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The Opening Line: Letter Writing Tips from the World’s Most Famous Letter Writer

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

I am writing to all of you … who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. (Romans 1:7, NLT)

A Word For Writers

As I studied how to write a letter, I decided to go to the best source I could think of for letter writing tips: Paul of Tarsus.

The Opening Line: Letter Writing Tips from the World’s Most Famous Letter Writer. An online devotional for writers based on Romans 1:7 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips

He wrote 13 letters that are published in the best-selling book of all time – the Bible – which enterprising geekologists tell us make up 28% of the New Testament. 

In those letters, Paul addressed topics from money to sex to personal conflict to families to work to politics. He wrote from different locations, including Corinth and Ephesus and even a prison cell. He worked with scribes and co-authors. He wrote to churches and individual people. 

The man was versatile.

Even so, Paul’s letters followed a typical pattern. He started each letter by identifying himself: “This letter is written by Paul, an apostle of Christ” – the equivalent of the signature and closing in modern-day letter (except that we tack it onto the end.)

Paul also identified the addressee in the letter opening: “I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi” or “I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith” – similar to the salutation we use today to open a letter.

But once he got past those niceties, Paul didn’t mess around. His next, first idea punctuated the theme for that letter.

  • “Let me say first that …”  (Romans 1:8, NLT). That’s a perfect opening for Romans, a letter that systematically explains God’s plan for salvation.
  • “I am shocked that …” (Galatians 1:6, NLT). Is there a more direct way to address the problem of theology drift embraced by the church at Galatia?
  • “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters …” (Philippians 1:12, NLT). From the start Paul expressed his affection for the little church at Philippi known for its generosity and commitment.

Paul’s forthright approach has stood the test of time.

Among the many letter writing tips I’ve learned from him is this: don’t waste parchment. Get to the point of your letter in the opening line. 

A Wise Word

Get to the point of your letter in the opening section.

A Word To Pray

Loving Father,

Thank you for Paul’s letters and his example. As I write letters, help me be forthright and get to the point as soon as possible. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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