Posted by: Brad Beaman | January 10, 2016

Introduction to Romans

20150925_094902Author

The epistle asserts the apostle Paul (1:1) as the author. This assertion is not a disputed fact. For this reason the subject of authorship receives little attention in most commentaries. It is understood and well received that Paul was the author.

Date and Place of Writing

Most place the date of Romans in the mid 50’s A.D. “The cumulative evidence of those passages suggests that Romans was written sometime between A.D. 55 and 58, near the close of his third missionary journey while the apostle was in Corinth. 1 The date and place of writing are based upon chapter 16. There is difficulty in fixing a specific date because of the uncertainty of Acts 24:27, “when two years had passed,” which plays a factor in fixing a date. Corinth is the likely place a factor in fixing a date. Corinth is the likely place of writing because of the mention of Phoebe, a minister of the church at Cenchreae (the eastern port of Corinth). There are greetings from Erastus the city treasurer of Corinth.

Occasion

Although Paul was a Roman citizen he had never seen the city. He wanted and intended to see the city, but had been prevented. There was a church flourishing in Rome and Paul’s desire was to visit the church. He desired to preach the gospel to them and impart to them some spiritual gift (Rom 1:11, 15).

“He has just completed his collection for the poverty-stricken believers at Jerusalem (Rom 15:25), after having preached the gospel throughout the district from Jerusalem to Illyricum.”2 He was about to depart for Jerusalem with the collection for the poor (Rom 15:25). His plans included delivering the collection and then heading to Spain and visit the church in Rome on his way to Spain.

There is a danger of heresy in the church that Paul is addressing. The latter was written partly in combat of Judaism which at least part of the church embraced. Another danger to the church in Rome was that of unbelieving Jews. Paul is writing in response to this attack placed on the church from these hostile Jews.

The Church of Rome

The church in Rome was founded primarily of Jewish Christians. By the time of Paul’s writing he reminds the Gentile Christians that they ae but the branches and not to act arrogant to the Jewish Christians who are the root (Rom 11:18). The majority of Jews in Rome however viewed the Christian church as a distasteful sect. The church was unpopular in Rome and this became the setting for the later persecution by Nero.

It is commonly held that the church in Rome was not founded by any apostle. “It was not through Paul’s own missionary activity that the church at Rome had been established. And the only reasonable inference to be drawn from Paul’s own witness that he would not ‘build on another man’s foundation’ (Rom 15:20) is that the church had not been founded by the labours of another apostle.”3

Purpose

The traditional view for the purpose of Romans is that Paul is writing a general epistle of theological treatise without major consideration to the circumstances in Rome. In this view Paul is putting forth a theological treatise in systematic fashion. Those who question the traditional view hold that Paul wrote Romans to gain support for his upcoming missionary journey to Spain. “Gilford believes that ‘As the main purpose of the whole Epistle we can acknowledge nothing less comprehensive than the desire of the Apostle, at a momentous crisis in his own life’s work and in the history of those fundamental principles of the Gospel, which render it the one true religion for all the nations of the earth, and meet especially those deepest wants of human nature, which Judaism could not satisfy, righteousness in the sight of God, and deliverance from the power of sin and death.’ “4

Theme

Of Paul’s epistle the theme of Romans is that most similar to Galatians. In Romans Paul puts an emphasis on faith. He nullifies the teaching that salvation is attained by works, but rather bestowed by grace and received by faith. Paul emphasizes his faith theme with the example of Abraham and his acceptance to God by his faith in God. There is a message of freedom and liberty throughout this Gospel. “The very contrast between his former activity as a persecutor and his new life as a bond-slave of Jesus Christ magnified the grace of God which had been bestowed so abundantly upon him, wiping his slate clean and making him what he now was.”5 Paul puts his theme of faith in sharp contrast to the doctrine of works. There is a clear message that salvation is independent of works.

Paul’s theme in Romans is also to contrast “flesh” and “spirit” as a type of ongoing battle. “The flesh,” the human nature which is ours ‘in Adam,’ us corrupted by sin; but the sins of the flesh have much wider range in Paul’s thought than thy have tended to have in Christian moral theology.”6 Paul’s idea of flesh would include sins of the mind.

The contrasting idea of the “Spirit” is what gives the believer life in the present. The idea of Spirit is carried further that the presence of the “spirit” guarantees the resurrection life on the day to come.

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 End Notes

1 Curtis Vaughn and Bruce Corley, Romans, Lamplighter Books (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), page 14.

2 Donald Guthrie, The Pauline Epistles New Testament Introduction (Chicago: Intervarsity Press, 1961), page 24.

3 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans: New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), XVII.

4 Curtis Vaughn and Bruce Corley, Romans, Lamplighter Books (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), page 15.

5 F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963), page 38.

6 Ibid., page 45.

 

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Responses

  1. I can’t wait to read this because I have 2 chapters Left in Acts and then I am starting Romans. This is be great to read right before I begin digging Into Romans 😄

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