The Epistles of PaulOur main sources regarding Paul in the New Testament are the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles.
The Authentic Epistles of PaulThere are thirteen letters or epistles in the New Testament today that are attributed to him. Another epistle, the epistle to the Hebrews used to be attributed to him as well but is no longer accepted today by most Christians as a Pauline work. 
Of the thirteen epistles accepted by tradition as Pauline, the opinion among scholars are divided as to their authenticity. The question of authenticity is not a straightforward one for its considerations include intangibles such as style, form and content. Fundamentalists, who cannot accept anything else, assert that all the thirteen epistles attributed to him by the New Testament are genuinely his. And then there are scholars of a more skeptical bent that accept only four of the thirteen epistles are being actually written by the historical Paul. Most scholars stand somewhere in between.
As the arguments in this chapter will be taken only from those epistles accepted as genuine by most scholars, it is important to present the reasons why these epistles are accepted as such while others are rejected as authentic. The first is to list out the documents which we have no reason to assume to be unauthentic. These would generally include the Romans, I and II Corinthians and Galatians. So when it is argued that some of the other documents are not authentic Pauline, what is meant is that the differences in style, form and content give us strong reasons to believe that they were written by someone other than the person who wrote Romans, I and II Corinthians and Galatians.
As a detailed example of the arguments of authenticity we will look at the Epistle to the Ephesians, which is not accepted by most scholars as an authentic Pauline document. The first reason involves the form of the letter. All the genuine Pauline epistles normally end with the usual greetings. Here are a few examples:
The Ephesian documents ends abruptly, without the conveyance of greetings such as the above. This is how the epistle end:
This short ending is even more suspicious when we find out that Paul spent about three years in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19:1; 19:8-10). We would expect him to be on more familiar terms with the Ephesians. Moreover, while the beginning of this epistle is given in most modern New Testament editions as thus:
A substantial number of old manuscripts actually lacked the words "in Ephesus". This gives good reason to believe that the whole document was originally not an epistle at all but a tract, written by an unknown early Christian author, to explain Pauline teachings.
The second reason involves content. All of the genuine Pauline documents contain discussions on eschatology. This is noticeably absent from Ephesians. The epistle’s description of the Christian church as being “built on the foundation of the apostles” (Ephesians 2:20) is certainly incompatible with what we see in Galatians. [a] The allusion the existence of heretical sects (Ephesians 4:14) point to a period after the death of Paul. Furthermore key technical phrases are found to be used in marked different senses here than in the authentic Pauline documents.
The third involves style. Paul's style is generally volatile but this particular epistle has a sluggish and ponderous one. 
Table A below summarizes the bulk of present scholarly opinion about the authorship of these epistles.
The introduction of the main icon of modern technology-the computer- into biblical research had lent further support to the general scholarly consensus. These computer studies were initiated during the early sixties. Its use was based on the assumption that while the style of the author may vary to a certain extend (depending on his mood, intentions etc.), the habits of the author cannot be so easily changed. Here we are talking about the tendency of the author to use words such as "and", "but" and other small words, the length of his sentences and other unconscious practices in his writings or dictation.
Using the epistles to the Roman, Corinthians and Galatians as the input defining the literary habits of Paul to the computer, the other epistles are analyzed. These results confirmed the results shown in the table above. For instance, the epistle to the Ephesians was not considered by the computer to be a genuine Pauline document.  Perhaps the most conclusive results of these computer studies is that the so-called Pastoral Epistles (I & II Timothy and Titus) are definitely non-Pauline. 
We will therefore be accepting the general consensus as depicted in Table A above. Our subsequent discussions will only be drawn from documents that we have strong reasons to believe are authentic.
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If we assume the general reliability of the chronology of the Acts of the Apostles, we can set the lower limit. Based on internal evidences, the earliest Pauline epistle is the first epistle to the Thessalonians.
We can connect some statements found in this epistle with some events depicted in Acts. In chapter seventeen of Acts we are told that Paul's visit to Thessalonika was not without trouble. Paul and his followers had fled from there to Berea, another town in the province of Macedonia (See the map below).
After leaving Athens, Paul went to Corinth (Acts 18:1). It was here that Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia [b] to join Paul:
In the epistle, Silas and Timothy was already with Paul when he was writing it:
According to Paul, Timothy had just joined him:
We can therefore say with some certainty that this epistle was written while Paul was in Corinth.  Around this time, according to Acts 18;12, Gallio was proconsul of Archaia. Based on an archaeological discovery (an inscription found in Delphi), Gallio's administration can be dated accurately to AD51-52.  The earliest extent Christian document, the epistle to the Thessalonians, was therefore written around AD51 or 52; this means that it preceded the earliest gospel, Mark, by at least two decades. We can conclude that all the Pauline epistles were written between AD51 and 64. Using similar deductive methods, by tying the chronology of Acts to the content of the epistles, the other genuine Pauline documents can also be dated. Given below is the summary of the dates:
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