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Pauline Epistles

See also Paul; the titles of individual epistles

Fourteen books in the New Testament that were originally letters written by the Apostle Paul to members of the Church. They may be divided into groups as follows:

1 and 2 Thessalonians (A.D. 50–51)

Paul wrote the epistles to the Thessalonians from Corinth during his second missionary journey. His work in Thessalonica is described in Acts 17. He wanted to return to Thessalonica, but he was unable to do so (1 Thes. 2:18). He therefore sent Timothy to cheer the converts and bring him word about how they were doing. The first epistle is the outcome of his thankfulness on Timothy’s return. The second epistle was written a short time later.

1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans (A.D. 55–57)

Paul wrote the epistles to the Corinthians during his third missionary journey to answer questions and correct disorder among the Saints in Corinth.

The epistle to the Galatians may have been written to many Church units throughout Galatia. Some members of the Church were abandoning the gospel in favor of the Jewish law. In this letter, Paul explained the purpose of the law of Moses and the value of a spiritual religion.

Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans from Corinth, in part to prepare the Roman Saints for a visit he hoped to make to them. This letter also reaffirms doctrines that were being disputed by some Jews who had converted to Christianity.

Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, Hebrews (A.D. 60–62)

Paul wrote these epistles while he was in prison the first time in Rome.

Paul wrote the epistle to the Philippians mainly to express his gratitude and affection for the Philippian Saints and to cheer them from the disappointment of his long imprisonment.

Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians as a result of a report that the Colossian Saints were falling into serious error. They believed that perfection came by the careful observance of outward ordinances alone rather than the development of Christlike character.

The epistle to the Ephesians is of great importance, for it contains Paul’s teachings about the Church of Christ.

The epistle to Philemon is a private letter about Onesimus, a slave who had robbed his master, Philemon, and run away to Rome. Paul sent Onesimus back to his master with the letter asking that Onesimus be forgiven.

Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews to Jewish members of the Church to persuade them that the law of Moses had been fulfilled in Christ and that the gospel law of Christ had replaced it.

1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (A.D. 64–65)

Paul wrote these epistles after he was released from prison in Rome the first time.

Paul traveled to Ephesus, where he left Timothy to stop the growth of some forms of speculation, intending afterwards to return. He wrote his first epistle to Timothy, perhaps from Macedonia, to counsel and encourage him in the fulfillment of his duty.

Paul wrote the epistle to Titus during a time when he was free from prison. He may have visited Crete, where Titus was serving. The letter deals mainly with righteous living and discipline within the Church.

Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy while in prison the second time, shortly before Paul’s martyrdom. This epistle contains Paul’s last words and shows the wonderful courage and trust with which he faced death.