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Thursday, August 30 2012

The Epistles: What Is An Epistle?

Studies in this complete Epistles series:
What Is An Epistle? Luke Acts Romans First Corinthians
Second Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians
First Thessalonians Second Thessalonians First Timothy Second Timothy Titus
Philemon Hebrews James First Peter Second Peter
First John Second John Third John Jude Revelation


The English word "epistle" originated from a Latin word, epistola, that itself originated from a Greek word, pronounced epistole, that meant to send on. While the English word "pistol" originated from the same Latin version of the word, epistola, as "epistle," epistles were a means delivering communication, not of delivering bullets.

The English word "apostle" originated from a Greek word, pronounced apostolos, that although related to the Greek word for "epistle," refers to a person sent, rather than a communication sent. In the Holy Bible, apostles used epistles to communicate when they were unable to make the journey in person. Epistles were letters sent by apostles, to individuals (e.g. Paul to Timothy), or to congregations of Christians in a particular place (e.g. Paul to the Corinthians), or written to Christians in general (as we will explain further) with Biblical teaching and prophecy. All have since been read by a vast number of people.

The epistles of the Holy Bible have been classified into two groups. The epistles by the apostle Paul are known as the "Pauline Epistles":

Paul

  • Romans

  • First Corinthians

  • Second Corinthians

  • Galatians

  • Ephesians

  • Philippians

  • Colossians

  • First Thessalonians

  • Second Thessalonians

  • First Timothy

  • Second Timothy

  • Titus

  • Philemon

The others are the general epistles (also known as the "Catholic Epistles," meaning worldwide; they have absolutely no connection to the Roman Catholic Church that was invented by the Roman Emperor Constantine centuries later; see also Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

  • Hebrews

  • James

  • Peter

  • Peter

  • First John

  • Second John

  • Third John

  • Jude

The apostles Luke and John also wrote epistles, that are generally not classified as epistles (although this writer does regard them as epistles, as well as being a "Gospel" by Luke and a "Revelation" by John), even though they most definitely meet the same definition of "epistle" as the others i.e. "Epistles were letters sent by apostles, to individuals (e.g. Paul to Timothy), or to congregations of Christians in a particular place (e.g. Paul to the Corinthians), or written to Christians in general, with Biblical teaching and prophecy. All have since been read by a vast number of people."

Patmos Luke's epistles, more popularly known as the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, were written by the apostle Luke to a man named Theophilus. If it had been recognized as the epistle that it is, the Book of Luke could also be known as "First Theophilus," while Acts could be "Second Theophilus":

"1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4 KJV)

"1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me." (Acts 1:1-4 KJV)

The "Book" of Revelation was also an epistle, given to the apostle John to write to the "seven churches" (see the Fact Finder question below).

"1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

1:10 I was in the Spirit on the LORD's day [see When Is The LORD's Day? and What Is The Day Of The LORD?], and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." (Revelation 1:9-11 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who were the "seven churches"? Where and what are they today?
See Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?


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This Day In History, August 30

30 BC: Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (see The Cleopatra Connection and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars), died. She is said to have committed suicide by allowing a poisonous snake to bite her.

526: King Theodoric the Great died of dysentery at Ravenna. Theodoric's daughter Amalasuntha assumed power as regent for her 10-year old son Athalaric.

1125: Lothair II, Duke of Saxony, was elected king of the Germans.

1363: The forces of two Chinese leaders, Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang, met at the Battle of Lake Poyang, one of the largest naval battles in history.

1799: During the Second Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars, the entire Dutch fleet was captured by British forces under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell.

1835: Melbourne, Australia was founded.

1881: In Germany, Clement Ader patented the first stereophonic sound system.

1914: The Battle of Tannenberg, one of history's greatest military disasters, ended after the Russian Second Army lost 30,000 troops after being encircled by the Germans.

1940: Sir J.J. Thomson, the English physicist who discovered the electron in 1897, died at age 83. He was buried near Isaac Newton in the nave of Westminster Abbey.

1945: Hong Kong was liberated when the British Royal Navy under Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt sailed into Victoria harbor to accept the Japanese surrender.

1973: Kenya banned the hunting of elephants and the trade in ivory.

1980: A 17 day strike at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, ended when union leader Lech Walesa signed an agreement with government negotiators.

1981: Iranian President Mohammad Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar were killed in a bomb blast at the Prime Minister's office in Tehran.

1982: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat abandoned his headquarters in Beirut following an Israeli military intervention into Lebanon.

1995: NATO began military operations against Bosnian Serb forces.


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