Lesson 1: Introduction to Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles
Lesson # 1 Page 1.Hello! My name is Bernard Horsley. This is the third study in this series. The first two studies covered about 60 % of the New Testament's volume. The first study, entitled "A Blending of the Four Gospel Records," covered the first four books of the New Testament-MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, and JOHN-in 128 correspondence lessons. Another study, entitled ACTS - A Cassette Tape Study, covered the book of Acts in 52 correspondence lessons. All studies use the same format: 20 minute lessons on cassette tape, accompanied by maps, worksheets, and tests. Although, the natural order for the first two series would be to take them in the order they are found in the New Testament, no such requirement is made. However, this study — you are NOW embarking upon - MUST BE taken AFTER completing the two other study series already mentioned. In other words, they are a prerequisite to this study, entitled, "PAUL'S MISSIONARY JOURNEY EPISTLES." The obvious reason for that is that Paul's missionary journeys (or tours), as well as the basics of Christianity taught by Jesus, Himself, were covered in that prerequisite material. Thus, unless you have completed the 180 correspondence lessons that make up the first two courses already mentioned, DO NOT start this lesson. Instead, enroll in and complete those courses first. You can obtain that course material from the same place you got this tape.
Alright, if you're ready, we'll follow the same routine in studying these epistles as we followed in the other courses. We will read from the King James Version. You should read privately all the text material covered in the lesson before turning on the tape player. References are to be found near the top of the test page. Then, you should read as I read on the tape. You'll need a pencil, paper, and a common English dictionary at your fingertips. Get the pencil and paper habit. Don't forget that pause button on your cassette player. Take the time to back the tape up a moment and listen again, if you need to. Turn the player off and re-read the text material again, if you need to. Don't go on until you understand the material at hand. That is study! A lot of people read the Bible; few people study the Bible. Let's study! Are you ready?
In this course, we are going to cover six books in the New Testament: The Book of Romans, I and ii Corinthians, Galatians, and I and II Thessalonians. That is book numbers 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 14 in the New Testament. But, we will NOT cover them in that order. We're going to cover I and II Thessalonians first; then, I and II Corinthians; and, then, finally, we'll get to Romans and Galatians. I believe this to be the order they occur in the New Testament. All six books were written by the apostle Paul. These books are a product of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul. They were all written during the decade of the AD 50's. With a little arithmetic on your fingers and toes, you can see that was approximately 20 years after our Lord Jesus died on the cross, arose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. Twenty years! That's two decades later. I Thessalonians may have been written in two or three years less than two decades. Romans and Galatians (probably written at the same time) may have been written two or three years after the two decade mark. That is, the first of these, I Thessalonians, was written possibly 17 or 18 years after Jesus went back to heaven. The last of these six books, Galatians and Romans, is thought to have been written about 22 or 23 years after the time of Jesus. All six of these books were written by Paul during the SECOND and THIRD missionary journey. I and II Thessalonians were written during the SECOND missionary tour, while the other four books, I and II Corinthians, Romans and Galatians were written during Paul's THIRD missionary tour So, first off, that's about all we'll get done in the first two lessons. If I were you and I had access to the tapes, I would review lesson numbers 28 - 45 in the ACTS series before proceeding in this study. If you don't have access to the tapes, you'll want to read, beginning in Chapter 13 and read down through the end of Chapter 20 in the book of ACTS. You can probably read and review those eight chapters in the book of ACTS pretty fast, now that you are familiar with the book.
But, right now, get out that old map that we posted of Paul's missionary journeys back in the ACTS course. Just in case you misplaced it, I enclosed another copy of that map with your test materials for this lesson. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with that old map. Thessalonica is City #28 on that map. If you don't have it on there, write it on there. Corinth is City #31. The City of Rome, the Capital of the Roman Empire, is not numbered on the map, but marked with large letters at the upper left-hand corner of that map. Galatia was a province, not a city. The Province of Galatia is written on your map between the word ASIA, and the word MINOR in the upper right-hand section of your map. Now, keep in mind, Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica were cities; but, Galatia was a territory. There were a plurality of congregations in the territory of Galatia; we're not sure how many. It must have included the church at Iconium, beginning in Acts 13:51, where Paul and Barnabas preached a "long time," it said in Acts 14:3. However, down in v.6, it is said they fled from the town of Iconium. Nevertheless, Paul and Barnabas returned later and ordained elders there according to Acts 14:21-22-23. Iconium is City #19 on your map. The churches of Galatia probably included Derbe, Timothy's hometown. Derbe is City #21. The churches of Galatia probably included Lystra, where Paul was stoned and left for dead, Acts 14:19. Lystra is City #20 on you map-worksheet. The congregation at Antioch, which was said to be in Pisidia, Acts 14:14, may be included in the congregations of Galatia, we're not sure. That Antioch is City #18. Something you might want to keep in mind here is that territorial boundaries changed from time to time. For example, some maps show Antioch in Galatia; others don't. Notice in Gal. 1:2, Paul addressed the book of Galatians to the "churches of Galatia." The word, churches, in that verse is plural. Possibly even other churches or congregations were established in Galatia by the time Paul wrote the Galatian letter (some time around AD 55, 56, or 57); possibly, congregations for which we have no knowledge whatsoever.
Now, we'll get back to all this when we get down to each specific book. We'll go book by book in this study. We won't try to cover them all at once, like we did with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But, YOU NEED a kind of panoramic mental view of these places and congregations now. In other words, the first step is to get all these congregations sorted out in your own mind. As you review or re-read the missionary journeys of Paul, try to get these places and congregations to take on individual personality. First of all, you must remember, all these congregations were churches of Christ—Rome, Thessalonica, Corinth, Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, Antioch of Pisidia, and possibly others. Every congregation was named or identified by a geographical location. This is true for every church or congregation mentioned in the New Testament, no exceptions — from the Jerusalem church (Acts chapter 2) to the seven churches of Asia, mentioned in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Congregations were NEVER named after men, such as John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Luther, Calvin, etc. Congregations were NEVER identified by methods, practices, doctrines, customs, traditions, etc., as we see in the denominational world today. With the exception of the church at Rome, all these congregations were started by Paul and his fellow workers.
We do not study these epistles of Paul and study those congregations of the first century for their geographical value, neither their archeological value, nor just for intellectual fervor. These books were not written for their historical value; although, each book contains some history. We study these books because these letters contain inspired answers to the same questions and the same problems we have today. Human nature has not changed. We may have more gimmicks, gadgets, and material things than they knew; but, we still have the same spiritual problems. We serve the same Lord Jesus. God's plan of salvation has not changed. If you become a Christian, I. e. a child of God, today, you must do it in the same way as the Christians at Corinth did it. When we scripturally worship and serve the God of heaven today, we must worship and serve the SAME God in the SAME way the disciples were required to worship and serve back in the first century. So, don't lose sight of our purpose in this study. Remember, these are inspired books, written in the first century for people of all ages. Paul told Timothy, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..."--that's II Tim. 3:16. Peter said, (II Pet. 1:20) "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." These books (I and II Thessalonians, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans) are books of scripture. These books are authoritative, Holy Spirit directed; and, these books carry the same message to everyone. These books do not disclose one thing to one person and something else to somebody else. I cannot make these books say what I want them to say; you cannot make them say what you want them to say—because they say what they say. In this course, we want to learn what IS said. We want to understand WHY Paul said what he said. We want to understand WHERE, WHEN, and WHY these things apply to us.
Don't lose sight of where we are! Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the first four books of the New Testament) covered a period of about 30 years before the church was established. Those books cover the life of Jesus upon the earth, Jesus's earthly ministry, the appointment of apostles, and what Jesus taught the apostles to teach—the kingdom of heaven was at hand, the great commission and how the apostles were "commanded" (Acts 1:4) to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Ghost came "not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). The book of Acts (written by Luke) then told about the day of Pentecost, how 3,000 were baptized into Christ and added to the church on that first day, AND how "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). Then, the book of Acts covered another 30 years of early church history—including how the church was established at Thessalonica, at Corinth, and the congregations of Galatia. We do not know about the establishment of the church at Rome. The Roman church was not established by Paul. At the end of the book of Acts, Paul was taken in chains to Rome as a prisoner because he had to appeal his case to Caesar back in Caesarea before King Festus and King Agrippa. The church preceded Paul to Rome. The church was established in Rome several years before Paul wound up in Rome. However, even before Paul went to Rome, as Paul went from place to place during his missionary journeys over Europe and Asia, he found it necessary to write letters to some of the churches—giving instruction to the Christians that made up those churches. Paul's letters of instruction to those churches have been preserved for us as part of the Holy Scriptures. Paul wrote other letters to other churches and other individuals after he was taken to Rome as a prisoner, and, even after Paul was released from prison; but, the six letters we are embarking upon in this course were written by Paul DURING Paul's second and third missionary journeys—BEFORE Paul was taken to Rome. Thus, these six books were all written over a 5 or 6 year period as we have already said. These six books were all written to recent or newly established churches. You must keep in mind, also, that, at the time these books were written, these churches did not have the written New Testament like we do today. Jesus was the WORD (John 1:1). In fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, that WORD became flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:14). Jesus appointed 12 apostles and gave these 12 apostles they keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). Those keys came in a miraculous way on Pentecost morning, the apostles "were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). There was no book called the New Testament at that time. The word dwelt miraculously in the apostles. The congregation at Jerusalem was established first. The Christians were taught by the apostles themselves. Later, the Christians that made up that church in Jerusalem "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). More congregations, called churches, were established other places. To accommodate the need for accurate information, the apostles laid their hands upon selected brethren and passed on to them spiritual gifts, i.e. the ability to teach miraculously (see Acts 8:17). Spiritual gifts were not limited to teaching, as we shall learn. However, the miraculous system of teaching and prophecy eventually gave way (by God's providence) to the written New Testament which "thoroughly" furnishes one with doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16-17). Peter said, "According as his divine power hath given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue..." (H Pet. 1:3). These six books, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, were some of the first New Testament books to be written. Possibly, even Paul, who wrote these letters, did not understand at that time that these letters would be preserved as part of the New Testament. But, you must understand that these books were written by the same inspiration of the Holy Spirit that guided the apostles and the miraculous teachers in the early church. Ultimately, when the New Testament was complete, at the appropriate time, the miraculous system provided by God and used by the Holy Spirit in the early church ceased to be passed on and gave way to what we know as the New Testament.
The assignment is a BIG one for our first lesson; but, as I have already requested, I would like for you to review the missionary journeys of Paul, either by reviewing the tapes or by reading chapters 13-20 in the book of Acts, before you come to Lesson 2. You will find nothing in that material about the Roman church. But, pay particularly close attention to what is said about Thessalonica, Corinth, and the churches in the Province of Galatia. Until our next lesson, have a good day and enjoy your review.