Pauline Epistles

The 13 Pauline Epistles are further classified various various ways each of which is instructive. Common categories are: Major, Early, Prison, Pastoral and Personal.  With some letters fitting into multiple categories.

The Major Epistles are those that deal with Christian theology and practice in detail. They are in general longer and more detailed. There is a school of thought that they were put first in the cannon because of their completeness and importance.

Paul’s Early Epistles are those that are thought to be the oldest. Many think of them as more basic than the Major Epistles with Liberal scholars thinking that they were written by Paul before his theology was fully developed. They are not really significantly simpler but they are not the complete treatise on Christian Doctrine that Romans is, for example.

The Pastoral and Personal epistles were written to particular people rather than a group. The Pastoral Epistles being written to people in leadership positions in the church. The Pastoral Epistles focus on Church governance and refer to the 'faith' as something to be protected and passed on carefully.

Philemon is a personal letter from Paul to the master of a run away slave. The notion of slavery is actually peripheral to the letter which is really about relationships among Christians.

The Prison Epistles were written while Paul were in prison.  This is a bit of history or biographical information about the writing of these letters but there is really no thematic union to these as a group.

Pauline Epistles
Epistle Type Place Written Traditional Date
Romans Major Corinth 55-56
1 Corinthians Major Ephesus 54-55
2 Corinthians Major Macedonia 55-56
Galatians Early Antioch 48
Ephesians Prison Rome 60 to 61
Phillipians Prison Rome 60 to 61
Colossians Prison Rome 60 to 61
1 Thessalonians Early Corinth 51
2 Thessalonians Early Corinth 51
1 Timothy Pastoral/Personal Macedonia 62
2 Timothy Pastoral/Personal/Prison Rome 64
Titus Pastoral/Personal Macedonia 63
Philemon Personal/Prison Rome 60 to 61