Epistles (Letters)

The Epistles of Paul (Authentic)

The Good News of Paul Epistles

Longstanding questions were left unanswered for many centuries the authenticity of Paul’s epistles. Finally, in 1840, it was answered and found that four out of thirteen epistles were accepted to be genuinely Paul’s letters; Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians by Ferdinand Christian Baur, a German protestant theologian. Most New Testament scholars believe that Paul wrote seven of the epistles (Galatians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians),

The authenticity issue of Paul’s epistles is good news to truth seekers, especially the new converts who will receive the truth firsthand. First, we should not discredit the epistles that do not belong to Paul; Second, we should ask the Spirit within what these scholars revealed if it is from the same Spirit we received to enlighten and strengthen the faith. Thirdly, to encourage those who walk away from religion to come back, and fourthly, with no intention to harm anyone’s confidence, correct their false belief. What we value is that anything and everything good is from God. This information is for our edification and not for our destruction. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”—John 8:32. If we take this promise seriously, we will need some enlightenment. 

The good news of the Bible is not only limited to the four gospel writers but also includes Paul’s letters and others’ writings throughout the Holy Book.   The good news started from cover to cover about Adam and Eve when they started fellowshipping with God. However, this good news turned sour when the couple allowed sin to enter the world. Another example was when God gave Cain protection after killing his brother Abel. The rule of thumb at that time was that when there was no law, there was no sin. Although it was not a piece of good news, spiritually, it gave humanity a message that killing is not part of God’s plan but that the work of the prince of the air that authored this evilness. God clarified that the law He gave to Moses included that thou shalt not kill.

Letter to the Corinthians (1st and 2nd Corinthians)

Paul lacked self-confidence when personally preaching, but his epistles and strong personality made his ministry so powerful that many believed and followed him. Paul asked his listeners to be patient and endure his boastful attitude, which his followers did not see and instead saw as a sign of meekness and humility. “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”—1Corinthians 1:31(NLT). If one boasts of himself, it means nothing. This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the wealthy man in his riches”— Jeremiah 9:23, “But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises loving devotion, justice, and righteousness on the earth–for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”—Jeremiah 9:24.

Paul used his knowledge of the Old Testament history and laws that gave him the way to preach in the synagogues (Acts 17:2) and took advantage to share his newfound doctrine. The First Epistle to the Corinthians is one of the Pauline epistles addressed to the Christian Church in Corinth; it provides us with a complete insight into the life of an early Christian. The Lordship of Christ, the Lord of the living and the dead. Paul teaches the power of Christ and the wisdom of God. The hope of life and the ability to speak the knowledge of God. God’s sacred secret is known only to himself, His will, and his plan for the salvation of his people (1 Corinthians 1:18-25-25).

God’s secret is sacred, hidden from others, and now revealed to the Church as the Body of Christ. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing … (Proverbs 25:2); to honor God’s glory is to search out a matter.” Therefore, God concealed things so that we may have to give time searching for His glorious richness and holiness. 1 Corinthians 2:12 says, “we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God.” Therefore, the knowledge about what God has done for us through the Son Jesus is appropriate to state that it comes with the understanding that salvation is a gift from God. Remember that Jesus means God saves.

First Corinthians 15:50–58 powerfully concludes Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of Christians: when the last trumpet blasts and Christ returns for those who belong to Him. At that moment, all believers in Jesus, living and dead, will be transformed into the glorified, eternal bodies God has promised us. Paul reminds his followers to avoid fellowshipping with darkness. 1 Corinthians 4:5 (WEB)—”Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.”

In second Corinthians, Paul became more outspoken and angry in denouncing other preachers trying to snatch his new converts and defending his honor and influence, which was on the brink of losing them. These preachers were false apostles claiming to be the apostles of Chri. Some preachers were from Judaism, deceitful gospel workers, distracting the mind of his followers and teaching the doctrine that circumcision is the only way to salvation—2 Corinthians 11:13. Paul from avoiding his followers to avoid detraction from the Gospel that he preached.

Concerning things sacrificed to idols, which we already knew and heard, many ignored that the truth is not in them; we know that no icon is anything in the world. Anyone who loves God will be rewarded by those who acknowledge His existence. Many gods and lords, whether in the heavens or on earth, are just a thing that comes into existence manufactured by man infused into the weak mind to control the activities of the weak and defiled conscience. Though knowledge is not in all men, they are called to believe that there is one God, the Father, of whom all things are under His wings.

No food offering commends us to God, and no sacrifices are better than the liberty we receive that will eventually be used when the time comes to our conscience to testify about how we live our lives in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit within us. Collecting money was preached and practiced in the Corinthians church. Paul managed funds from other Christian churches to support impoverished Christians in Jerusalem a few decades after Jesus’ death. Paul does not have a hand in receiving the money himself but sends those selected stewards

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. Paul raises support for the poor in Jerusalem, consisting of Christians, Jews, and Gentiles.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we are comforted by God.”  

Letter to the Romans

Paul understood the Romans’ maturity and knowledge regarding the Old Testament scriptures; He reaffirmed that the Mosaic Law is obsolete and that returning to Jewish practices would be returning to the law of Moses, and his challenge to secular groups, pagans, and non-pagans, and Jewish and Gentile Christians to come together and build a healthy, peaceful, and spiritual relationship. Paul wants to avoid competition among themselves that may lead to a split, if not the destruction of the established house churches. There is no perfect church; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God— Romans 3:23.

The letter of Paul to the Christians in Rome restated his teachings that Christians, though they have free will, it does not mean they are free to sin but rather assume a responsibility to live their lives in line with the Spirit of God. Romans 1:16-17(WEB)—”For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith—a reference from an Old Testament Scripture—Habakkuk 2:4. Nobody can be made right with God by following the works of the law of Moses. Justification” is impossible by works because nobody follows the full mandate of the law. Romans 3:10, 23.

The letter to Romans is the best-organized letter among other letters of Paul combined. It reveals the values of the Christian faith. The letter contains three chapters of detailed descriptions of man’s sinfulness: “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death—Romans 6:13.

Paul explained God’s righteousness: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is the true and proper worship— Romans 12:1 WEB. All can be declared and made righteous Romans 5:12-21. Human beings can only be declared righteous and escape God’s judgment on our sins by faith through Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is meant to pay for our sins and secure our justification. Romans 4:24–25.

We must clarify and understand that this passage’s term “our” is not regional or universal—it does not apply to the entire human race. Only to those who have trusted in Christ’s mission for our salvation and have peace with God, who raised Jesus from the dead. This is made explicitly clear; Justified by God to become a believer in Christ—John 3:16. Eternal salvation is rewarded when a person comes to faith in Christ, and it means.

We are right with God and at peace with Him through eternity; God is everlasting, and His eternal glory will never come to pass. And we will never be lost again.

On the doctrine of salvation, Paul wrote, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:26, 27). By all means “all Israel” will ultimately be forgiven of his sins and be saved after the Gentiles have had their opportunity to be saved.

Paul went throughout the Gentile empire of Rome and a few cities of Greece, preaching his newfound religion; some called it Paul’s Gospel. Other preachers followed him wherever he went to proselyte his new converts, which made Paul very upset, and he expressed this anger and strong words in his letter to the Galatians. He warned the Galatians against those who sought to discredit his Gospel, especially his doctrine of circumcision. The Galatians noted that Paul’s preaching lacked substance when speaking, but his letter is full of information and complete.

Letter to the Galatians

Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia, whose members consisted of Jewish and Gentile believers. The same type of believers in the Roman churches. Paul wrote strong words to show his eagerness to defend against the rise of false teachings and encourage the members who quickly accepted the doctrine of circumcision as the only way to salvation to be more vigilant in guarding their faith against those distractors insisting that Christians must keep the Mosaic Law and this include the doctrine of circumcision. Paul defended his teaching of justification by faith alone against James’ faith apart from works is dead.

Paul condemned the Galatians’ abandonment of salvation by faith alone (Galatians 1:6–9); he claimed he was an apostle of Christ, and his gospel message was accepted by the apostles originally picked by Christ himself. Paul opposed Peter regarding faith and the Mosaic Law (Galatians 1:10—2:10) (Galatians 2:11–14). Paul’s justification by faith alone is enough to lead believers to salvation, and charge the doctrine of circumcision was preached employing proselytism.

Believers are free from the law because of the grace of God. and legalism. Instead, there is freedom in the Spirit of the Lord, with an emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit Believers are likewise free from the bondage of sin and can rejoice that Christ has made the way to be right with Him by faith (Galatians 5:1–21), (Galatians 5:22–23), (Galatians 5:24—6:18). Paul’s distractors pushed for justification by faith and works combined, through rituals and penitence (the practice of beating with whips, reenaction by nailing or hanging themselves on the cross), offerings of any kinds acceptable to their idols. Paul dismisses all these nonsense offerings. The good news about Paul’s is to be practical.

Galatians 3:11: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

Galatians 5:22–23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.”

Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sow, that will he also reap.”

Paul issued the following repugnant remark: “There Is No Other Gospel.

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different “good news”; there isn’t another “good news.” Only some trouble you and want to pervert the Good News of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach any “good news” other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed. As we have said before, I now say again: if any man preaches to you any “good news” other than that which you received, let him be cursed.”—Galatians 1:6-9 WEB.

Paul preached the Gospel free of charge. He did take money from the Corinthians to support the poor in Jerusalem. No one in his ministry enriches themselves.   But the “super-apostles” were the opposite because they took the money, saw glory for themselves, and enjoyed popularity. Through personal revelation, Paul and Barnabas were called to preach the Gospel. Paul preached in Antioch, where he got rejected by the Jews, but many Gentiles accepted the Gospel, and this was the beginning when the good news was extended to the Gentiles. He rebuked a sorcerer, healed a disabled man, and performed other miracles, and his appeal to the Gentiles to turn to God was widely accepted. The Doctrine of Circumcision became one of the attractions for the Gentiles, as they did not need to experience the pain of circumcision, which is cutting off the skin, while in Judaism, it was kept as their belief.  

The Epistle to Philemon

Under Roman law, an enslaved person who abandoned their master could be sentenced to death, and that would happen to Onesimus if not for Paul, who happened to know the runaway slave when the enslaved person contacted Paul when he was in Rome.

The letter to Philemon is personally addressed explicitly to Philemon. The letter of forgiveness and reconciliation is the only way Onesimus can escape death. Likewise, Onesimus had become a Christian through Paul’s ministry and became a faithful friend to Paul. Onesimus was compelled to face his master for reconciliation, or he could continue living on the run.

Mark, the Cousin of Barnabas, wrote the Gospel of Mark, also known as John Mark, a close associate of the Apostle Peter and Luke, the physician. During his First Imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote four Prison Epistles “Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.”— (Philemon 1:23-24 WEB)

Paul’s message to Philemon is based on his work as a servant of God. God shaped Philemon’s heart with love and forgiveness, which manifested when he let go of Onesimus of his sin. We cannot deny that Paul’s message would have had extra weight behind that forgiveness because he knew Philemon very well. He let his home be used for God’s glory. Prayer meetings and his faith is a blessing to others. Forgive the person that did you wrong and encourage love and respect for one another like Jesus.

Many believe that the runaway bondservant was converted to Christianity by Paul and forgiven by his master Philemon. He became a Bishop of Ephesus after the Apostle Timothy’s death and continued to preach the Gospel in many places and cities of Spain, Colossae, and Petra. In old age, he occupied the Bishop of Byzantium from the year 54 to 68

The Epistle to the Philippians

Philippians is written to a group of believers with whom Paul had overjoyed with Philippi’s maturity and his confidence that they will continue their progress and joy of faith in Christ. Philippi was a Roman colony, with believers consisting primarily of Gentiles. This group of believers financially supported Paul; even though they were culturally diverse, they became one in Spirit after encountering Christ. Paul taught them that all were equal in the body of Christ. All, without exception, were sinners saved by the grace of God. Be unified in the love of Christ, and be humble like Jesus had done. The Philippians church broke all the rules on segregation. No class or social rank or ethnicity, superior or inferior, shall be above and below when it comes to the body of Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither enslaved person nor free man; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring and heirs according to the promise”—Galatians 3:28-29 WEB.

This letter served as encouragement during times of hardship. When there is unity, there is love; when there is love, that is where God is. Show sympathy for the sufferings of believers because, without suffering, the presence of joy is nonexistent. Without the hidden treasure of the word of God, there will be no seekers of the truth. The apostle Paul loved Philippi not only by their hospitality, and the unwavering sympathy of the converts can be felt in the wonder of his preaching that set a seal on the mind of the listeners. After a gap of 11 years, the success of his missionary activity ended with happy consequences. He is leaving Timothy and Luke to oversee the infant church.

 The key verses to include in your verse memory

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Therefore, in nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus.”

“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report: if there is any virtue and praise, think about these things. The all the things you learned, received, heard, and saw in me: do these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:5-10 (World English Bible)

Letter to the Thessalonians (The 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians)

With Silas and Timothy, Paul wrote the letter to the Church to show great love and support to Thessalonians like any other Christians facing persecution, and his positive thoughts about the strength of their faith. Paul encourages them to imitate him and be a teacher, as he was imitating Christ and be a blessing to others, especially new converts who need to hear God’s word. He motivates the faithful to lead others to Christ through their virtuous acts.

Key Verses to include in your reading devotion.

Paul urged the faithful to walk the way they were told to please God and receive exceeding joy. (1 Thessalonians 4:1). Paul urges believers to practice self-discipline and avoid sexual immorality by acknowledging that God calls believers to live a pure life. Those who reject God’s call will be judged accordingly. (1 Thessalonians 4:1–9).

Paul reminded the believers not to be ignorant. Still, he told them to be informed and feel the comfort that hope brings concerning those who have fallen asleep, to see them once again. This hope for the dead Christians is confident as known or proved to be true of the death and resurrection of Christ. God will bring the dead Christians with Him. Paul advises not to grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this, we tell you by the word of the Lord that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep, for the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Therefore, we will be with the Lord forever.” —(1 Thessalonians 4:13–18)—World English Bible.

The “day of the Lord” is a day that will come in a blink of an eye. Paul was very concerned about their faith, which was already in distress, and their labor was already in vain.

4 God wants every believer to know how to control his body in sanctification and honor. Thessalonians 4:4(World English Bible)

“Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 (World English Bible)

“But since we belong to the day, let’s be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 (World English Bible)

God is all in all.

Bishop Joseph

Dr. Joseph Vitug, Ph.D. - Bishop Emeritus

Related Articles

Back to top button