To whom did Paul write his letters?

April 16th, 2010

old wrinkled letterA question I’ve had recently is, “Were Paul’s letters written to me or others?” I’ve wondered, “Am I reading someone else’s mail or are Paul’s writings general information relevant to all believers?”

Let’s start with who Paul himself said his letters were written to:

Romans 1:7
  • To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints
    1 Corinthians 1:2
  • To the church of God in Corinth,
  • to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with
  • all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
    2 Corinthians 1:1
  • To the church of God in Corinth, together with
  • all the saints throughout Achaia
    Galatians 1:2
  • To the churches in Galatia
    Ephesians 1:1
  • To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus
    Philippians 1:1
  • To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons
    Colossians 1:2 & 4:16
  • To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse
  • After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans
    1 Thessalonians
  • To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:1)
  • Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers (1 Thessalonians 5:26-27)
    2 Thessalonians 1:1
  • To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
    1 Timothy 1:2
  • To Timothy my true son in the faith
    2 Timothy 1:2
  • To Timothy, my dear son
    Titus 1:4
  • To Titus, my true son in our common faith
    Philemon 1:1
  • To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker,
  • to Apphia our sister,
  • to Archippus our fellow soldier and
  • to the church that meets in your home

    So there you have it. It is notable that the only book which clearly states it was designed for the general audience of all Christendom is 1 Corinthians.

    Two observations: 1) Paul told the Colossians to let the Laodiceans read their letter too. This could imply Paul felt his letter to the Colossians had broad application. 2) At the end of 1 Thessalonians Paul exhorts his letter be read to “all the brothers.” Again, this could mean he thought his letter had broad application to all of Christendom, or it may have just meant he wanted everyone in Thessalonica to hear it. In context, the latter seems to probable.

    In conclusion, the answer to the original question of, “Who did Paul write his letters to?” is, “In general, not explicitly to us.” However, that doesn’t mean they are not applicable for us, or that they do not contain truth relevant for us today. I think they do. I’m just saying those conclusions require inference.

    Photo Credit: Found: Love Letter — Envelope
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