16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”  Romans 1:16, 17

The bulk of NT is made up of epistles:  letters written by leaders of the early church to various Christian communities throughout the whole Roman world.

Each of these Epistles is a teaching letter.  In each, the Holy Spirit is speaking to communicate, to the believers of the first century and to us today, basic principles on which our lives together as God’s people are to be based.

In the Epistles, the authors explain, argue, illustrate, exhort, and instruct.  To study the NT epistles we carefully trace the “argument” – the flow of thought — of each writer.

We are not to take isolated verses of the Epistles out of their context and try to understand them as if they stand alone.  The individual verses do not stand alone.  Each verse is intimately related to the sentences around it, to the paragraph in which it rests, and to the purpose of the whole letter in which it is found.  To understand the NT epistles we much study them in this way — in the flow of the argument as the author deals with real historical problems or situations in first century church life.

There are two groups of NT Epistles:  the Pauline (letters of Paul) and the General (the letters of others).

 

 

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