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What are the Pauline Epistles?

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Question: "What are the Pauline Epistles?"

The Pauline Epistles are the 13 letters written by the apostle Paul that are included in the canon of Scripture. The Pauline Epistles are Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

The Pauline Epistles contain much of the doctrine the Christian faith is built upon, especially in relationship to salvation. The Pauline Epistles expound on the doctrines of sanctification, justification, redemption, and reconciliation. The Pauline Epistles contain significant teachings on difficult theological issues such as election, predestination, foreknowledge, the deity/humanity of Christ, God’s ongoing relationship with Israel, and the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Pauline Epistles also get very practical in how the church should function, containing teaching on spiritual gifts, qualifications of church leaders, the role of women in ministry, and the relationship between law and grace in the life of a Christ-follower.

The Pauline Epistles are not to be confused with Pauline Christianity, which is the unbiblical view that Paul’s teachings in the Epistles are unique in Scripture and distinct from the gospel of Jesus. The “Pauline Christians” believe that what Paul taught differs from what is taught in the Gospels. This belief goes against some of the most fundamental beliefs of orthodox Christians, including the inerrancy of Scripture, the unity of the Bible and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We know that “all Scripture is God-breathed,” inspired by the same Spirit. Therefore, it is a unified whole, preserved forever by God. The Pauline Epistles are part of that unity, and the teachings they contain are equally inspired and in complete harmony with the rest of the Bible.

Recommended Resource: Dictionary of Paul & His Letters by G.F. Hawthorne, R.P. Martin & D.G. Reid, eds.

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