Apostle Paul only wrote 7 Letters/Epistles out of 13 - Tim Gracyk

554 views  ·  2 hrs ago    |    2 years ago 11:10
Video Description (from Youtube)
Of the New Testament's 13 letters credited to Paul, Paul definitely wrote 7. Six other letters are probably not by Paul. Scholars say this after considering differing styles in the letters and anachronisms in the rejected letters.

The 7 authentic letters are the earliest Christian documents to survive, so they are obviously important. Also, for 7 books in the Bible we can speak with confidence of a specific author: Paul wrote them! We can’t be certain who wrote any other books in the Bible.

The 6 “pseudepigraphical” letters (the 6 forgeries) are important since they also help us understand the early church. Some bits of the 6 forgeries may accurately reflect Paul’s views though some other bits definitely do not.

To understand what Christians believed in the 30s and 40s, we must study Paul’s 7 letters--our best primary sources of an era shrouded in mystery. But always remember that the 7 letters reflect Paul’s unique perspective. Many disagreed with Paul, as his letters establish. Paul did not represent everyone.

Basics:

1) Paul was among the earliest and fiercest Pharisees to persecute early followers of Jesus. Pharisees were known for strictness in interpreting God’s law, following the letter of the law.

2) Since Paul was a Pharisee, Paul understood Jewish law well though Paul may not have known Aramaic or Hebrew. Paul was elegant in Greek. All his letters are in Greek. That is true for all 27 New Testament books.

3) Paul never knew Jesus personally except Paul had one famous vision. Paul vaguely alludes to the vision in two letters. The Acts of the Apostles describes the experience thrice, but Acts cannot be wholly trusted. Acts and Paul’s letters sometimes disagree.

4) He has been known as Paul of Tarsus, but Paul’s letters never refer to Tarsus. Acts of the Apostles refers to Tarsus, but Luke may be wrong to associate Paul with Tarsus. Luke says Paul made tents, but Paul’s letters are never specific about how he earned money.

5) Paul never read any of the four gospels. They had not yet been written. We don’t know if Paul read any Jesus-related documents--we don’t know if any had been written in Paul’s lifetime.

Paul may have learned much about Jesus from talking with others, but his letters don’t give many facts about Jesus. We may know some details about Jesus (including some sayings) that Paul never knew.

6) Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? A carpenter? Married? Paul’s surviving letters don’t teach us much about the historical Jesus. Paul may not have been interested in such details that interest us. We cannot be sure how much more Paul knew about Jesus than what his letters indicate.

Here are the 7 letters considered genuine (listed in probable order of composition):

First Thessalonians (49 - 51 AD?)
Philippians
Philemon
First Corinthians
Galatians
Second Corinthians
Romans (ca. 55–58 AD)

Bibles do not present the letters in this chronological order. Romans is the first letter given in Bibles, which is misleading since that implies Romans is the first to be written. Instead, Romans was the last one written to have survived. We can’t know how many letters by Paul did not survive.

Romans was written to Romans before Paul arrived in Rome. He would later be executed in Rome (the year uncertain). If Paul wrote letters from Rome before his execution, such letters have not survived. No original copies of any letters survived. We have copies of copies of copies, and scribes may have inserted lines that Paul did not write.

Here are letters that most scholars contend are not by Paul:

First Timothy
Second Timothy
Titus
Ephesians

Scholars are divided on whether Paul wrote Colossians and Second Thessalonians.

Consider what is unique about each of the 7 letters written by Paul.

1) First Thessalonians establishes that Paul believed in an imminent apocalypse. Paul expected to be among the living during Christ’s second coming: “Then we who are living...will be snatched up...in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (4:17).

2) Philippians = Paul writes that “righteousness...is received by faith” (3:9), teaching that humans are saved by faith--not by works, not by adhering strictly to Jewish law. Other letters teach this, too.

In Philippians, Paul suggests Jesus was always God (neither born God nor adopted) when he writes that Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (2:7).

3) Philemon = this is very short and possibly undervalued. Paul urges a slave owner to free a slave.

In no letter does Paul teach that souls go to heaven when we die. Instead, Paul believed that history would soon end with a second coming of Jesus. The living will be “snatched up” along with dead bodies that will be resurrected.


Shared on: 01 Aug 2017

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