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Events in the Life of Paul according to "Acts of the Apostles"

The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul (Παῦλος) as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of Early Christianity and, as part of the canon of the New Testament, they have also been, and continue to be, foundational to Christian theology and Christian ethics. Usually they are placed between the Book of Acts and the General epistles. In minuscules 175, 325, 336, and 1424 the Pauline epistles are placed at the end of New Testament.


The order of epistles

In the order they appear in the New Testament, the Pauline epistles are:

Full Min.
Romans Προς Ρωμαίους Epistula ad Romanos Rom Ro
First Corinthians Προς Κορινθίους Α Epistula I ad Corinthios 1 Cor 1C
Second Corinthians Προς Κορινθίους Β Epistula II ad Corinthios 2 Cor 2C
Galatians Προς Γαλάτας Epistula ad Galatas Gal G
Ephesians Προς Εφεσίους Epistula ad Ephesios Eph E
Philippians Προς Φιλιππησίους Epistula ad Philippenses Phil Phi
Colossians Προς Κολασσαείς Epistula ad Colossenses Col C
First Thessalonians Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Α Epistula I ad Thessalonicenses 1 Thess 1Th
Second Thessalonians Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Β Epistula II ad Thessalonicenses 2 Thess 2Th
First Timothy Προς Τιμόθεον Α Epistula I ad Timotheum 1 Tim 1T
Second Timothy Προς Τιμόθεον Β Epistula II ad Timotheum 2 Tim 2T
Titus Προς Τίτον Epistula ad Titum Tit T
Philemon Προς Φιλήμονα Epistula ad Philemonem Philem P

All of these epistles present Paul as the author.[1] Some classifications do include Hebrews, being anonymous, as a Pauline epistle instead of listing it with the general epistles, but authorship of Hebrews (as Paul's) was disputed from the earliest.[2]

Formerly in many manuscripts of New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews was located between other Pauline epistles:

Now Hebrews is placed in the end. This order was used by the manuscripts: Codex Bezae, Uncial 048, E, K, L and majority of minuscules.

Religious classification of the epistles

The Pauline epistles are also noteworthy for the personal relationships they mention. Paul greets many individuals by name, often giving details about the value of these friendships and the encouragement they gave him.

Authenticity of the epistles

Main article Authorship of the Pauline epistles.

Several of the letters are thought by most modern scholars to be pseudepigraphic, that is, not actually written by Paul of Tarsus even if attributed to him within the letters themselves, or, arguably, even forgeries intended to justify certain later beliefs. Details of the arguments regarding this issue are addressed more specifically in the articles about each epistle.

These are the 7 letters (with consensus dates)[3] considered genuine by most scholars (see main article Authorship of the Pauline epistles: section The undisputed epistles):

The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by the majority of modern scholars include:[4]

The letters on which modern scholars are about evenly divided are:[4]

An anonymous letter that nearly all modern scholars agree was probably not written by Paul is:

Lost Pauline Epistles

Non-canonical Pauline Epistles

Several non-canonical epistles exist claiming or having been claimed to have been written by Paul. Most, if not all, scholars reject their authenticity. They include

Texts also exist which, whilst not strictly epistles, nevertheless claim to have been written by (or about) Paul. These include

Some have also postulated the existence of a third epistle to the Thessalonians (second chronologically) forged in Paul's name, citing 2 Th 2:1-2, 3:17 as evidence; that hypothesis, though, has not gained mainstream acceptance.


  1. ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point [Gal 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries… In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
  2. ^ Though Hebrews was almost certainly not written by Paul, it has been a part of the Pauline corpus "from the beginning of extant MS production" (Wallace, Daniel B. Hebrews: Introduction, Argument, and Outline).
  3. ^ Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), pp. 4-7.
  4. ^ a b New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  5. ^ Also called A Prior Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians[1] or Paul’s previous Corinthian letter.[2], possibly Third Epistle to the Corinthians
  6. ^ Apologetics Press - Are There Lost Books of the Bible?

Bibliographic Resources

  • Aland, Kurt. “The Problem of Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Christian Literature of the First Two Centuries.” Journal of Theological Studies 12 (1961): 39-49.
  • Bahr, Gordon J. “Paul and Letter Writing in the First Century.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 28 (1966): 465-77. idem, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature 2 (1968): 27-41.
  • Bauckham, Richard J. “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature 107 (1988): 469-94.
  • Carson, D.A. “Pseudonymity and Pseudepigraphy.” Dictionary of New Testament Background. Eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000. 857-64.
  • Cousar, Charles B. The Letters of Paul. Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
  • Deissmann, G. Adolf. Bible Studies. Trans. Alexander Grieve. 1901. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988.
  • Doty, William G. Letters in Primitive Christianity. Guides to Biblical Scholarship. New Testament. Ed. Dan O. Via, Jr. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
  • Gamble, Harry Y. “Amanuensis.” Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. Ed. David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  • Haines-Eitzen, Kim. “‘Girls Trained in Beautiful Writing’: Female Scribes in Roman Antiquity and Early Christianity.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 6.4 (1998): 629-46.
  • Longenecker, Richard N. “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles.” New Dimensions in New Testament Study. Eds. Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974. 281-97. idem, “On the Form, Function, and Authority of the New Testament Letters.” Scripture and Truth. Eds. D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. 101-14.
  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1995.
  • Richards, E. Randolph. The Secretary in the Letters of Paul. Tübingen: Mohr, 1991. idem, “The Codex and the Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” Bulletin for Bulletin Research 8 (1998): 151-66. idem, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition, and Collection. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
  • Robson, E. Iliff. “Composition and Dictation in New Testament Books.” Journal of Theological Studies 18 (1917): 288-301.
  • Stowers, Stanley K. Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Library of Early Christianity. Vol. 8. Ed. Wayne A. Meeks. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.
  • Wall, Robert W. “Introduction to Epistolary Literature.” New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 10. Ed. Leander E. Keck. Nashville: Abingdon, 2002. 369-91.

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