Course Number: SAS 471
Course Title: Letters of St. Paul


Father William C. Mills




This course studies the composition, structure, purpose, historical background and

theological themes of the Pauline letters with an exegesis of selected passages.


Week 1 Overview of Class, read syllabi, gather course materials, start reading

Week 2 Background on Paul’s Mission and Ministry Part 1

Week 3 Background on Paul’s Mission and Ministry Part 2

Week 4 Roman’s Part 1

Week 5 Roman’s Part 2

Week 6 Corinthian Letters Part 1

Week 7 Corinthian Letters Part 2

Week 8 Galatians

Week 9 Colossians and Ephesians

Week 10 Philippians and Philemon

Week 11 Thessalonian Letters

Week 12 Pastoral Letters (1 and 2 Timothy/Titus)

Week 13 Finish up papers and projects

Week 14 Finish up papers and projects

Week 15 Finish up papers and projects


At the conclusion of the term the student should be able to:


  1. Students are responsible for all the assigned readings, including the secondary course material.
  2. Students will be responsible for all course work in the class including the three papers. For more information see below.


  1. Grading will be assessed through the four writing assignments
  2. Final grade will be determined in the following manner:

Total 100 %


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below


The purpose of the short papers is for the student to engage the course material in an in depth manner. Furthermore, we need to remember that while we are studying Paul’s epistles which were written nearly 2,000 years ago, the meaning and message is as important today as it was then! The early evangelists were interested with issues regarding their faith community, and therefore, were encouraged to provide guidance and direction in community life especially in terms of living the gospel during a time of great persecution and maintaining faith in times of doubt and distress. Please use either MLA or Chicago Manual of Style for grammar, style, and citations.

Written Assignment #1 Cultural, Social, Religious, and Political Background of the Apostle Paul and His World

The purpose of this assignment is for the student to have a basic knowledge of some aspect of the cultural, social, and political background of the Jewish/Roman World of the Apostle Paul. The student is asked to write a 5  page paper on any one of the following possible topics, the student of course may choose his/her own topic but please check with the instructor before proceeding. Topics can include: the role, use, and purpose of slavery;  letter writing and communication in the ancient world, marriage and family life, transportation and communication, flower and fauna, coins and money, Roman-Greco political structures in the Mediterranean, major pagan religious institutions and the use of temples and cults, and military organization and structure.

Written Assignment #2  Paul’s Pastoral Letters for Catechesis and Teaching

The purpose of the second written assignment is for the student to understand the catechetical and teaching importance of Paul’s Letters. The student is asked to choose from among the various topics listed below (or if the student has an alternative topic that is fine too). Rather than write a traditional research paper you are asked to present the material in a way that enhances and fosters teaching and catechesis in a parish setting. For example the student may choose to create a 6-7 week adult Bible study based on the topic, 2) create a series of 6-7 Sunday bulletin inserts that are formatted around your specific topic, 3) create a blog with 6-7 blog postings based on your topic. You are encouraged to include pictures, charts, graphs, and or a Power-Point presentation to enhance your work—the more creative you are the better!

My hope is that your reading and research will be used to further “advance the gospel” in your local parish and faith community. There are numerous topics available, I only ask that you first contact me before you begin your research/reading. You may also consult with your parish priest for some thoughts and ideas, he might help you find a topic that would be beneficial to your congregation. Below are some ideas for your project. If you have other ideas let me know before you do this assignment.

Sample Topics:

  1. Paul’s use of “team ministry” (i.e Timothy, Ephrasas, and others that he mentions in his letters).
  2. Paul’s use of metaphors
  3. False Apostles vs. True Apostles
  4. Paul’s use of rhetoric and is letters
  5. A specific theme such as baptism, death/resurrection, stewardship
  6. Any other topic of students’ choice

Written Assignment #3: Exegetical Paper—Student’s Choice of Topic

The Greek word “exegesis” means to take apart, to dissect. When students dissect a frog in biology class they open up the frog and look at all the organs and parts of the body. We do the same with Scripture. When reading we read not just for information but how the particular passage is connected to the rest of the chapter as well as the larger context within Scripture. The student will choose a passage from any of the Pastoral Letters and dissect it the best you can. Choose a short passage, a few verses perhaps and imagine that you are explaining the passage to a fellow parishioner or student. Focus on particular words or images that stand out or which you think are important. You are more than welcome to draw upon the writings of the saints and some of the early Church Fathers but please keep long quotations to a minimum. The purpose for this particular assignment is for the student to dissect and understand a specific passage in Paul’s letters. Make sure to make connections with other parts of Paul’s writings as well. Please limit your work to 5 pages.

Written Assignment #4  Word Study

One of the ways that we can dig deeper into Sacred Scripture and learn more about the message of the text is in word studies. The student is ask to choose a word or phrase that appears often in Paul’s letters such as baptism, love, slave of God, day of the Lord, etc…and write about it. Look up all of the places where that particular word or phrase appears. How does Paul use the word or phrase? What does the word or phrase mean? How can we be better Christians by knowing this particular word or phrase. If you need help finding a word or phrase that is meaningful for you contact the instructor for assistance. Assignment is for 5 pages.


Charles Puskas and Mark Reasoner The Letters of Paul: An Introduction 2nd edition (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0814680636  $26.95

Ronald Wintherup Paul and the New Evangelization (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0814635667  $13.25

Raymond Collins Paul’s Letters 24 CD Set  (Now You Know Media) $49.95

Note: Some students may want to purchase single commentaries on Paul’s Letters or other books about Paul and his world. Fr. Mills can make recommendations for you if you are interested in doing such. However, the extra volumes are not necessary for the course.



Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required to be in class 3 hours a week and prepare for class discussions 4.5 hours a week. Expect to devote at least 7 quality hours a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

NB: An Incomplete may only be awarded to a student who has maintained a passing grade up to the point of the emergency.  Incomplete grades will change to a grade of F unless the requirements stipulated on the incomplete form are met by the date listed.


If you want to read more information about my background and ministry you can visit my website at Again, welcome to the class and I hope we have a good semester together!Screen Shot 2012-04-24 at 2