The Bible is the divine Word of God, brought here on earth from the above through the Holy Spirit and the people entrusted to write it to communicate significant lessons that will help every single individual through their life’s journey.
The bulk of the New Testament of the Scriptures is made up of epistles. Twenty-one of these 27 biblical books are epistles.
When we look at them, their texts are undeniably more formal and informative compared to other writings, which can talk about any subject with a casual or friendly tone. That’s why it can be challenging to get into some of them at first, unlike the Gospels or Acts, which are more comprehensible.
What Are The Epistles In The Bible?
The term “epistle” has a rich linguistic history. It is derived from the Greek term “epistolé,” a word that encapsulates the concepts of a “message,” “letter,” or “dispatch.”
Similarly, the term is iggerah in the Hebrew language, which equivalently means “letter” and is mostly used to mean longer and more official writings, generally from people in a position of authority.
Epistles have a unique written style, a kind of religious essay, with a typical pattern: an introduction at the beginning, following the central issue, and finally prayers and good wishes.
A few of these writings are addressed to individual churches, including the Epistle to the Ephesians, often known as “Letter to the Ephesians” or just Ephesians. Some are addressed to the entire Christian community.
Each of them incorporates empowering instructions intended to assist other Christians in their life experiences, ranging from comfort in hardship and struggles to enjoying the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gave us, just like how Christ lived when He was on earth.
The Apostle Paul wrote the initial 13 of these epistles, each addressing a different circumstance or concern. The works of Paul account for roughly a quarter of the total contents of the New Testament’s writings.
Truly, it’s a special type of letter, one that should be treasured and honored. The Epistles are writings sent in the early days of Christianity to budding churches and individual followers.
Interesting Facts About The Epistles In The Bible
- The earliest New Testament epistles were believed to be the First and Second Thessalonians (about 51 A.D.).
- The New Testament contains 21 books known as epistles.
- Seven letters are addressed to seven churches in the prophetic book of Revelation. The message of these writings was revealed to disciple John in a vision from the Lord. These seven “epistles” additionally possess prophetic implications for a greater historical people.
- Paul, an apostle of God, wrote thirteen of the New Testament’s epistles.
- Several individuals wrote “epistles” and then marked them with Paul’s name. As Paul mentions in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, this practice is not without precedent. While it may be incorrect, there are still those who choose to write unsigned letters, driven by the desire to keep their authorship concealed.
- Nobody knows who created the Epistle written to the Hebrews. Around forty distinct people have been claimed as its writers. It is more likely a sermon spoken by Paul that was later written down as an epistle by him or someone else.
How Many Epistles Are In The Bible?
There are 21 epistles in the Bible. You’ll find that Paul, the prolific writer, penned a remarkable 13 of these 21 epistles, namely:
- 1 and 2 Corinthians
- 1 and 2 Thessalonians
- 1 and 2 Timothy
- Book of Philemon
The Prison Epistles (Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon) were written during Paul’s two-year house imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:30–31), while the Pastoral Epistles, which are Titus, 1 and 2 Timothy, were addressed to church officials and provided numerous instructions about early church procedures and religious practices.
Soon after, eight General Epistles were made (also known as Catholic Epistles, partly because they were originally addressed to “universal” readers), consisting of James, Hebrews, 1, 2, and 3 John, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude.
The actual writer of Hebrews is a mystery, but the book was originally assigned to Paul or someone connected to him. James, Jesus’ half-brother, is considered to have authored one of the first New Testament works (1 Corinthians 15:7).
The apostle Peter wrote the first and second books of Peter. Meanwhile, the Apostle John wrote three books, as well as the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John. Jude, Jesus’ other half-brother, made the Epistle of Jude.
Each of the recognized writers of the Epistles was either an apostle (Paul, Peter, and John) or one of Jesus’ family members (James and Jude). All of the aforementioned individuals had a particular mission from the Lord Jesus, which entailed sending messages or letters to other people.
Men of God wrote these letters, which have been preserved and constitute a significant portion of the New Testament.
How Should Christians Read And Interpret The Epistles?
The Christian community around the world started with the Holy Spirit’s blessing written in Acts 2, making the Lord Jesus Christ the solid foundation of our faith.
The apostles embarked on a religious journey, preaching the message of Christ Jesus in whatever way they could think of, which included writing epistles. God inspired them to compose these sacred epistles as a guideline for leading a life with Him.
Paul explained the purpose of the Holy Spirit: “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:12–13).
Why Are These So Important To The Christian Faith?
Although Paul and the other disciples of God wrote multiple letters, the epistles we have now are the only letters that have been accepted into the official collection of Scripture. Through these written materials, they present a fascinating glimpse into what the early generation seemed like.
Today, several of the arguments detailed in these epistles are still going on, though under different titles. The epistles on church governance offer the necessary direction concerning how to choose the right pastors, ministers, and church leaders in our Christian church.
Meanwhile, Epistles such as Romans teach us not just the fundamental concepts of the gospel’s message but also what it means for our lives.
The epistles are beneficial and valuable as they provide us a glimpse of what it takes to thrive as devoted followers of God without our Savior Jesus standing there directly telling us what to do. Their importance is the same as the gospel to all of us.
Indeed, God is calling everyone to be His word or epistle to those around us. As indicated in 2 Corinthians 5:18–20, the Lord has bestowed upon us the task of conciliation and to serve as His dedicated ambassadors. He invites us to wholeheartedly share the word about His unconditional love and kindness.