Bible Studies in the Life of Paul - Historical and Constructive
by Henry T. Sell
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The Island of Melita to Rome, or the adventures of Paul on the third ship (Acts 28:11-16). Three months were spent at Melita. Then Paul and the company embarked on another Alexandrian grain ship for Puteoli, "eight miles southwest of Naples and the principal harbour south of Rome in Paul's day." "It was the port at which the Egyptian grain ships usually unloaded." There were two stops made on the way to Puteoli, one at Syracuse in Sicily and the other at Rhegium, at the southern point of Italy. At Puteoli Paul found Christian brethren with whom he remained for seven days. The Roman Christians came but to meet Paul at Apii Forum, forty-three miles, and the Three Taverns, thirty-three miles from Rome. This expression of love and interest in him and his welfare greatly cheered the heart of the Apostle.


Testifying to the Jews (Acts 28:17-27).—After an interval of only three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together, and explained to them why he had been sent to Rome. He declared that he had no accusation to make against his nation to the Roman authorities, but that he was a prisoner on account of his advocacy of the hope of Israel fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But the Jews replied that they had had no word about Paul from Jerusalem. Desiring to hear more of what Paul had to say about the Christians they appointed a day in which they would hear Paul at his lodgings. This hearing was evidently very thorough, and the usual division was made of believing and unbelieving Jews.

Testifying to the Gentiles (Acts 28:28).—Paul receiving no sufficient response to his words from the Jews now turns his attention to the Gentiles.

The Two Years' Imprisonment (Acts 28:30, 31) was spent in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, in his own hired house, and receiving all who came to him. Although Paul was a prisoner he was allowed complete freedom of speech.

Incidental Notices of this Imprisonment are found in the four Epistles which were written from Rome during its continuance. Prof. J. R. Lumby, D.D. (Acts, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) says: "We know from first to last the prisoner's chain hurt Paul (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; Phil. 1:13, 16; Col. 4:18; Philem. 1, 9, 10), and that his cause was at times an object of much anxiety (Phil. 2:23, 24). We also learn from the same letters that besides Luke and Aristarchus (Acts 27:2; 28:15) he had also the fellowship, for some time at least, of Tychicus, who (Eph. 6:21) was the bearer of his letter to Ephesus; of Timothy, whom (Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Philem. 1) he joins with himself in the greeting to the churches of Philippi and Colossae and also in that to Philemon. In the former of these churches Timothy had been a fellow laborer with the Apostle. Epaphroditus came with the Philippian contributions to the aid of the imprisoned Apostle (Phil. 4:18). Onesimus found out Paul when in flight from his master he made his way to Rome (Col. 4:9; Philem. 10). Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, was also there and another Jewish convert, Jesus, called Justus, of whom we only know that the Apostle considered him worthy to be called a fellow worker unto the kingdom of God (Col. 4:11). Epaphras from the churches of Laodicea and Hieropolis, had come to visit Paul, and to bring him greetings doubtless of the Christians there, and carry back some words of earnest council and advice from the Roman prisoner (Col. 4:12, 13). Last of all Demas was there to be mentioned as having forsaken the good way through love of this present world (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:10). More than this and the few words in verses thirty and thirty-one, of Acts 28, we do not know of this first imprisonment." His spirit however was unsubdued through all his hardships and he was ever exhorting the disciples of Christ to rejoice in Him (Phil. 2:1, 2; 4:4).

The Further Travels of Paul are considered in Study 10.


How much space does the account of this journey occupy in the Acts, and why is so much given to it? What do the seven speeches of Paul signify? What Epistles did Paul write while at Rome? Give the time and extent of this journey. Give the historical connections. Why did Paul return to Jerusalem? Give an account of his meeting with James and the elders; the temple riot; his speech to the rioters; and his speech before the Jewish Council. How was Paul comforted by God? What was the conspiracy of the Jewish fanatics? How long did Paul remain a prisoner at Caesarea? Give an account of his first defense before his Jewish accusers, and the Roman governor Felix; his second defense before Felix; his third defense before Festus; and his fourth defense before Festus and King Agrippa II. Give an account of the voyage to Rome; Caesarea to Myra; Myra to Melita; and Melita to Rome. What did Paul testify to the Jews and Gentiles in Rome? Where do we find incidental notices of this imprisonment?







Introduction to the Epistles of Paul—Epistolary Writings. Some Reasons for Paul's Writings. Qualifications of Paul. How the Epistles are Best Understood. Titles and Groups. Common Plan. Supreme Purpose.

The Future of Christ's Kingdom—The First Group of Epistles. The Chief Doctrinal Point.

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians—The Founding of the Church. Occasion, Time, and Place of Writing. Contents. Analysis.

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians—Occasion, Time, and Place of Writing. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.







Epistolary Writings.—The New Testament is composed of twenty-seven books, twenty-one of which are Epistles. Of this latter number thirteen are ascribed to Paul. It is thus seen how largely the New Testament is made up of Epistles and how many of these are attributed to the Great Apostle.

In the letters of men of great prominence and power of any age we get closer to the real condition of the affairs of that age than by any other means. In this way, we get information at first hand from the participants in the events of which they write. It is fortunate for us that we have this first hand material with which to deal, when we come to study the early growth and development of Christianity.

By means of the New Testament Epistles (which are real letters and written with a definite purpose in view) we look directly into the faith, the customs, and practices of the early Christian churches. We see how they were organized and how they conducted their services. We see the marvelous changes wrought in the lives and characters of the converts. We note that the triumphs of faith were won through a belief in the Divine Son of God and the power of the Holy Ghost. The struggles and difficulties of these early Christians in coming out of heathenism are depicted in a masterly way. Paul, in his endeavor to guide aright the churches, of which he had been the spiritual father, shows what he believes and teaches about God, the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, sin, redemption, and the future state of the soul. In these letters the incidental and indirect references to the doctrines taught, and the customs of the early churches, are as valuable as the direct.

Some Reasons for Paul's Writings.—The Apostle was the founder of churches over a large area of territory. He soon realized, however, that it was impossible to visit them as often as he desired and as frequently as he ought. Many of the converts had come out of heathenism and needed doctrinal and ethical instruction in the way of Christ. They also needed encouragement, comfort, and sometimes sharp correction for outbreaking sins. As means of communication were open and easy along the well kept Roman roads, what was more natural than that Paul should begin to write letters which were not only to be read by the particular churches to which they were addressed, but passed on to the other churches.

Qualifications of Paul.

1. Intellectual. He was not only pre-eminent as a missionary, but even more remarkable as a writer. "He was the greatest thinker of his age, if not of any age, who in the midst of his outward labors was producing writings which have ever since been among the mightiest intellectual forces of the world and are still growing."

2. Spiritual. He had been converted in a wonderful way and had received a special revelation from Christ (Acts 9:3-15; 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:11, 12). He had been called to his great work among the Gentiles by Christ and the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:15; 13:2). He was absolutely absorbed in the work of Christ and in making known His gospel.

How the Epistles are Best Understood.—Each one should be studied in the light of the occasion which called it forth and in connection with the church, group of churches, or the individual to which it is addressed.

Titles and Groups.—The thirteen Epistles fall naturally into four groups; in each of which is set forth some great doctrinal and ethical truth.

First Group, First and Second Thessalonians. "These Epistles are short, simple, and practical. They may be regarded as illustrating Paul's earlier missionary instruction to his converts—hence the name 'Missionary Epistles,' sometimes applied to them. They treat of but one doctrinal subject—the second coming of Christ." It should be borne in mind, however, that Paul speaks of Jesus Christ as "The Lord," "Our Lord," about twenty-five times in First Thessalonians; this shows how thoroughly he believed in the Deity of Christ.

Second Group, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians and Romans. "This group is the great repertory of Paul's doctrinal and ethical teaching. Galatians and Romans deal chiefly with his doctrine of justification by faith. They are designed to disprove the current Jewish teaching (which was invading the churches) that men might be saved by obedience to the Mosaic law. On the contrary Paul maintained that the sole basis of salvation is the grace of God to be appropriated by faith on man's part."

Third Group, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. "This group is predominantly Christological. Errors had invaded the churches addressed, which tended to degrade the person and work of Christ, and the Apostle writes with a view to showing his pre-eminence and saving power, so that the readers may be induced to keep their allegiance to Christ and His gospel."

Fourth Group, First Timothy, Titus and Second Timothy. "These are called 'The Pastoral Epistles,' and were designed to instruct Timothy and Titus as superintendents of the churches in Ephesus and Crete, and were thus semi-official in character. But they have also a strong personal element and a tone of warm sympathy and affection." The above characterization of the four groups of these Epistles by Prof. G. B. Stevens is brief and to the point.

Common Plan.—The plan in all of Paul's Epistles, with slight variations, is much the same. The outlines of these letters fall uniformly into six divisions. "First, a greeting sometimes very brief, sometimes extending over several verses, in which he generally manages with consummate skill to strike the keynote of the whole letter. Secondly, a thanksgiving to God for the Christian gifts and graces of his converts. Thirdly, a doctrinal part, in which he argues out or explains some great topic of Christian truth, specially required by the condition of the church to which he is writing. Fourthly, a practical section, in which he applies to daily moral duties the great doctrines which he has developed. Fifthly, personal messages, salutations, and details. Sixthly, a brief autograph conclusion to ratify the genuineness of the entire letter."

The Supreme Purpose was to make known the Divine Christ as the Savior of all men, both Jew and Gentile (1 Cor. 2:1-16; Col. 1:9-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Acts 26:22, 23; Rom. 3:9-31).




The First Group of Epistles.—The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians are the earliest writings of Paul of which we have any certain knowledge. He may possibly have written earlier epistles, which are now lost. He speaks of writing a salutation "in every epistle" (2 Thess. 3:17), "with mine own hand," which may imply that he had already written a number of Epistles. In regard to later writings he also speaks of an Epistle (1 Cor. 5:9) to the Corinthians written to them before that now known as First Corinthians and of one written to the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16); of these writings we have no record save these incidental notices, if these notices refer to lost Epistles.

The Chief Doctrinal Point considered in this group is "The Future of Christ's Kingdom" as it was related to His second coming (1 Thess. 4:13-5:9, compare 2 Thess. 2:1-17). It was natural that, after so great a manifestation of the Divine Christ, the earlier believers in Him should make much of the promise that He said He would come again, and amid their troubles and difficulties the strong tendency would be to think that second coming was close at hand. It is a well known fact however that the near approach of a great joy or sorrow unfits men and women for the ordinary pursuits of life. Paul, in his first letter to the members of the church of Thessalonica, spoke of the second coming of Christ to relieve their minds of a worry over those who had died since he had preached to them (lest they should not see the Lord when He came), and also to encourage them in their faith (1 Thess. 4:13-18). It seems that Paul was taken to mean by what he wrote that Christ's coming was near at hand. The believers in Christ, in Thessalonica, began to give up their ordinary avocations and pursuits in speedy anticipation of this great event. He therefore takes occasion in his second letter to the church to correct the impression that Christ's coming (2 Thess. 2:1-17) was near at hand. He exhorts them to true and faithful living in the sight of their Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 3:1-18) as the best way to serve their Divine Master. The principle of the true Christian life is here set forth in a masterly way; it holds good for all time and all peoples.


The Founding of the Church at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10).—Paul was on his second missionary journey and this church was the second which he organized in Europe. He entered into the synagogue at Thessalonica and three Sabbath days reasoned with the Jews out of the scriptures, "opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ" (Acts 17:3). Through this preaching a few of the Jews believed "and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." It appears from this account that the church was mostly made up of Gentiles. But through the opposition of the Jews all the city was set in an uproar and Paul was sent away by night to Berea.

Occasion, Time, and Place of Writing.—Paul left Thessalonica unwillingly for he had a great affection for his converts in this city. Twice he endeavored to return, but was prevented from doing so (2:17, 18). When he reached Athens (Acts 17:15) he grew so anxious about the church at Thessalonica that he sent Timothy back to see how it prospered (3:1, 2). While Timothy was gone on his mission Paul went on to Corinth (Acts 18:1). Here Timothy found him when he returned with his report of the church (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6). Paul was greatly pleased with what Timothy had to say about the converts. While enduring persecution they were standing fast in the Lord and devoted to their faith in Christ (3:7-13). The report which Timothy brought was the occasion of the first letter to this church.

The time was, in all probability, in the winter of 52-53 A.D., and the place of writing was at Corinth, where Paul remained for over a year and a half (Acts 18:1, 11, 18).

Contents.—The first three chapters are of a personal character and show how dear to Paul's heart were these converts of Thessalonica. They also show the good record made for the short time since they had embraced Christianity. But nothing could be more revolutionary in those days than to become a Christian; therefore Paul takes occasion to correct social, moral, and doctrinal faults and to instruct them more fully in the faith, in Christ, which they professed. In the matter of doctrine Paul mentions Christ as "the Lord," "our Lord" about twenty-five times, showing his belief in and teaching of the Deity of Christ. In regard to Christ's speedy second coming, of which many seem to have had a lively expectation so that they were troubled when some died lest these had lost their opportunity to see this glorious event, Paul writes to reassure them that all believers, those who have died and those who are alive at that time, "will enter together and share equally in the blessings of Christ's heavenly kingdom" (4:13-18). The Epistle closes with exhortations to be joyful, thankful, and prayerful.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Introduction (1:1-10). Personal address and salutation. Thanksgiving for their faith, love and hope in Jesus Christ and for their conversion.

2. Narrative (2:1-4:12). How the gospel was given and how it was received at Thessalonica. An account of Paul's care and anxiety for the church. Paul's prayer for their establishment in the faith of Jesus Christ. Exhortation to abstain as followers of Christ from impurity and fraud; to follow after holiness and brotherly love.

3. Doctrinal (4:13-5:11). The second advent of Christ. The parts which the dead and living will have when Christ shall come again. The uncertainty of the time. The need of constant watchfulness.

4. Practical (5:12-28). Rules for the conduct of the church, its overseers and members. Exhortation to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful. Closing prayer that they may be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greeting and benediction.


Occasion, Time, and Place of Writing.—What Paul wrote about the second coming of Christ, in the First Epistle, seems to have been misunderstood by the church at Thessalonica (1:7-3:11). Then too there was probably a spurious epistle (and this may have occasioned much of the trouble) in circulation, in which Paul is evidently made to declare that the day of Christ is close at hand (2:2). He writes of this false epistle very vigorously that they be not troubled in spirit by a letter, "as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." Evidently some were neglecting their work, becoming impatient at the delay in Christ's coming (3:5, 11, 12) and walking disorderly.

The Epistle opens, with an expression of thanks for the general condition of the church and that it was enduring persecutions and tribulations well (1:2-6). Hence it is evident that some but not all of the church members were out of accord with an earnest sensible faith in Christ. This Epistle reflects certain conditions which Paul had to meet in his work and shows how he sought to check any defections from right conceptions of true Christian doctrine and life. In the second chapter Paul shows that the "day of Christ" may not speedily come, that certain other things must come to pass before it is revealed (compare Matthew ch. 24), and that the true Christian way is to stand fast always in the Lord. In thus standing fast every believer will grow in faith and grace.

The duties taught are "courage and faith under persecution and calmness and quiet industry in the presence of the greatest expectations."

The time of writing was probably, a few months after that of the First Epistle, in 53 A.D. The place of writing was Corinth.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Introduction (1:1-4). Salutation. Thanksgiving for the growth of faith in the Thessalonian church.

2. Doctrinal (1:5-2:17). The great day of the Lord. The Thessalonians seemingly misunderstood Paul's first letter and he now more fully explains the second advent of Christ. It will be a day of terrible retribution for the unbeliever but one of glory for all who trust in Him. A warning is given not to think the day near at hand. Certain things must first come to pass; "a falling away," "a man of sin," "signs and lying wonders." Thanksgiving that the Thessalonians have been chosen to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit.

3. Conclusion (Ch. 3). Paul requests prayer for himself that "the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified" with him; he also desires that the Lord may direct their "hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ." Paul gives command to discipline the disorderly and that every man earn his own living. Exhortation to be not weary in well doing. Salutation and benediction.


What can be said of epistolary writings; their place and usefulness? Give some reasons for Paul's writings. What were the qualifications of Paul? How are the Epistles best understood? What can be said of the four groups and their characteristics? What is the common plan? What is the supreme purpose? What can be said of the first group of Epistles; First and Second Thessalonians? What is the chief doctrinal point? The First Epistle; what can be said of the founding of the church at Thessalonica? What can be said of the occasion, time, and place of writing? What are the contents? Give the four parts of the principal divisions and chief points. The Second Epistle; what can be said of the occasion, time, and place of writing? Give the three parts of the principal divisions and chief points.







Problems of Early Christianity—The Old Faiths and the New. The Great Question. The Jewish Faith. The Heathen Faith. The New Faith in Christ. Practical Bearing upon Present Day Living. The Epistles of this Group.

The Epistle to the Galatians—The Galatians. Time of Writing. Occasion and Purpose. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistles to the Corinthians—The Church at Corinth. The City of Corinth.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians—Occasion and Purpose. Place and Time. The Supremacy of Christ. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Second Epistle to the Corinthians—Occasion and Purpose. Place and Time. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistle to the Romans—The Church at Rome. Occasion and Purpose. Place and Time. Central Thought. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.







The Old Faiths and the New.—In this second group of Epistles, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians, and Romans, we enter upon a period of conflict in which Christianity is being defined, and differentiated from Judaism and Heathenism. No great truth ever came into the world without a battle for its right to the attention of men.

The new faith in Christ made large claims for itself. It marked an advance upon Judaism and maintained that in Christ was fulfilled all the promises made by the prophets of the coming of the Jewish Messiah. It radically antagonized the heathen religions. It had a double task to win men out of Judaism and heathenism. Only by a careful study of these great doctrinal Epistles, and the circumstances out of which they arose, can it be seen how really great was this task.

The Great Question was: "On what terms does God save men? Does He owe salvation to any because of what they have done, or does He bestow it as an unmerited favor upon condition of trust and self-surrender?" Paul maintained that the sole basis of salvation is the grace of God through Jesus Christ to be appropriated by faith on the part of man. This is still the great question.

The Jewish Faith had been long in the world. Its prophets had two great themes, the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom. All Israel, while observing feast and fast days, the precepts of the Mosaic law and offering sacrifices, looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom upon earth, as the supreme fulfillment of its hopes.

It is the contention of Paul in these Epistles that this Messiah has come in the person of Jesus Christ and fulfilled all the promises made to Israel, and that, through faith in Him, believers are released from the observance of the precepts of the Mosaic law.

There were two parties of Jews who sought to check the advance of the early church, with its all sufficient Savior. First, there were the Jews who denied any and every claim of Christ to be the Messiah; of this party were the rioters who drove Paul out of city after city and sought to kill him in the temple. Second, there were the Jewish Christians who "asserted that their faith was Judaism with a new prophet; that the law of Moses and Mosaic ceremonial practices were binding on Christians as well as on unbelieving Jews; that Gentile believers must first become proselytes to Judaism before they could become Christians; and lastly that circumcision was the only gateway to baptism." With the first class of Jews it was not so difficult to deal, for they were out and out antagonists, but the Jewish Christians, (who still clung to the Jewish law) were constantly making trouble not only amongst the Christian Jews, who had fully come out from under the law of Moses and expressed their faith in Christ, but also among the Christian Gentiles who had come out of the heathen religions. The masterly arguments of Paul, presented in Galatians and Romans, deal chiefly with the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. In Gal. 5:1-4 he calls the return to Jewish belief and practice, "falling from grace."

The Heathen Faith.—The people of the Roman empire were idolaters. Temples for the worship of idols occupied prominent positions in every city. Some of them were very beautiful, from an architectural point of view. But the objects of worship, frequently, were of the basest sort. This worship caused a notorious laxness of view in regard to the relations between the sexes. This state of things is not overstated by Paul in his epistle to the Romans (1:18-23). It was this condition of idolatrous worship which led to the decision of the Jerusalem Council in regard to the Gentile converts (Acts 15:29). The Christianity which Paul taught called for a pure and upright life and a subjugation of human passion. We see the effects of former idolatrous lives manifesting themselves in the evils which Paul sought to correct in his letters to the Corinthians. It was no small conflict in which the Great Apostle to the Gentiles engaged when he sought to cleanse, through Christ, the base idolatrous hearts of the men of his times.

The New Faith in Christ.—Paul stands for spiritual freedom in Christ and loyalty to Him as Divine Lord without the necessity of observing the minute regulations of the Jewish ritual. He insists upon purity of soul and outward life as opposed to the laxness of the idolaters. Each individual soul is related to Christ to whom it is responsible.

Practical Bearing upon Present Day Living.—The things contended for, the evils scored in these Epistles may seem to belong to dead controversies, but they do not. While it is a fact that Christianity has freed itself from Judaism and the heathen religions have been conquered, the old evils still manifest themselves and the same remedies must be applied to them. Many to-day will do works of the law (Gal. 2:16) who have no use for Christ, or His church, thinking in this way to buy their way to God. These are the old Judaizers come to life again. They often know nothing and care less for spiritual things and heart righteousness. Sensuality, and all its attendant evils, driven from the old heathen temples, manifests itself in many ways; it still seeks to array itself in beautiful garments that it may lure many to ruin. There is need of repeating over again the arguments of Paul for a pure life lived in the faith of Jesus Christ, and the spiritual upbuilding of the soul through Him. Paul also insists upon good works as the outcome of faith, but faith must come first.

The Epistles of this Group were Written on the third missionary journey.


The Galatians to whom this Epistle was addressed; who were they? The name Galatia was used in two ways. Geographically to denote the country inhabited by the Celtic tribes (who were descended from the Gauls and who formerly inhabited the country we now call France). Politically it meant the Roman province which also included "Psidia, Lycaonia, and part of Phrygia to the south of Galatia proper." It has been a question which of the two Paul intended to address in his letter. There are no particular names of churches which are specified. Many scholars think that Paul means to address his Epistle to the churches of the Roman province. In this case the letter would be sent to the churches of a wide area, and primarily addressed to those founded in the first missionary journey at Antioch, Iconium, Derbe, and Lystra (Acts 14:1-28).

Luke speaks also of a region lying roundabout Derbe and Lystra where the gospel was preached on this first journey (Acts 14:6). The passage in Galatians (2:5) in which Paul refers to the Jerusalem Council where he contended for the liberty in Christ of the Gentiles would naturally be taken to mean these first churches (however wide the application) as the Jerusalem Council was held at the close of the first missionary journey. The word Galatia may be used in the narrower sense also by Luke in speaking of the beginning of Paul's second (Acts 16:6) and third (Acts 18:23) missionary journeys. It would be natural for the Judaizers, who sought to turn back the converts of Paul to Judaism, to begin with the churches in South Galatia first.

Time of Writing.—The common opinion is that this epistle was written at Ephesus, during Paul's long stay there on his third missionary journey or between 54 and 56 A.D. Some however would place the date earlier.

Occasion and Purpose.—That which caused Paul to write this first of his great doctrinal Epistles was the teaching of certain Judaizers who had found their way into the churches of Galatia. They claimed that the Jewish law was binding upon believers in Christ, and declared that salvation was through works of the law. They insisted upon the rite of circumcision. Paul's gospel and authority were disparaged.

Paul wrote this Epistle for the purpose of showing that "faith in Christ was the sole and sufficient condition of salvation."

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Introduction (1:1-10) Salutation. Subject of the Epistle; the defection of the Galatian churches.

2. The divine commission given to Paul as an apostle (1:11-2:21). He makes a statement of his claims and gives a sketch of his life. The gospel he preached came not from man but through a revelation of Jesus Christ. All this is to show the authenticity of his claims.

3. Doctrinal. Justification is by faith (ch. 3-4). The Galatian churches had received the Spirit through faith and not by law; why should they turn back? The superiority of faith is shown by Abraham's faith. The covenant of the promise of Christ was before the law. The law is subordinate to faith, its purpose is to bring men to Christ. There is serious danger in returning to the law.

4. Practical. Application of the doctrinal teaching (ch. 5-6:10). An exhortation to stand fast in the liberty of Christ; this liberty excludes Judaism. A warning against the abuse of Christian liberty. The works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. Sowing and reaping.

5. Autograph conclusion (6:11-18). Summary of the Epistle. The glory of the Apostle is in the cross of Christ. Benediction.


The Church at Corinth was founded during Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18). When the Apostle came to Corinth he found a home with Aquila and Priscilla and worked with them at his trade as a tent-maker. He preached in Corinth for over a year and a half. Although Paul was the means of converting Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, and his family, he had no large success with the Jews and consequently turned to the Gentiles. The Gentiles gladly heard him and there was a great ingathering into the church.

Paul's sole purpose was to preach Christ for he says, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).

The City of Corinth was the largest and most important city of Greece. The commerce of the world flowed through its two harbours. The population consisted of Greeks, Jews, Italians, and a mixed multitude; it was excitable, pleasure loving, and mercurial. In this city was held a perpetual vanity fair. The vices of the east and west met and clasped hands in the work of human degradation. The Greek goddess Aphrodite had a magnificent temple in which a thousand priestesses ministered to a base worship. While it was a center of wealth and fashion it was a city of gilded vice. In the philosophical schools there was an endless discussion about words and non-essentials and a strong tendency to set intellectual above moral distinctions.


Occasion and Purpose.-It was natural that the pressure of heathen customs and practices should be very great upon this young church. It was also to be expected that parties and divisions would arise. The immediate cause of this Epistle was that strifes and divisions had arisen in the church. It was the reporting of these matters to Paul by those "of the house of Chloe" (1 Cor. 1:11) that led him to write in the way in which he did. To settle the strifes of this church and to define the relations which Christians should assume towards the political, religious, and domestic institutions of the heathen was a matter of no little delicacy and difficulty. The mastery of Paul is shown in the laying down of principles, in accordance with the gospel of Christ, that were effective not only for the Corinthian church but which are applicable to-day to all such church difficulties and the conduct of Christians towards non-Christians.

A Former Epistle.—Previous to the one now called "The First," had been written to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9) and "it appears that the church had replied and requested further explanation and instruction on certain points" (5:11; 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:12).

Place and Time.—This Epistle was written during Paul's long stay in Ephesus (Acts 19:10; 1 Cor. 16:19) and the date is in all probability 57 A.D.

The Supremacy of Christ over all parties, His love as the touchstone of all service, and His resurrection are the great subjects of this Epistle.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Salutation and thanksgiving (1:1-9).

2. Correction of divisions of party spirit (1:10-4:21). It having been reported to Paul that four parties were striving for mastery in the church and there was great contention; he rebukes the party spirit, sets forth the principles of his teaching, and declares that Christ alone is the center of the Christian system. Faith stands not in the wisdom of men. The only foundation is in Christ.

3. Correction of moral disorders (ch. 5-7). In consequence of the close contact of the church with heathendom grave moral evils found their way into the fold. (a) The case of an incestuous person, Paul writes that such a person is to be expelled because the leaven of evil separates men from Christ. (b) The sin of going to law in heathen courts. Christians ought to settle their own disputes. (c) Sins of the body. No man should commit a sin as his body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

(d) Advice concerning marriage. The purpose of the gospel is not to antagonize but to Christianize the natural relations between society and the believer.

4. Correction of social and ecclesiastical misconceptions (ch. 8-14). (a) The question of eating of meats offered in idol worship is decided on the ground of love rather than knowledge. (b) The preacher of the gospel has the right to be supported by the church. (c) The true Christian liberty to be observed in the matters of eating and drinking. The proper celebration of the Lord's Supper. (d) The use and abuse of spiritual gifts.

(e) The greatness of love (ch. 13) The touchstone of all is love. (f) The end to be sought in every spiritual gift is the edification and upbuilding of the church.

5. The true doctrine of the resurrection (ch. 15), Paul lays great stress upon this doctrine. "If Christ be not risen from the dead, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain."

6. Parting directions, exhortations, and salutations (ch. 16).


Occasion and Purpose.—Paul was quite anxious about the reception of his first letter by the Corinthian church. Not long after its dispatch he sent Titus (2 Cor. 2:13) to see how it was received and to note whether the strife of parties had ceased, the incestuous person had been dealt with, and other matters properly adjusted. While Titus was absent on this mission Paul left Ephesus on account of the riot made by Demetrius and his fellows (Acts 19:23-41; 20:1) and went over into Macedonia (Acts 20:1). On the way, at Troas, he expected to meet Titus and was greatly disappointed in not seeing him (2 Cor. 2:12-13). It is evident that he met Titus in Macedonia and received from him the report of the condition of the Corinthian church and the manner in which his first letter had been received and acted upon (2 Cor. 7:5-16). Again it is evident, from the Epistle, that Titus brought back the encouraging news to the Apostle that the incestuous person had been dealt with and had repented, and that, as a whole, the church stood loyally by him, but still there were some who were making trouble. It was this report that was the occasion of the Second Epistle. Prof. G. B. Stevens says in regard to this letter, It reflects the mingled joy and grief of the Apostle. The earlier chapters are predominately cheerful and commendatory, the latter mainly sorrowful and severe. In the light of these facts the letter may be described as threefold: First, to encourage and instruct the church (1-7). Second, to induce the Corinthians to make a collection for the poor Judean churches (8-9). Third, to defend the writer's apostolic authority against the calumnies of his enemies (10-13).

Place and Time.—There are a number of references by the Apostle which show that this Epistle was written in Macedonia (1:15, 16; 2:12, 13; 8:1; 9:2) and shortly after Paul came out of Asia (1:8, compare Acts 20:1, 2). The time probably 57 A.D., the same year in which the First Epistle was written.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Salutation (1:1, 2)

2. Paul's principles and ways of working (1:3-7:16). In these chapters the Apostle endeavors to remove any feeling of bitterness which may have been produced in the Corinthian church by his dealing with a certain evil in the previous Epistle. He also vindicates his spiritual ministry. He declares his love for the church and its spiritual advancement. He also declares that he has put off his visit to Corinth that he might not come in sorrow. He rejoices in the good news brought by Titus. While he is weak in body, the power is of God and the ministry is a communication of the Spirit. He asserts that he is sustained by the hope of the future life. He earnestly exhorts the church to receive and live the gospel which he preached to them, for separation from the world and unity with God. In chapter seven he rejoices that they have received his words so well.

3. The collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (8-9). Paul here speaks of the liberality of the Macedonian churches and the work of Titus who is sent to forward the contributions.

4. Paul's vindication of his authority as an apostle (10:1-13:10). He has been attacked in his person, character, and teaching by parties in the Corinthian church who would overthrow his authority and ruin the church. These four chapters are a magnificent setting forth of his apostolic claims. (a) His power and glory are not in his bodily presence or his letters but in the spiritual might of God. (b) His preaching is the pure gospel of Christ. In bodily labor, trials, and persecutions he has excelled them all (ch. 11). (c) He has the highest qualifications (in visions and revelations) but he will glory only in his infirmities. His object is not to boast but to put an end to the disorders in the church. (d) The Apostle declares his intention to visit the church. By the power of Christ he will not spare the evil. His desire is only for righteousness.

5. Farewell greetings and messages (13:11-14).


The Church at Rome.—When and by whom this church was founded it is not known. It is thought that the "strangers of Rome" (Acts 2:10), who were present at the day of Pentecost when the great manifestation of the Holy Spirit took place, carried back the good news and that this was the beginning of the church. It was composed of both Jews and Gentiles for Paul addresses both classes (Rom. 1:13; 9:24; 11:13; 2:17; 4:1; 9:13; 7:1; 9:1-5). This church seems to have made rapid progress (1:8). Paul was evidently acquainted with some of the Roman Christians (16:3-15).

Occasion and Purpose.—This Epistle grew out of a desire on the part of Paul to see Rome (Acts 19:21; Rom. 1:11; 15:24-28). As this would be his first visit it was no more than a courteous act that he should write to the church of this intention. Again as the Christians in Rome might have heard false and distorted reports of the gospel which he preached, Paul takes care to clearly and logically set forth the principles and doctrines which he was teaching. This letter then becomes very important as the summing up of the experience and teaching of many years of service in the cause of Jesus Christ.

Place and Time.—This Epistle was in all probability written from Corinth during Paul's stay there in the course of his third missionary journey 58 A.D. (compare Acts 19:21; 20:1-3; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:20).

Central Thought.—The theme is justification by faith and not by works. There are four main positions. First, All are guilty before God. Second, All need a Savior. Third, Christ died for all. Fourth, We are all (through faith) one body in Him. The thought may be put in other ways, but all to the same purpose. The doctrine of sin, and the doctrine of grace; or the universality of sin and the universality of grace.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.—There are two great sections, Doctrinal (ch. 1-11), and Practical, (ch. 12-16).

1. Introduction (1:1-15). Paul's salutation to and thanksgiving for (the faith of) the Roman church.

2. Doctrinal (1:16-11:36). (a) The great theme stated, Justification by Faith. (b) All have sinned and all are guilty, Gentiles without the law and Jews with the law have failed to attain righteousness. (c) Righteousness for all comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not by law or works; the universality of grace. Abraham was justified by faith (ch. 4). The blessedness of justification by faith in Jesus Christ (ch. 5). (d) Objections against free grace that it will multiply sin or discredit the law are taken up and answered. Thorough union with Christ on the part of the believer annihilates sin and the law has no more any power. The believer justified by his faith in Christ is dead to the law while quickened to a new and holy life by the Spirit. (e) The apparent rejection of Israel is the problem considered in chapters 9-11. The nation sought righteousness through the law and not by faith. (f) Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. (g) The restoration of Israel.

3. Practical (12-16). (a) Advice and exhortation. The Christian's duty to the church and his conduct outside of it; duty to the state and society; duty of toleration and supreme trust in Christ. (b) Salutations. Paul's apology and explanation for addressing the Roman church. Greetings to various persons and farewell words.


What can be said of the old faiths and the new? What was the great question? The Jewish faith; how fulfilled in Christ? What can be said of the heathen faith? What of the new faith in Christ? What is the practical bearing of this group of Epistles upon every day life? When written? Give some account of the Galatians. When was the Epistle to the Galatians written? What was the occasion and purpose? Give the principal divisions and chief points. What can be said of the Epistles to the Corinthians? When was the church founded? Give some account of the city. What was the occasion and purpose of writing the first Epistle to the Corinthians? What was the place and time? What the thought of Christ. Give the principal divisions and chief points. What was the occasion and purpose of writing the Second Epistle? Place and time? Give the principal divisions and chief points. When was the church at Rome founded? What was the occasion and purpose of writing the Epistle to the Romans? Time and Place? Central thought? Give the principal divisions and chief points.







The Question at Issue—The Supremacy of Christ. Reason for Raising this Question. The Answer to the Question. Present Day Attention.

The Writing of the Epistles—The Interest. The Sending of the Epistles.

The Epistle to the Colossians—The Church at Colossae. The Occasion. Central Thought. Time and Place of Writing. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistle to Philemon—Occasion. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistle to the Ephesians—The City and the Church. Title and Time of Writing. Subject. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistle to the Philippians—The City and the Church. Occasion. Objects. Time of Writing. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.







The Supremacy of Christ.—These Epistles mark a new stage in the writings of Paul. The great question discussed in the second group of Epistles was in regard to the terms of salvation. The question now at issue (in Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians) is: What is the nature, the rank, the dignity of the Mediator of salvation? Is He one of a series of Saviors? Does He belong to some angelic order (Col. 2:18), or, does He stand supreme (Col. 2:8, 9, 19) and solitary? Is He the Head and Chief of all creation (Col. 2:19; 1:16). Other matters are discussed in these Epistles, but this is the great doctrinal question and burden of the Apostle's thought.

The Reason for the Raising of this Question was the development of certain false religious beliefs among which were, "asceticism, the worship of angels, revelings in supposed visions and belief in emanations." These "degraded the object of faith and so destroyed its meaning and power."

The Answer to the Question.—Paul is in no doubt as to the supremacy of Christ. All his argument is to show the Deity of Christ. He holds "aloft the true object of faith namely, the supreme Divine Savior Himself, in opposition to speculation which would degrade and deny to Him the eminence which belongs to Him" (Col. 1:15-20; Eph. 1:10, 20-23; 3-9; Philippians 2:5-11).

Present Day Attention has been focused upon this matter of the supremacy of Christ. Was he human or divine? The arguments of Paul still hold good for a stout belief in the Divine Christ. The writings of the Great Apostle are all characterized by his grasp of fundamental things; they serve their purpose for the modern church in bringing it back to Jesus Christ as the only Savior, as they also in times past corrected the errors of the early church.


The Interest in these Epistles is heightened by the fact that they were written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment of which Luke gives all too brief an account (Acts 28:30,31). They have been called from this fact, "The Epistles of the First Imprisonment." It is a marvel that Paul with his surroundings could have written in such a masterly way and handled such lofty themes in a manner which has commanded the attention of the thinking world ever since his day and age.

The Sending of the Epistles—Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were evidently dispatched from Rome by the same messenger, Tychicus (Col. 4:7, 9; Eph. 6:21). Philippians was sent by the hand of Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25; 4:18).


The Church at Colossae—The city of Colossae was situated about 110 miles east of Ephesus where Paul spent so long a time during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:10). We have no record of any visit of Paul to this city or how the church was founded (Col. 2:1). It is supposed that Ephaphras might have organized this church (Col. 1:7).

The Occasion (and purpose) of this Epistle was evidently the coming of Epaphras to Rome to consult Paul about the affairs of this church (1:7, 8).

In chapter 2:8-23 we have some account of the things which were troubling this Christian community and drawing them away from faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. False teachers had appeared at Colossae who were confusing the minds of the Christian converts. The starting point of the error of teaching was the old oriental dogma that matter is evil and the source of evil (2:8), that as God is good the world could not have come directly from God. To bridge the chasm between God and the matter of the world a long chain of intermediate beings was conceived to exist. This doctrine played havoc with the simplest moral conceptions for if matter is evil, and its source, then man's sin is not in his will, but in his body. Redemption from sin can come only through asceticism and the mortification of the flesh.

The result of all this was a lowering of the dignity of Christ, taking away His saving power and the "substitution of various ascetic abstinences and ritualistic practices (2:20) for trust in Him, the worship of angels (2:18), and a reveling in dreams and visions." "This was kindred to a type of speculation which later became rife under the name of Gnosticism."

To these ideas Paul opposed the true doctrine of the Headship of Christ (2:19) and that He is the only link between God and the universe (1:15-17). "By Him were all things created (1:16) that are in heaven and that are in earth." Christ is the only Mediator (1:13, 14). In this faith there is no place for ascetic mortification. Evil is in our unwillingness to live the life in Christ. In Christ we are dead to sin and risen with Him to a life of holiness (2:20-23; 3:1-4). Christ is not only our Redeemer (1:14) and the Head of the church, but the source of creation and its Lord (1:16, 17). We have a similar error (against which Paul warns) taught to-day by the speculative thinker, who fills the world with forces which leave no room for the working of a personal will.

Central Thought—Jesus Christ the sole Savior of men and Mediator between God and men (1:13-14), the Creator (1:16; 2:9) and Head of the church (1:18). Exhortation to follow Christ (3:1-4).

Time and Place.—This Epistle was written at Rome and sent by the messenger, Tychicus, (4:7, 8, 18) to the church at Colossae about 63 A.D.

Paul also directed that it be read to the church at Laodicea (4:16).

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Introduction (1:1-12) Salutation. Thanksgiving for their faith and prayer for their increase and knowledge of the will of God.

2. Doctrinal. "The sole Headship of Christ" (1:13-3:4). (a) Christ the Mediator. There is redemption for us through His blood. (b) Christ, the image of the invisible God, Creator and Preserver of all things. (c) He is the Head of the church, reconciliation is only through Him. The Colossians were reconciled to God through the mediation of Christ. It is the earnest desire of Paul that the church at Colossae should remain rooted in the faith which it had been taught. (d) Warning against wrong speculation; lest any man "through philosophy or vain deceit" obscure or cause the Colossians to deny the true Godhead of Christ (2:8-15). (e) Renewed warnings against errors in worship; Jewish observances, ordinances and asceticisms, and the adoration of angels. (f) In Christ we are dead to the rudiments of the world and risen into communion with God in Christ.

3. Practical (3:5-4:6). (a) Exhortations to cast out all sins of the unregenerate nature and to put on the new man in Christ. Then Christ will be all and in all. (b) All family and social duties are to be performed as in the sight of Christ. (c) Renewed exhortations to prayer and watchfulness.

4. Conclusion (4:7-18). (a) The mission of Tychicus and Onesimus, the greetings of the companions of Paul and his expressed desire that the churches of Colossae and Laodicea exchange Epistles. (b) The Salutation.


Occasion.—This is the only purely personal letter of Paul that we possess. It is placed in this group because it was sent with the Epistle to the Colossians and by the same messenger, Tychicus (Col. 4:7-9). Philemon was a member (with his wife Apphia) of the church at Colossae (Philemon 2). Onesimus was a runaway slave, belonging to Philemon, who had found his way to Rome and been converted by Paul (Philemon 10), who returned him, with this letter, to his master (Col. 4:9; Philemon 10-12).

In this letter we have a picture of the Apostle's kindness of heart and a carrying out of the principles which Paul had advocated in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (7:20-24), "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." We find also this same principle set forth, in another way, in his letter to the Colossians upon the "Supremacy of Christ." These principles will make all men brethren in Christ and every man will strive to serve Christ in his own place, whatever that place is. Paul exhorts Philemon, along this very line, to receive Onesimus not as a servant but as a brother beloved (Philemon 16).

The practical teaching of this letter upon the relations between masters and servants and employers and employees is very pertinent to the present times. The true solution of all labor troubles is that men should regard each other as brethren under the leadership of Jesus Christ.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Salutation and Thanksgiving (1-7).

2. Statement of the object of the letter (8-21). As a favor for love's sake Philemon is asked to receive back Onesimus no longer a runaway slave but Paul's spiritual child. Emphasis is laid upon the fact that he is now a Christian brother and should be received as such.

3. Conclusion (22-25). (a) In expectation of a speedy release from imprisonment the Apostle asks that a lodging be secured for him (22 v.). (b) Salutation and benediction (23-25).


The City of Ephesus and the Church.—This city was, next to Rome, the most important visited by Paul. It was the capital of Asia Minor and a great commercial center. It was the seat of the worship of the goddess Diana.

Paul first visited the city when he was returning from his second missionary tour, but, while asked to prolong his stay, he remained only for a short time (Acts 18:19-21). During his third missionary journey he again visited the city and remained for three years (Acts 20:31, compare 19:10, 22). His success in Ephesus was very great (Acts 19:18-20, 26) and extended beyond the city. The letters to the churches at Colossae (Col. 1:2) and Laodicea (this letter is lost) (Col. 4:16) show his care for the churches that were adjacent to Ephesus and of which we have no account of his visiting.

Title and Time of Writing.—Many scholars think that this Epistle was a circular letter written for the edification of the churches of Asia Minor and sent to the church of the capital city. This opinion is strengthened by the lack of local allusions and the naming of friends, as in other epistles. The inscription "at Ephesus" is wanting in two of the more important manuscripts. "On this view it may be supposed that a space was left in the salutation in which could be inserted the name of the particular place where the letter was being read, that the letter finally fell wholly into the keeping of the Ephesian church, and that the space was at length permanently filled by the phrase 'at Ephesus.'"

The time and place of writing was at Rome about 63 A.D. This Epistle was sent by the messenger, Tychicus, (Eph. 6:21) who also carried the letters to the church at Colossae and to Philemon (Col. 4:7-9).

Subject.—As in Colossians, the subject is the Headship of Christ (3:9-11); His person and work. God's eternal purpose is disclosed. Christ is given sway over all things "both which are in heaven and which are on earth" (1:10, 2l). The unity of the church in Christ is set forth; the unity of the Gentile and Jewish branches in Him; the unity of all the individual members in Him. This union is spiritual and not mechanical; it is holy and pure; therefore sin is excluded. Paul looks upon this as the mystery of the ages, now revealed to him. There is one great kingdom, the risen and glorified Christ is the Head of this kingdom (1:19-23). Redemption and reception into this kingdom is through Jesus Christ (1-7).

Paul in this epistle rises above the controversies of the hour and sees in clear vision the eternal realities and the great plan of God for the saving of men.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Introduction (1:1-23). (a) Salutation. (b) Thanksgiving and Thesis (1:3-14). Unity in Christ. He who is the Head of the church is the Center of the universe (1:10). The eternal purpose of God in Salvation is now made known. Before the foundation of the world, man and the redeemed church of Christ were in the thought of God. Christ in whom we have redemption looked forward to His mission from eternity. "Creation, nature, and redemption are all parts of one system"; in the reconciliation of the cross all orders of beings are concerned. "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him" (1:10). (c) Prayer. A petition that the understanding of believers may be illuminated; that they may know the hope of their calling and the riches of their heritage, which comes through unity with their risen and ascended Lord.

2. Doctrinal. Unity in Christ (ch. 2-3). (a) The calling of the Gentiles out of "trespasses and sins" into a new life in Christ. (b) Jews and Gentiles are reconciled and brought together in one body by the cross; "no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." All built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit. (c) The mystery of the universal call was made known to Paul by a new revelation. Prayer for a more full comprehension of this unity.

3. Practical. The new life in unity with Christ (4:1-6:17). (a) Exhortation to walk worthy of this new life. (b) Exhortation to gain the victory over sin "in virtue of the sense of unity with man in Christ." (c) Social duties. The regeneration and consecration in this new life of the relations of husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters, (d) Final entreaty, in the battle against the powers of evil, to put "on the whole armour of God."

4. Conclusion (6:18-24). (a) Personal. Paul requests special prayer for himself in captivity. Tychicus is commended. (b) Farewell and blessing.


The City of Philippi and the Church.—This city is notable from the fact that it was the first, in Europe, in which the gospel tidings were made known. Accounts of how Paul came to visit Macedonia and to begin the work in Philippi are given in Acts (16:10, 12-40). Going out of the city as he did by the river side, where prayer was wont to be made, and talking to a number of women about the "New Way" would not seem to be a very favorable beginning for a movement which was to produce such exceedingly large results. But Paul was so full of zeal for Christ that he seized every opportunity, no matter how small, to make Him known. This church afterwards was a great comfort to the Apostle. This letter shows how he loved it and how he exhorted them to rejoice in the Lord (4:4).

Occasion.—Paul was in prison in Rome. The Philippian converts were greatly concerned about him, therefore they sent Epaphroditus with gifts and offerings to him (4:18). This was not the first time that they had taken thought of and remembered their founder, in a similar way (4:15, 16). The Apostle was very grateful for their care (4:10-14). While in Rome, Epaphroditus was taken very sick and came near death (2:25-28). As soon as he had recovered from his sickness Paul sent him back to Philippi (2:28), with this letter. The reference to Caesar's household shows how strong a hold Christianity was getting in Rome (4:22; 1:12-14), and that there was great boldness in proclaiming the gospel.

Objects.—It is an Epistle of thanks to the Philippians for their kindness (4:10-18) in remembering the Apostle with substantial gifts in his work and for their fellowship (1:5) in the gospel.

Another object is to give them friendly advices and warnings (2:12-24; 3:2-3, 17-21). Paul does not forget, in this connection, to remind them of Him to whom they owe a whole-hearted allegiance, their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ (4:1).

The great doctrinal object, the Supremacy of Christ, is also set forth as is markedly manifest in the Epistles of Colossians and Ephesians. The whole Christian creed, "the incarnation, passion, and exaltation of Christ" is expressed in the second chapter (2:5-11), "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." The great end to be attained is likeness to Christ (2:5).

Time of Writing.—This epistle is generally regarded as the latest of the letters written during the first imprisonment in Rome, and in the same year with those to the churches at Colossae, and Ephesus. It was probably sent to Philippi shortly after the other Epistles (Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians) had been dispatched to Asia Minor.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.—This epistle is divided into two parts.

First part (1:1-3:1).

I. Introduction (1:1-2:4). (a) Greeting. (b) Paul's thanksgiving, joy in the fellowship, and prayer for the Philippians. (c) An account of the rapid spread of the gospel in Rome and the apostle's rejoicing that Christ is preached. (d) Exhortation to unity in Christ.

2. Doctrinal (2:5-12). In this short passage we have the Christian creed in brief form. "The Godhead of Christ and His Manhood—His Pre-existence and His Incarnation—His Passion and His Exaltation."

3. Conclusion of the first part (2:13-3:1). (a) Renewed exhortation to an upright and blameless Christian life. (b) The return of Epaphroditus. (c) Farewell message.

Second part (3:2-4:23). This section seems to have been added after the letter had been finished.

1. Warnings (3:2-21). (a) Against Judaic errors. Paul could boast that he had been a good Jew and scrupulously kept the law, yet he renounced all that he might win Christ. True righteousness can come only through faith in Christ. (b) Against a false idea of the liberty of the gospel; whereby men, claiming to be Christians, walked in evil ways.

2. Final exhortations (4:1-9) to steadfastness, unity, joy, and the following of all good in Christ. Acknowledgment of gifts and benedictions (4:10-23).


What is the question at issue in this group of Epistles? What the reason for raising this question? What answer is given? What attention is now paid to this question? When were these Epistles written? How were they sent? What can be said of the Epistles to the Colossians? The church at Colossae, how was it organized? What was the occasion of this Epistle? What the central thought? What the time and place of writing? Give the principal divisions and chief points. What was the occasion of the Epistle to Philemon? Give the principal divisions and chief points. What can be said of the Epistle to the Ephesians? Give an account of the founding of this church. What can be said of the title and time of writing? What is the subject? Give the principal divisions and chief points. What can be said of the Epistle to the Philippians? How was this church organized? What was the occasion of the Epistle? What the objects? Give the time of writing. Give the principal divisions and chief points.







The Place of the Epistles—When Written.

Paul's Fourth Missionary Journey—Notices and Time. The First Trip Eastward. The Trip Westward to Spain. The Second Trip Eastward. The Second Imprisonment of Paul.

The Questions Discussed—The Personal Element. The Doctrinal Part. The Practical Teaching. The Special Theme.

Paul's Last Declaration of His Faith.

The First Epistle to Timothy—Timothy. Time and Place. Purpose. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Epistle to Titus—Titus. Purpose. Time and Place. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

The Second Epistle to Timothy—The Last Words of Paul. Time and Place of Writing. Purpose. Principal Divisions and Chief Points.







When Written.—It is generally agreed among scholars that no place can be found for the writing of First Timothy, Titus, and Second Timothy in the period covered by Luke in his narrative in Acts.

Agreeing with the tradition of the church, however, the opinion of many eminent scholars is that Paul was released from the first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:16, 30), that he again took up his missionary work, and at the end of a few years of such work, he was a second time imprisoned and suffered martyrdom under the Roman Emperor Nero.

It was during this period between the first and second imprisonments that First Timothy and Titus were written. Second Timothy was written during the second imprisonment at Rome, and at the time when Paul was expecting his sentence of death. Eusebius (H. E. 2:22-2) says, that "at the end of the two years of imprisonment, according to tradition, Paul went forth again upon the ministry of preaching; and in a second visit to the city ended his life by martyrdom under Nero, and that during his imprisonment he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy."


Notices and Time.—From the notices given in the Epistles and other sources the probable course of the missionary travels of Paul from 63-67 A.D. has been reconstructed.

The First Trip Eastward.—When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi (2:24) and to Philemon at Colossae (22 v.) he evidently expected to be released from his imprisonment very soon and to see his beloved Philippian church and Philemon. He was so sure of speedily visiting Colossae that he asked that a lodging be prepared for him. With Paul to plan was to act and it is quite possible that he undertook this trip immediately upon his release from prison. He probably also visited Ephesus and a number of other cities.

The Trip Westward to Spain.—In the Epistle to the Romans Paul declared his intention to visit Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28). It is probable that he, upon his return from the visit to Asia Minor, remained for a very short time in Rome and then made a voyage to Spain.

The tradition of the early church is very pronounced upon this voyage to Spain. Clement of Rome (Cor. 5) speaks of Paul "having reached the furtherest bound of the west." This could hardly mean anything but Spain. The Muratorian Fragment names "the departure of Paul from the city to Spain."

The Second Trip Eastward.—We can now, from notices in First and Second Timothy and Titus, quite closely follow Paul in his travels. From Spain he probably went by various stages to Ephesus, where as he tells us (1 Tim. 1:3) he left Timothy in charge when he went into Macedonia. From Macedonia he probably wrote his first letter to Timothy (1:3). From Macedonia he went to Troas and from Troas to Miletus (2 Tim. 4:13). On account of sickness Trophimus was left at Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20). He next probably visited Crete, where he left Titus (Titus 1:5). From Crete it is thought that Paul went to Corinth (2 Tim. 4:20) where he left Erastus and in all probability wrote to Titus (1:5). In the letter to Titus Paul speaks of being at Nicopolis and of his intention to spend the winter in that city (Titus 3:12). But these notices of places are by no means exhaustive. They show, however, how wide were Paul's last travels.

The Second Imprisonment of Paul.—It is by no means unlikely that the enemies of Paul, of whom we hear so much in the first three missionary journeys, were stirred to renewed activity by again seeing him at liberty and conducting an active missionary campaign. But with a prisoner on parole from the Imperial Court the local magistrates could do nothing. But a new element came in. The great fire, which destroyed so large a part of the city of Rome on the 18th of July, 64 A.D., was used by the Emperor Nero as an excuse for starting a great persecution against the Christians. This was done to divert the odium of the starting of the fire from himself, for he had sung and danced the "Mime of the Burning of Troy" from a turret of his palace during this great conflagration. It was some time before this persecution was extended to the provinces and Paul's enemies saw their opportunity to accuse him to the Imperial Court, where under the circumstances they would then find a ready hearing. Paul was probably rearrested at Nicopolis where he intended to winter (Titus 3:12) and hurried off to Rome. This time he endured no light imprisonment. Onesiphorus had difficulty in finding him (2 Tim. 1:16, 17) and he was closely confined in a common criminal dungeon (2 Tim. 2:9). From this dungeon he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy and from thence he went to his death.


The Personal Element in these epistles is quite large both in respect to Timothy and Titus and Paul himself, but it is quite evident that this element is not the chief cause for the writing.

The Doctrinal Part.—Paul is here as strenuous for the need of repentance, the atonement through Jesus Christ and His sole sufficiency as Mediator, Savior, and Lord of all (1 Tim. 1:15-17; Titus 2:13; 3:4-7), as in his other Epistles. There are also enemies of the truth who are to be opposed (2 Tim. 3). It is quite evident from what Paul says in the second chapter and elsewhere in Titus and Second Timothy that the Colossian heresy is already bearing its evil fruit and is likely in the future to do great injury to the churches.

The Practical Teaching about the necessity of developing and conserving the Church's system of government occupies, however, the chief place. "The two notes which are struck again and again are: First, 'Hold fast the tradition, the deposit of faith.' Second, 'Preserve order in the church.' In short this group of Epistles constitutes Paul's last will and testament in which he gives his final instructions for the maintenance and continuity of the faith."

The church of Jesus Christ must have form and order. The truth must have a proper shelter. Churches must have and observe certain regulations. There must be proper officers.

The gospel is applied to outward conduct. Great stress is laid upon the character of church officers (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-7). Pastors are directed how they should bear themselves toward church members and what they should teach (1 Tim. 5; Titus 2). The conduct of the Church in the presence of the heathen world and its magistrates is set forth (Titus 3). Instruction is given in regard to public worship (1 Tim. 2). The most effective barrier against all forms of evil, it is declared, is a diligent study of the Scriptures and a fervent preaching of the word (2 Tim. 3:13-4:5).

The Special Theme then is, "The constitution, methods, and conduct of the early churches." (1 Tim. 2:1, 2, 8, 9-12; 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-14; 2:1-10; 3:1, 2, 8-11, 13, 14; 2 Tim. 2:2, 14-18; 3:6-9).


The famous passage in 2 Timothy (4:6-8) shows how the Great Apostle went triumphantly to his death. It is a declaration of the sustaining power of his faith in the Savior whom he had everywhere proclaimed.

"I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."


Timothy was one of the close companions of Paul. His father was a Greek and his mother a Jewess, by the name of Eunice, (2 Tim. 1:5; Acts 16:1). He was a native of Lystra, Paul took him as his companion in travel and addressed two Epistles to him; he was sent on a number of important missions. Timothy is mentioned twenty-four times by name in the Acts and Epistles; from these notices we can construct his itinerary with Paul and see how beloved and how trusted he was by the Great Apostle. During Paul's last journey he left him in charge of the affairs of the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). When Paul was apprehended a second time and lying in a dungeon at Rome, in expectation of death, he wrote Timothy the last letter (2 Timothy) he ever penned, and besought him to come to him as speedily as possible (2 Tim. 4:9).

Time and Place of Writing.—Paul in all probability wrote the First Epistle to Timothy from Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3) in the year 66 A.D.

The Purpose "involved is through the instruction and exhortation of Timothy, to purify, strengthen, and elevate the Christian life of the church in Ephesus." This teaching is put in such a way that it is applicable to every Christian minister and church.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Greeting (1:1, 2).

2. The True teaching of the gospel (ch. 1). Timothy is warned against false teachers and reminded of the aim and end of life in Christ.

3. The order and regulation of public worship (ch. 2). (a) Prayer, for those in authority and for all men. (b) Instruction. There is one God and one Mediator (Christ) between God and man. (c) Conduct of men and women in the church assemblies.

4. Qualifications of the church officers (ch. 3). (a) The ideal minister. (b) The ideal deacon and the ministering women. (c) Conclusion of chapter. Paul declares his intention to visit Timothy. An ascription of praise.

5. The government of the Christian church and community (ch. 4-6). In these three chapters Timothy is charged by Paul to keep before him a high view of the church and its grand destiny. (a) Timothy, as a teacher, is reminded of his commission to put the church on guard against errors of doctrine and life (ch. 4). (b) Timothy is shown how he should bear rule and conduct himself towards the elders and women of his congregation. Paul adds instructions in regard to a man's care for his family, support of the ministry, discipline of offenders, etc. (ch. 5). (c) Relations of masters and servants. Right attitude of believers in Christ toward riches. The chief thing is to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, and to fight the good fight of faith (6:1-19). (d) Closing charge to Timothy with benediction (6:20, 21).


Titus was a beloved disciple of Paul. He was a Gentile and was taken by Paul to Jerusalem and was made a test case of the freedom of the gospel and was not compelled to be circumcised (Gal. 2:1-5). He is mentioned by name, by Paul, twelve times in four of the Epistles (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6, 13, 14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18; Gal. 2:1, 3; 2 Tim. 4:10; Titus 1:4). The early church tradition is that Titus was descended from the royal family of Crete. He was an able and capable missionary. We have no account of his conversion. He might have come first in contact with Paul and been converted when the Great Apostle visited Crete on his way to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 27:7-13). Some time was spent at this island by Paul's company (Acts 27:9). Paul again visited Crete after his first Roman imprisonment and when he went away he left Titus in charge of affairs (Titus 1:5), "To set in order things that are wanting and to ordain elders in every city." This message of Paul to Titus not only shows the confidence which Paul reposed in him, but also how widespread Christianity was in Crete. After Titus had completed his special work in Crete he was to rejoin Paul at Nicopolis (Titus 3:12).

The Purpose of this letter is to show Titus what he is to do, in his work with the churches, and how to do it.

Time and Place of Writing.—It is thought that this Epistle was written from Corinth in 66 A.D.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Greeting and subject of the Epistle (1:1-5). Titus is left in Crete to accomplish certain things (1:5) after which he is to rejoin Paul (3:12).

2. The kind of officers to be appointed in the Cretan churches (1:5-16). Special moral and spiritual fitness is set forth as necessary in view of the peculiar character of the Cretans and certain forms of doctrinal error.

3. The instruction to be given to the Cretans (2:1-3:11). (a) "The things which become sound doctrine." (b) Practical teaching for the proper regulation of the conduct of all classes. (c) The foundation of the instruction rests upon Christ. (d) Proper attitude of the Christian community toward the Pagan world; magistrates and those who have not yet believed in Christ. Kindness and gentleness and the avoidance of foolish questions best reveal the spirit of Christ by those who profess His name. (e) Parting requests and benediction (3:12-15).


The Last Words of Paul.—This Epistle is of special interest as it contains the last recorded words of Paul to his faithful disciple, Timothy. The Great Apostle is writing from a strict prison confinement (1:16, 17; 2:9). He has had a first preliminary trial (4:16) and this was of such a dread nature that none of his friends dare to stand with him, yet he rejoices in his Lord that He stood by him and strengthened him. He feels however that his end is near and gives a magnificent testimony of his faith (4:6-8). He urges Timothy to come to him in Rome and bring Mark with him (4:9, 11).

Time and Place of Writing.—It was written by Paul in prison at Rome 67 A.D.

The Purpose.—Paul shows here his care for the churches, their upbuilding in the faith and their proper regulation of the things that pertain to worship and organization. Timothy, as a preacher of the Word, has his personal responsibility, for the upbuilding of the churches, presented to him.

Principal Divisions and Chief Points.

1. Greeting and thanksgiving (1:1-5).

2. The Christian conduct of Timothy (1:6-2:14). Paul exhorts Timothy not to allow himself to be daunted by fear of opposition or suffering in doing his work for Christ. He encourages him by, (a) The great revelation and power of the gospel. (b) His own work. (c) The sure hope of a great reward.

3. Timothy as a preacher of the Word (2:15-4:5). Paul exhorts Timothy, (a) To study to show himself a workman. (b) In the perilous times that are coming to feed on the Word of God and preach it in season and out of season.

4. Last words of Paul (4:6-22). The Apostle now turns to himself and speaks of his coming martyrdom. He is ready to be offered, he has fought a good fight. He beseeches Timothy to come and see him and bring Mark. He refers to his first hearing when every friend left him alone and only the Lord stood by him. He, after various messages, closes with the usual benediction.


What is the place of these Epistles in Paul's life? What can be said of Paul's fourth missionary journey; the first trip eastward, the trip westward to Spain, and the second trip eastward? How did Paul come to be imprisoned a second time? What are the questions discussed in these Epistles; the personal element, the doctrinal part, the practical teaching, and the special theme? What is Paul's last declaration of faith? What can be said of the First Epistle to Timothy; Timothy's life, time, and place of writing, the purpose, and the principal divisions and chief points? What can be said of the Epistle to Titus; the life of Titus, the purpose, time, and place of writing, and the principal divisions and chief points? What can be said of the Second Epistle to Timothy; the last words of Paul, time and place of writing, and the principal divisions and chief points?

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