This is the first of two courses focusing on the Apostle Paul’s life and writings. Its emphasis is on the first four of his letters to the seven churches (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians) and includes a study of the background, message, purposes and themes of each. Stress is upon the use of critical, historical, archaeological, and cultural analysis. Upon completion, students should be able to use analysis tools to read, understand, and explain these biblical writings.



Welcome to the “Epistles of Paul". Those who elect to walk the seldom traveled path of the Christianity of Jesus of Nazareth and the apostles Peter, Paul, John, and James, seek to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The Apostle Paul said to follow him as he followed Christ and to emulate his example of obedience to God. To do so requires an understanding of apostolic teachings and the will to live by the apostles’ doctrine. Our collective task is the examination of the history, traditions, and myths surrounding the early church to arrive at a fuller understanding ofthe period and “for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). This course focuses on the teachings, message, background, purposes, and themes of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians with special emphasis on the understanding of core doctrines. Students encounter leading issues and engage in assigned readings, conceptualization activities, and vocabulary building.

Completion of THL 136 or consent of instructor

Nathan, Peter G.

Associate Professor of Theology
Full Time
B.A. (1972), Ambassador University; M.T.S. (1992), Southern Methodist University; M.St. (2012), University of Cambridge.
Subject Matter: 

Peter Nathan served as a faculty member in Theology for seven years at Ambassador College/University. As a faculty member in 1990. he led a group of students to participate in the Tel Mozan Expedition, Syria, which was directed by Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati. His studies at Southern Methodist University focused largely on Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis. Most recently he has completed a Master’s program at University of Cambridge focusing on Jewish Christian relations, with an emphasis on early Church history and the “Parting of the Ways.” Subsequent to the time at Ambassador University, he focused on education of young adults within church communities, providing seminars in Biblical Studies to help lay a foundation for future roles in the ministry. In addition he has written and published numerous articles on the identity of the early church, which carefully examined and challenged many of the commonly held assumptions relating to that era of time. The place and use of the Dead Sea Scrolls in understanding the early church environment has been a special interest. Ordained to the ministry of the Church of God in 1973, he has pastored churches in diverse parts of the world and has been deeply involved in ministry to the developing world. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Schools of Oriental Research and the International Patristics Society. As well as serving on the Living University Administrative Council, Mr. Nathan serves as the University's Chair of the Theology Department, and Vice Chair of the Learning Resources Committee.

Course Credit: 
Three (3) semester credit hours
Instructional Objectives: 

On completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the author, background, theme and content of each book;
  2. Discuss important concepts contained in each book that relate to understanding the history and development of the New Testament Church and its doctrines;
  3. Identify and discuss key points of books that are subject to textual criticism;
  4. State and demonstrate the Apostle Paul's teaching on various doctrines and themes throughout all of his epistles and in particular his views on Christian living; and
  5. State the definition of basic terms.
Required Texts: 

Required textbooks for this course are:

  • Elwell, Walter A. and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN 9780801039645.
  • The Bible ‐ preferably a New King James version (also consult other translations)
Additional Readings: 

Recommended supplementary references are:

  • Wenham, G.J., J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, and R.T. France. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1994. ISBN 9780830814428.
  • McRay, John. Archaeology and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008. ISBN 9780801036088.
  • Trobisch, David. Paul's Letter Collection: Tracing the Origins. Bolivar, MO: Quiet Waters Publications, 2001. ISBN 9780966396676.
  • Trobisch, David. The First Edition of the New Testament. USA: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 9780199897971.
  • White, Jefferson. Evidence and Paul's Journeys: An Historical Investigation into the Travels of the Apostle Paul. Hillard, OH: Parsagard Press, 2001. ISBN 9780970569509.

The lectures in this course are expositions of the Pauline epistles providing students with a verse-by-verse analysis and explication of the text. The focus is upon the literal content and meaning of the written texts in their first-century context. Students should use the opportunity to make notes in their Bibles.

This course includes lectures by faculty and guests. Links to lectures are in the lessons. To contact any of the lecturers in this course on lesson details and issues please use the email feature in the e-learning system (Populi). If you have a personal message for any of them please use their personal email addresses:

     Mr. Peter G. Nathan [email protected]  
     Mr. Kenneth Frank [email protected]
     Dr. Douglas S. Winnail [email protected]
     Dr. Michael P. Germano [email protected]
     Mr. Gerald Weston [email protected]


Course Calendar: 
Lesson Topics

1  Introduction

Topic 1 - Life and Teachings of the Apostle Paul
Topic 2 - Pauline Writings and the New Testament
Topic 3 - Perils of Traveling in the Roman World
Topic 4 - Paul's Travels

2  Romans

Topic 1 - Background
Topic 2 - Repentance and Dead Works (Romans 1‐2)
Topic 3 - Basic Christian Doctrine (Romans 3‐10)
Topic 4 - Faith at Work (Romans 11‐16)

Exam 1 (Lessons 1-2)

3  I Corinthians

Topic 1 - Background
Topic 2 - Report of Chloe's People (1 Corinthians 1:1‐4:21)
Topic 3 - Concerning Immoral Behavior (1 Corinthians 5:1‐6:11)
Topic 4 - Response to a Letter from the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:12-16:24)

4 II Corinthians

Topic 1 - The Letter of Grief ( 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:11)
Topic 2 - Must We Commend Ourselves Again? (2 Corinthians 2:12-7:3)
Topic 3 - The Collection (2 Corinthians 7:4-9:15)
Topic 4 - The "Super-Apostles" (2 Corinthians 10:1-13:14)


Topic 1 - Background
Topic 2 - Introduction (Galatians 1-2)
Topic 3 - Paul's Gospel Message (Galatians 3-4)
Topic 4 - Paul's Commands on Circumcision, Love and Burdens (Galatians 5:1-6:10) and Epilogue (Galatians 6:11-18)

Exam 2 (Lessons 3-5)
Course Evaluation 

Course Requirements: 

Icebreaker assignment
To officially begin this course you must complete an icebreaker assignment by which you introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the course Discussion Forum. A student will earn points by posting the Icebreaker assignment on time. These points could make the difference between an A or a B, or passing or not passing this course.

  • The icebreaker assignment must be submitted not later than the eighth day of the semester.
  • Post your biography as a reply to the "Icebreaker" topic on the lesson “Welcome and Overview” Discussion Forum.
  • Please read and comment on at least two other bios by the due date in order to get credit.
  • Full credit for this assignment will only be given if all three of the above requirements are met.

Do NOT create a NEW discussion. Simply tell the class about yourself and your goals. This is not the place for a profession of faith, or the details your conversion experience, or problems you have had with previous fellowships, as that information is more of a private nature. Here you inform your classmates what you would like them to know about you. As we have people from all over the world enrolled in this course each autobiography will help us know, understand and appreciate each other.

Due dates and extensions
Submit assignments on or before the due date. No late or make-up assignments will be allowed except for extreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary). Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.

Reading assignments
Final reading assignments are located on the individual lesson pages at the course website.

Discussion forums
Each student will have the opportunity to post online comments to a Forum question for each lesson. This will enable students to interact with each other and with the instructor.

    Quizzes and examinations                

    Each of the five lessons has an associated online quiz of not more than 20 questions. They are closed book quizzes. Under no circumstances are students to print the quiz. Students have 60 minutes to complete each quiz. Quizzes are multiple-choice questions covering lectures, readings, vocabulary words, and geographical terms and places. There are two closed book exams of 50 objective questions each. Exam 2 will be a proctored examination. For more information on the proctored exam, see Proctored Exams below.

    Writing assignments
    All writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The Files feature on an assignment page lets you submit yoru work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review and grading.

    Always keep a copy of your work for this course.

    Terms and Phrases
    Each lesson includes a set of terms and phrases for you to learn. This exercise is to help you develop and expand your biblical and theological vocabulary as you proceed through the lessons and to help you focus on the context of the content you are reading. Examinations will specifically test your mastery of the basic terminology of this course. Many students find looking over vocabulary words just as they go to bed at night and as they arise in the morning helps commit them to memory. Be sure to review your definitions before an examination.

    For some terms and phrases, we have given a scriptural link. We selected the NKJ, the New King James Version, as our default for scriptural text. When alternate scriptures appear we provide the appropriate link as NASB, KJV, RSV, NIV, and the like.

    Study tips

    Distance learning emphasizes self‐motivation. Your instructor functions as a facilitator with you as the driving force in mastering course content. Do not put off completing your readings and assignments. While there are many different learning styles the following strategy should serve the needs of most students.

    • Look over assigned readings.
    • Read the assigned readings making notes before viewing the assigned lecture.
    • Define terms in the lesson. The exams will specifically test basic terminology. Develop your biblical and theology vocabulary as you proceed lesson by lesson.
    • As you view lectures complete your notes.
    • Participate in the lesson discussion forum topic.
    • Complete your answers for the writing assignment.
    • Each week review your notes, geographical terms and locations, and the words you defined.
    • If you have a question, ask. Questions should arise in the teaching‐learning process. By bringing questions to our attention you not only acquire assistance but you also maintain the interaction necessary in higher education. To submit a question just click on the instructor's name on the course "Info" page and send your question by email through the Populi system.

    Your course grade will be determined based on the number of points you have earned over the semester as follows:

    • Icebreaker Assignment (25 points)
    • Discussion Forums (five, 20 points each for a total of 100 points)
    • Quizzes (five, 40 points each for a total of 200 points)
    • Writing Assignments (five, 50 points each for a total of 250 points)
    • Letter Sentence Outlines (four, 50 points each for a total of 200 points)
    • Exams (two, 100 ponts each for a total of 200 points; online, closed book and closed notes; Exam 2 must be proctored)
    • Course Evaluation (25 points)
    • Total 1,000 points

    Grades are assigned in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning we believe that mastery of the subject matter is achieved when a student can demonstrate that they have achieved 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want you to earn at least 800 points in this course. If you do not do so then you have not developed the mastery we would like you to have. We want this course to be competency‐based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it). Also, don’t go on a guilt trip if you get a C. That is an honorable grade, but if you receive a D or below, then you might want to retake the course. Mastery of the material is what your goal should be.

    Grades are assigned by points as follows:

    A - 900‐1000 points
    B - 800‐899 points
    C - 700‐799 points
    D - 600‐699 points
    F - Below 600 points


    Proctored Exams

    Exam 2 is the only proctored exam in this course. A proctored exam is one that is overseen by an impartial individual (called a proctor) who monitors or supervises a student while he or she is taking an exam. The proctor ensures the security and integrity of the exam process. The proctoring process helps assure that the student who takes a proctored examination in a course is the same person who enrolled in the course and that examination results reflect the student’s own knowledge and competency.

    Students should present valid government-issued photo identification to their proctor before taking an exam to confirm their identity, unless the proctor personally knows the student being tested. In order for a proctored exam grade to be recorded, a signed Proctor’s Signature Form (PSF) must be sent to LU. The form is unnecessary in the case of ProctorU. No graded proctored exam will be returned to the student or to the exam proctor.

    Students have several choices for completing the proctored exam:

    1. A student can come to campus for an exam. The instructor will establish a specific campus classroom, date and time for the student to come to LU and complete the exam with the instructor or his or her representative. To make an appointment, contact your instructor by email or telephone.
    2. A student can utilize a Living Church of God church officer (i.e. elder, deacon, deaconess, adult/youth leader, etc.). Be sure to politely ask the individual and if he or she consents to be the proctor for you.
    3. A student can use ProctorU online. ProctorU is a service that LU faculty may utilize for proctoring online exams. ProctorU allows students to conveniently and securely complete assigned exams using almost any web cam. With a computer and approved web cam, a student can take online exams at home, at work, or almost anywhere they have Internet access. ProctorU connects students directly to their proctor via web cam so they can both see and talk to one another. ProctorU can also monitor the student’s computer while they complete the exam. Students pay ProctorU directly for this service. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred. To view the demo video on how this service works, or to sign up and schedule testing appointments, the Living University portal is located at For ProctorU, no Proctor’s Signature Form (PSF) is needed.
    4. A student can use a college or university testing center. There is usually a fee for this service which students pay directly. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred.
    5. A student can have an approved proctor. This may be a school official, such as a teacher or registrar, or a librarian who is not related to the student.

    All university students should present proper photo identification to their proctor before taking an exam unless the proctor personally knows the student being tested. In order for a proctored exam grade to be recorded, a signed Proctor’s Signature Form (PSF) must sent to LU. Provide the approved proctor with a copy of the Proctor’s Signature Form (PSF) and a stamped envelope with appropriate postage paid, addressed as follows: Registrar’s Office Living University 2301 Crown Centre Drive, Suite A Charlotte, NC 28227-7705

    Academic Irregularity
    Students have the responsibility for conducting themselves in such a manner as to avoid any suspicion that they are improperly giving or receiving aid on any assignment or examination. An academic irregularity not only includes cheating but also includes plagiarism (taking another's ideas and/or words and presenting them as if they were the writer's own) and the submitting of the same paper in separate courses without prior consent from the faculty members concerned. In cases of suspected academic irregularity, faculty members may refuse to grade such papers or examinations, completely or in part, and to record each of them as a failure. If an academic irregularity is sufficiently serious, the University may take one or more of, but not limited to, the following actions:

    1. Drop the student from the course with a grade of F
    2. Place the student on academic probation
    3. Dismiss the student from the University

    Students With Disabilities
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

    Technology Access
    This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

    Course Evaluation
    Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

    Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
    It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.