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From: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

 Epistles
    the apostolic letters. The New Testament contains twenty-one in
    all. They are divided into two classes. (1.) Paul's Epistles,
    fourteen in number, including Hebrews. These are not arranged in
    the New Testament in the order of time as to their composition,
    but rather according to the rank of the cities or places to
    which they were sent. Who arranged them after this manner is
    unknown. Paul's letters were, as a rule, dictated to an
    amanuensis, a fact which accounts for some of their
    peculiarities. He authenticated them, however, by adding a few
    words in his own hand at the close. (See GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO.)
      The epistles to Timothy and Titus are styled the Pastoral
    Epistles.
      (2.) The Catholic or General Epistles, so called because they
    are not addressed to any particular church or city or
    individual, but to Christians in general, or to Christians in
    several countries. Of these, three are written by John, two by
    Peter, and one each by James and Jude.
      It is an interesting and instructive fact that a large portion
    of the New Testament is taken up with epistles. The doctrines of
    Christianity are thus not set forth in any formal treatise, but
    mainly in a collection of letters. "Christianity was the first
    great missionary religion. It was the first to break the bonds
    of race and aim at embracing all mankind. But this necessarily
    involved a change in the mode in which it was presented. The
    prophet of the Old Testament, if he had anything to communicate,
    either appeared in person or sent messengers to speak for him by
    word of mouth. The narrow limits of Palestine made direct
    personal communication easy. But the case was different when the
    Christian Church came to consist of a number of scattered parts,
    stretching from Mesopotamia in the east to Rome or even Spain in
    the far west. It was only natural that the apostle by whom the
    greater number of these communities had been founded should seek
    to communicate with them by letter."