God’s Inspired Epistles! BY DR. WILLIE HOLLEY
Throughout the Holy Bible we find several of the New Testament books labeled as ”The Epistle Of or The Epistle To”. This phrase is normally followed by the name of the writer or the name of the group to whom it was written. The English word “epistle” originated from a Latin word, epistola. The origin of the word epistola is from the Greek word epistole, meaning to send on. While the English word “pistol”, as in handgun, originated from the same Latin version of the word, epistola, epistles were a means of delivering communication, not of delivering bullets as the English derivative has become known in modern times. Our English word “apostle” originated from the Greek word, pronounced apostolos. Although apostolos is related to the Greek word for “epistle,” our use of the word refers to a person sent by God as a communicator of His Word, rather than a communication or writing that was sent. In the Holy Bible, The apostles used epistles to communicate when they were unable to make the journey in person. Epistles were letters sent by apostles, to individuals such as Paul’s letters to Timothy (I and II Timothy). The letters (epistles) were also sent to the various congregations of Christians in a particular place like Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians. Other epistles were written to Christians in general with Biblical teaching and prophecy like the book of Romans. We are still reading these great communications today as the Apostles’ guidance for Christian living. The epistles of the Holy Bible have been classified into two groups. The thirteen epistles written by the Apostle Paul are known as the “Pauline Epistles”. They are placed in the Bible following the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. These letter are arranged beginning with the book of Romans and proceed to the book of Philemon. Following Paul’s letters we come to the eight general epistles that are associated with the name of the author or the person to whom the letter is written with one glaring exception which is the letter to the Hebrews. The authorship of this letter is debated by scholars but is included in the Bible as the inspired word from God because of its relevance to New Testament theology. Many scholars also classify the Gospel of Luke and The Acts of The Apostles as epistles because Luke wrote them to a person names Theophilus. (See Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Some even desire to classify the book of Revelations as an epistle because the book is considered by some to be a letter to the seven churches of Asia, (see Revelations 1:4) Others scholars argue that the letter was written by John as the revealed narrative of the end time prophecy of Jesus Christ. Whether we agree or disagree with the scholarly classifications of these books of the Bible, I believe that it is helpful for the believer to consider what Paul said in his second letter to Pastor Timothy. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV) Enjoy reading the epistles and equip yourself to do the good works of the Father during you life here on earth.
Dr. Holley is the Senior Pastor at Pathways Christian Fellowship in Bradenton, Florida. Contact Dr. Holley at