Paul’s letter to the Roman Church.

While Romans is by far Paul’s most systematic letter, it was written to the Roman church in order to address specific concerns.  Discuss the occasion, date, recipients, and purpose of Romans.

Some believe that Peter founded the first church in Rome, but this view is unlikely since Peter is never spoke of by Paul in the book of Romans and there is no evidence throughout the Bible. Therefore, not one person could be attributed the founding father of the church in Rome nor an exact date. Instead, as Paul Achtemeier states, “a congregation apparently existed in Rome before 49 AD when the Emperor Claudius banned Jews, including Jewish Christians, from Rome for internal squabbling (Acts 18:2).[1]

Paul with Tertius as his scribe wrote the book of Romans.[2] Romans was written from Corinth near the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, just before his journey to Jerusalem (Rom. 16:25–27; cf. Acts 20:1–21:15)”[3] The dating for the book has been suggested as between 55-58 AD by many scholars. C. S. Locatell, author of Letter to the Romans, specifically calls for a 57 AD writing. “Paul wrote Romans around the end of his third missionary journey—likely around AD 57. He states in his letter that he had fulfilled the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum (Rom 15:19) so that there was no more work for him in those areas (Rom 15:23). The territory from Jerusalem to Illyricum encompasses all of the places visited by Paul in his missionary journeys. This fits his desire to go to Spain in the far west, where Christ had not yet been preached (Rom 15:20, 24).”[4]

“The recipient of the letter has been debated as either the Jewish Christians or the Gentile Christians. As author, Douglas Moo states, ‘such a conclusion can only be achieved by suppressing one side of the evidence or the other. Therefore, it can only mean that it was written to the Gentile and Jewish Christians, with the Gentile Christians in the majority.’”[5]

As churches began around and in the synagogues, it would be easy for heresy to begin in the church without anyone to combat it and keep it at bay, and therefore, Romans has an apologetic purpose. “Some believe that Romans has a missionary purpose, because Paul wrote the letter and intended to travel to Spain and others with this view suggest Paul’s missionary purpose was to give an apostolic foundation to the church in Rome, which he saw as lacking.”[6] Finally yet importantly, some see a pastoral purpose. “Donfried argues that Paul may have written Romans to mend the Jew—Gentile relationship among the church in Rome (Donfried, “A Short Note,” 46–52). Romans 14:1–15:13 is seen as the overarching theme of the whole letter, which expresses the unity of Jews and Gentiles as the people of God. The presentation of the gospel in the preceding chapters is seen as the basis of this central conclusion.”[7]

Bibliography

Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature; Harpers Bible Dictionary. 1. San Francisco , CA: Haper & Row, 1985.

Locatell, C. S. “In The Letter to the Romans.” Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by John D Barry, & Lazarus Wentz. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Applicaion Commentary: Romans. 16. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.


[1] Paul J. Achtemeier, Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 877.

[2] Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Applicaion Commentary: Romans.,(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.), 16.

[3] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 890.

[4] C. S. Locatell, “Romans, Letter to The” In , in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).

[5] Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Applicaion Commentary: Romans.,(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.), 32.

[6] C. S. Locatell, “Romans, Letter to The” In , in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).

[7] Ibid.

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