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Why are Paul's Introductory phrases for each of his letters different? Is there a significant reason Or am I just making a big issue about nothing?


Galatians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Introduction

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from [a]God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil [b]age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.


Romans 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) The Gospel Exalted

1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, [a]called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a [b]descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power [c]by the resurrection from the dead, according to the [d]Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship [e]to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;


1 Corinthians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Appeal to Unity

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ [a]by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, [b]saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:


Ephesians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) The Blessings of Redemption

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus [a]by the will of God,

To the [b]saints who are [c]at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Thanksgiving for These Believers

1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.


Philippians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Thanksgiving

1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the [a]saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, [b]including the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Colossians 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Thankfulness for Spiritual Attainments

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ [a]by the will of God, and Timothy [b]our brother,

2 To the [c]saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.


Philemon New American Standard Bible (NASB) Salutation

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy [a]our brother,

To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia [b]our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • They seem to share the same basic structure; not quite sure what you mean by different ? Not word for word identical ? – Lucian Jul 24 '18 at 15:34
  • @lucian Even though there are some similarities ( e.g. a lot of the letters emphasizes grace and peace ), but there are differences, & some of them mention mercy, and others do Not. I'm just wondering why there are differences between them, and also why some of introductory parts are far more lengthy. – crazyTech Jul 25 '18 at 3:22
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The opening phrases in a first century letter are fairly common. It is those things that are mostly the same between the various epistles, and they also are the reasons for the differences we see.

A letter in the first century would generally have four elements in the opening:

  1. Brief comments on who was writing the letters.
  2. Brief comments on who the letter was a addressed to.
  3. A brief blessing upon the recipients
  4. brief comments on the purpose of the letter.

There are questions about certain phrases, like Paul's use of χάρις (grace) καὶ εἰρήνη (and peace), that might suggest that Paul used something approaching a standard opening phrase. If so that would explain some of the similarities between the letters.

In some cases the elements are fairly short and in others they are longer. In the case of Ephesians, the forth element takes up 12 verses with most of that being one very long sentence. One that has always intrigued me is 1 Timothy where Paul adds his usual grace and peace to the blessing, but unlike the others he adds mercy to the opening blessing. I have attempted to explain its presence in this letter by the fact that 1 Timothy was written to a pastor and a pastor needs grace and peace for himself, but in addition he needs mercy in dealing with those who are put under his care.

One final point, Paul had a masterful way of including key points in these openings that would appeal to the original audience. Like 1 Corinthians, he was writing to a church that was filled with issues of carnal living. Yet in the opening he makes clear they are saints and that they have already been sanctified. That was his way of conveying to them that he stilled believed in the best for them even those he has to sternly rebuke them in the body of the letter. Of course some of this mastery comes because it is God who is speaking through the Scripture authors.

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One interesting thing I noticed was the difference between the openings of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians παυλος και σιλουανος και τιμοθεος τη εκκλησια θεσσαλονικεων εν θεω πατρι και κυριω ιησου χριστω

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonians in God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ


2 Thessalonians παυλος και σιλουανος και τιμοθεος τη εκκλησια θεσσαλονικεων εν θεω πατρι ημων και κυριω ιησου χριστω

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonians in God our Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ

What precisely follows next in the original versions of these letters are somewhat of a mystery, owing to manuscript variations. The manuscripts, however, seem to be consistent in what I quoted. See http://prototypes.openscriptures.org/manuscript-comparator/?passage=1+Thessalonians+1&view=unified and http://prototypes.openscriptures.org/manuscript-comparator/?passage=2+Thessalonians+1&view=unified

Now, notice that Paul says "God the Father" in 1 Thessalonians, but "God our Father" in 2 Thessalonians. Personally, I suspect that this slight variation serves to signify the spiritual growth of the Thessalonians, who grew closer to the Father and had a more intimate relationship with the Father after they read and implemented the instruction of Paul in his first epistle. After all, their faith has grown exceedingly and their charity aboundeth. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)

And he who does the will of the Father is a brother or sister of Christ, (Matthew 12:50) hence a spiritual son of God the Father. He can call God his Father, unlike the Pharisees who claimed to have God as their Father but were in reality children of the devil. (John 8:41-44).

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