Pauline Epistles.Attributed to Paul or not?

Maybe a classical question.Are these epistles attributed to Paul although are not from him?Did the early church accepted them as such?What is the view of christian scholars on that matter iff someone knows,and does that impact us showing that the bible is with error?

Forgeries mean copies of documents that are presented as authentic originals. We have no original copies of Paul’s letters. To my knowledge, no one is claiming we do.

Do you mean are some of the epistles attributed to Paul actually written by someone else? If you look at any commentary for a book of the Bible there will be a whole section on authorship presenting the arguments for and against the traditionally attributed author. Some of the cases for authorship are very strong and others have challenges. It seems to me that one of the main ways people challenge Pauline authorship of certain epistles is by comparing the vocabulary and language structures of epistles where the case for Pauline authorship is strong with the vocabulary and language structures in the epistle in question. The problem with this is that the text corpus is very small and this kind of analysis is linguistically dubious. People “code switch” all the time, especially people who find themselves in cross-cultural situations or people who live in multicultural contexts. There is nothing surprising about someone using different levels of vocabulary depending on the audience and context. Also, it is known that Paul dictated many of his letters and scribes could influence what got put on paper.

The main issue for Christians is that the letters in the canon were accepted as authoritative by the leaders in apostolic succession.


Υes thats what i meant

So they are not ?

I don’t understand.

The authorship of some of Paul’s letters is challenged. None of the challenges are conclusive and the people who argue for Pauline authorship have their own counter-claims and evidence. The authorship of some of Paul’s letters are not challenged.

Paul’s letters are not part of the canon just because Paul wrote them. They are there because of what they teach.

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True but then it implies that the bible characters are not actually the ones who wrote it.Of course we dont know the authors of the bible but we attribute (the bible) to certain individuals.So saying these arent of Paul its like saying the gospel of mark is not from mark for example,which i guess raises other questions

Does it though? Does claiming a book is by Mark Twain, not Samuel Clemens change the book?

The first five books of the Bible are traditionally attributed to Moses, but no Bible scholar I know believes Moses sat down and authored them.

Well it raises the question of beign more that two authors who wrote it ,So then the new testament events for example or really any other are not the view of a single individual but of many which some might have twisted certain passages etc

There once was a definitely forged epistle to the Laodiceans which used to be included in the Bible long ago but now no longer is. What we call 1 Corinthians is not the first letter Paul wrote to them–because the real first epistle is missing. Some epistles (e.g. Hebrews) once attributed to Paul are know thought to be by some other author. There are parts of 1 Corintians now thought by some to be a later addition. For good reason, too–there is inconsistency with the rest of the text. But for the most part, we have authentic writings from Paul.

Here in the Greek bible we dont have the added mark ending we never did.I guess ill have to read my Greek bible and check the differences from the translated english version.I think we might not have some letters as well

Mark Twain was Samuel Clemens’ pen name.

The letters included in the canon were accepted from a very early date in church history as containing apostolic teaching. It’s not like three hundred years later they were discovered and we are trying to figure out what might have been “twisted.” We know that Matthew and Luke relied on Mark and probably one or two other documents we don’t have and whose authorship is unknown when writing their gospels. No one claims the gospels are reliable because of the purity of their authorship. It’s because of their content and their use in the early church.

All modern translations are based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. Some older translations like the King James used different source texts that have since been ruled not the original based on reliable methods of textual criticism.

Yet there are things we dont have. Like the ending of mark which is an added later verse

English Bibles have a footnote saying that text does not appear in the oldest manuscripts.

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I think if I am not mistaken you are thinking of 2 Corinthians. Not actually the 2nd letter since Paul refers to an early ‘harsh’ letter (which isn’t 1 Corinthians). There is a gear change towards the end that many suggest is indicative of two halves of two different letters being stitched together.


@NickolaosPappas, Pseudography (the act of writing a letter under the name of another person) was common practice in 2nd temple Judaism and early Christianity. There is an entire collection of works in this vein called the pseudepigrapha. Examples include the Book of Enoch and the Apocalypse of Moses. I personally don’t find the arguments convincing (for many of the reasons Christy referenced above), but some have claimed that some of Paul’s letters may be examples of this same practice.

It is also worth noting that folk probably would not have seen pseudography as deceptive or dishonest as we would do today.

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Hmm interesting. Well the gospel of thomas and judas and other gnostic works which are pseudigrapha were seen much deceptive. So i think the people of the time were very careful and examined very precisely every work of pseudigraphe

No. Look at 1 Corinthians 5:9

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One thing to remember is that the Bible is not inspired by God. The original handwritten texts were. They have been translated and retranslated and different versions have been found and throughout time various men and councils have decided what is and what is not to be included in a compilation.

Thats perfectly fine. We can still piece together systemic theology and fruits of the spirit from what we have, and from what early Christians quoted, and so on.

So a better question in my mind is not if a letter was wrote by paul or not, but rather is it consistent with the rest of the Bible. If not, that’s when I would be concerned.

If a letter was maybe or maybe not from paul but the doctrine laid out in it could be found on other places I would not be to worried. But if a random verse said that the lost could be saved outside of Christ by sacrificing a Virgin I would be critical of it since that’s not really in line with any kind of systematic theology.

Undisputed Pauline Letters
1&2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians

Somewhat Disputed
2 Thessalonians

1&2 Timothy

As @Christy noted many arguments try to use difference in language from his undisputed letters. She helpfully noted why such arguments are problematic.

However arguments based on the theology in the letters have been offered as well.

Here are two examples,

Andrew T. Lincoln in his WBC commentary on Ephesians uses difference in theology to make his case for Ephesians being pseudonymous.

Richard B. Hays has noted differences in theology between 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy in his Interpretation commentary on 1&2 Corinthians.


Whether or not writing pseudonymous letters was ‘acceptable’ is disputed.

John Barton in his book A History of the Bible notes what the author of 2 Thessalonians says as an indication,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; 3:17 (NRSV)
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.

As far as what a pseudepigraphal letter of Paul might mean it will depend on how you think about what the Bible is.

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It’s not really the pseudonymous authorship that is the problem though, it’s the theology. That’s why they were considered false teachers.


Also for me there are some other things I notice when concerning what belongs in the New Testament. Short of the gospels, which were historical accounts including acts, I believe all the New Testament epistles and book of revelation were wrote by apostles. So any New Testament book not wrote by a Apostle I reject.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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