Epistle to the Laodiceans
An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 (since his name is the first word in the letter) to the Laodicean Church
Laodicean Church
The Laodicean Church was a Christian community established in the ancient city of Laodicea . The church was established in the earliest period of Christianity, and is probably best known for being one of the seven churches addressed by name in the Book of Revelation The Laodicean Church was a...

, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians
Epistle to the Colossians
The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, usually referred to simply as Colossians, is the 12th book of the New Testament. It was written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle to the Church in Colossae, a small Phrygian city near Laodicea and approximately 100 miles from Ephesus in Asia...

. Several texts bearing this title have been known to exist and have been published in bibles until around 1500 CE.

Two important points covered in the letter include: 1) the Holy Spirit administers our prayers under the lordship and high priest ministry of Jesus, 2) meditate on sound doctrine by thinking on it in the presence of the Holy Spirit while believing to receive and build a revelation of the Word of God in our spirit.


Paul, the earliest known Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 author, wrote several letters (or epistles) in Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 to various churches. Paul apparently dictated all his epistles through a secretary (or amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

), but wrote the final few paragraphs of each letter by his own hand. Many survived and are included in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, but others are known to have been lost. The Epistle to the Colossians states "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." The last words can be interpreted as "letter written to the Laodiceans", but also "letter written from Laodicea." The New American Standard Bible
New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible , also informally called New American Standard Version , is an English translation of the Bible....

 (NASB) translates this verse in the latter manner, and translations in other languages such as the Dutch Statenvertaling
The Statenvertaling or Statenbijbel is the first Bible translation from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages to the Dutch language, ordered by the government of the Protestant Dutch Republic first published in 1637.The first complete Dutch Bible was printed in Antwerp in 1526 by Jacob...

 translate it likewise: "When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter (that is coming) from Laodicea." Those who read here "letter written to the Laodiceans" presume that, at the time that the Epistle to the Colossians was written, Paul also had written an epistle to the Laodicean Church.

For centuries Bibles used to contain a small Epistle from Paul to the Laodiceans. It is referenced in Colossians 4 verse 16. "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." (Colosse and Laodicea are less than fifteen miles apart.)

The oldest known Bible copy of this epistle is in the Fulda manuscript written for Victor of Capua in 546. It is mentioned by various writers from the fourth century onwards, notably by Gregory the Great, to whose influence may ultimately be due the frequent occurrence of it in Bibles written in England; for it is commoner in English Bibles than in others. John Wycliffe included Paul's letter to the Laodiceans in his bible translation.

However this epistle is not without controversy because there is no evidence of a Greek text.

The epistle appears in more than 100 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate (including the oldest, the celebrated codex Fuldensis, 546 CE), as well as in manuscripts of early Albigensian, Bohemian, English, and Flemish versions. At the close of the 10th century Aelfric, a monk in Dorset, wrote a treatise in Anglo-Saxon on the Old and New Testaments, in which he states that the apostle Paul wrote 15 Epistles. In his enumeration of them he place Laodiceans after Philemon.

About 1165 CE John of Salisbury, writing about the canon to Henry count of Champagne (Epist. 209), acknowledges that 'it is the common, indeed almost universal, opinion that there are only 14 Epistles of Paul ... But the 15th is that which is written to the church of the Laodiceans'.

The Epistle to the Laodiceans is included in all 18 German Bibles printed prior to Luther's translation, beginning with the first German Bible, issued by Johann Mental at Strassburg in 1488. In these the Pauline Epistles, with the Epistle to the Hebrews, immediately follow the Gospels, with Laodiceans standing between Galatians and Ephesians. In the first Czech (Bohemian) Bible, published at Prague in 1488 and reprinted several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, Laodiceans follows Colossians and precedes I Thessalonians.

It was not until the Council of Florence (1439-43) that the See of Rome delivered for the first time a categorical opinion on the Scriptural canon. In the list of 27 books of the New Testament there are 14 Pauline Epistles, that to the Hebrews being last, with the book of Acts coming immediately before the Revelation of John. The Epistle to the Laodiceans is noteably absent.

This Epistle to the Laodiceans has been highly esteemed by several learned men of the church of Rome and others, including the Quakers, who have printed a translation and plead for it as canon. However there are several scholars who write it off as a forgery. Their strongest objection being no surviving Greek text.

Sixtus Senensis mentions two manuscripts, the one in the Sorbonne Library at Paris, which is a very ancient copy, and the other in the Library of Joannes a Viridario, at Padmus, which he transcribed and published, and which is the authority for the translation below.


1. Paul an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, to the brethren which are at Laodicea.
2. Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. I thank Christ in every prayer of mine, that you may continue and persevere in good works, looking for that which is promised in the day of judgment.
4. Do not be troubled by the vain speeches of anyone who perverts the truth, that they may draw you aside from the truth of the Gospel which I have preached.
5. And now may God grant that my converts may attain to a perfect knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, be beneficent, and doing good works which accompany salvation.
6. And now my bonds, which I suffer in Christ, are manifest, in which I rejoice and am glad.
7. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation forever, which shall be through your prayer and the supply of the Holy Spirit.
8. Whether I live or die, to me to live shall be a life to Christ, to die will be joy.
9. And our Lord will grant us his mercy, that you may have the same love, and be like-minded.
10. Wherefore, my beloved, as you have heard of the coming of the Lord, so think and act reverently, and it shall be to you life eternal;
11. For it is God who is working in you;
12. And do all things without sin.
13. And what is best, my beloved; rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, and avoid all filthy lucre.
14. Let all your requests be made known to God, and be steady in the doctrine of Christ.
15. And whatever things are sound and true, and of good report, and chaste, and just, and lovely, these things do.
16. Those things which you have heard and received, think on these things, and peace shall be with you.
17. All the saints salute you.
18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
19. Cause this Epistle to be read to the Colossians, and the Epistle of the Colossians to be read among you.

Letter to the Laodiceans

1 Paul, an apostle not from men nor by man, but through Jesus Christ, to the brethren that are at Laodicea.

2 Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I give thanks to Christ in all my prayers that you continue in him and persevere in his works looking for the promise in the Day of Judgement.

4 Nor do vain insinuations of some overset you that you turn away from the truth of the Gospel, which is preached by me.

5 And now God will help those who are of me to continue in kindness and doing works which serve the truth of the gospel of salvation of eternal life.

6 And now well known are my bonds which I suffer in Christ, in which I rejoice and am glad.

7 And this to me is for everlasting salvation that is brought about by your prayers, which the Holy Spirit administers, whether by life or by death.

8 For it is joy to me to live in Christ and (it is joy) to die (in Christ).

9 And likewise will he work his mercy in you that you may have the same love and be of one mind.

10 Therefore, dearly beloved, as you have heard in my presence so hold fast and work in the fear of God, and it shall be unto you for life eternal.

11 For it is God that works in you.

12 And whatever you do, do without regret.

13 And for the rest, dearly beloved, rejoice in Christ and beware of filthy lucre.

14 Let all your petitions be made openly before God and be steadfast in the mind of Christ.

15 Do those things that are sound and just and true and sober and to be loved (amiable).

16 Hold fast in your heart what you have heard and received (by thinking on those things), 17 and you shall have peace.

18 The saints salute you.

19 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.

20 And cause this letter to be read to them of Colossae and the letter of the Colossians to be read to you.

Possible candidates

Some scholars have suggested that this refers to the canonical Epistle to the Ephesians
Epistle to the Ephesians
The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the tenth book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul, but it is considered by some scholars to be "deutero-Pauline," that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by...

, contending that it was a circular letter to be read to many churches in the Laodicean
Laodicea on the Lycus
Laodicea on the Lycus was the ancient metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana , built on the river Lycus , in Anatolia near the modern village of Eskihisar , Denizli Province,...

 area. Others dispute this view.

The Marcionist epistle to the Laodiceans

The early believer considered heretic Marcion believed that Paul was the only apostle who truly understood Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

's message. Marcion rejected three of the four Canonical gospels, constructing a canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 consisting of only of an redacted
Redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined and subjected to minor alteration to make them into a single work. Often this is a method of collecting a series of writings on a similar theme and creating a definitive and coherent work...

 Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 which he called the Gospel of the Lord, and ten of the Pauline epistles. (These were also edited, in Marcion's canon, to remove passages that he did not agree with.) According to the Muratorian fragment
Muratorian fragment
The Muratorian fragment is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of the books of the New Testament. The fragment, consisting of 85 lines, is a 7th-century Latin manuscript bound in an eighth or 7th century codex that came from the library of Columban's monastery at Bobbio; it contains internal...

, Marcion's canon contained an epistle entitled Epistle to the Laodiceans which is commonly thought to be a forgery written to conform to his own point of view. This is not at all clear, however, since none of the text survives. It is not known what this letter might have contained. Some scholars suggest it may have been the Vulgate epistle described below, while others believe it must have been more explicitly Marcionist
Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144; see also Christianity in the 2nd century....

 in its outlook.

The Vulgate epistle to the Laodiceans

A letter entitled Epistle to the Laodiceans, consisting of 20 short lines, is found in some editions of the Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, which is a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translation from Greek. It is almost unanimously believed to be pseudepigraphical, being a pastiche
A pastiche is a literary or other artistic genre or technique that is a "hodge-podge" or imitation. The word is also a linguistic term used to describe an early stage in the development of a pidgin language.-Hodge-podge:...

 of phrases taken from the genuine Pauline epistles. It contains almost no doctrine, teachings, or narrative not found elsewhere, and its exclusion from the Biblical canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 has little effect.

The text was almost unanimously considered pseudepigraphal when Biblical canon was decided upon, and does not appear in any Greek copies of the Bible at all, nor is it known in Syriac or other versions. Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

, who wrote the Latin Vulgate translation, wrote in the 4th century, "it is rejected by everyone" and included it in the Vulgate, which is the reason for translating the letter into Latin. However, it evidently gained a certain degree of respect. It appeared in over 100 surviving early Latin copies of the Bible. According to Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgatum versionem, there are Latin Vulgate manuscripts containing this epistle dating between the 6th and 12th century, including Latin manuscripts F (Codex Fuldensis
Codex Fuldensis
The Codex Fuldensis, designated by F, is a New Testament manuscript based on the Latin Vulgate made between 541 and 546. The codex is considered the second most important witness to the Vulgate text; and is also the oldest complete manuscript witness to the order of the Diatessaron. It is an...

), M, Q, B, D (Ardmachanus
Book of Armagh
The Book of Armagh or Codex Ardmachanus , also known as the Canon of Patrick and the Liber Armachanus, is a 9th-century Irish manuscript written mainly in Latin. It is held by the Library of Trinity College, Dublin...

), C, and Lambda.

The epistle also appeared in John Wycliffe's Bible and in all the early German translations before Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's, which was a translation from the Greek, and was thus evidently considered scriptural by much of the western church
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 for quite some time.

The apocryphal epistle is generally considered a transparent attempt to supply this supposed lost sacred document. Some scholars suggest that it was created to offset the popularity of the Marcionite epistle, even though Paul's name appears as the first word in the letter.

Jakob Lorber's Epistle to the Laodiceans

In 1844, Austrian mystic Jakob Lorber
Jakob Lorber
Jakob Lorber was a Styrian Christian mystic and visionary who promoted liberal Universalism. He referred to himself as "God's scribe". He wrote that on 15 March 1840 he began hearing an 'inner voice' from the region of his heart and thereafter transcribed what it said...

(1800–1864) published an "Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Laodiceans", which he claimed to have learned from an "inner voice" as with all his other writings. This epistle has no connection to the other texts mentioned above.
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