I'd like to know if there's evidence that Paul presented his letters (e.g., Corinthians, Philippians, etc.) in the manner of spoken sermons to people of various churches, or if his letters were written and only quietly read.

I'm asking because I think it would alter my experience of reading the text, as so far I have simply read it as a thoughtfully written letter, not while imagining a crowd before this one guy speaking.

  • 4
    Interesting idea. Paul certainly preached, but an actual recitation of his own words? I believe there's strong textual evidence that some of Paul's letters were dictated (to a scribe) while he wrote others. Further evidence indicates his goal was to give them something they could read when gathering, which were things he already taught them. I'm afraid I don't understand the thought. Why exactly do you think this is a possibility? Here's an up because it is a good exegesis question "how should this be read?"
    – user3961
    Oct 5, 2019 at 5:13
  • Didn’t Paul write most of his letters from prison? Someone may have read them out to the congregation, but it probably wouldn’t have been him.
    – nick012000
    Oct 5, 2019 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


The Bible informs us that Paul was a powerful orator and we have evidence of the impact of his public speaking, for example as recorded in Acts 17:16-34.

However, there is no “evidence” that Paul, having written or dictated letters to the various churches scattered throughout Italy, Greece and Asia, then stood up in the church and delivered his message like a sermon. The only responses you are likely to get to your question are opinions, which do not constitute “evidence” and that is why some have voted to have this question closed.

However, it is possible to establish a timeline showing approximately when he wrote his various letters, when he was on his three missionary journeys and when he was imprisoned. One certainty is that Paul wrote Ephesians, Philemon, Colossians and Philippians during his first Roman imprisonment and his second letter to Timothy during his second Roman imprisonment.

This timeline is an approximation of the dates of Paul’s missionary journeys and when he wrote to the various churches that had been established during those trips.

1st Missionary Journey AD 46-48 (Acts 13-14): Paul and Barnabas leave the church at Antioch in Syria. At first, their method of evangelism was to preach in the town synagogues. After many of the Jews rejected Christ, they recognized the need to witness to the Gentiles.

Galatians written circa AD 47

1 & 2 Thessalonians written circa AD 49-51

2nd Missionary Journey AD 50-52 (Acts 15:36-18:22): After another stay in Antioch, building up the church there, Paul takes Silas to Asia Minor after which God providentially redirects them to Greece, bringing the gospel to Europe. At Philippi, the missionary team is beaten and imprisoned. Traveling on to Athens, Paul preaches to an inquisitive audience on Mars Hill. Paul taught those who believed in Christ and established them in churches.

1 & 2 Corinthians and letter to Romans written between AD 52 and 56

3rd Missionary Journey AD 53-57 (Acts 18:23-20:38): During Paul’s third journey, he fervently preached in Asia Minor. Acts 20:7-12 tells of Paul at Troas preaching an exceptionally long sermon. Once involved in the occult, the new believers at Ephesus burned their magic books. At the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, he knew he would soon be imprisoned and probably killed. His final words to the church at Ephesus display his devotion to Christ (Acts 20:18-24).

During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (AD 60-62) he writes to the Ephesians, Philemon, the Colossians, and the Philippians; his first letter to Timothy and letter to Titus written circa AD 62.

During Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome (AD 63-64) he writes his second letter to Timothy.

Paul dies AD 67/68

Whether Paul personally delivered sermons to the various churches he established throughout Syria, Galatia, Asia and Greece in no way affects the power of the letters he wrote. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit and because of that, his written words are every bit as important and meaningful as anything he spoke. These days, it seems to me (and this is my own personal opinion) that people are too easily swayed by powerful speakers with charismatic personalities but who may be preaching a false gospel. We don’t need somebody to stand up in a pulpit and tell us what to believe. All we need is recorded in the Bible, which is the Word of God, and it is by reading God’s Word and believing in its message that we are blessed.

You would benefit from buying a Study Bible (such as the New International Version, The New Living Translation or the English Standard Version) because they contain lots of useful information on what was going on back then, and provide timelines and maps that help to bring the events and the characters to life.

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