Last modified on 16 July 2009, at 12:57

Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/1 Corinthians/The Apostle Paul

Basic Facts in Need of ElaborationEdit

Most scholars believe Paul's letters were the first NT documents produced. They are the earliest surviving Christian literature. His earliest letter dates from ca. A.D. 50. It was probably what we call 1 Thessalonians, although some scholar consider Galatians the earliest. The latest letter written by Paul is probably earlier than the earliest other NT writing.

Thirteen of the twenty-seven NT books bear Paul's name: Romans; 1 and 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus; and Philemon. The strict Pauline authorship of nine letters traditionally assigned to Paul is challenged in contemporary scholarship:

 Authentic:  Romans; 1 & 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Philippians; 1 Thessalonians; Philemon
 Debated:    2 Thessalonians; Colossians; Ephesians
 Doubted:    1 & 2 Timothy; Titus
 Denied:     Hebrews

Complications with Authorship:

 Amanuenses, scribes, or secretaries (see Rom 16:22) 
 Cosenders
 Quotations
 Accepted cultural practice of “pseudonymity”
 Redaction or editing of the collection

Biographical Sketch

 Names:
   Saul: Jewish
   Paul: Greco-Roman
 Ancestry:
   Benjamite
   Religiously Orthodox: Pharisee
   Diaspora Jew: Tarsus of Cilicia
   Roman citizen by birth
 Education:
   Greco-Roman rhetorical
   Jewish-Rabbinic
 Languages of Paul:
   Greek (all of his letters)
   Aramaic (used in Jerusalem)
   Hebrew (some OT quotations)
   Latin (implied by ministry in Illyricum and plans to evangelize in Spain)
 Persecutor of Christians
 Conversion / Call to Preach Jesus as the Christ on the Road to Damascus (Syria) ca. A.D. 33
 Apostolic Career:
   Missionary Preacher in the northeastern Mediterranean world
   Planting Churches in Asia Minor and Greece
   Writing Letters
   Journey to Rome as a prisoner
 Death:
   Tradition: by orders of Nero ca. A.D. 64-67

External Points of Reference to Potentially Datable Persons / Events in the Life of Paul (as derived from Acts and his letters):

 Gamaliel (Acts 22:3; 5:34) 
 Crucifixion of Jesus 
 High Priest: Annas (Acts 4:6; 9:1) 
 Stoning of Stephen (Acts 6:1—8:1) 
 Nabatean King of Damascus: Aretas (2 Cor 11:32) 
 Roman Emperor: Claudius (Acts 11:28; 18:2) 
 Proconsul of Achaia: Gallio (L. Junius Gallio – Acts 18:12-17) 
 Divine wrath on Judea (1 Thess. 2:14-16) 
 High Priest: Ananias (Acts 23:2; 24:1) 
 Governors (Procurators of Judea): 
   Felix (Acts 23:24—25:14; 24:27) 
   Festus (Acts 24:27—26:32) 
 Jewish King: 
   Herod (Herod Agrippa I – Acts 12:1, 6, 11, 19, 20, 21) 
   Agrippa (Herod Agrippa II – Acts 25:13-26:32) 
 Proconsul of Cyprus: Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7)
 Publius of Malta (Acts 28:7) 
 Caesar (Nero – Acts 25:8—28:19)