have supported unauthentic works in the Christian canon.
Language and Vocabulary
Paul wrote all his letters in Koine Greek language which was common among the audience he was targeting (Hampton, 2016). He used someone to write because he had eye problems but, in some letters, he wrote himself though with difficulty (Galatians 6:11 Good News Version). Though Latin was the official language since the Roman emperors were in power, Greek was used because it was the most common language of communication from Greece stressing to the north of Africa.
Paul’s epistles were first written in the Greek language and used the Greek vocabulary. Each letter Paul wrote had a different target and message and so he used diverse vocabulary when writing the different letters. Unique vocabulary is found in some of his letters comparing to the vocabulary used in the whole bible because he had to emphasize some points to the recipients of the letters (Porter & Dyer, 2016). There are some of the words Paul used in his Letters which cannot be found in any book in the bible including the old testament thus meaning his work was derived from his experience in his missionary work and the way he viewed the community or the audience he intended his work.
Paul used numerous Greek vocabularies while writing each epistle. This was because each letter was addressed to a different audience and covered different content. According to research, only 45% of vocabularies used by Paul in his epistles are found in the New Testament meaning that Paul had used a variety of words in his letters (Farms, 2019). Some letters like the Colossians have unique words which cannot be found anywhere. He uses terms like Paloma, epignosis, and gnosis in the book of Colossians to emphasize understanding of the spirit and wisdom (Hampton, 2018).
The letters of Apostle Paul were written in a certain format that had an introduction in the form of salutation. Most letters followed a standardized format which had various aspects. Paul’s letters were lengthy in nature because he needed to communicate various messages to a group or groups of people in the letters (Amodei, 2009). Paul also used the rhetorical style while writing his letters. In the letter to the Thessalonians, he starts by reviewing his relations with the Thessalonians and then follows with instructions and calls to the people as if he has no relations with them (Huntsman, 2006). Paul advises both the church and the Christians on the way to live right in Christ while he himself was involved in the persecution of Christians before, this shows rhetoric in his writings.
Paul’s letters were also full of the use of metaphor. Paul used metaphor to persuade his audience on the importance of living a righteous life and following the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul used metaphors and imagery in most of his letters for example when he refers to himself as the Hebrew born of Hebrews or when he refers to salvation as running the race with perseverance or when in Galatians, he says that he has fought the good fight and finished the race (Esswein, 2007). Paul can thus be regarded as a king in the usage of metaphors and imagery. He compares the life of a Christian to a race or a fight and the act of being saved to be a good fight (Konig, 2005). The use of metaphor in the epistles enabled Paul to relate the actual life of a person with the spiritual living thus presenting the message to the audience effectively.
Paul letters are significant to the theological concepts because they covered various aspects of Christianity and churches in a lengthy and comprehensive manner. The letters were written to cover various topics and guide the people on the teachings of the gospel and what God expected from them (O’Brien, 2009). These letters were written in different situations of Paul’s life and had diverse messages but they all followed a standard format.
The thirteen books attributed to Paul in the New Testament are all letters or epistles and are addressed to various recipients or audience. The letters are written as messages addressed to people or persons with a distinct format for each letter according to the audience (Gould, 1890). The relevance of the format in this paper is to connect the reader and the content in the letters and ensure smooth flow of the message to the recipients.
All the letters of Paul had an introduction section which was salutation making them formal in a certain way. Paul began his letters by greeting the audience or the intended recipient of the letters to connect himself to the recipients. The salutation was important because it showed the audience of the concerns Paul had to them and how much he cared for their welfare (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). From the salutation, he would then explain his situation when he was lettering to ensure the recipient develops an interest in the contents of the letters. In his different letters, he would explain his situation and the challenges he was going through and encourage the recipient on the need to have hope no matter the challenges they were facing in their lives.
Paul would then write the body of the letter and explain his messages using different examples and contexts in the Christian norms and beliefs. The modern theology has also the form of the letters of Paul in various aspects (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). Christians in the modern world have diverse doctrines and practices drawn from the teachings of Paul through the letters he wrote. The style Paul used in writing his letters is relevant because it is the basis of learning of theology and the relationship between the teachers of theology and their students.
Paul wrote the body of his letters in broad analysis and compared his life to the life of the recipients in order to encourage them because at the time there were many challenges facing Christians (Williams, 2009). Many people at the time had not known the gospel in lengthy and the will of God versus the laws of the land were conflicting areas to those who wanted to follow the gospel of Christ.
Some scholars argue that Paul used rhetoric in his letters because at the time he was writing the letters he had just converted to Christianity after persecuting Christians for a long time. The same people he used to arrest and kill and the same reasons he used to tease the followers of the gospel was what he was preaching through the letters (Williams, 2011). The same norms he could not subscribe to at first were the norms he was encouraging people were the right things to do in order to live eternally.
Another important style in Paul’s Epistles is the manner in which he introduces them. Most of the Epistles Paul wrote begins with a salutation. This is a style that is said to have been derived from Hellenistic letter which consisted of a greeting at the beginning followed by the body and lastly the conclusion (Greer, 2011). Typically in all the letters, Paul would identify himself in several ways. For example, he would identify himself as an “apostle” while in some of the letters he identified himself as a “servant.” Unlike the conventional and secular structure of any other greeting, Paul’s greetings always started with a benediction “grace and peace be upon you” (Furnish, 2009). Others started with a prayer, a doxology or even a thanksgiving for the work was doing in the lives of those he was addressing. The main purpose of a benediction was to affirm the spiritual blessing he conferring upon the converts and how it was important for them to follow his message and instructions.
In Romans, Paul began with a thanksgiving for the people in Rome. This is explained by the fact that he was writing to people he had no acquaintance to and therefore had to be formal rather than informal (Calvin, 2007). In his thanksgiving at the beginning of the letter, he thanks God for the faith the people of Rome had in God. According to him, the report on their faith had gone all over the world and it was time for him to recognize them for having such a strong and unwavering faith in God. In his salutation while writing Romans, went straight to the point to highlight some of the most important things he wanted to pass to the Romans (Furnish, 2009). For example, after salutation, he goes on to tell the Romans that there was no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles and that they were all equal before God.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul in his salutation identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus who was by the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1 Good News Version). He goes on to mention Sosthenes as a co-writer but according to his tone, he presents himself as the main writer of the Epistle. The thanksgiving at the beginning of the letter is conspicuous to the point that it commends the Corinthian church for having grown and its stability as far as the Spirit of God is concerned (Williams, 2009). It is after this that Paul identifies the fact that the church was lacking some aspects of love and care. These are some of the aspects that Paul wanted to address through the letter.
In Galatians, Paul identifies himself in the salutation as an apostle who was sent not by men or man but by Jesus Christ who was raised for the dead. It is from the salutation that Paul tends to give the theme of the letter to the Galatians. In the first place, Paul makes it clear that one of the aspects he was going to talk about was to defend his apostleship and its origin (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). This is because of the fact that the church had been invaded by apostles who were proclaiming the wrong message and had their apostleship origin from men. Moreover, Paul made it clear from the salutation that he was going to address the issue of the importance of sticking to the correct doctrine of Christ (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). It seems that the issue of doctrine had become a contentious one as confusion had cropped up in the church and most of the converts had no idea of how to differentiate the aspects.
In Ephesians, Paul also identifies himself as an apostle of Christ by the will of God. The salutation is followed by a long benediction with an exalted language and praise for the people of Ephesus and their faith in God. He also insists on his redemption by the blood of Christ an aspect he maintains all through the letter (Ephesians 1:4-7 Good News Version). He understands that it is through the redemption by the blood of Christ that his converts can be able to avoid any form of confusion of misrepresentation of the gospel of Christ. Paul also gives thanks for the people of Ephesus for the love and faith they had depicted in God. He also went on to pray for the church and all the believers in the church which is a very important aspect his Epistles (Ephesians 1:19 Good News Version). The long salutation given by Paul was a manifestation of the problem that facing the Ephesus church. One of the major themes that come out of the salutation is the theme of conflict within the church and he presents some of the ways the conflicts would be addressed by the believers in the church in Ephesus. The major theme of the Epistle is therefore brought out through the long salutation he gives at its beginning.
In the 1st Epistle to his spiritual son Timothy, Paul identifies himself as an apostle by the command of God. He also goes on to introduce the recipient of the letter as his spiritual son (1Timothy 1:2 Good News Version). In his salutation, he also gives thanks to the Lord for having appointed him to his service. This is a manifestation of the fact that Paul recognized God’s power and authority in his service and therefore a great aspect to be adopted by his spiritual son Timothy. As opposed to the first letter to Timothy, the second letter to Timothy identifies Paul as an apostle of Christ by God’s will. This is another time he identifies God’s will in his work as an apostle. This is also a clear indication of the fact that it was important for the church to consider and recognize God’s will in its operation and establishment (2 Timothy 1:6-7 Good News Version). The purpose of the long salutation was to encourage Timothy not to fear joining his struggle to spread the word of God. This is considering the fact that serving God had become a dangerous venture and there were persecutions everywhere.
The style used in writing Ephesians is an informal one. This is different from the Epistle to the Romans in which Apostle Paul uses a formal style. One of the reasons as to why Paul uses informal style in writing Ephesians is the fact that he was connected with the leaders and church members of Ephesus (Greer, 2011). In fact, most of the leaders in Ephesus regarded him as both a personal friend as well as spiritual friend to them. In this regard, it became easy for them to interact with the Apostle in an informal manner just like the letter was written. The Epistle is therefore read as a friendly letter to the people of Ephesus as it addresses several important issues (William, 2009). The issues are pointed out in a friendlier manner even with a consideration of the fact that the issues were serious and more pertinent. In this case, the letter should not be approached in a formal manner as the letter to the Romans. However, this is a factor that has led to serious problems among theologians as some of them tend to approach the letter in a more formal manner. The approach has therefore led to some misunderstandings on the message it passes to the modern church.
The Epistle to the Philippians is another Epistle by Paul that was written in an informal manner. Moreover, the Epistle reveals some important aspects such as a friendly and warm attitude towards of the writer. The style used in writing the letter is therefore the same as the one used in writing the letter to the Ephesians. In writing the letter to the Philippians, Paul addresses them in a friendly manner (Muller, 1955). For example, he uses the phrases “my beloved” as well as “my joy and crown.” The phrases are an indication of how he loved the people of Philippi and was ready to help them in addressing most of the problems the church was facing. Some scholars have argued that the friendly nature of the Epistle might have been as a result of the many gifts Paul received from them during some of his journeys (Schreiner, 2011). However, some scholars have opposed the argument and claim that the friendly nature of the Epistle is as a result of the connection the converts in Philippi had with Apostle Paul. Moreover, the reason for the friendly tone of the letter was to make the converts in Philippi to appreciate their friendship while the solve some of the issues Paul was addressing through the Epistle.
The Epistle to Philemon adopted the use of pathos in its structure. Pathos is a rhetoric technique that is intended at appealing to the feelings and emotions of the reader. Considering the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Epistle, it was essential for Paul to adopt the use of pathos to appeal to the emotions and feelings of Philemon (Muller, 1955). Paul was trying to appeal to Philemon to try and forget all his slave servant had done to him and embrace forgiveness. Moreover, Paul uses a convincing tone to let Philemon see the advantages of not following up the issue. In this case, he gives Philemon the advantages of forgiving Onesimus as part of his Christian life which he had just adopted through the Apostle. Moreover, Paul uses adfectus which is a technique that appeals to the heart and love in writing the letter (Muller, 1955). As noted by Aristotle, the main aim of using this technique was to demonstrate friendship and love among Christians. He wanted readers to understand that there is nothing one cannot forgive as Christ gave his life to forgive human beings.
Paul described his life using various metaphors and imagery to ensure he communicated his message effectively. He referred to his Christian life as a good fight and also as a race. The relevance of these metaphors and imagery is that the people could relate their lives with the situations in life which give them challenges.
Dynamism in Approach
The epistles were written to various audience or recipients to guide them on the ways of Christ. Paul was considering the righteousness and the morality of people in the leadership of the church and Christians when writing the letters. He was very much concerned by the way the people in the church behaved or related to each other in the environments they were living in.
Paul used his letters to guide the relations between the Christians and the non-believers. He regarded the followers of the gospel of Christ as Christians and did not discriminate on the race the followers were from and he saw himself as the prophet of the non-Jews (Meeks, 1998). Paul is thus seen as the bridge between the various races and Christians from diverse races. He was the person who introduced Christianity to the non-Jews and preached the gospel to all regardless of their tribes. Paul used the epistles to communicate the message of the crucified Messiah and his letters were viewed as an extraordinary way to communicate the gospel (Esswein, 2007). His approach to the gospel through the use of letters is regarded as unique and different from other preachers of the gospel such as Peter or Jesus himself.
The letters of Paul were dynamic since they conveyed the gospel to diverse recipients in different forms and style. Paul explained the true Christian to the people he wrote the letters to in a dynamic way which no on
The letters Apostle Paul wrote to the various audiences at his time were used to preach and let the people know about the word of God and his nature. To date, the letters of Paul are relevant to the Christians due to the applications the Christians can do according to the letters. Christians are able to know the various ways they can glorify the word of God through the references to the epistles of Paul (Milton, 2019). In his letter to the Galatians, Apostle Paul said that before the people in Galatia knew God were slaves of the earthly gods and was not recognized by the almighty God. Paul was thus formalizing the theology by letting the people of Galatia know the importance of knowing God and living a divine life.
In his letters, Paul addressed the leaders and the congregation of the churches and gave them the various principle of Christianity they had to follow to ensure they were within the rules of the supreme God.
Paul can be regarded as the father of Christian theology because he spent his apostolic life teaching the masses on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Up to date Epistles of Paul form the basis of most of Christian teachings and preaching. He was mentor of church leaders and guided them on how to execute the word of God to believer. For example, he mentored young church leaders such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon and then put them in charge of various churches. He asked them to stay true to the true word of God and always be ready to defend it from divisive and contradictive doctrines. The same message is still relevant today when there is an increasing prominence of controversial views about Christianity and religion as well as increased divisions in the Church. Church leaders should be in forefront in unifying the church and promptly addressing any views that might be trying to draw Christians away from the true Gospel. Furthermore, Paul set it clear that through Jesus Christ, everyone belongs to the family of believers of true God, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles, travelled from east to the west end teaching the word of God and not favouring one region over others.
CHAPTER 4: PERIOD AND POLITICS
Paul before Imprisonment
The life of Paul before imprisonment is characterized by the time he was a persecutor of the Christians and the time of his conversion to a Christian and preacher. According to acts (22:3 Good News Version), He was born as an Israelite in Tarsus of Cilicia though he was a citizen of Rome through his birth (Acts 22:28. Good News Version). Gamaliel taught Paul in Jerusalem as he was a Pharisee. Later Paul who was then known as Saul was actively involved in persecutions of Christians the most notable being that of Stephanie where he confirmed the death of the Christian. Paul involved in active persecution of Christians and on his way to Damascus to carry out more persecutions the Lord appeared to him through a vision and he became converted to a Christian. Paul went to Damascus after conversion and later went to Arabia (Acts 9:30 Good News Version). From Arabia, Paul went to Damascus and when he was threatened, he fled the city to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, Paul was also threatened and he fled to Tarsus.
Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to meet Paul and the two made a series of tours preaching the gospel. They were joined by John and Mark and they later separate due to famine. They later preach in Cyprus and Salamis and then to Antioch (Acts 13:14 Good News Version). Paul and Barnabas then went to Lystra where they were mistaken for gods and were stoned to near death. They however survived and went to “Derbe” where they spoke the teachings of Jesus Christ. From Lystra, they went to Cyprus where they unite with Mark and John (Furnish, 2009). They later meet Timothy in Lystra and preach the gospel together. The preachers then go to Neapolis from Troas where Paul meets Lydia (Acts 16: 11 Good News Version). Then Paul and Silas go to Philippi where they are arrested for casting out a demon from a young girl.
After the arrest and locking in, the prisons doors open miraculously and they flee from Philippi to Berea where Paul leaves Timothy and Silas (Acts 17:10 Good News Version). Paul then makes a series of mission works until he goes to Jerusalem where he is arrested and causes a commotion in the city. At his arrest, Paul makes a speech to the crowd where he tells them of his conversion and the mission to spread the teachings of God to the other tribes. The crowd becomes angry at him for saying that he was called by God to preach to the Gentiles and decides to kill him (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). He is saved by the commander of the Roman army after giving an address to the crowd and is locked up. Some Jewish leaders vow to kill Paul and they meet to plan the execution where they vow not to eat until they had killed Paul. Paul then is tried by the governor and Agrippa after which he flees to Rome.
It is during this pre-imprisonment period the first group of Paul’s Epistles were written. There are sometimes referred to as travel letters because there written while Paul was travelling from one place to another ministering the word the word God and establishing church communities. They include 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans and Galatians. Compared with the events in the book of Acts (Acts 17) first and second Thessalonians were the first letters as Paul was ministering in Thessalonica. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul addresses the coming back of Jesus Christ and where believers should always be prepared. In 2 Thessalonians explains further about Christ’s return. During the period he was writing the letters to Thessalonians, it was not long since the Jesus ascended to heaven and had promised of his return. Many believers of the day did not expect him to stay for long while at the believing on His return was very essential in spreading Christianity (though it was not yet referred to as such but simply followers of Jesus). Therefore, Paul took up the responsibility of explaining to people about His return and why they always stay prepared.
The two letters to Corinthians were written probably about two years apart. Paul wrote 1st Corinthians while in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-22, 1 Cor. 16) while 2nd Corinthians was composed when he was heading to Corinth from Macedonia (Acts 20: 1 and 2 Cor. 7:6-16). In the 1st letter to Corinthians Paul addresses issues that are experienced and emerging in the Corinthian society. The issues focused on include divisions in the church, human wisdom, immorality, and ethics (Chapter 1 to 7). In 1 Cor. 1: 10 he states “…I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with one thought and one purpose”. Moreover, it is in this letter that he outlines the value of each individual in spreading the word of the Lord and the need for cooperation since everyone is gifted differently. He also gives an extensive elaboration of what love entails (1 Cor. 13). The second letter to Corinthians lacks the flow seen in the first letter, and appears like a compilation of short letters, which are more personal and less doctrinal. The themes covered include sacrificial suffering, Reflection of God’s image, and righteousness. From chapter 5 he defends his authority and Apostolate.
Epistles to Romans and Galatians were written almost the same period (Acts 19:21, 20:3,4; Rom. 15: 26) when Paul was about to leave Corinth. In Romans 16:23 mentions about his host, Gaius, a Corinth resident (1 Cor. 1:14); in the same chapter (Rom. 16:1-2) there is mention of a women, Phoebe, from Cencrea, which is not far from Corinth. All this indicate that the letter to Romans was written while Paul was still in Corinth but about to leave. Regarding the content and context of letter to Romans, it is the longest of the epistles and contains more details about Christian life. It includes a description of a true believer and way of salvation. In Romans 3:23 he states that there is only one way of salvation, and that is by God’s grace and believing in Jesus rather than observing traditional Jewish laws. It is in this letter that Paul portrays his true belief in universal Christian religion rather than being confined in traditional beliefs. For example, he states that physical circumcision is not a requirement for one to be a true believer (Romans 2:25- 29). Specifically, in Rom. 2: 28 -29 he writes “…Who is real Jew, truly circumcised? It is not the man who is a Jew on the outside, whose circumcision is a physical thing. Rather, the real Jew is a person who is Jew on the inside, that is, whose heart has been circumcised…” The doctrinal themes presented in this Epistle include justification, condemnation,and consecration (Hu, 2013).. This letter to the Romans was written directly written for the Romans, but it alsoaddresses the general Christian fraternity and those willing to follow Jesus Christ. In that time Paul knew there were conflicts in the Roman church between Jews and Gentiles and thus he was advising the Romans live in love, charity, humility, submission, and forgiveness. He uses this letter to correct and condemn the Jews who were reluctant of being categorized alongside gentiles as they held a belief that they were the “chosen” people and their traditions are superior to those gentiles. On other matters, Paul talks about his plan to visit the Roman church and asking for their support in his journey to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28). In the Paul visits Rome but as a prisoner.
In the letter to Galatians, Paul addresses the churches of Galatia that he and fellow brethren had established in their first missionary journey which is mentioned in Acts 16:6 and 18:23. In this epistle, Paul re-echoes some of the things he had mentioned in the letter to Romans, such as being connected to God through faith is not by law or circumcision. To demonstrate his strong belief in faith religion he describes how he openly disagreed with Peter about interacting with the gentiles who were not circumcised where Peter had tried to distance himself from the gentiles when he was approached by Jews. It is the book of Galatians that Paul outlines the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), which every true believer should have.
Imprisonment and Epistles
The imprisonment epistles are referred to as the Epistle Paul wrote when he was in his first year under the Roman arrest. Paul was arrested and accused of going against the teachings of law and was held under arrest for two years. These letters include Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. In three of his four imprisonment letters, Paul wrote to the churches he had already started in his second missionary journey (Demarest, 2018). He expressed his great concerns for the people he had recruited to the gospel and expressed his love to the people he took as his spiritual children.
In his letters to the churches he had started, Paul dealt with various areas of theological aspects like the way people compared circumcision and other Jewish rituals to Christianity and advised them that the most important thing was to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15 Good News Version). In his letters, Paul stresses the need for Christians to understand faith in God because it’s the most important thing to do. In the letter to the Philippians, which is regarded as Paul’s most joyful letter, he tells the Christians to rejoice in the lord despite the troubles and the problems they face in life.
He encourages Christians to have faith and hope in Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:4 Good News Version). Paul advises Christians to have an impact in the society and refers to the impact to the light of the world where he tells the Christians to shine to the world (Philippians 2:14 Good News Version). He encourages the Christians to outshine the unrighteous, the sinful and the corrupt who live among them.
Apostle Paul spent about three years in Ephesus which was during his third missionary journey. In all indications, some groups had started forming up making it possible for Paul to talk to them and spread the word of God (Acts 19:1 Good News Version). According to a recount of the New Testament, Paul respected all the converts in Ephesus and this made it easy for him to arrange meetings with them while on his way to Jerusalem in preparation for his journey to Rome (Acts 20:17-37 Good News Version). However, during the time Ephesians was being written, the Apostle had already completed his journey and he was being held in Rome. Paul decided to write this letter to restore harmony and bond between the Jews and the Gentiles who had sidelined each other. It is argued that even though Paul wanted to bring the two together through preaching, he also took the opportunity to remind the Gentiles about their indebtedness to God and the people of Israel (Ephesians 12:2 Good News Version). Paul while writing the letter also gives a strong authority statement that confirms his leadership and control. He let the people of the Ephesus understand that he is still in charge and that they still needed to consult him about many aspects in their Christian lives (Mearns, 1987). There is also another viewpoint about Ephesians which makes it different from the other letters he wrote. For example, in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, Paul refers to the resurrection of Christ in the future tense. This signified the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, in Ephesians, Apostle Paul refers to Christ’s resurrection as a present experience (Ephesians 2:1-6 Good News Version). The technique is used to make reference to the baptism of Christians. Moreover, the technique makes the letter to be associated with a higher character as compared to the other letter written by Paul before he was imprisoned.
There are several clear differences between the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Philippians. As noted from his teachings and direction, the church in Ephesians was characterized with two main problems. First, there was the problem of racial prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. Secondly, there was the problem of doctrine and Paul used the letter to straighten things (Stendahl, 1977). The church in Philippi had none of these of problems and this makes it a unique Epistle of Paul during his imprisonment period. Another important characteristic of the letter to the Philippians is that it was a friendly letter in which Paul engaged the church on more friendly terms. Moreover, the Epistle was not written to address certain problems but was written as a response to the earlier communication he had received from the Philippians. Some theologians and analysts have argued that the Epistle was a thank you letter for the people Philippians in the manner in which they conducted themselves in Christianity (O’Brien, 2009). Moreover, when words on Paul’s imprisonment in Rome reached the Philippians, Lydia and other people in Philippi decided to send some gifts to him. It should be noted that this was not the first time the people of Philippi were doing the same. Earlier on during his journey to Thessalonica, they had also facilitated his stay in the place (Philippians 4: 14-16 Good News Version). The gifts in question constituted food, money, among other items which were given to Epaphroditus as he was the one who took them to Rome where Paul had been held. Epaphroditus had fallen ill immediately he arrived in Rome and due to Paul’s prayers he had gotten well (Philippians 2: 7 Good News Version). He, therefore, wrote the message to the Philippians while sending Epaphroditus back to Philippi after paying him a visit and falling sick in what Paul described as homesickness.
A casual reading of the Epistle to the Colossians reveals several similarities with the Epistle to the Ephesians. Even though the two Epistles are said to be similar, they still have some differences in the issues they address. Some scholars have noted that the Apostle Paul was not the founder of the church in Colossae. This is evident when he claims that some of the converts in Colossae had not seen his face (Colossians 2:1 Good News Version). Moreover, it is claimed that the phraseology of the Epistle is not that intimate as the Epistle to the Ephesians indicating that there was no initial connection between Paul and the church in Colosae. However, even with the less connection between the church and the Apostle, the church still has many of Paul’s converts. Moreover, they still acknowledged and respected Apostle Paul’s leadership and authority as far as the church was concerned (Porter & Dyer, 2016). The origin of this Epistle is based on the report that was given to Paul by Epaphras while in Rome. This reflects the same instance and circumstance as the Epistle to the Ephesians. According to Epaphras, while the Gentiles and the Jews were in agreement, there was another major problem in the church. The problem was that many of the converts were struggling with Gnostic Christian teachings that were cropping up. It is due to this that Paul through this Epistle gave a stern warning to all the converts against following the teachings (Colossians 2:8 Good News Version). Apostle Paul encourages them to follow the message of Christ as opposed to following other doctrines which would mislead them into committing a lot of sin in the church.
Apostle Paul also uses the Epistle to bring out the development in thought among Christians in Colossae. For example, in Colossians 1:3 he claims that Christians had died and had risen up in Christ as a result of the bond that had been broken through Christ’s death on the cross (Porter & Dyer, 2016). In Colossians 3:1-3 Paul advices the church to focus on those things that are high above now that they has been saved by Christ. This means that converts have to surrender their sins and be born again after which they can develop into seeking God’s presence and Kingdom. The church of Colossae was therefore being encouraged to consider the spiritual development as a way of shunning away all the wrong doctrines that coming up. The doctrines according to Paul were designed to distract them from salvation and believing in Jesus Christ.
Philemon letter which is regarded as the only letter Paul wrote to an individual recipient, Paul begs for forgiveness. He refers to the recipient as a fellow laborer and a friend (Philemon1:11 Good News Version). The main message in the letter to Philemon is forgiveness and he also stresses the power of Jesus Christ (McGee, 2017). Paul in the letter to Philemon stresses on the need to end slavery and the need of the master and the slave to know Christ. The Epistle to Philemon was one of the letters in the bible that was addressed to a person. Philemon was a wealthy and influential man in Colossae. He was one of the persons who had been converted by Apostle Paul and the two had a deep connection. Philemon had some slaves who served him and one of the slaves was Onesimus. Onesimus while serving his master Philemon robbed him and ran away with the items he had taken (Porter & Dyer, 2016). According to the regulations during that time, any runaway slave would be beaten to death once he/she was caught. To avoid being caught and dying, Onesimus took off to Rome where he met Paul. After confessing to being a runaway slave, Paul helped him convert and wanted to use him a messenger to Colossae. Paul liked to use other people in conveying his messages to the various churches he handled (Porter & Dyer, 2016). He, therefore, decided to write this Epistle to Philemon reminding him of his conversion and the need to remain focused on the cross.
It is therefore important for the readers of this Epistle to take a keen interest in the manner Paul presents his requests to Philemon and how he advances his argument thereafter. He even goes to the extent of committing himself for the payment of what had been stolen from Philemon by Onesimus. He requests him to put the debt on his account but also reminds him about his commitment to him as an Apostle of Christ (Philemon 1:18-20 Good News Version). The reason he reminds him of their connection is the fact that in Colossae during that time, a request made by a master would not be denied. This is, therefore, a very important Epistle as far as the aspect of forgiveness is concerned. Moreover, Paul insistence to Philemon about letting the debt Onesimus owed him to go was a manifestation of the fact that the church in Colossae had to embrace forgiveness (Schreiner, 2011). Moreover, it shows how Paul wanted the church in Colossae to appreciate the fact that material things were not of any significance as compared to embracing Jesus Christ and following his commands and directions as he directed them.
It is established that there was a probability Paul was released from prison and continued with his journeys including Spain as evidenced in Clement of Rome letter (Murrell, 2011). As afore-noted, pastoral epistles are the most debated regarding their authorship with some critics disputing Paul as their author. At the same time there is strong evidence in defense of Pauline authorship. In this section, the focus will not be on authorship as it is concluded that they are Pauline Epistles. Furthermore, the three epistles whether Paul or his pupils authored them their content and context is within the Christian church doctrine and what it would be expected from an aging Paul who wants to leave a stable church. It can be asked why did Paul write Pastoral Epistles last and not in the beginning when he was establishing the churches. The Pastoral Epistles are about church management and leadership, and countering false teachings. Normally, it would be expected that one starts by establishing the church rules and structure and then going on outreach to bring in more believers. However, in the case of Paul it is sensible to build a community of believers and show them the ways of practicing their faith and then setting the church management structures and rules.
In first letter to Timothy, the main theme being wary of false teachings, the orderliness of the church and how believer should conduct themselves. In chapter one he describes signs and characteristics of false teachers; he states that they “want to be teachers of God’s law, by they do not understand their own words….” (1 Tim. 1:7). Similarly, in the book Titus it is stated “…they are upsetting the whole families by teaching what they should not…”This was a period that the church was getting strong roots in different regions where the ministry of Paul had reached and it was important to maintain those roots by opposing any negative forces.
The unifying themes of Paul’s Epistles is church unity and spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ is the savior of all humankind. These themes are prominent in all the thirteen epistles despite being tailor made to address specific issues. In travel epistles (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans) young churches and community of believers to remain together since divisions would retrogress the efforts to being made to make the church stand. In Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy , 2 Timothy, and Titus) it is about leading church in order to overcome opposition from false teachings.
The imprisonment epistles present away the Christians and followers of the gospel of Jesus Christ should relate and live in the world. The epistles encourage Christians by stressing the powers of Jesus Christ and give them hope of believing and having faith in Jesus. The imprison epistles also serve to show the need for forgiveness to those who mistreat or wrong us as Christians.
Despite being in prison as he calls himself a prisoner awaiting trial, Paul calls for Christians to rejoice in the lord (O’Neal, 2017). The letters convey the message that true Christians should not concern themselves with the ways of the world and that the faith in Christ is the vital aspect of salvation and Christianity. The rituals and practices of our races and societies are not necessary for salvation and things like circumcision and other rites are not as important as our faith in Christ.
Paul represents himself in the letters as a prisoner in Christ which encourages Christians that no matter the situation God and our faith in salvation should be the last resort. The teachings of God should be followed at all times regardless of the difficulties the Christians face while serving the Lord.
The Pauline Epistles comprises much of how Christian unity is built upon salvation. In the theme of unity, the epistles expound various phenomena concerning the doctrine, such as sanctification, justification, reconciliation, and redemption. To ensure the unity of the doctrine, the epistles give significant teaching concerning contradicting issues such as predestination, election, the humanity of Christ, the judgment of the eternal life, and the relationship of God with Israel (Adams, 2018). The epistles of Paul are significant in giving the key aspects of unity, such as how the church function, skills of the spiritual gifts, qualification of the Christianity doctrine leaders, and the connection between law and grace among the followers of Christ. The teaching of Paul brings the unity of the bibles since they inline with the teachings of Jesus Christ contained in the Gospels (Kim, 2018). This obeys the fact that all the scriptures are God-breathed, where the Holy Spirit inspired them. Hence Pauline epistles as other books in the bible emphasize the unity of the Holy Spirit.
In the first and the second Corinthians, the theme of unity is well portrayed in the majority of the teaching of Paul. Paul visited Corinth, which was the famous Greek city, and spread many messages concerning peace and unity to churches in Corinth and its outskirts (Echevarria, 2019). The main message in his teaching that ensured unity among the individuals in Corinth is the joy of existence, the passion of freedom, rebuke against corruption, and intelligence for rhetorics. The salutation and thank giving are well illustrated in the first Corinthians as one aspect of ensuring unity among people and God (1Corinthians1:1-9, good news Bible). In 1st Corinthians 1:10, Paul rebuked against the inadequacy of unity among the Corinthian churches. He points out the spirit of partisan an insubordination has dominated the majority of the churches, thus hindering unity among the believers. In 1st Corinthians 7:1-40, Paul talks more about the unity in the marital cohabitation. Paul points out that it is good for a man to remain single, but because of immorality, the man is supposed to have a wife, and a woman is supposed to have a husband. Husband and wife are supposed to live in unity loving and caring for one another. Furthermore, Paul talks about unity among the poor Christians. He rebukes the aspects of extortion of poor Christians; he states that they are supposed to be saluted as any other member of the church since Jesus Christ is the sign of unity in the church.
The uncertainties in the churches as a hindrance to church unity are being addressed in the epistles. The uncertainty was experienced in the northern sides of Galatia and Ancyra. Paul visited the two areas in his effort to spread the messages of unifying the churches. Paul visited the Galatia churches on three occasions. In this journey to Galatia churches, he wrote Galatians epistles as a tool to unify the church(Hook, 2015). The book was focusing on the doctrine of righteousness by faith and confirms the value of having a spiritual religion, which contravenes external religious. The theology must demonstrate the act of faith in their success of work (Galatians 3:1-4, good news Bible). Christian should have high principles of faith to unite them to the church as well as God. The return of Judaism was a denial of the liberty of Christianity (Galatians 5: 1-12, good news Bible). When Christian liberty is restricted, the unity of the church is restricted. Hence Christian must maintain faithfulness to the doctrine for the unity to prevail.
The book of Ephesians, similar to the book of Galatians and Romans, occupies a significant part in unifying the Protestants churches today. Among the protestant churches that started mushrooming in the globe in the 16th century, they were given the perfect formula of unity by the messages delivered by Paul. The church unity in epistles has a significant impact on the clergies and the church leaders. Ephesians 4:1, indicate that the main elements necessitated enhancing the spirit of peace and unity. These elements are one body, one hope, one spirit one Lord, one baptism and one faith and one God (Ephesians 4:4-6, good news bible)
One body is a good example of unity that Paul used to refer to the church. In this symbolic explanation, Paul indicated that the church members are like various components of the body where every part has a specific function and operates differently, but United in the same body. In the 1st Corinthians 12:12-14, Paul stressed that realization of the capability of these body components forms important functions of the church. The church, as the body with various parts as the members of the church, must coordinate with Jesus Christ, acting as the head. As a result, unity is produced (Hook, 2015). The act of recognizing Jesus Christ as the head and the church as the body would, in turn, end the dispute that may be realized between different churches. Jesus brings together all churches through his death on the cross since only one body was crucified (Ephesians 2: 19, good news Bible). Paul indicated where the church has united the spirit of harmony and peace must be revealed.
Holy Spirit is one symbol of unity in the church. Christians are supposed to be born again with sprit and water. That means all Christians are united with one spirit of the Holy Spirit. Trough the birth with the Holy Spirit, life is termed to regenerate. Under the direction and leadership of the holy trinity, members of the church are expected to live in harmony with the absence of disunity (Son, 2019). Paul emphasized the act of baptism, where He stated that in one spirit, make Christian be baptized in one body no matter whether they are Jews or the gentiles (1 Corinthians 12:13, good news Bible). This aspect of one spirit brings the theme of unity among a different ethnic, cultural, and religious group of people. People of different diversities can unite together in one church due to the aspect of one Spirit.
The theme of unity and unity in the church are well illustrated in the Pauline epistles in good news bible. Through his journey across various churches (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans), Paul demonstrated how the unity of various church communities could be portrayed. In Corinthians, Paul rebuked activities that were destroying the unity in the church. He also indicates ways that Christians are supposed to use to ensure that they have maintained unity in marriage. In Ephesians, Paul demonstrated elements that are supposed to be considered to ensure that unity in the church. Such elements are like one God, one Body, one spirit, and one Lord.
CHAPTER 5: PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH PAUL’S EPISTLES
The letters of Paul are letters attributed to the Apostle which he wrote to various audiences when he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some letters are however disputed to be written by Apostle Paul but are attributed to him because of his influence during the period the letters were inscribed. The epistles were written specifically concerning various aspects of Christianity and the conduct of Christians and the church at large in different places. Paul addresses sinners as well as the Christians in his letters and talks of the need for Christian’s relations to other Christians and also to sinners (Williams, 2009). Paul compiles the epistles in which he advises the church and predicts the future of the church and the need for the church to incorporate all races including the Gentiles. The Gospel according to Paul was not only meant for the Jews but also the tribes in other races.
There were conflicts among the early compilers of the Epistles into the bible. For example, one Marcion included only ten epistles in his collection and disregarded the rest, including Pastoral Epistles (Truthnet.org, n.d). However, his canon was strongly opposed as described as false doctrine of gnostic (Murrel, 2011). It can be seen that the early believer had strong doctrinal foundation and thus they were able to defend the appropriate compilation of the Paul’s Epistles. This can be attributed by Paul’s teachings about being cautious of false teaching.
The epistles, however, occupy a fourth of the New Testament and are listed according to the order in which they were written. However, chronological analysis by different scholar have shown that the way the Pauline Epistles are arranged in the Bible may not be in the order in which they were written. The agreement by many is that Thessalonians was the first letter, written at around 52 AD; there no disputes regarding Pauline authorship of these first two letters (1st and 2nd Thessalonians). However, it the New Testament bible, the books of Thessalonians are arranged almost at the end of Pauline epistles just before the Pastoral Epistles. The reason for not placing the Epistles to the Thessalonians immediately after the book of Acts but after prison Epistles is not clearly understood. The two letters to the Corinthians were written at around 55 AD to 57 AD, the same period with Galatians. In the New Testament, these letters follow each other in that order (1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians and Galatians) but they are put after Romans. Romans was probably the fourth epistle to be written at around 58 AD although in the Bible it is first book after the book of Acts. It can be argued that those who were compiling the bible saw that it was the most detailed Pauline letter containing more broad teachings of Gospels to the Christians (Bible.org, n.d). Paul was not addressing a specific aspect in the letter to Romans but was aimed at giving an in-depth gospel message concerning justification, sanctification, and glorification. At the same time he was announcing his plan to visit Rome; this shows that he did not directly establish the Church of Rome but as the main Apostle of Christ to the gentiles he was concerned about the affairs of every church beyond Palestine. The four imprisonment epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) were written at around 62 to 63 AD in Roman prison (Langford, 2007). The Pastoral Epistles were the last to be written at around 64 to 68 AD (Langford, 2007).The Pastorals were written last to guide the church leaders on the way forward to lead the church after the departure of Paul.
Paul’s motive in writing the letters was mainly to preach the Gospel of God (Holmes, 2003). He was mandated to preach the gospel of God and he claims the mandate at least forty-five times in the epistles (1 Corinthians 9:16 Good News Version). The other motive of the epistles was to start churches where they were not established. He referred to the gospel of God as the light of the world and was using the letters to spread and share the light to the places which it could not reach.
In the general objective of Paul writing the letters was to address the issues that laying on the way of spreading the Gospel in the Greek-Roman world and other areas. Specifically, Paul uses the letters to popularize the Jesus Christ as the savior in the world; in 1 Timothy 2: 2 -7, he writes that he was sent to tell the truth about the savior, Jesus Christ. Further, Colossians 1 he emphasizes on the on the greatness of Jesus name and His position in uniting men with God.
Paul used the letters to show the world and people the love God and Jesus Christ had for the world. The Epistles stress the reasons Jesus died on the cross and the ways in which the almighty God gave people a second chance to redeem from their sinful ways and patterns (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). Paul says in the letters that Christ lives within his followers and that they were promised of a new life after death where they will rejoice with him after death.
Paul uses the letters to advocate for the word, love, and grace of Christ. He stressed the strength of the Holy Spirit in leading the Christians in righteous ways and gives the Christians hope and good life after death (Calvin & Calvin, 1996). Paul encourages the Christians that Gods love is unending and that they should always face life with courage and faith in the gospel and that no evil can overwhelm them as long as they believe in God. He insists that the believers should share the some love as God has on them. In the book of 1st Corinthians (1 Cor. 13) he describes to them what love is and what is not. The intention is to encourage the believer to live a life of true love and not a pretentious one. He insists that “…the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13: 13) because without it others factors are meaningless. His teaching about love is in line with Jesus’s teachings that emphasized love as the overall commandment.
Paul wrote the letters to encourage the young churches to stand strong and not to relent despite the opposition they had been facing. There are numerous chapters and verses that demonstrate Paul addressing the issues of early believers and church, which are still very relevant to today’s church and Christians. Issues that he addresses include, church division (1 Cor. 3), church discipline (1 Cor. 5), Church organization (1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4) giving to church (Philemon 4, 1 Corinthians 16), and ideal characteristics of those in church leadership (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Besides he gives directions on the appropriate utilization of Spiritual Gifts by the believers (I Corinthians 12, 13), marriage relationships and interaction with slaves (Ephesians 5, 6 and Colossians 3), and awareness of future events (1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4 to 5, and 2 Thessalonians 2) and how lawsuits are to be applied (1 Corinthians 6). In the Epistles to Romans and Galatians Paul main motive is to make the believers understand the meaning of remaining in Christ.
The first chapter of Romans is about thanksgiving; Paul is giving thanks to God for faith. Paul is eager to preach so that he can impart some spiritual gift to the people, Paul feels like he is under obligation both to believers and non-believers to preach the gospel. Paul proclaims that he is not ashamed of the gospel because the power of God for salvation is to everyone who believes through faith. Paul talks about Grace and how Christians are saved by God’s grace. The word Grace is mentioned several times in the book of Romans. Eighteen times more than in any other book in the New Testament. The letter to the Romans begins with the ways of a Christian “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5, 16:26).
It is also seen that Paul wrote the letters to portray himself as an example of God’s work because he was transformed from a prosecutor of believer to a “father” of believers. When he converted his name was changed from Saul to Paul. In first letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 1: 12-14) he describes the mercy of God through Christ showed him and transformed him. He states “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength for my work. I thank Him for considering me worthy and appointing me to serve him, even though in the past I spoke evil of him and persecuted and insulted him….” (1 Tim. 1: 12-14 Good News Bible). In Philemon 3: 4-6 he describes his former self before he was saved by Jesus Christ. He gives himself as a practical testimony of the greatness of Jesus Christ as the savior of the sinners.
Paul uses the letters to defend the church against false teachers and unchristian doctrine that was trying to penetrate into the church. For example, there was emerging ideas that believers should become Jews by following the law. In Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 addresses the heresy concerning the Christ’s nature and his deity.
The only Epistle that is a bit confusing about Paul’s teaching especially towards women. Unlike in the book of Ephesians where Paul portrays women as lovable and deserving attention from their husbands, in 1 Timothy 2, Paul is too restrictive on women and their behaviors. Going by other Pauline epistle Paul is seen to more liberal than conservative regarding traditional practices. I would be expected that in the later letters he would retain the same spirit and not put in such a lower level compared to men. This could be one of the reasons Pauline authorship of Timothy was doubtful among some church scholars. However, in the Epistle to Corinthians, which Pauline authorship is undisputable, it indicate the same point about women (1 Cor. 14:34). Nevertheless, Paul was a person of his time, and he had to address some issues in the context of that time and to the specific cases affect different churches (Timpson, n.d). The early churches were sometimes chaotic and had leadership wrangles since there was established leadership structures yet, hence Paul had to give solutions that would be practical to help the churches from crumbling during such times. Hence, since most cultures including Jew were strongly paternalistic, where it was not common to have women in leadership it can be argued that Paul took that cultural dimensions to address the leadership issues in some churches.
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The epistles of Paul were written to various audiences and recipients to convey different messages to the people. Paul placed himself as a missionary, preacher of the gospel, teacher and an apostle of Christ. Paul was concerned with the wellbeing of the people and so he gave them messages of goodwill and encouragements through the epistles.
Paul used the epistles to convey the fundamental principles of the church and Christianity and also the doctrines to guide the conduct of Christians in the society (O’Neal, 2018). The epistles Paul wrote were about salvation, the grace of God, faith, and holiness. Paul concentrated on the churches in his letter to the Corinthians and gave them instructions on how to survive in the sinful society they were living. He told them the need to unite as churches and live in harmony with the other churches.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul warned the Galatians against false prophets and teachers and the need to remain clean and have great faith. He also advises Christians to avoid bad practices that were not important in their salvation. Paul wrote then letters to teach people on the right ways to live as believers of the gospel of God and discourage them from living in the ways of the world (Sanders, & Pelikan, 2018). He stressed the need to have joy as followers of the word of God even if they were facing various challenges in their lives.
Paul used his letters to advise and clarify some principles and doctrines of the gospel and also remind the people on the second coming of Jesus Christ (O’Neal, 2018). The epistles stress the authority of Christ against all other practices and all beings in the world and direct Christians to follow the teachings of God and his laws without fear.
The epistles of Paul can be said to have been written to diverse audiences or recipients. The most important recipient of the letters is the church of Christ in general. The letters were addressed to the churches to instruct, guide and articulate various principles and the doctrines of the church. The mode in which Paul wrote the letters depended on the society the church was established and the circumstances the church was facing.
The letters were also meant to individual Christians in society. Paul wrote the letters to encourage individual Christians and advise them on various aspects of the gospel. Paul used metaphors in his letters to compare different situations of life the Christians were facing at the time he wrote the epistles. He compared his life to a race or a fight to stress the difficulties he himself had faced in his work as a preacher and a missionary.
The letters of Paul are useful to our Christian life up to date. The modern Christian faces many challenges and could use the epistles to draw motivation and hope in the name of Christ. The letters could thus be said to have been written to Christians and churches of Christ even in the modern world.
Generally, the importance of Paul’s epistles cannot be exhausted since they cover different aspects of our Christian life. Paul letters gave birth to the doctrines and principles of many churches in the world and are observed up to date.
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