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epistles

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epistles


  1  definition  found 
 
  From  Easton's  1897  Bible  Dictionary  [easton]: 
 
  Epistles 
  the  apostolic  letters.  The  New  Testament  contains  twenty-one  in 
  all  They  are  divided  into  two  classes.  (1.)  Paul's  Epistles, 
  fourteen  in  number,  including  Hebrews.  These  are  not  arranged  in 
  the  New  Testament  in  the  order  of  time  as  to  their  composition, 
  but  rather  according  to  the  rank  of  the  cities  or  places  to 
  which  they  were  sent.  Who  arranged  them  after  this  manner  is 
  unknown.  Paul's  letters  were  as  a  rule  dictated  to  an 
  amanuensis,  a  fact  which  accounts  for  some  of  their 
  peculiarities.  He  authenticated  them  however,  by  adding  a  few 
  words  in  his  own  hand  at  the  close  (See  GALATIANS,  EPISTLE  {TO}.) 
 
  The  epistles  to  Timothy  and  Titus  are  styled  the  Pastoral 
  Epistles. 
 
  (2.)  The  Catholic  or  General  Epistles,  so  called  because  they 
  are  not  addressed  to  any  particular  church  or  city  or 
  individual,  but  to  Christians  in  general,  or  to  Christians  in 
  several  countries.  Of  these  three  are  written  by  John,  two  by 
  Peter,  and  one  each  by  James  and  Jude. 
 
  It  is  an  interesting  and  instructive  fact  that  a  large  portion 
  of  the  New  Testament  is  taken  up  with  epistles.  The  doctrines  of 
  Christianity  are  thus  not  set  forth  in  any  formal  treatise,  but 
  mainly  in  a  collection  of  letters.  "Christianity  was  the  first 
  great  missionary  religion.  It  was  the  first  to  break  the  bonds 
  of  race  and  aim  at  embracing  all  mankind.  But  this  necessarily 
  involved  a  change  in  the  mode  in  which  it  was  presented.  The 
  prophet  of  the  Old  Testament,  if  he  had  anything  to  communicate, 
  either  appeared  in  person  or  sent  messengers  to  speak  for  him  by 
  word  of  mouth.  The  narrow  limits  of  Palestine  made  direct 
  personal  communication  easy.  But  the  case  was  different  when  the 
  Christian  Church  came  to  consist  of  a  number  of  scattered  parts 
  stretching  from  Mesopotamia  in  the  east  to  Rome  or  even  Spain  in 
  the  far  west.  It  was  only  natural  that  the  apostle  by  whom  the 
  greater  number  of  these  communities  had  been  founded  should  seek 
  to  communicate  with  them  by  letter." 
 




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