Paul references a letter to the Laodiceans in his epistle to the Colossians:

And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:16 ESV)

What is the evidence for additional epistles written by Paul which are no longer extant? Is there additional evidence for lost Pauline epistles outside of Paul's own reference to them?

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    Isn't it a better fit for christianity.stackexchange, since it is a question more about tradition and less about text hermeneutics aswell? Jan 12, 2016 at 1:24
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    @FilipeMerker To my way of thinking it could work on either site. Here the question is a reasonable one arising directly from the text of Colossians: "There is a letter mentioned in the text; what letter is he talking about?" That's exegesis (not really "hermeneutcs", but we do this sort of thing). On C.SE, it might make sense to approach it from the perspective of early Christian traditions or other writings that make reference to the same letter.
    – Susan
    Jan 12, 2016 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


The Epistle to the Laodiceans is a possible lost letter of Paul the Apostle, the original existence of which is inferred from the Epistle to the Colossians to send their letter to the church in Laodicea, and likewise obtain a copy of the letter "from Laodicea" (Colossians 4:16) Our knowledge of the letter to the Laodiceans is therefore dependent on our knowledge of the letter to the Colossians.

Richard DeMaris (The Colossian Controversy, page 11) cites Raymond Brown, who estimated that by 1984, around 60 per cent of scholars thought Colossians inauthentic. John Barclay says (Colossians and Philemon, page 22) Colossians is now routinely bracketed out as deutero-Pauline and that the consensus accepts only seven letters as 'assuredly' Pauline. This places our understanding of the Epistle to the Laodiceans in an entirely new light. Some have even argued that Laodicea was the intended destination of Colossians and that the reference in verse 4:16 was a device to ensure that Colossians would be received in Laodicea.

Wikipedia tells us that according to the Muratorian fragment, Marcion's canon contained an epistle called the Epistle to the Laodiceans which is commonly thought to be a forgery written to conform to his own point of view. However, this is not at all clear, since none of the text survives. If there ever was a letter to the Laodiceans, it is just possible that this was it.

For centuries some Western Latin Bibles used to contain a small Epistle from Paul to the Laodiceans. The oldest known Bible copy of this epistle is in a Fulda manuscript written for Victor of Capua in 546. It does not appear in any Greek copies of the Bible at all, nor is it known in Syriac or other versions. The text was explicitly rejected by Jerome and others in ancient times. This is unlikely to have been the epistle mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians.


The Epistle to the Laodecia tells us to be careful of perversion of the Truth. It also talks about works accompanies salvation. It fills in the blanks where religion is not making sense.

You can find a copy at sacred-texts.com

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