Paul is most famously known for writing almost half of the New Testament. Or did he? Many historians believe that some of the letters that were written under his name, might have been written years and even centuries after his death. Ancient writers that wanted to be gain more readers would create works under an influential person’s name in order for their writing to be more acclaimed is called pseudepigrapha, which is now recognized as a form of forgery. Although some of the letters are probably pseudonymous, some of the letters raise questions to whether it was Paul who wrote it, or just someone that was motivated by his teachings. These letters are called the “Deutero-Pauline” epistles. “Deutero” is from Greek, which means “second,” making these epistles literally translate to “second Paul.” This category of epistles contains letters 2 Thessalonians, Colossians and Ephesians.
In 1 Thessalonica, Paul writes to the Thessalonians about his unsuccessful attempts of returning, to be ready for judgment day because it is imminent, and urges them to help each other, to treat everyone with love, and to continuously pray. The author of 2 Thessalonians starts off the letter as most people would, which is by telling the receiver of the letter who they are, and in this case, the author is claiming to be “Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonians”. Silvanus and Timothy are two leading members of the Gentile community that visited the church in Thessalonica with Paul, and then a salutation of some sort. The purpose of the letter is so comfort them since these Christians were having difficulty with the animosity were being treated within their community. As a result of their bitterness, the members of the Church to believe that the apocalypse was upon them, but the writer reassured them that it will be a series of events will unfold first, it will not happen overnight. The author of 2 Thessalonians has darker imagery pertaining to judgment day, such as fire, the antichrist, and the “wicked and evil”, compared Paul’s first letter, where the imagery of judgment day isn’t as frightening or dark, and describes the event of being not far from the near future. Now the question lies: is the Paul the author of 2 Thessalonians?
Based on this evidence, I do not believe Paul wrote this. Although the grammar and vocabulary of both letters are very similar, there are too many differences in the context of the test when it comes to the context itself. Paul in 1 Thessalonians was more heartfelt, uplifting and gracious when greeting compared to the author of 2 Thessalonians, who’s way of writing wasn’t very amiable and had darker imager. Sadly, we can only claim who we think the author is, but an assumption that I made is that maybe the writer was a follower of Paul’s teachings that was a member of the Church the same time Paul sent his first letter. The follower could’ve waited for years for the “imminent” judgment just to realize it might’ve not been as soon as Paul thought, and since the Book of Revelation was written in that time frame, this follower could have taken some imagery and visions from the book and added it to the letter.
Another Deutero-Pauline epistle is Colossians. In this epistle, the author, claiming to be Paul, is in jail for preaching the word of Christ and discovers that there is a church in the small town of Colossae. Paul did not establish this church, however one of the followers of his mission, Timothy, did. Although “Paul” is eager to hear about his mission being spread, he is also concerned because he discovered that they the people of the church of Colossae because they are being taught some forms of Jewish Law, which Paul has rejected multiple time throughout his letters. They also have a peculiar wonder towards higher beings that are not just God, such as worshipping angels that was put into place by “visions”’ they have claimed to have. Lastly, they lead an ascetic lifestyle which emphasizes on abstaining from bodily pleasures in life and following strict laws so they can focus on finding happiness and joy in the spiritual instead. In earlier letter, Paul has put an emphasis in “faith vs. works” because he believes that we should focus on pursuing a stronger relationship with God and enjoy our earthly lives in being a good Christian, instead of following strict laws, which is one of the ways he compared Christianity to Judaism to the Gentiles. I believe that the Colossians was not written by Paul because Paul’s earlier letters have a different kind of style and a different terminology then this letter. In confirmed Pauline epistles, Paul’s writing style is very short and to point and also writes in a way that can be understood by most people reading it at the time. In Colossians however, the author’s writing style is more advanced and he uses vocabulary that he hasn’t used in previous epistles. Another reason why the writer is most likely not Paul is because of his views on resurrection. In the letter Colossians, the author says that because we were “buried with him through baptism,” we are “also raised with” through our faith and in God, who raised Jesus. This contradicts Paul’s earlier epistles, in which he says that through the act of baptism we are united with him in his death, we will one day rise with him. He also talks about the importance of baptism in our resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians, saying that “all that die in Adam,” which is referring to humans because of belief to we are all born with original sin because of the first sin that Adam committed, but once we are baptized, we are rid of this original sin. However, because of original sin, Christ will be raised first and then we will join him.
The next is Deutero-Pauline that has brought up much debate the Ephesian epistle. In this letter “Paul” was imprisoned for preaching and although the letter is written to the Ephesian people, he is writing it with the intention that it be spread to other various Pauline churches. In this epistle the author that because Jesus’s death we have “obtained inheritance”, so we are now made one with the Jews and we can live in peace without any more discord over our differences in practice, and because Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins, we have raised with him and “seated us with him in the heavenly places”. The writer, claiming to be Paul, also gives us instructions that we should follow for our new united life as Christians, such as telling us to not sin for the possibility of running the risk of separating from your new found life. He then goes on to introduce various kinds of relations and their role pertaining to the other such as wives and husbands; children and parents; and slaves and masters. This letter has many similarities to the Colossian epistles because compared to Pauline epistles because of their writing styles and belief of resurrection. Both the authors write very long, complex sentences, something that (as I stated in my argument against Colossians being a Pauline letter), is not what you usually see with his confirmed writings. Another similarity that the authors have is that speak about already being raised with the death and resurrection of Jesus, an argument that Paul has been against in the Romans. Personally, I think that the biggest argument that proves that Ephesia was written pseudomitly, is that the writer gives us three examples of relationships that all have a dominant figure and explains how we should submit to them. He says that wives should subject to their husbands, “just as the church is subject to Christ”, children should subject to their parents, and that slaves should obey their masters with “fear and trembling”. Theist counteracts Paul’s earlier texts that says “we are all one in Christ”, including men, women, masters and slaves. I do not believe Paul was the author to Ephesians, however I do believe that the writer composed this with the intentions of conceivably unifying the Jewish and Christian people, given the tension between the two people because although we do have different practices and belief, both religions ultimately believe in the same God, something that at the time was very rare considering the various pagan beliefs other cultures shared, such as the Romans. Therefore, I feel like the author wrote the letter to the Ephesians as a cry for harmony.
Although I do not believe that the Deutero-Pauline epistles were written by Paul, I do believe that his followers wrote them after his death in hope to enlighten more people of their new found religion and practices. Even though these writers didn’t completely coincide with Paul’s earlier scripture, I do believe they were followers of his and that they wrote them for the sake of spreading the word of Christ and helping Paul’s legacy live on for centuries, which in fact, they have.
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