Pauline epistles

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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. The Epistle to the Hebrews, although it does not bear his name, was traditionally considered Pauline for a thousand years, but from the 16th century onwards opinion steadily moved against Pauline authorship and few scholars now ascribe it to Paul.[1]

The Pauline epistles are usually 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 the New Testament.


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

RomansΠρος ΡωμαίουςEpistola ad RomanosRomRo
First CorinthiansΠρος Κορινθίους ΑEpistola I ad Corinthios1 Cor1C
Second CorinthiansΠρος Κορινθίους ΒEpistola II ad Corinthios2 Cor2C
GalatiansΠρος ΓαλάταςEpistola ad GalatasGalG
EphesiansΠρος ΕφεσίουςEpistola ad EphesiosEphE
PhilippiansΠρος ΦιλιππησίουςEpistola ad PhilippensesPhilPhi
ColossiansΠρος ΚολασσαείςEpistola ad ColossensesColC
First ThessaloniansΠρος Θεσσαλονικείς ΑEpistola I ad Thessalonicenses1 Thess1Th
Second ThessaloniansΠρος Θεσσαλονικείς ΒEpistola II ad Thessalonicenses2 Thess2Th
First TimothyΠρος Τιμόθεον ΑEpistola I ad Timotheum1 Tim1T
Second TimothyΠρος Τιμόθεον ΒEpistola II ad Timotheum2 Tim2T
TitusΠρος ΤίτονEpistola ad TitumTitT
PhilemonΠρος ΦιλήμοναEpistola ad PhilemonemPhilemP

Some classifications include the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews as a Pauline epistle instead of listing it with the general epistles, but Pauline authorship of Hebrews was disputed from the earliest.[2]

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

Hebrews is placed at the end in the manuscripts Codex Claromontanus, Uncial 048, E, K, L and the majority of minuscules.


All of these epistles present Paul as the author.[3]

Seven letters (with consensus dates)[4] considered genuine by most scholars:

The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by about 80% of scholars:[5]

The letters on which scholars are about evenly divided:[5]

Lost Pauline epistles[edit]

Non-canonical Pauline epistles[edit]

Several non-canonical epistles claim or having been claimed to have been written by Paul. Most bible scholars reject their authenticity.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, publ. Geoffrey Chapman, 1989, chapter 60, at p.920, col. 2 "That Paul is neither directly nor indirectly the author is now the view of scholars almost without exception. For details, see Kümmel, I[ntroduction to the] N[ew] T[estament, Nashville, 1975] 392-94, 401-3"
  2. ^ Although 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. ^ 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."
  4. ^ Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), pp. 4–7.
  5. ^ a b New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  6. ^ Also called A Prior Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians[1] or Paul’s previous Corinthian letter.[2], possibly Third Epistle to the Corinthians
  7. ^ Apologetics Press – Are There Lost Books of the Bible?

Bibliographic resources[edit]

External links[edit]