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What are the…
epistles

These are letters written by the Apostles of Jesus Christ (apostolic letters). The New Testament contains 21 in all. They are divided into 2 classes.

  1. Paul’s Epistles

    There are 14 of these, including Hebrews. These are not arranged in the New Testament in chronological order, but rather according to the rank of the cities or places to which they were sent. Who arranged them in this manner is unknown.

    Paul’s letters were, as a rule, dictated to an amanuensis (assistant), a fact which accounts for some of their peculiarities. He authenticated them, however, by adding a few words in his own hand at the close. (See Epistle of Galatians.)

    The epistles to Timothy (1 Timothy / 2 Timothy) and Titus (book of Titus) are called the Pastoral Epistles.

  2. General Epistles

    The General Epistles are so called because they are not addressed to any particular church or city or individual, but to Christians in general, or to Christians in several countries. Of these, 3 are written by the disciple John, 2 by Peter, and 1 each by James and Jude.

Doctrinal instruction

It is an interesting and instructive fact that a large portion of the New Testament is taken up with epistles. The doctrines of Christianity are thus not set forth in any formal treatise, but mainly in a collection of letters.

“Christianity was the first great missionary religion. It was the first to break the bonds of race and aim at embracing all mankind. But this necessarily involved a change in the mode in which it was presented. The prophet of the Old Testament, if he had anything to communicate, either appeared in person or sent messengers to speak for him by word of mouth. The narrow limits of Israel made direct personal communication easy. But the case was different when the Christian Church came to consist of a number of scattered parts, stretching from Mesopotamia in the east to Rome or even Spain in the far west. It was only natural that the apostle by whom the greater number of these communities had been founded should seek to communicate with them by letter.”

List of epistles

From Paul

  1. Romansabout
  2. 1 Corinthiansabout
  3. 2 Corinthiansabout
  4. Galatiansabout
  5. Ephesiansabout
  6. Philippiansabout
  7. Colossiansabout
  8. 1 Thessaloniansabout
  9. 2 Thessalonians
  10. 1 Timothyabout
  11. 2 Timothyabout
  12. Titusabout
  13. Philemonabout
  14. Hebrewsabout

From other Apostles

  1. Jamesabout
  2. 1 Peterabout
  3. 2 Peterabout
  4. 1 Johnabout
  5. 2 Johnabout
  6. 3 Johnabout
  7. Judeabout
Article Version: June 4, 2019