The Pauline letters to the seven specific churches

There are fourteen Pauline epistles, letters generally attributed to the apostle Paul.  The Greek name for a letter was epistle (ἐπιστολὴ).  Nine of these Pauline epistles were addressed to seven Christian Churches that he had visited.  1 Thessalonians, from the early 50s CE, is perhaps the oldest document of the New Testament.  2 Thessalonians dates from the early to late 60s CE.  The letter to the Romans was composed between 53-57 CE.  1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians date from 53-57 CE also.  The letter to the Galatians comes from the late 50s CE), while the letter to the Colossians dates from the late 50s to the early 60s CE.  The letters to the churches of the Ephesians and the Philippians comes from the early 60s CE.  A lot of Christian theology has been based on the reflections of these letters that were describing what was happening in their early Christian communities.

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The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.