If you’ve been with me through the study on the Book of Acts, you may have noticed that more than half of it is about Paul. Since Luke wrote it, he focused more on Paul because he joined Paul in some of his missionary journeys. You’ll notice that as the narrative changes from “they” and “them” to “us” and “we”. You can’t get more of an eyewitness report than that!
Paul wrote 13 of the letters that comprise the New Testament. The question is, when did he write which ones? Romans is next in line after Acts, but that wasn’t the first letter written. As it turns out, the letters appear in the Bible from the longest to the shortest! Starting with Romans and ending with Philemon.
However, it’s actually recommended, if you REALLY want to understand Paul and what he was telling the early churches, you should read his letters in chronological order. After a little digging, I uncovered which letters were written when and I’ve done studies on all of them. Here are Paul’s letters in the order they were written….
During the Book of Acts
The earliest letter Paul wrote is the Book of Galatians, circa 51 AD. It was written during his first missionary journey as told in Acts 13 – 14. He had just left Galatia and was in Antioch of Syria when he got word that the Galatians had fallen for false teaching…
6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.Galatians 1:6-7
In Acts 18, he was in Corinth. He had just escaped being killed by a mob in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey. 1 Thessalonians was written circa 51 AD and the follow-up letter, 2 Thessalonians circa 52 AD.
After that, he went to Macedonia (Acts 20) where he wrote 2 Corinthians, circa 57 AD.
In his 3rd Missionary journey, Paul went back to Greece (Corinth) (Acts 20) where he wrote the letter to the Romans, in 57 AD.
Paul’s Prison Epistles
In Acts 21:33, Paul is arrested. He spent 2 years in Caesarea, then he was taken to Rome. More than likely, these letters were written in Rome (62 AD). He mentions his “chains” several times….
20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.Ephesians 6:20 NLT
18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL.
Remember my chains.
May God’s grace be with you.Colossians 4:18 NLT
13 I wanted to keep him (Onesimus) here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.Philemon 13 NLT
13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.Philippians 1:13 NLT
His Pastoral Epistles
And in his last letter to Timothy, he knew his time on earth was running out and that he’d soon be with Jesus…
6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT
Inspired by Paul’s Life
Oh, Lord, that I could have just a fraction of the boldness, courage, fortitude and wisdom that Paul had!
I’m going to end this post with Paul’s own words from his letter to the Philippians…
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.Philippians 3:8-21 NLT
Are You a Citizen of Heaven?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…