28 April 2016

Guide to the Bible (8) Paul's letters - By Jack Lewis

Hello everyone, hope you enjoyed the Gospels post. As you are all probably well aware, after Acts comes a load of letters written by Christ's followers, either to individuals or to a group. There are probably too many to do all in one blog post, so today I'm doing the first 7, also probably the most well known. You could maybe even call them the "major" letters, or even the "Paul letters!" Anyways, the seven for today are Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. 

To start off, Romans. This is a letter written by Paul to the church in Rome, whom he desperately wanted to visit. Seeing as this was proving difficult, he wrote a very long letter laying out his teaching. It contains bits on nearly all of his favourite subjects, things like rejoicing in suffering (Chapter 5), how nothing can separate us from the love of God (8), and most importantly the subject of salvation. (I'll go into that in more detail in a future post) Put simply, if you want to read an expansive book on the Christian faith, by a very creditable author, then read Romans! 

Following on from that, are the two letters to the church in Corinth. The young church was struggling at the time; after all the city of Corinth was not an easy place for a young church to thrive. In fact the city was perhaps best known for it's temple shrine to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The first book is probably most well known for Paul's famous passage about love. (Chap 13) Book one also has a similar feel to Romans, in that many different topics of the faith are covered. The second letter was then written shortly after the first, and it was because some people in the church were spreading rumours that Paul couldn't be trusted, and saying they shouldn't listen to his teaching. In this letter Paul reminds them of the suffering he'd been through for the sake of Christ, although because he is defending himself he admits that he feels uncomfortable having to "boast" about his own achievements. There is also some great teaching in there though. 

Next, is the book of Galatians. Here Paul's main subject is grace. He passionately addresses the people who were telling others that they still needed to follow the Old Testament laws of sacrifice and circumcision. Paul argued that salvation is given by grace and not earned, and so circumcision was irrelevant. I can't finish without mentioning that the Fruits of the Spirit are of course found in chapter 5. 

After Galatians, is Ephesians. While many of Paul's letters address a particular subject specific to that church, Ephesians, like Romans, is much more generalized. It's possible that it was not written to a specific church, but instead as a circular teaching letter to many different churches, Ephesus being one. Also in chapter 6 is the famous "Armour of God."

 Philippians is a short letter written to the church in Philippi by Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. He reminded the people to rejoice in whatever circumstances they found themselves in, and he also explained that his arrest was helping the Gospel to be spread. He also reminded them of what Jesus went through for them, so they would be bold and courageous for him. (Jesus, not Paul, that is!) 

Finally for now, Colossians. The book is similar in style to Ephesians, it contains lot's of general teaching on how to live a good Christian life. Paul had never visited this church, it had actually be planted by his friend, so Paul wanted to finally "talk" to them personally. This was also written while Paul was under house arrest in Rome.

Thanks for reading, and by the way, if you can't remember which order the last four come in, remember Gods Electric Power Company!