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Biblical Studies (NT)/The Epistles of Paul: Saved by Grace
A young man named Saul was bent on eliminating Christianity from the face of the earth. Then Jesus directly intervened. The risen savior appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus—an encounter that completely transformed him. This man Saul became the beloved apostle, saint, evangelist, theologian, and pastor we call Paul. Out of all the biblical human authors, Paul has written the most books of the Bible. We see Paul doing the first in the book of Acts.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Nearly all of them were pious lists that emphasized reading in an order that reinforces a particular theology. But first: an explanation. The late Marcus Borg urged us to read the New Testament in the order in which the books were actually written rather than the order in which they appear in modern Bibles.
Don’t read Acts, don’t read the gospels. Save those for later. Paul’s letters came first. Where did the other letters come from?
First and 2 Timothy and Titus have been known as the pastoral epistles since the early 18th cent. It is not a particularly accurate description of the epistles because they are not manuals of pastoral care. Nevertheless, they have a pastoral character, and the title is not altogether inappropriate. These epistles are valuable as examples of all early epistles of a semi-personal character.
They are specifically addressed to individuals, but they do not belong to the category of purely private correspondence.
Date, Christopher M. () “By Command of God Our Savior: A Defense of 1 Stanley E. Porter, “Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: Implications for.
The letter to the Ephesians is traditionally understood to have been written by Paul while he was in prison Eph , , However, the identity of Paul as the author has been challenged, so before establishing a date for the letter, we should first address the question of authorship. Unlike most other Pauline epistles, Ephesian does not contain personal greetings to any individuals in Ephesus.
This is surprising, since the book of Acts describes a close and intimate relationship between Paul and the church there. Eph could be read to indicate that the author had heard about the faith of the Ephesians without personally experiencing it – something that would not be true of Paul. However, this is not the only way to understand the verse. Interestingly, the phrase, “in Ephesus” in is not in all manuscripts of the book, and there are no other references in the book that clearly tie the book to the actual church of Ephesus.
Barclay and others have suggested that Ephesians was a circular letter William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians , p. Despite some objections, the overall evidence seems to weigh in favor of Pauline authorship. First of all, in Eph the author calls himself Paul.
The First and Second Epistles to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus form a distinct group among the letters written by Paul, and are now known as the Pastoral Epistles because they were addressed to two Christian ministers. When Timothy and Titus received these epistles they were not acting, as they had previously done, as missionaries or itinerant evangelists, but had been left by Paul in charge of churches; the former having the oversight of the church in Ephesus, and the latter having the care of the churches in the island of Crete.
The Pastoral Epistles were written to guide them in the discharge of the duties devolving upon them as Christian pastors.
Chronology of Acts and the Epistles lists the Events, the Reference, and the Year. ‘Philip at Samaria Acts 35(A.D.)’ ‘Paul’s Call Acts 47’.
The Pauline epistles , also called Epistles of Paul or Letters of Paul , are the thirteen books of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle , although the authorship of some is in dispute. Among these epistles are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity. As part of the canon of the New Testament, they are foundational texts for both Christian theology and ethics.
The Epistle to the Hebrews , although it does not bear his name, was traditionally considered Pauline although Origen questioned its authorship in the 3rd century CE , but from the 16th century onwards opinion steadily moved against Pauline authorship and few scholars now ascribe it to Paul, mostly because it does not read like any of his other epistles in style and content.
The Pauline epistles are usually placed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Catholic epistles in modern editions. Most Greek manuscripts, however, place the General epistles first,  and a few minuscules , , , and place the Pauline epistles at the end of the New Testament.
The Pauline Epistles
Dating the epistles of Paul from scratch, without recourse to either the Acts of the Apostles or to patristic tradition, is an interesting exercise in its own right. Here are the main indications as I see them:. Dating the Pauline epistles from scratch. Chronological considerations.
The lynch pin of all absolute Pauline dating is Acts during 2nd missionary journey. Gallio was only proconsul between midsummer 51 to midsummer
Sponsored link. This was an established literary style as early as the 4th century BCE. They were apparently letters to churches and individuals written to handle specific problems at a church location or with a religious leader. The former were initially intended to be read aloud during a single service of public worship, at a single church. Most New Testament theologians believe that the churches who had received the letters then shared copies with each other.
Gradually, the epistles became circulated within the mainline Christian movement, and were often read during services, at churches throughout the known world. This gradual dispersal of Paul’s writings must have taken many decades. The earliest indication that a writer is aware of multiple epistles by Paul dates to circa 96 CE – perhaps 3 decades after Paul’s death. In the early ‘s E.
Goodspeed suggested that Paul’s letters initially rested in the archives of individual churches, where they were not known by the Christian movement generally. The publication of the Gospel of Luke and of Acts in the mid 80’s CE then motivated some individual to tour the early churches, to assemble copies of the letters, and then to write Ephesians as an introduction to those letters. Goodspeed estimates that this collection contained 7 of Paul’s epistles.
Paul, The Letters of
Some Jesus Mythicists claim that if we did not view the seven authentic Pauline epistles  through the lens of the suspicious Acts of the Apostles , there would be no sure-fire way to tell the difference between their having been written in c. It is the goal of this post to take up the challenge and present several different ways in which the c. Before going there, however, a note on the a prioi dismissal of Acts as a source for the generation of Paul often requested by the proponents of the c.
I do not find either of these reasons good enough to dismiss the evidence of Acts a priori even upon acknowledging the existence of its many errant factors. Yet in spite of these factors, it still cannot be so forcefully forgotten that for the author of Acts , Paul is his hero — the apostle par excellence.
General Information-. The earliest known copy of the Pauline Epistles is a Greek papyrus codex, generally referred to as P46, dating from about.
Dating the Pauline Epistles. Before leaving 1 Thessalonians, I want to deal briefly with the question of how scholars date the Pauline epistles. This letter is considered the earliest Pauline epistle we possess, and in fact the earliest piece of Christian literature that has survived. You need to be at least somewhat aware of how that conclusion is reached. How does one go about dating this letter and all the Pauline letters? That is, determining the order in which Paul penned his letters, based on the development of Paul’s thinking evidenced in the topics he addresses.
The second step is an absolute dating. That is, among the many events in Paul’s life, which can be aligned with events in the broader stream of Roman history to which we can attribute specific dates? For today, we’ll deal with the issue of absolute dating. And this is the starting point for any absolute chronology of Paul’s life and work, because we have evidence that helps us pinpoint the era of Gallio’s rule.
Archaeologists have discovered, in the ancient Greek city of Delphi, a letter by Emperor Claudius that refers to his friend and proconsul Gallio. Claudius dates the letter to the 26th year he was “acclaimed emperor,” a stock phrase referring to a PR event that celebrated an Emperor’s success in battle or some other accomplishment. Unfortunately, we don’t know when Claudius was acclaimed for the 26th time.
But we do know the date of his 27th acclamation, and, based on that and other information, we can fairly well date his 26th acclamation to the spring of 52 C.
The 13 “Pauline” epistles
The author had heard that it was feasible, but he did not know any specifics. Frankly, that preacher was either lazy and did not care, or he like many was too unfamiliar with the Bible to know any better. In this article, we will demonstrate how we can determine the chronological order of the Pauline Acts epistles. Why do this? Chronologists often disagree as touching numerical years.
Discussions of authorship, communication situation, date of composition, and other issues are best found in commentaries to the individual letters.
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles , 16th century painting. Most scholars think Paul actually dictated his letters to a secretary, for example Romans cites a scribe named Tertius. The Pauline epistles are the fourteen books in the New Testament traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle , although many dispute the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews as being a Pauline epistle. The first three, called the “Deutero-Pauline Epistles,” have no consensus on whether or not they are authentic letters of Paul.
The latter three, the “Pastoral Epistles”, are widely regarded to be pseudepigraphical works, though certain scholars do consider Paul to be the author. Since the early centuries of the church, there has been debate concerning the authorship of the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews, and modern scholars reject Pauline authorship. Scholars use a number of methods of historiography and higher criticism to determine whether a text is properly attributed to its author.
The primary methods used for Paul’s letters are the following:. This consists of what the author tells us about himself in the letter, either explicitly — the author clearly identifies himself — or implicitly — provides autobiographical details.
It is striking how little we know about the authors, dates and circumstances of composition of the minor books of the New Testament. Summary: Date unknown, plausibly c. Ephesians It is inherently likely that Ephesians was composed at least after the death of the historical Paul, and hence after the mids.
Pauline epistles. Navigation menu. Not surprising, then, that Paul tells us summary is greater than hope or faith! The writer introduces several characters.
The writer of the Revelation of St John — one of the earliest books of the New Testament and in origins probably the only one to date from the 1st century — addresses his end of the world gore-fest to the very region central to Paul’s mission, Roman Asia. The “seven churches” of the preface were Ephesus where “Paul caused a riot” and lived for 3 years , Thyatira home town of Lydia, Paul’s first convert in Philippi , Laodicea sent a copy of Colossians, we are told , Sardis, Philadelphia, Pergamum and Smyrna.
Yet the writer of the apocalypse betrays no knowledge of the activities of the apostle Paul or of his letters. Though “John” relishes the martyrdom of the saints, Paul’s “execution in Rome” does not get a mention. Similarly, the earliest reliable Christian source, Justin Martyr, in the mid-2nd century, has nothing to say of Paul or his epistles. Paul’s letters composed more than half of his new Scripture.
Can we date Paul’s Acts epistles?
Of course I get the most fight from Christians and I do understand why. Can you imagine if I was wrong and led people away from their path to heaven? But I know the trick that has been played on humanity. It is a combined trick of antiquity and persistent repetition. Well, a book I read a year or two ago will come in handy to anyone who would like more proof of a new chronology.
It helps to date when Pauline authorship was accepted. An earlier date can lend credibility to genuine Pauline authorship. For example, the Second Epistle to.
I skimmed to Hebrews, and hope to read the remainder carefully soon. Silas penned for both Paul and Peter, giving him unique credentials and positioning in 1st century fellowship. Interesting correspondences both in vocabulary and theological thought glow when Hebrews is read closely next to the Petrine epistles. In Galatians we will find the real challenge! Great work, Lydia.
Yes, I’m not super-committed to Pauline authorship of Hebrews, but I wanted to fit it in for completeness’ sake and because I was interested in the possible correspondence between the note about Timothy and what Paul said about Timothy in Philippians. Your point about is interesting, but I would compare I Corinthians , where Paul says that he did receive the gospel from others, which he is about to recount.
I think it would be overly rigid to argue because of Galatians that he must in I Corinthians be saying that he got a direct divine revelation that Jesus appeared to James, Cephas, the twelve, etc. He did have contact with the apostles, and presumably they talked about these things. Evidently based on I Corinthians his emphasis in Galatians doesn’t mean that he didn’t receive any attestation from the apostles.