These two series of lectures were given about a decade apart. The first, the Hebrews lectures, were delivered in the theses year, 1517. Typical of Luther's preaching in the lecture hall is his comment on "the heavenly things" (Heb 9:23). Luther was finishing the lectures on Hebrews when he was summoned to Heidelberg to attend a convention of the German Augustinian order in April 1518. Presumably the Augustinians were expected to settle in their own midst the controversy precipitated by the Ninety-Five Theses the previous October.
The lectures on Titus and Philemon were given ten years later, when controversy and polemics had become a necessary part of Luther's daily round. Then too, Luther's commentary shows him to be most deeply concerned about imitating his favorite apostle in preaching effectively and relevantly. Thus he points out in the Titus commentary, "If I teach in a holy way, this is most important...let us distribute this gift in such a way that our brethren become better for it." In Philemon he notes: "Paul cannot refrain from inculcating the general doctrine concerning Christ even here in treating a private matter."