We learned in the Paul's Mission lesson that Paul spent much of his life after becoming a Christian traveling around to different cities preaching and establishing churches. He spent a lot of time at some of the churches (over 2 years in Corinth, 2 years in Rome, 3 years in Ephesus) and just passed through other towns. Although he was never the full-time leader of those churches, he worked very hard and raising up leaders and getting the churches established before he moved on to the next location. He also stayed in touch with the churches after he left. He wasn't the only one traveling around to these churches.
Other church leaders would visit from different towns and give him a report on what was going on. Or, Paul would write letters back and forth to the churches to encourage them and correct issues that were occurring. Some of these letters were written by Paul during his missionary journeys, and some were written while Paul was in prison. Many times, Paul would write these letters and send them with trusted members of his team. For instance, when Paul wrote one of his letters to the church at Corinth, he gave it to Titus to deliver. Most likely, he wanted to make sure he had a representative there who could handle any questions or misunderstandings right away.
|Church Location||Name of the Letter(s)||Main theme of the letter|
|Rome||Romans||God gives us all his righteousness based on our faith, not our works|
|Corinth||1 & 2 Corinthians||Correcting issues in the Corinthian church concerning divisions, acceptance of sin, some who were questioning Paul's authority.|
|Galatia||Galatians||Obedience to Jewish laws and customs is not required to be a follower of Christ|
|Ephesus||Ephesians||Helping the readers understand the purpose and functions of the church|
|Philippi||Philippians||How to live the Christian life in joy|
|Colossae||Colossians||Correcting false teaching that was happening in the Colossian church|
|Thessalonica||1 & 2 Thessalonians||Encouraging the church in Thessalonica to persevere through persecution.|
Paul also wrote letters to some of the church leaders that he left in charge of the churches. These are known as the Pastoral Epistles. "Pastoral" - because these were written by Paul in a pastoral capacity, leading these men. "Epistles" - just a fancy word for "letters".
|Pastor||Location of the church||Main theme of the letter|
|Timothy||Ephesus||Paul encouraging Timothy to be bold and preserve the gospel in the face of opposition and heresy|
|Titus||Crete (among others)||Paul encouraging Titus on how to deal with false teachers, how to deal with opposition, and instructions about faith and conduct|
|Philemon||Colossae||Paul encouraging Philemon to welcome back a slave (Onesimus) who had run away and become a Christian.|
These letters were not written to these churches and to these men just to be stuffed on a shelf somewhere. They were written to be read aloud. For instance, most people believe that the letter to Ephesus was not just to one church, but it was written specifically to be sent around to all the churches in the region and read aloud.
Some of Paul's letters reference other letters he wrote that are not part of the Bible. Also, there are other letters in the Bible that were not written by Paul, but are still important!
Have you ever gotten a letter in the mail that was addressed to you? What was it? Who was it from? What did it say?
Today, we're going to learn about many letters that Paul wrote to the churches he helped create during his missionary journeys.
Like Paul's Mission, this lesson is a summary of the letters Paul and others wrote to the churches in Greece and modern day Turkey. The Egermeier's Bible Story Book has a nice summary of this portion of the Bible, starting on page 564, that can be read out loud to your class.
Or, read the story summary above and teach it as a story to the children.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Colossians 4:18
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?