Authorship of Pauline Epistles


By Anton Williams, Founder

Authorship of the letters of the Apostle Paul

Traditional/Conservative view: Apostle Paul wrote all the letters ascribed to him in the New Testament

Progressive/Liberal View: Several letters were not written by Paul but some anonymous writer

  • which view does the objective/external data support?

Paul's authorship of all the letters ascribed to him is confirmed by objective/external evidence

Using true critical methodologies to corroborate an assertion on the authorship of the Pauline epistles confirms the historical, traditional view as reality.

When a person lines up both liberal and conservative views side by side and evaluates on the basis of objective/external evidence the liberal view loses every time. Analysis demonstrates the liberal theory never happened. Conversely, Paul's authorship is corroborated by independent data (external/objective)

For the critic to refute this conclusion from objective evidence, it is not sufficient to merely deny the evidence but objective /external evidence to the contrary must be presented. It doesn't exist as the analysis demonstrates from independent sources that Paul authorship versus the view he didn't write the epistles is favorable on a scale of 70 to 0.

Confirmation of the authorship, recipients and authenticity of the letters

  1. Paul himself could confirm what he wrote or didn't write (i.e. 2 Thess 2:1-2, 3:17-18, 1 Cor 1:1, Rom. 1:1) as he was still living. Letter of 1 Clement which is commonly dated to 96 CE but evidence demonstrates was written about 68-69 CE references many of Paul's epistles. This demonstrates the letters were not only in existence in Paul's lifetime (he could confirm or deny authorship) but that the letters were circulated from the onset of their writing as they were received as being from God. (1 Thessalonians 5:27 demonstrates his letters were to be read by all the churches immediately (cf. Col 4:16, 2 Thess. 3:18). They were demonstrated to be from God (1 Thess. 2:13)

  2. Paul's associates could confirm the authenticity of the letters (Col 1:1, 1 Thess 1:1, 2 Thess 1:1, Philipp. 1:1)

  3. The traveling emissaries who delivered the letter could confirm its genuineness of the letters (Col 4:7, Eph 6:21, Rom. 16:1-2)

  4. Paul's own signature was on every epistles (2 Thess. 3:17, 1 Cor 16:21)

  5. Paul's secretaries could confirm the letters (i.e. Rom 16:22)

  6. Internal evidence (see charts above) and external objective data confirms Paul wrote the epistles.

  7. The churches themselves are an evidence of the genuineness of the letters as recipient churches passed the epistles over to other churches. This corroborates that from an early date that there are multiple churches who received the epistles as authentic from the first century.

    1. For example, Clement of Rome quotes from Paul's letter to the Corinthians when the letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to the church of Rome. The implication is that the church at Corinth received the epistle as genuine and so did the church at Rome when it received a copy of the letter. This same principle and occurrence applies to all the letters of the New Testament