The Pauline Epistles - What are they?

The Pauline Epistles include the collection of letters written by the apostle Paul that are part of the New Testament. They include 13 writings: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

In addition to comprising nearly one half of the New Testament's 27 books, the Pauline Epistles include many of the important theological beliefs Christians know and teach regarding salvation, Jesus, the church, and the future. A brief look at each book reveals the focus of each:

Romans: A theological treatise produced for believers in Rome in approximately AD 55.

1 & 2 Corinthians: Two letters to new believers in Corinth to address problems within the local church.

Galatians: Written to Christians in modern-day Turkey, focused largely on the relationship between Christ and the Jewish Law.

Ephesians: Written to highlight the glory of God, speak of the way of salvation, and to address a wide variety of practical matters within the church, including spiritual warfare (chapter 6).

Philippians: A very positive letter to Christians in Philippi who had supported Paul in his missionary work.

Colossians: This short book offers a strong focus on the deity of Jesus Christ and applications for believers to live out what they believe.

1 & 2 Thessalonians: Paul spent only a short time with believers in this new church and felt the need to write two letters with basic instructions for how believers and the local church were to function.

1 & 2 Timothy: Paul's "son in the faith" Timothy received two letters from Paul shortly before his death in Rome. Filled with truth about church leadership and personal growth, these letters are some of Paul's most personal correspondence.

Titus: Also written shortly before Paul's death, this book has become known as one of the Pastoral Epistles (alongside 1 and 2 Timothy) and deals with many church leadership issues.

Philemon: The shortest of Paul's letters, Philemon focuses on asking Philemon, a Christian slave-owner, to release his runaway slave Onesimus who had become a Christian under Paul's influence.

The importance of Paul's writings is invaluable to Christianity. God used this former persecutor of Christianity to take the Gospel message to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world, leaving instructions and inspiration that continue to change lives today.

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