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Lessons From Letters Paul Wrote to Churches

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

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Paul wrote 13 letters that appear in the New Testament. He wrote nine letters to churches, including two letters to the church at Corinth and two letters to the Thessalonians. He wrote four personal letters: one to Philemon, two to Timothy, and one to Titus.

The article provides a summary of the lessons we should learn from the nine churches Paul wrote to. Even though it was long ago when he wrote the letters, we can learn a lot of lessons from them.

The letters to the churches are in the order they appear in the Bible even though they are not in the order in which Paul wrote them. The letters are grouped in the Bible according to their length.

To the Romans

Paul had many friends in Rome, and he longed to visit there. The entire chapter of Romans 16 consists of Paul’s personal greetings to his Christian friends scattered throughout Rome. Paul had planned to visit Rome many times before, but each time his trip was hindered.

Before taking his trip, Paul wrote:

"This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, with no further plans for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while." (Romans 15:22-24)

Paul’s letter to the Romans was written to prepare them for his visit. He did not want to barge in on them. He planned to visit them “in the fullness of the blessing of Christ” (Romans 15:29) so he asked them to “pray that he could come to them with joy and be refreshed in their company” (Romans 15:32). When Paul visited Rome, he wanted to do what the Romans did as long as it was pleasing to God.

Lessons

Paul was praying on his end for his journey. He wanted the Romans to pray on their end to receive him and what he had to say about the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wanted his long-awaited arrival to be all that it could be to glorify God. Let us not only pray when we take a trip, but let us also remind those at our destination to receive us well.

Another lesson we learn from this passage is one about timing. Paul desired to get to Rome long before he finally did arrive. Let us not be discouraged if it is taking a long time to get to the place or position we desire. In due season we, like Paul, will finally arrive in Rome.

To the Corinthians

Paul wrote two letters to the church in Corinth. First Corinthians is unique among the Pauline letters because of the variety of its practical concerns. Second Corinthians is one of Paul’s most personal letters. Both letters reveal the degree to which Paul identified with his churches, suffering in their shortcomings, and celebrating in their victories.

Corinth was the most important city in Greece during Paul's day. The church at Corinth had many shortcomings. Biblical scholars describe this church as "the sin-sicked church" because of its many factions and divisions, abuse of the Lord’s Supper, idolatry, adultery, fornication, and other related sins.

Paul wrote:

"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Lesson

When you find yourself going in the opposite direction of God’s commandments, don’t stay in your sin. Make a U-turn and get back on the right road to re-establish your intimate relationship with God.

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To the Galatians

The letter to the Galatians was the first letter Paul wrote. It is called the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty because it is his letter about freedom for those in Christ Jesus. Paul let the church at Galatia know Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law. Therefore, they did not need to rely on the law for salvation. There was no longer a need for circumcision for religious purposes. The Galatians were free, but they didn't know they were free.

Paul wrote:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

Lesson

The law does not save, but it is a roadmap that points believers in the right direction and lets them know they need Jesus Christ. Christ died so that people might be free instead of being bound by religious laws.

To the Ephesians

Paul wrote:

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6)

Paul indicated to the Ephesians that they had everything they needed because they were already with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms. They should remember that while they are still in this world on earth.

Lesson

Paul lets us know that our purpose is to make peace with God and identify with Christ. He tells us we are already raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6).

We should discover that the main purpose for our lives is to be in an intimate relationship with God.

To the Philippians

Even though Paul was in prison when he wrote this book, he writes with affection because the Philippians held a special place in his heart. It is called the joy book because Paul uses the words “joy” and “rejoice” at least nine times in this short book of only four chapters.

Paul wrote:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

Lesson

Paul urges the Philippians to be filled with joy. Paul let the Philippians and us that a life of unity, humility, and godliness can lead to joy. That joy can be present in the midst of adverse circumstances.

To the Colossians

Colossians is one of the most Christ-centered books in the Bible. Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians to focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul never visited or preached at Colosse, but he wrote to them to urge them to mold their behavior to fit their beliefs.

Paul wrote:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15)

Lesson

Paul's appeal to the Colossians is also an appeal to us to put on the character of Christ (Colossians 3:5-17). He stressed the supremacy of the person of Christ and the completeness of salvation He provides. We should be aware of the pre-eminence of Christ and be in an intimate relationship with Him.

To the Thessalonians

The Thessalonian church was in many ways a model church. Paul did not write two letters to them to rebuke them for any wrongdoings. Instead, he wrote letters to encourage them about the Second Coming of Christ. He wanted them to stay on target with the way they were living. He commended them for their faith, diligent service, patient steadfastness, and overflowing joy.

The main teaching in 2 Thessalonians is to correct the wrong conclusion the Thessalonians thought about the return of Christ. Paul explains what must take place before Christ returns.

Paul wrote:

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Lessons

This is the book where the concept of the rapture appears, even though the word itself is not mentioned. We should learn what Paul admonished the Thessalonians to learn. We should be prepared to meet Jesus face to face when He returns. Until then, we should be faithful even in stormy situations and remember to give thanks in all circumstances.

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