An Introduction to Paul's Epistles

Here are a few things to think about before embarking on your journey through the epistles of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philppians, Colossians and Thessalonians. These letters, which is what an epistle is, were written by Paul and make up what Jesus Christ referred to as the 'all truth' which the holy spirit in this administration would guide us into. That spirit first came on the day of Pentecost and has been freely available to everyone on earth since.

John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Act 2:2-4
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [holy spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

As spirit is neither male nor female it should be referred to in the neuter gender. God is Spirit, with a captial S, and he has been around since forever whereas holy spirit has not. As the gift of holy spirit is just that, a gift and not God himself, the gift of holy spirit should always be lower case to eliminate confusion. As the verse is obviously talking about the gift of holy spirit it should be translated lower case. This gift of holy spirit is that which guided us into the all truth revealed to Paul. Here is the verse without these translational errors.

John 16:13
Howbeit when it, the spirit of truth, is come, it will guide you into all truth: for it shall not speak of itself; but whatsoever it shall hear, that shall it speak: and it will shew you things to come.

Paul also tells us that his epistles fulfill the word of God.

Colossians 1:25-27
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

The truths revealed to Paul by revelation and written in his epistles fulfill the word of God, and fulfilled means there is no more written revelation to be added to the bible. The scriptures are complete, the bible is fulfilled, and there is no more to be added to it. This truth alone is sufficient to let us know that any subsequent or later writings which claim to be the word of God are nothing but devilish propaganda written by evil men. The Mormons and a few others would do well to listen.

Revelation 22:18-20
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

This all truth could not have been revealed before the day of Pentecost because it reveals the Mystery, the Great Mystery, which was hid in God, and which none of the princes of this world knew anything about. Had they known about the mystery, the word tells us that they would not have crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. God had to keep the mystery hidden because if the devil had not murdered Jesus Christ, God would not have been able to raise him from the dead, the gift of holy spirit would not have been made available, and the devil would not have been defeated. This mystery revealed to Paul is part of the all truth Jesus Christ told us the holy spirit would guide us into.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit [spirit]: for the Spirit [spirit] searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

In verse 10 spirit should be lower case in both instances because they obviously refer to the gift of holy spirit.

It is also important to note that the order of the books of the bible sometimes differs in ancient manuscripts, but the order of the epistles never varies in any text. This is interesting because it means they have an overall structure and purpose which is important to our understanding of them. That they are in the correct order helps us to understand what God is saying.

2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [which is] instruction in righteousness:

Here the word all means all without exception. All scripture is given by revelation from God, so the order of the words in the bible are important. The order of the epistles of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians never varies in any text, and this verse in 2 Timothy gives us an important clue as to why this is important.

All scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction and together they are instruction in righteousness. Instruction in righteousness requires doctrine, reproof and correction. Doctrine is basically the right way to live life according to the scriptures. Reproof is needed when people are trying to live the word but are straying off the path. Correction is needed to show people how to get back onto the right path.

With this understanding we can now set these epistles into their correct categories of doctrine, reproof and correction. Thessalonians was the first epistle written, but it is correctly placed last because it handles the truths of the return of Jesus Christ, the end of the Grace Administration and a little of what happens afterwards. As there will be no requirement for reproof or correction after the return of Christ to gather the saints there is no reproof or correction in Thessalonians. Although written first, Thessalonians is correctly placed last, and this never varies in any text that I know of.

Romans, Corinthians and Galatians are a complete unit and should be regarded as letters addressed to immature believers who are learning and growing in the word. Romans is doctrine, Corinthians is reproof and Galations is correction. Romans sets the standards, Corinthians reproves believers for wandering away from those standards, and Galatians shows people how to get back to those standards.

Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are also a complete unit, but rather then being addressed to immature believers they are addressed to mature believers, those who are living the word, those who are disciples, the faithful in Christ Jesus. Ephesians sets the doctrine, Philippians reproves believers for wandering away from that doctrine, and Colossians is correction, how to get back to right living.

These seven epistles set the standards for believers in the Grace Administration. These are the scriptures explicitly addressed to God's children today. They show us how to be born again, how to live as children of God, how to conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ, how to mature in Christ and what is required to live as the faithful in Christ Jesus.

One more important truth to be aware of is that these epistles were not written exclusively for the believers in the cities mentioned in the title of each epistle in our modern bibles. When Paul first wrote these letters he didn't give them titles. He wrote the epistles and then sent them first to the believers in the cities mentioned in the title. They were the first believers to receive that epistle and read it. From there the epistles went out to all the believers in every city all over the world. These epistles are addressed to every believer. Take Ephesians as an example.

Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians was just the first city to receive this epistle, and that's why it now carries their name, but from there it went out around the world to all the believers. Paul did not write this letter just for the Ephesians, he also addressed it to the faithful in Christ Jesus. The same is true of Romans and all the other epistles.

Romans 1:7
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans was written and sent to the believers in Rome first, but it then went out to all the believers because it is also addressed to the beloved of God who are saints, and that includes all the believers who have ever lived since the first century and includes all of us today no matter where we live.

These truths of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians are the instruction in righteousness, the doctrine, reproof and correction addressed explicitly to us believers, the saints, the beloved of God, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, the church of God, the faithful brethren, and the faithful in Christ Jesus who live today. These are the scriptures directly addressed to us in this Grace Administration and they set the standards for right living for every believer who has been born again since the day of Pentecost, who has the gift of holy spirit, and who is a son or daughter in the family of God.