He may have hoped to utilize Rome as a basis from which to launch his western mission. Secondly, Paul expresses his hope to take his missionary work west, all the way to Spain (see Romans 15:28). Paul's Mission and Letters Carrying the 'good news' of Jesus Christ to non-Jews, Israel becomes a kingdom under Saul and David, Jonathan demolishes the Philistine pillar at Geba, Saul is killed by the Philistines at Mt Gilboa, The Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem, David's victories over Israel's neighbours, Absalom's flight & his rebellion against David, 31. The accolade of greatest theologian of the early Church is usually a toss-up between St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul. In Romans 5-6, Paul turns again to the universality of sin, drawing a parallel between Adam and Christ: in Adam all share in the predicament of sin and the curse of death; but in Christ, all find life. A new nation? His letter to the Romans is no doubt St. Paul’s crown jewel. Paul's Letters He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, Academy of Catholic Theology, and a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Paul’s salutations include the writer, the recipient, and the greeting proper, which follows the style of other letters of his time. The Epistles are letters written to the fledgling churches and individual believers in the earliest days of Christianity. Paul's Letters to Ephesus, Colossae & Philippi, 17. The first nine epistles were addressed to various churches in Greece and in Asia Minor. The Epistle to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. Paul’s Roman incarceration produced three great letters to the churches of Ephesus, Colosse, and Philippi, as well as a personal letter to his friend Philemon. When the Temple was finally destroyed in AD 70, it was literally the end of a world—the end of the Old Covenant world; henceforth, there would be no more Levitical priesthood, no more sacrifices, no more mandatory pilgrimages to the Jerusalem temple. Consequently, the demographics of the church in Rome may have moved significantly in the intervening years from a church with a significant Jewish background to one of a more primarily Gentile background. Was Jesus an outspoken rabbi or was he God? Nine of Paul’s letters were addressed to local churches in certain areas of the Roman empire. On the whole, these epistles tend to deal with three general issues: 1. Ephesians 2. From now on let those who have a wife be like those who don’t…for the form of this world is passing away. We will now consider the different nuances of the word group in his letters. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). From our end, it is virtually impossible to underestimate how revolutionary it would be for Jewish Christians to come to grips with the fact that the ceremonial/ritual aspects of the law of Moses are no longer necessary for salvation. Paul, The Letters of. So Paul brings greetings of grace to the churches of God to which he wrote. The login page will open in a new tab. Fig. As a Roman citizen, he appeals to Caesar and is eventually transported by boat to Rome, where he remains under house arrest for another two years (see Acts 25:11-12; 28:14-16, 30-31). Yet after all that time with Jesus, Jesus never informs Paul that it is ok for married Christians to have sex—because Jesus doesn’t plan to return for a while (two thousand years and counting!!). Paul would never have said that he changed religions: rather, he came to see Jesus as the fulfillment of the story of Israel—a fulfillment which inherently includes the gathering of the Gentiles, in the worship of the true and living God. How to participate. Dr. Andrew Swafford is associate professor of theology at Benedictine College. Paul expresses his intent to get back to Jerusalem by Pentecost (see Acts 20:16), which is a pilgrimage feast in late spring. The World of the New Testament Journeys, English Translations of the New Testament, Jesus teaches how to receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus is changed on the slopes of Mount Hermon, Jesus heralds the end of the sacrificial system, The believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen is killed & the believers are scattered, 9. The Golden Age of Israel under King Solomon, Solomon builds a palace and furnishes the Temple, The Ark of the Covenant is installed in the Temple, Solomon builds a network of chariot cities, 32. Discipleship Spills Over into All Areas of Life. Doctrine: what Christians should know 2. How to get right with God: Sacrifice or Faith? The inhabitants of the area were mostly Gentiles (non-Jews), though there was a considerable colony of Jews among them as well. For Paul, “faith” is better described as faithfulness— “faith working through love,” as he puts it in Galatians 5:6—or even allegiance to the divine king, leading to a life transformed by the power of the Spirit. For Paul, then, it’s fitting that since the Gentiles have come to share in the spiritual blessings of Israel, the Gentiles should assist their Jewish Christian brethren with material aid (see Romans 15:27). Haggai & Zechariah encourage re-building, Haggai urges the exiles to re-build the Temple, Prophesies about the coming of the Messiah, 47. He wrote to the church in Rome during this three-month stay in Greece (likely from Corinth) toward the end of his third missionary journey, in late 57 or early 58 AD. Text, maps & photos (unless otherwise stated) by Chris & Jenifer Taylor © 2020. Paul started life as a Jewish Pharisee, thriving on intense religious debate and steeped in obscure arguments about the Jewish law. Colosse had once been a city of considerable significance, but its importance was on the wane when Paul wrote his letter. This would have expelled Jewish Christians as well, in which case the composition of the Church would have become more predominantly Gentile. Eventually, he is arrested in Rome again and beheaded around AD 67 under Emperor Nero. Paul’s letters strengthen the Christian organization THE newly established Christian congregation would have an important role in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s purpose. Convinced the “last trumpet” could blow at any moment, Paul urged his followers to keep themselves sexually pure—“from now on,” in the time they have left, “it is good for a man not to have sex with a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1). Paul dictated his letters to an amanuensis (a scribe) who attempted to copy his words verbatim (using his exact words). What the devil are The Temptations all about. 2. As we’ll see, by the time he writes this letter, he would have been preaching the gospel for at least a decade or more. May we be inspired by this apostle who had the courage to follow Jesus and preach the gospel to the very end! That’s why Paul can reject the necessity of the “works of the law” (3:28), and at the same time teach the necessity of good works for salvation (2:6, 13). The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians - Ἐφεσίους - follows his Letter to the Galatians and precedes his Letter to the Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible. 55, 56 A.D. E. I feel that the letter was written sometime in 49 A.D., either before the Council of Jerusalem or shortly thereafter (see Chronological Notes on pp. From Acts of the Apostles to John's Revelation, Geographical context of the New Testament. We’ll be hosting a 30-day challenge here on the Westar blog. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Paul seeks to navigate Jewish and Gentile relations in the New Covenant. Reading Paul’s thirteen letters in chronological order – the order in which they were written (rather than the order in which they appear in the New Testament) – helps us to understand why they were written, and provides us with the correctly sequenced story of the development of the early Christian church. All deserve a chance to hear and respond to the gospel. Have you been meaning to read (or re-read) Paul’s letters? He is general editor and contributor to The Great Adventure Catholic Bible, published by Ascension. He wanted the church at Ephesus to understand that our salvation is something that God planned from eternity and that he planned it in such a way that it would show the glory of his grace. In chapter 16, Paul commends Phoebe who may have been the one to deliver the letter and perhaps help explain its contents (see 16:1); he also offers several greetings to people of the Roman church (e.g., Prisca and Aquila, 16:3). 2) Not all epistles were designated for only one church. It’s hardly surprising that, on occasions, his religious arguments are difficult for us to follow today. Paul makes his way back to Jerusalem, eventually to be arrested there and imprisoned in Caesarea (on the Mediterranean coast) for about two years (see Acts 21:27-36; 23:23-24:27). Since Paul had never been to Rome (and did not found the church there, see Romans 1:10), he may be hoping that the Roman Christians would likewise participate in helping out the church in Jerusalem. The problem is that those post-Pauline or Pseudo-Pauline letters are primarily counter-Pauline and anti-Pauline. John's Revelation to the 7 Churches of Asia, John's Letter to the 7 Churches of Asia Minor, The messages to the believers on the coastal plain, The messages to the believers living inland, 21. In Romans 7 and 8, Paul continues meditating upon the true gravity of sin (see 7:15, 17, 19-20) and the glory of the gift of the Spirit (see 8:14-17). The remaining books of the New Testament contain letters written by early Christian leaders and taken by messengers to the new churches recently established across the Roman world. And the fact that they were written to whole regions and churches would caution us from thinking that the letters have only tiny, small, particular congregational significance. His first missionary journey (circa AD 46-49) takes him through central Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey); in his second journey (circa AD 50-52), he returns to this area and pushes into Greece; and his third missionary trip (circa AD 53-58) revisits all of these same areas. The Israelites journey from Egypt to Mt Sinai, 26. He seems to have been released and eventually made his way to Spain. Dr. Swafford’s latest project with Ascension, Romans: The Gospel of Salvation study is now available for preorder. The attacks on the church changed with time and situation and thus four themes characteristic of the Apostle Paul's letters (i.e. From the Kingdom of Israel to the Exile, 5. Paul’s letter to the Romans has been at the center of controversy, conversion, and reflection since the days it was written. At the end of this third missionary journey, he spends three months in Greece (see Acts 20:2-3). Paul’s letter to Philemon reminds us that everyone is equal before Jesus. Using the website implies your agreement to the use of cookies. At this point, he is preparing to return to Jerusalem with aid from the Gentile churches for the Christians in the Holy Land (see Romans 15:25-26). Anyone can gain much knowledge from reading Paul’s letters that he wrote to the new churches. Just imagine, if the early Christians had all listened to Paul and had refrained from sex, Christianity would have died out very quickly! The letters – from Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude – were written to encourage believers in the face of persecution, to explain the Christian faith and to point out its relevance to everyday life. Advent Meditations with the Holy Family. After encountering the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:1-9), St. Paul famously traveled the known world on three missionary journeys, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with Jews and Gentiles alike. In Romans 3 and 4, Paul explains how faith has displaced the “works of the law” in terms of accessing the salvation offered in Christ. Please log in again. The Journeys of Isaac, Jacob & Joseph, Jacob cheats Esau and flees to Mesopotamia, 25. With Paul, as in the Old Testament, God is the Source of the believer's hope. He was in bonds with few visitors, and he felt his death was imminent . 2. Scholars have suggested that this is either the Roman province of Galatia in southern Anatolia, or a large region defined by an ethnic group of Celtic people in central Anatolia. In chapters 1-2, Paul speaks of the “gospel … promised beforehand” (Romans 1:2); the universality of sin (see 1:18-2:24), and the “obedience of faith” (1:5). These he wrote within an eighteen-year period while he was on his missionary journeys. In Romans 12-13, he draws out practical implications for life in the Spirit—concerning humility (12:3), honor (12:10), and genuine love (12:15). He seems to have known lots of people there, as is manifest by the numerous contacts he references in Romans 16. Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul met in Corinth seem to be an example—since they were of a Jewish background and expelled from Rome by Claudius (Acts 18:1-4), and yet they had returned to Rome by the time of Paul’s writing since he greets them explicitly (see Romans 16:3, “Prisca” is short for “Priscilla”). John's Letters to the believers in Asia Minor, 20. The power of the Holy Spirit - for everyone? This reading plan should get you through the seven authentic letters of Paul in 30 days based on The Authentic Letters of Paul. If Jewish Christians returned after Claudius’ death, this return to a more mixed Jewish and Gentile church may have caused difficulties and tensions. If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll love Dr. Swafford’s upcoming Great Adventure Bible study, Romans: The Gospel of Salvation, which is now available for preorder here! But faith, for Paul, is not merely a matter of belief; it includes obedience and is perfected in good works which are necessary for salvation (see Romans 2:6, 13). His mortal remains now lie under the altar of the Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls. Read Paul’s Letters Chronologically. Swafford is author of Nature and Grace, John Paul II to Aristotle and Back Again, and Spiritual Survival in the Modern World. The question for the reader by the end of chapter 5 is how do I get out of the Old Adam and into the New? Zephaniah & Habakkuk foretell Judah's fall, Zephaniah warns of the punishment of Judah, Habakkuk asks why the cruel Babylonians succeed, 44. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7). The Journey continues from Sinai to Moab, The Israelites defeat King Sihon and King Og, The Israelites defeat the kings of Midian, Canaan is divided among the twelve tribes, 28. Our holiness is a matter of the divine life surging through us (see Galatians 2:20); but we truly participate and cooperate with the unfolding of thi… You’ll see Paul telling children to obey parents, masters to be kind to thei… As prominent Pauline scholar, Michael Gorman, put it: “The combination of food and calendar observance, together with the naming of the ‘circumcised’ and Gentiles (15:9-12), strongly suggests that the groups here are divided along Jewish and Gentile leanings” (Apostle of the Crucified Lord, 465). Group 1 Paul's Journey to Phrygia, Macedonia & Archaia, 11. Paul expressed interest in his relationship with the Apostle Peter, for after Damascus he then went to Jerusalem and remained with Cephas for fifteen days (Galatians 1:18). Obadiah foretells the punishment of Edom, Obadiah prophesies the resurgence of Israel, 46. The end of chapter 15 returns to the immediate context of Paul’s writing—his desire to get to Spain (15:24); his bringing Gentile aid to the Christians in Jerusalem (15:25-26); and his emphasis on how deeply fitting and symbolic this act of charity really is (see 15:27). Paul's Journey to Ephesus, Philippi & Corinth, The Ephesians are filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul meets violent opposition in Jerusalem, 13. The Philosopher, the Lover & the Mourner, Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, Amos denounces social injustice in Israel, Hosea laments the unfaithfulness of Israel, Micah decries social injustice in Israel and Judah, 39. Paul’s letters are not always easy to follow in the original Greek. Salvation is about being born anew in baptism and maturing as a child of God through the power of the Spirit—in order that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (see 8:29). The answer to the universal human plight (i.e., sin) is the universal salvation offered in Jesus Christ, accessible through faith. Isaiah offers comfort to those in exile, Words of comfort after the fall of Jerusalem, Those returning are encouraged to follow the LORD, The LORD's blessing will rest on Jerusalem, 41. Paul had previously spent a year and a half in Corinth during his second missionary tour with the fledgling Christians there (see Acts 18:1, 11). 8 The Dates of Paul's Letters In the New Testament, Paul used the verb elpizo and related noun elpis more than any other writer. The Israelites face continuing opposition, The Israelites fight the remaining Canaanites, Israel under the 'judges': Othniel and Ehud, Gibeah is destroyed & the Benjamites punished, The Ark of the Covenant is captured at Aphek, 30. Among these epistles are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. It fits on just one page, right before Hebrews, and is a letter sent by Paul (and perhaps co-authored by Timothy) as an attempt to intercede on behalf of Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity. He articulates New Testament doctrine and especially the necessity of faith in Christ very well. Even Peter (who was thoroughly conversant with the Jewish religion) comments that Paul’s letters contain some things that are ‘difficult to understand’ (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). For Paul, this aid is not just about alleviating material suffering. The Divided Kingdom & Journey into Exile, Jezebel kills the prophets & Elijah escapes, Elijah organises the opposition to King Ahab, Jehu races to Jezreel to depose King Joram, King Joash repairs the Temple in Jerusalem, Jeroboam II restores the boundaries of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria invades Israel, Israel falls & the exiles are led to Assyria, King Hezekiah of Judah rebels against Assyria, Isaiah prophesies the destruction of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invades Judah, Jerusalem falls and the exile in Babylon begins, Biblical sources relating to Judah in exile, The later years of exile & the return to Judah, The completion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, A third group of exiles returns with Ezra, A fourth group of exiles returns with Nehemiah, Mordecai uncovers a plot to kill the king, The origin of the Jewish festival of Purim, 37. Missionary journey would have afforded him time to compose this monumental letter, 46 coming of the New churches of. 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