2 Corinthians 3:1-3
We are beginning the thumbnail sketches of the Epistles. Before starting these Books, here is some information about the Epistles.
The Epistles: a letter of correspondence.
These are letters, some personal, but mostly formal, giving information, instructions, or carrying plans to the recipient. Delivered by anyone going in that particular direction. The epistles/letters to churches are read and then, usually passed to other churches. Paul’s (the apostle) correspondence was mostly of a personal nature, with a theological and practical section. They were a follow up of his missionary activities and to churches he established.
There are 21 Epistles in the NT of the Bible, from Romans to Jude. The first 13 Epistles, from Romans to Philemon, were written by Paul. The following 8 Epistles, from Hebrews to Jude, were written by various authors. The 13 Epistles of Paul’s are sometimes called the Pauline Epistles. These Pauline Epistles are in order of size, from the longest to the shortest.
The Pauline Epistles:
These were written by Paul, the Apostle. He was born in Tarsus, of the Tribe of Benjamin. He and his family were Jewish, a citizen of Tarsus and Rome. His family was an influential family and he studied under Gamaliel, an outstanding teacher of the Law, a rabbi, and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Paul is his Roman name, and his Hebrew name is Saul. He preferred his Jewish heritage over his Roman citizenship. Paul was raised In Jerusalem and didn’t easily accept being a gentile.
As Saul, he persecuted the young Christian church, the Christians, and anything regarding ‘The Way’ faith. On the Damascus Road, he was blinded by a bright light. The Risen Christ appeared to Saul. Saul was converted from thinking the Law justified a person, to knowing that it was faith in Christ that justified one. Paul worked as diligently for the Christian faith as he did against it.
Paul’s ministry included, teaching, establishing churches, and 4 missionary journeys. He was chosen by God to carry Jesus’ name to the Gentiles.
NOW, we begin part of the Pauline Epistles, Romans to Philippians.
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans:
Paul wrote this Epistle for the church at Rome, where Paul had never preached, nor had ever visited. This church was predominantly Gentile with a strong minority of Jews.
Paul’s purposes of writing to this church >was to prepare his way to Rome sometime later; >>to present the basic method of salvation to a church that never received teachings from an apostle; >>>to explain the relationship of the Jews and Gentiles in God’s plan of redemption. (The Jews were still practicing some OT laws and sacred days.) Also, in accordance with God’s will, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was introduced, along with its intercession for the people. This is an aid in living a Christian life. God chose Paul to be the Apostle to take the gospel to the world. Early theologians considered Paul’s Epistle to the Romans his most complete explanation of his understanding of Christ’s gospel.
*** Roman’s Road to Salvation: 3:1-, 23; 5:12; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9,10,11,13
The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians:
Corinth was a very large city known as the crossroads for travelers and traders. Located on the isthmus of Achaia, it was good for commerce. The culture of the area was Greek. There were 12 temples In the city with various gods (small g) and 1 Jewish synagogue. Thee city was known also, for its immorality. A verb was used to describe the conditions, “to Corinthianize”, meaning “to practice sexual immorality”. Paul had received information from several sources of the conditions being conducted. It was an immature and unspiritual church.
His letter was to instruct and restore the church in their > weaknesses and erroneous practices; >>immorality; >>>litigation with pagan courts; >>>>abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Also, corrections in false teachings and instruction in giving to needy Jerusalem. Also problems with Christian growth, conduct, and developing Christian character.
***This epistle deals with a lot of problematic issues, but for Chapters 13 and 15 –The Love Chapter and The Resurrection of Christ.
The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and churches throughout Achaia:
These churches were infiltrated with false teachers (it only takes 1) challenging Paul’s integrity and authority as an apostle and trustful leader.
Paul’s letter explains the reason for changing his travel plans and the certainty of his coming. He encourages them to complete the collection for Jerusalem. Paul gives authentic proof that he is an apostle and that his duty as an apostle is to assert discipline if necessary.
In a more personal insight, Paul shares the physical and emotional sufferings as an apostle. His sharing in the joys and sufferings of the churches he ministers, reveal the pastor’s heart for the people.
***Paul writes to Christians involved with living a Christian life in a non-Christian world.
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians:
Paul wrote this Epistle in an agitated spirit because false teachers/religious activist had infiltrated this church. They were bringing doubt upon Paul’s apostolic authority, his message of Jesus Christ, and his integrity. In this letter, Paul omits his customary introduction and jumped right in to his apostleship and his message.
The message was for the Galatians to stand for truth of NT >man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ; >>sanctified by obedience that comes from faith in God’s work. Paul gave warning to the Galatians to be cautious because battles, like the Judaizers started, will continue. Watch for them.
***Spiritual Freedom = justification by grace through faith.
Christian Freedom = an opportunity to love each other.
The Epistle of Paul an Apostle to the Ephesians:
Paul’s letter to Ephesus is generic and believed to be a circular letter. He was in prison when he wrote it – possible in Rome. The city of Ephesus was a commercial center in western Asia Minor. It was located at an intersection of trade routes with a harbor flowing to the Aegean Sea. A pagan temple there was dedicated to goddess Diana (Greek = Artemis).
Paul’s theme in Ephesians is the relationship between Christ and the church. His message includes >to better understand God’s eternal purpose and grace; >>emphasizes that we have been saved to bring praise and glory to God; >>>to reconcile saved individuals into 1 unit – the church.
***The recipe to combat Spiritual Warfare is the Armor of God in Chapter 6.
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians: (sometimes referred to as the NT letter of joy)
Paul wrote to the Philippians, a church he founded, while he was under house arrest.
The Philippians were living in the city of Philippi. It was named after King Philip II of Maudon, father of Alexander the Great. They were citizens of Philippi and also of Rome. The people were so proud of their Roman citizenship, they dressed and acted as Romans. Many of the Philippians were military men serving as reserves. This explains the low population of Jews living in the area and for the fact that Paul used no OT quotes in this Epistle.
His desires for the Philippian people were to focus on a Christ-centered life bringing glory to Christ. Urging them to think and have the attitude of Christ, making it a daily lifestyle. And to possibly see life from Christ’s perspective and intention toward others.
***That Attitude of Christ = 2:5-11
I hopefully pray that these sketches are encouraging you to read the Bible.