It may aid us in making these epistles of Paul seem like real and living messages to recall, in general, some of the peculiar conditions and problems which called them forth.
The epistles of Paul furnish a most valuable supplement to the narrative of his life as found in the Book of Acts. His language often reflects the time when he was “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Tim. 1:13), and we see him carrying the same fiery zeal—tempered into a calm, steady flame of Christian love—into his missionary labors.
We approach the apostle of the Gentiles who decided the victory of Christianity as a universal religion, who labored more, both in word and deed, than all his colleagues, and who stands out, in lonely grandeur, as the most remarkable and influential character in history.
The epistles of Paul were written to particular persons, churches, or groups of churches and dealt with the special circumstances and needs of their readers. What do we know?
Commissioned by Jesus to be an apostle to the nations, Paul zealously carried out his assignment. Paul, commonly known as Paul the Apostle and Saint Paul, was a Christian apostle who spread the teachings of Jesus in the first-century world. [THIS ARTICLE IS 141 PAGES!]
But for those who do not adopt the extreme agnostic position, there is no other logical position except that of accepting the general scheme of ancient history, in which Christianity is the crowning factor that gives unity and rational plan to the whole.
Though we cannot state with perfect accuracy the date either of the birth or death of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, both may be inferred within narrow limits. When he is first mentioned, on the occasion of Stephen’s martyrdom, he is called a young man, and when he wrote the Epistle to Philemon he calls himself Paul the aged.