Paul’s letters to the churches can be chronologically and theologically divided into 3 categories: his early letters, middle letters, and latter letters. This chronological order gives tremendous insights into the strategy Paul used to make these newly founded churches strong.
For example, his first or early letters were tools written to establish new believers in the gospel of grace. The following is a breakdown or description of these letters in chronological order. They are tools, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that addressed specific and real life issues in these newly founded churches.
Galatians was written to establish new believers in the gospel of grace. It teaches that a believer is set free from sin and law and justified by grace alone through faith. It exposes a popular substitute for the Holy Spirit in the church, which is the flesh, and calls us to return to the principles of walking and living by the Spirit.
First and Second Thessalonians continues the theme of establishing believers in the gospel of grace; encouraging them to persevere and grow in their new faith, even in the face of affliction and persecution. They are encouraged to remain steady in faith even when false reports and world conditions look very much against them. The Day of the Lord will come in God’s perfect time.
First Corinthians was written to unify and sanctify this new church by helping them understand the implications of the gospel as it addresses every issue that arises. They needed to put into practice their position in the risen Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Second Corinthians contains Paul’s defense of his ministry because of false teachers who undermined the gospel of grace through divisions and discredited Paul and his message.
Romans presents a complete discourse and work of the gospel. Paul details the implications of sin, lays the foundation of justification by faith alone, salvation, sanctification and the resulting service in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These first six letters strengthen and establish believers in the unshakable foundation of the gospel. They are the result of Paul’s personal work of evangelism, planting churches and then returning to establish them and appoint elders. Though there were opportunistic false teachers who sought to de-rail the church, Paul remained steadfastly anchored in the gospel of grace. SO MUST WE!
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