Who wrote the books of the Bible and when?

The Pauline Epistles are a group of New Testament letters to early Christian churches written by the Apostle Paul who, prior to his conversion to Christianity, was a Jewish Pharisee known as Saul of Tarsus. He studied Jewish law and traditions under Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel, in Jerusalem and became a staunch opponent to Christianity, leading the persecution of early Christians (he oversaw the stoning of Stephen - Acts 7:60, 22:20). Luke records the account of Saul's conversion while on his way to Damascus to bring back believers of the "Way" as prisoners to Jerusalem (Acts chapter 9). Afterward, Paul became the "Apostle to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6, 22:21, Romans 11:13). The epistles of Paul are generally believed to have been written between A.D. 45 and his death cerca A.D. 68.

      Romans, a letter (or epistle) to the Christians in Rome, was written about A.D. 57 to 59 by the Apostle Paul during his third missionary journey in Corinth (possibly dictated by Paul and written by Tertius, Romans 16:22). It describes the fallen position of both Jews and Gentiles and how Christ has provided salvation for all. The Epistle to the Romans includes:

  • God's wrath and judgment
  • Jews under the Law
  • Abraham and righteousness through faith
  • Death through sin and life through Christ
  • Slaves of God, not sin
  • Grafted branches of the Gentiles onto the tree of Israel
  • Attributes of love
  • Submission to authorities
  • The weak in faith
  • Plans to visit Rome and personal greetings

        I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
        If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
(Romans 11:13-21)

      1 Corinthians, the first letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth, was written around A.D. 55 or 56 by the Apostle Paul after establishing a church there (Acts 18:1-17). It clarifies many of the themes which became sources of dispute that the Corinthians were having since Paul's departure. Some believe that this wasn't his first letter to the Corinthians based on his reference in verse 5:9 of a letter in which he warns them not to associate with sexually immoral people who call themselves their brothers, though he may have been referring to the sexual immorality addressed in the start of the same chapter. Although he states in 16:21 that he wrote the letter with his own hand, he includes Sosthenes in the opening greeting, who possibly assisted in composing or dictating the letter, since there are greetings from other specific believers at the close of the letter. The Epistle to the Corinthians includes:

        But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

      2 Corinthians, the second letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth, was written around A.D. 57 after his second visit to the church there (2 Corinthians 12:14). It further clarifies some of the subjects not settled in his prior letter and addresses new problems, such as his authority. He may have had assistance with writing or composing the letter from Timothy, since he included him in the opening greeting and finishes the letter by including the greetings of all the saints. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians includes:

  • Greetings from Paul and Timothy
  • Paul's trust in God's comfort
  • Paul's plans to visit Corinth are changed
  • Expressed confidence in Paul's ministry, a ministry of reconcilliation
  • Do not be yoked with unbelievers
  • Encouragement of generosity
  • Titus to be sent to Corinth
  • Defense of Paul's ministry and accusations against false apostles
  • Paul's right to boast
  • Concerns for the spiritual welfare of the church members
  • Corinthians demand proof of Paul's authority
  • Final greetrings.

        Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6)

      Galations, a letter (or epistle) to the Christians in Galatia, was written some time between A.D. 48 and 49 by the Apostle Paul after establishing churches in the region of Pisidian (Acts 13:14-14:23). In it he defends the gospel of grace through Christ and clarifies certain points brought up by Jewish Christians about the Gentile believers and the Laws of Moses. The Epistle to the Galations includes:

  • Greetings
  • Warnings not to pervert the gospel
  • Paul called by God and accepted by the Apostles
  • Opposition to Peter on justification by faith, not the law
  • Believers no longer under the law
  • Heirs of Christ and sons of God
  • Do not take freedom in Christ for granted
  • Sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit
  • Do good and share good things
  • Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything

        Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing -- if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galations 3:3-5)
        You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galations 3:26-29)

      Ephesians, a letter (or epistle) to the Christians in Ephesus and Asia Minor, was written some time between A.D. 60 and 61 by the Apostle Paul during his arrest in Rome. In it he explains Christ's eternal plans and unity of body, along with the practical matters of daily life. The Epistle to the Ephesians includes:

  • Predestination of Christians
  • Thanksgiving for the Ephesian church
  • Dead in transgression, alive in Christ
  • Gentiles are now one with Jews in Christ
  • Paul's ministry to the Gentiles
  • One body and Spirit of Christ
  • Live as children of light
  • Submission of spouses to each other
  • Children to obey their parents and fathers to not exasperate their children
  • Slaves are to obey their masters and masters are to respect their slaves
  • Put on the armor of God
  • Final greetings

        Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
        Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occassions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18)

      Philippians, a letter (or epistle) to the Christians in Philipi, was written some time between A.D. 60 and 61 by the Apostle Paul during his arrest in Rome. He may have had assistance with composing the letter from Timothy, whom he includes in the opening greeting. In it he discusses his joy, whether alive and spreading the gospel or dead and before the presence of Christ. The Epistle to the Philipians includes:

  • Greetings from Paul and Timothy
  • Thankfulness for the Christians in Philipi
  • Paul's chains serve to advance the gospel
  • Imitating Christ's humility
  • Do everything without complaining or arguing
  • Timothy and Epaphroditus to be sent to the Philipians
  • No confidence in the flesh
  • Forgetting what is behind and pressing on toward the goal
  • Exhortations to think about and practice that which is praisworthy
  • Appreciation for the gifts from the Philipians
  • Final greetings

        But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philipians 3:7-11)

      Colossians, a letter (or epistle) to the Christians in Colosse, was written some time between A.D. 60 and 61 by the Apostle Paul during his arrest in Rome. Paul had not met the Colossians, though he had heard of strange rituals and beliefs springing up in the church there, so he wrote to teach that Christ was God. He may have had assistance with composing the letter from Timothy, whom he includes in the opening greeting. The Epistle to the Colossians includes:

  • Greetings from Paul and Timothy
  • Thankfulness for the Christians in Colosse
  • Christ the image of God
  • Paul's labor for the church and those he has not met
  • Freedom from human regulations through Christ
  • Put to death immorality of all kinds and possess Christ's love
  • Rules for Christian households
  • Further instructions, including devotion to prayer
  • Tychicus to be sent to the Colossians
  • Final greetings
  • Sharing letters from Paul with the Laodiceans

        Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
        Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17)

      1 Thessalonians, the first letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul (along with Silas and Timothy, 1:1) to the Christians in Thessalonica, was written some time between A.D. 50 and 51 primarily to encourage the Thessalonian believers during their persecution by the Jews in that region, which Paul and Silas encountered themselves (Acts 17:1-15), as well as to clarify the resurrection of the dead. The First Epistle to the Thessalonians includes:

  • Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy
  • Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians' faith
  • Paul's ministry not a failure in Thessalonica
  • Timothy's report of the Thessalonians' faith
  • Encouragement to continue doing more and more in brotherly love
  • The dead in Christ will rise first
  • The day of the Lord will come like a thief
  • Further instructions

        It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

      2 Thessalonians, the second letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Thessalonica, was written around A.D. 51 or 52 in response to troubles that arose due to either his first letter or a letter that may have been forged in his name (2 Thessalonians 2:2), which brought up questions concerning the second coming of Christ. As with the first letter, he includes Silas and Timothy in the greetings, which may indicate that they helped in composing the letter. Regardless, in the close of the letter he states, "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write" (3:17). The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians includes:

        Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God'a temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
        The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of conterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

      1 Timothy, the first letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul to Timothy while in Ephesus, was written around A.D. 64. Timothy was personally mentored by Paul (Acts 16:1-5) and the letter was written as encouragement to Timothy, as well as to correct problems of church doctrine and various aspects of Christian living. The First Epistle to Timothy includes:

  • Greetings to Timothy
  • Warnings against teachers of false doctrines
  • The Lord's grace to Paul
  • Intercession for rulers
  • Conduct for women
  • Requirements for overseers and deacons
  • Do not forbid the good things from God
  • Instructions to Timothy
  • The treatment of widows
  • Double honor to worthy church elders
  • Admonition of slaves to serve Christian masters even better
  • The interests of those who teach false doctrines
  • The evil of loving money
  • Exhortation to Timothy to continue the good fight

        But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time -- God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16)

      2 Timothy, the second letter (or epistle) from the Apostle Paul to Timothy (and possibly Paul's last letter), was written around A.D. 66 or 67. He wrote about his own confidence in Christ, who was awaiting him as he neared death, and to encourage his associate Timothy. The Second Epistle to Timothy includes:

  • Greetings to Timothy from Paul
  • Do not be ashamed to suffer for the gospel
  • Some deserted Paul while others remained faithful
  • Paul's suffering for Christ
  • Workman approved by God Gently instruct those in opposition
  • Godlessness in the last days
  • All who live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted
  • Paul's charge to Timothy to preach the Word
  • The Lord is Paul's strength and defense
  • Final greetings

        Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anyhting to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26)

      Titus, a letter (or epistle) to Titus while on the island of Crete, was written around A.D. 64 or 65 by the Apostle Paul. Titus was a fellow acssociate of Paul in the ministry (2 Corinthians 8:23), and Paul wrote this letter to him as a guide for ordaining elders in the church and for instructing believers in the basic doctrines of the faith. The Epistle to Titus includes:

  • Greetings from Paul to Titus
  • Requirements of the church elders
  • Charge to avoid false teachings
  • What should be taught to the young and old, as well as slaves
  • Doing what is good
  • Warning divisive troublemakers
  • Final greetings

        An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless -- not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:6-9)

      Philemon, a letter (or epistle) to Philemon and the church that met at his home in Colosse, was written some time between A.D. 60 and 61 by the Apostle Paul. A slave of Philemon named Onesimus had run away to Rome where he was converted by Paul. Paul then writes this letter to Philemon requesting that he welcome Onesimus back as a Christian brother. The Epistle to Philemon includes: greetings from Paul to Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church; Paul's plea of Onesimus; Onesimus means "useful" and he will become useful both to Paul and to Philemon; hope that Paul may return to visit Philemon's house and final greetings.

        Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul --an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus-- I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
        I am sending him --who is my very heart-- back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anyhting without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good -- no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
(Philemon 8-16))

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