Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Introduction to the Epistles

If you are following the Bible Book Club reading schedule, we will be soaking deeply in the Pauline epistles during the more sunny days from May 1 - August 16. So break out water or sweet tea and read "Paul by the pool" or some great outdoor venue! We will read the general epistles written by other authors at the end of the summer and early fall from August 17 - October 3. 

Overview of the Two Kinds of Epistles

Pauline Epistles

Paul wrote his 13 letters beginning with Romans and ending with Philemon. The first nine letters were written to seven churches that Paul had either founded or took a personal interest in while on his missionary journeys. Here is a map of the location of these churches:

The Travel Areas of the Acts of the Apostles; also where Paul Sent his Letters
(city names in "stamped envelopes", the one province "unstamped")
Used by Permission: 

Following this, two letters (one in two parts), often referred to as the Pastoral Epistles, were written to encourage two pastors, Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete; and one letter was written to appeal to a coworker, Philemon, to forgive his wayward servant. 

General Epistles

We are not sure who wrote the letter to the Hebrews, but the remaining epistles are titled after their authors: James, Peter, John, and Jude.

While we often read things semi-chronologically in the Bible Book Club, I did not want to break up the fast-paced narrative of Acts.  Chronologies vary but here is a proposed timeline for where the epistles fit in the events in Acts and beyond:

I have been studying the epistles deeply since 1978 when I did my first inductive Bible Study in 3 John (because I thought I should start with a short book). I have never stopped learning new things from them every time I study. Enjoy!
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