About thirteen of the epistles contained in the New Testament are attributed to Apostle Paul. The purpose of this piece is not to dispute or approve which epistles he wrote and those he did not.
However, I want to share a few points to consider to have a better understanding of his letters. His epistles really help in living a true Christian life. So, I do not see any reason to criticise or condemn any of them.
Each of Apostle Paul’s epistles must be viewed from different angles and for different purposes. Let us consider a few of them.
1. God’s commandments. In his letters, Paul the Apostle spoke of God’s commandments. He encouraged saints of Christ to obey every commandment of the Lord.
“But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.” 1 Corin 7:10-11. NLT.
2. Sometimes Apostle Paul’s letters were written to contain his own commands or authority over a situation or condition. As a leader in the church of the Lord, he had certain authority to exercise over the people of God. Every such authority was never exercised for any selfish or ulterior motive but to edify and establish the church.
“Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.
And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.
For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marrriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.
But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.
Dont you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? ” (1Corin 7:12-16.)
Remember that the Lord had given every saint “the spirit …of sound mind” according to 2 Timothy 1:7, (King James Version.)
3. The man of God, Paul, wrote his letters to declare his judgment on a particular issue in the church of the Lord. We must be aware that two cases are not always and exactly the same. So, he made known his judgments based on the wisdom the Lord gave him by grace.
Note that such declaration is not according to the wisdom of men but of God.
He wrote to the saints in Corinth, “Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are … ” You can read the rest in 1 Corin. 7:25-40, NLT.
4.Advice. Sometimes in his epistles, Apostle Paul gives advice or permission on a matter. Do not forget that an advice can be taken or rejected but must be carefully considered when there is no selfish motive behind it.
Whoever welcomes a Godly advice will surely reap its benefits.
“I say this as a concession, not as a command.
But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind of another.”
5. Discipleship has costs! In his letters, Apostle Paul made reference to his own personal experiences and sacrifices he made. There were certain rights and privileges he refused to claim for Gospel’s sake or to avoid enslavement.
“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” 1 Corin 10:23-24. (NL.)
6. Apostle Paul’s expressed opinions. One thing that you need to take cognizance of is the fact that there were so many other truth that were in the heart of the man of God which were not written in letters but in words of mouth to saints. We have no access to them. There were many others he had no sufficient time to declare in writing. That is always a common experience of every writer.
Apostle Paul once concluded,
“… I’ll give you instructions about the other matters after I arrive.” 1 Corin 11:34.
What are these instructions? He never recorded them.
7. Apostle Paul is a man of great revelations. His ability to keep a secret for long is great. He was a man God could trust with His secrets.
Who knows, whether or not he had certain revelations he kept to himself on those matters he wrote or spoke on? He may determine to keep them because of those who would twist his statements to their ownn peril. His letters are for our edification.