Paul is credited with writing 13 of the New Testament’s 27 books (48.15%). The books attributed to Paul are Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus and Philemon. As such, Paul is responsible for 32,407 of the New Testament’s 138,020 words (23.48%). (It is worth noting that Luke/Acts accounts for 37,392 words, more than all of Paul’s writings combined.)
These numbers do not include the book of Hebrews, though the King James Version heads the book “The Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews.” Stanley B. Morrow (b. 1931) critiques succinctly “The title..is rather inaccurate: it is not an ‘epistle,’ nor is it by Paul, nor is it ‘to the Hebrews.’ (Marrow, Paul: His Letters and His Theology, 1986, 50.)”
Though his letters have been influential for centuries, Paul may have not seen his writing as one of the primary aspects of his ministry. In the biographical account of Paul recorded in Acts, not once is he ever seen writing.
The Corinthians evidently recognized a difference between Paul’s writing and his preaching. Paul writes, “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! (II Corinthians 10:1 NASB)” Paul’s tone indicates that he feels the Corinthians would rather read him than hear him.
Have you ever performed a secondary task which turned out to be more important than what you saw as your primary function? Do you think Paul thought his writing would be his legacy? Have you ever met anyone who projected far better on paper than in person? Do you “sound” differently when you write than when you speak?
Given his impact on the New Testament canon and his influence on the early Christian movement, critics have speculated that modern Christians follow Paul more than Jesus. New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann (b. 1946) even wrote a book titled Paul: The Founder of Christianity (2002).
Who shaped the trajectory of Christianity more, Jesus or Paul? Whose model does your church more closely follow, Jesus’ or Paul’s?