Introduction to Romans
Origin of the Church at Rome
We have no specific information in the Scriptures about
the time or circumstances of the origin of the church in Rome. Obviously,
the church began as a result of people hearing, believing, and obeying
the gospel of Christ. Just when and where this happened we are not informed.
There were sojourners from Rome in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when the church of Christ was established (Acts 2:10). Possibly some present then were converted that day, or soon thereafter, and brought the gospel back to Rome upon their return home. Regardless of its beginning, by the time this epistle was written the church in Rome was known through the world for its faith and obedience (1:8; 16:19).
Author and Writer
A distinction is made between the author and writer because the author, in the sense of its source, is Deity. Deity used Paul, the apostle, as the writer. The book is a revelation from God unto man through the inspired apostle.
To ask why the book was written may
be like asking God why He has done what He has done. We may not fully comprehend
all of God's purposes. However, the study of the book reveals some very
obvious purposes intended. Paul had heard of his Roman brethren, and he
longed to visit them. Possibly he knew some of them personally through
previous contacts, or by reputation among the brethren. But the letter
was written in preparation for what Paul expected to be an eventual visit
by him to that city, and a visit he wanted to be mutually beneficial.
The book shows the need of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, a universal need, because all have sinned. It shows that all can be saved, but that all must be saved the same way, and that way is the way presented in the gospel of Jesus Christ. No longer were Jews and Gentiles serving under different religious systems. Now all were to serve God through Christ. No longer could men be acceptable to God by any other system than the gospel system of salvation.
Therefore, the book of Romans is a great and substantial doctrinal book. Romans presents this system of salvation as a system of mercy, grace, love, blood, faith, law, and the necessity of obedience. In both specific and general explanations, the scheme of redemption, the System of Salvation is defined, magnified, and explained in this epistle to the church at Rome.
Chapter fifteen, verses twenty-five through twenty-seven indicates that Paul was on his way to Jerusalem to deliver certain offerings that had been made by Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Achaia (Greece) for the poor saints in Judea. This corresponds to the last part of Paul's third missionary journey. Paul planned to go directly from Achaia to Syria, but because the Jews were lying in wait for him, he went back through Macedonia (Acts 20:3). No specific city is mentioned where this letter was penned. However, we learn in Acts 20:2 that he had gone into Greece, and remained there for three months before beginning his trip to Jerusalem via Macedonia. Therefore, it is not unlikely that he was in the city of Corinth, and the epistle was penned during his three month stay there.
As already noted, Paul was likely in
the last portion of his third missionary journey, possibly during the three
month wait in Greece. As for the year, we must calculate and speculate.
Caesar had banished the Jews from Rome about A. D. 52. It was under this banishment that Acquila and Priscilla left Rome, and came to Corinth where they met Paul for the first time. Considering the time for travel for them, plus the year and a half Paul stayed with them in Corinth (Acts 18:11), probably two and one half years passed.
Paul also engaged in various travel (Acts 18,19), plus a two year stay at Ephesus (Acts 19:10), plus the three months in Greece. This would make the time near the year A. D. 57 or 58. The significance of this is not all important except to know that the Lord's church was now about twenty-five to thirty-years removed from Pentecost. The gospel was now widespread, persecution was apparent in every quarter, and Jerusalem was not yet destroyed as it would be in A. D. 70. It was a time of progress as well as hardship for the church of Christ.
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