These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because ye have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom 357 of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, 358 which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, “is the mother of us all.” 359 For if any one be inwardly p. 34 possessed of these graces, he hath fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that hath love is far from all sin.
Comp. 2 Pet. iii. 15.33:358
The form is plural, but one Epistle is probably meant. [So, even in English, “letters” may be classically used for a single letter, as we say “by these presents.” But even we might speak of St. Paul as having written his Epistles to us; so the Epistles to Thessalonica and Corinth might more naturally still be referred to here].33:359
Comp. Gal. iv. 26.