Have you ever wondered what the “epistles” are? We have heard people talk about them in church, but have we ever stopped to understand what they are? Essentially, the epistles are personal letters written to churches and individuals. Elmer Towns says, “While they follow the typical form of first-century letters in the Roman world, they uniquely express Christian truth.” These authors wrote to express great truths of the Christian faith. They also wrote to explain how a Christian should exhibit love, grace, forgiveness, faith, salvation, and sanctification. Further, in the letters they give direction on how to defend the Christian faith and solve problems and conflicts. They have much to teach us about the Christian life.
A famous epistle author would be the Apostle Paul. In fact, one of Paul’s signature greetings is, “grace and peace.” Elmer Towns writes, “The Epistles are arranged in the New Testament as those written by the apostle Paul and signed by him (13 letters) and those written by James, Peter, John, and Jude (7 letters) with Hebrews recognized by some as Pauline.” Paul is attributed to Romans, 1Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philipians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The general epistles would include Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.
As mentioned before, these letters were important. Over time, Christians began to spread out over the Roman Empire, and they used these letters to communicate with one another. From that, churches were formed in four provinces of the empire: Macedonia, Galatia, Asia, and Achaia. ElmerTowns, Professor at Liberty University says, “The authors believed they were the recipients of God’s grace to the world.” Through these letter, they wanted to make sure that the world knew about the wonderful grace of God through Jesus Christ. Today, may we learn what Paul and the others cherished, and may we apply it to our lives.