Essay On The Book Of Romans

The following material addresses issues of historical importance for Paul’s letter to the Romans. This letter is arguably the most important document of the Christian faith; it stands behind virtually all great movements of God in the last 1900 years.

I. Introduction

A. The Author

Although there is no dispute about Pauline authorship, it may be helpful to rehearse, in brief, why that is the case.

1. External Evidence

The ancient writers regularly included Romans in their list of authentic documents. Marcion, the Muratorian fragment, and a steady stream of patristic writers beginning with Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus all assume its Pauline authorship without defense.

2. Internal Evidence

“From the postapostolic church to the present, with almost no exception, the Epistle has been credited to Paul. If the claim of the apostle to have written the Galatian and Corinthian letters is accepted, there is no reasonable basis for denying that he wrote Romans, since it echoes much of what is in the earlier writings, yet not slavishly.”1

In other words, once we adopt some letter claiming Paul as its author (on grounds which are unassailable), then we have a standard of comparison. The Corinthian letters and Galatians have been just such benchmarks of authenticity. And Romans fits in with their style and theological viewpoint; further, it poses no historical or other (e.g., ecclesiological) problems for Pauline authorship.

B. Date and Place of Origin

This epistle can be dated with relative certainty. It was written between 56 and 57 CE. Paul states in 15:26-28 that he has just completed the raising of funds for the poor believers in Jerusalem after visiting the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. This corresponds to Acts 20:1-2, identifying the time of composition as the year after Paul left Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Harrison states succinctly:

Fixed dates for the span of Paul’s labors are few, but one of them is the summer of A.D. 51, when Gallio arrived in Corinth to serve as proconsul of Achaia. After this the apostle stayed in the city “some time” (Acts 18:18). Possibly in the spring of 52 he went to Caesarea and Jerusalem, stopping at Antioch on the way back and probably spending the winter of 52 there. Presumably, his return to Ephesus was in the spring of 53, marking the beginning of a three-year ministry there (Acts 20:31). At the end of 56 he spent three months in Corinth (Acts 20:3), starting his final trip to Jerusalem in the spring of 57. When he wrote Romans the fund of the Jerusalem church seems to have been finally completed (Rom. 15:26ff.). This may indicate a date in early 57 rather than late 56 for the writing of the letter. (The fund was incomplete when Paul, on the way from Ephesus to Corinth, wrote 2 Cor. 8–9.)2

Paul was in Greece when he wrote the letter, most likely in Corinth. This is seen in two incidental comments: (1) Phoebe of neighboring Cenchrea was apparently the letter-bearer (16:1-2) and (2) Gaius, who is Paul’s host (16:23), was a prominent Christian leader at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14).

C. Destination/Audience

Romans 1:7, 15 identify this letter as being sent to the Christians at Rome. They were predominantly Gentile believers as is evidenced by Paul’s statements to that effect in 1:5, 12-14 and 11:13. But there was probably a strong Jewish element as well because (1) the heavy use of the OT suggests this and (2) since Paul did not found this church, most likely the Jewish element would be stronger than in one of his congregations.

D. Occasion and Purpose3

The occasion and purpose are so intertwined for this epistle that they must be treated as one. Paul expressed his desire to go west all the way to Spain (15:22-24, 28). Since he had already proclaimed the gospel in the major centers in the east, it now seemed good to him to go west. But as was his custom, he needed an “emotional home,” a base of operations. Antioch had provided that in the east and Ephesus had in Asia Minor; Paul was hoping that Rome would in the west. Consequently, he wrote this letter, explaining his gospel carefully and fully, in the hopes that the Roman Christians would embrace him and it completely. Further, since his life had already been in much danger from the Jews (Acts 17:5, 13; 20:3), Paul may have sensed the need to pen his thoughts about the gospel in a systematic way, rather than due to occasional circumstances.4

All of the above explain why Paul wrote what he wrote to whom he wrote—except for chapters 9–11. Baur suggested that this was the heart of the epistle, while most today do not know what to do with it. Recently, Paul B. Fowler, formerly of Reformed Seminary, argued that “Paul’s primary purpose in writing Romans was to dispel anti-Semitism”5 He based his argument on (1) many internal clues (11:13ff., etc., where Gentile pride has cropped up; cf. the whole thrust of chs. 9–11); (2) one main external clue (the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius a few years earlier—which would certainly continue to have rippling effects, even within the church); and (3) a chiastic pattern unfolding some of the structure of the book (viz., in chapter 3 Paul asks five questions which are unfolded in reverse order throughout chapters 3–11). What is intriguing is that, concerning this last point (the chiastic structure), although Paul answers in brief the question of 3:1 (“What advantage has the Jew?”) in the next verse, he really expands on it in chapters 9–11. Although Fowler goes too far in seeing a response to anti-Semitism as the primary purpose of Romans, I think he is right that this forms part of the purpose. Perhaps, in fact, it may be precisely because Paul’s treatment of Israel’s future occupies his mind so much in this letter that he leaves out other eschatological issues found in his other Hauptbriefe.

In sum, Paul’s occasion-purpose for writing Romans is threefold: (1) he was going west and needed to have a base of operations in a church that shared both his vision and his theology; (2) he knew that his life was in danger and wanted to give something of a more balanced, systematic presentation of his gospel, to leave as a memorial; and (3) he detected anti-Semitism arising in the Roman church through the influence of Claudius’ edict and wanted to give a theologically-based correction to this attitude.

E. Special Problems

1. The Origin of the Church

In light of Rom 15:20, there is no doubt that the church at Rome was not founded by an apostle. This suggests that Peter was not yet in Rome. Most likely, the church came into existence through the converts who returned to Rome form Jerusalem after the feast of Pentecost in 33 CE (Acts 2:10).6 But this church would not have been very well indoctrinated. As we suggested in our introduction to Mark, Mark may well have gone to Rome in the early 50s both to precede Paul’s coming and to shore up any doctrinal holes in the converts.7

2. Unity of the Epistle

There are good internal and external arguments which seem to indicate that Romans ended at chapter 15 (or 14) rather than at chapter 16. These need to be weighed carefully.

(1) Even though Paul had never visited Rome, chapter 16 is filled with personal greetings. This may indicate that chapter 16 was part of a letter originally sent to Ephesus (where Paul had ministered for three years).

(2) Paul greets Priscilla and Aquila (16:3), who shortly before Romans was written were in Ephesus (1 Cor 16:19). Further, when Paul wrote to Timothy, they are again in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19).

(3) In 16:5 Paul greets Epaenetus, “the first convert in Asia.” This would be a natural greeting if Epaenetus were still in Asia.

(4) Rom 15:33 seems to be a fitting conclusion to a letter (“The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”).

(5) The earliest Pauline MS, P46, places the doxology of Rom 16:25-27 after 15:33. Further, though normally dated at c. 200 CE, Yung Kyu Kim in 1988 argued, on palaeographical grounds, that this papyrus should be dated before the reign of Domitian (c. 70s CE)!8 Not only this, but the doxology is found in other MSS at the end of chapter 14 (especially L and Ψ).9

(6) Marcion’s text apparently did not contain chapters 15 and 16.10

These data can be variously interpreted. Some suggest that a letter to Ephesus has been appended to a letter to the Romans. Hence, the laundry list of names in chapter 16. Although this is possible, one wonders why the husk (greetings-list) of a letter (sent to Ephesus) would be preserved while its grain (the doctrinal and ethical core) was not. Further, the only other letter in which Paul greets many people by name is Colossians—sent to a church he had not visited. Further, even though P46 places the doxology at the end of chapter 15, it still has chapter 16. In fact, no extant MS lacks these last two chapters.

Others have suggested, primarily on the various locations of the doxology, that two editions of Romans had been published by Paul—the longer one sent to the Romans, the shorter one sent out as a circular letter. Hort went so far as to suggest that the shorter edition was created by a later writer for liturgical (lectionary reading) purposes. Again, although this is possible, it falls shipwreck on the rocks of textual evidence. Every known MS has all 16 chapters of Romans.

Something, however, must account for the migrations of the doxology. As we have said, there is evidence that Marcion’s text did not contain these last two chapters. Further, Marcion was wont to excise any material which did not suit his theological leanings—and there is plenty of material in chapters 15-16 which would bring on Marcion’s scalpel.11 If any copies of his mutilated Romans survived, his fingerprints would not be nearly as detectable as his other mutilations, for the epistle could easily end at chapter 14 or chapter 15. Consequently, in the earliest period, scribes copying Romans might not be fully cognizant of Marcion’s work. As time progressed, the last two chapters (or last chapter) were added to these short editions, but without the concomitant replacement of the doxology.

F. Theme

As the most systematic of all Paul’s letters, Romans addresses in detail the Pauline kerygma. Romans 1:16-17, which concludes the salutation/introduction, best articulates the theme of the whole book: “the righteous revelation of God in the gospel.”

II. Argument

Paul opens his epistle to the Romans with the longest introduction of any of his canonical works (1:1-17). Here he greets the saints (1:1-7) whom he had never met, and expresses both thanks for them (1:8-10) and a deep desire to visit them (1:11-15). The theme of the epistle (dealing with the righteousness of God), at the end of this introduction (1:16-17), serves as a bridge into the body of the book.

The transition is especially seen in comparing vv. 17 and 18: in both something from God is revealed. In v. 17 it is God’s righteousness; in v. 18, in order to establish the need for this righteousness, God’s wrath is revealed. This second section of the epistle (1:18–5:11), whose theme is the imputation of righteousness (i.e., forensic justification) essentially deals with two issues: sinners and salvation. Paul first elaborates on the sinfulness of humanity (1:18–3:20), demonstrating the universal need of righteousness. He begins by picking the most obvious example: the guilt of the Gentiles (1:18-32). The reasons for this guilt are first mentioned: they have suppressed the knowledge of God (1:18-23). The result of such suppression is God’s releasing them to the consequences of their sins (1:24-32). But lest the Jews think that they are any less guilty, Paul addresses their sin (2:1–3:8). In fact, he argues that, if anything, they are more guilty than the Gentiles because they have revelation from God and are his privileged people (3:1-8), yet they are hypocritical about true, internal righteousness (2:17-29). Paul concludes the first half of this major section with proof from scripture that “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (3:9-20).

Now that Paul has established the need for righteousness for all people, he demonstrates its provision (3:21–5:11). First, it has been revealed through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, being granted to all who put their trust in him (3:21-26). Second, the terms for bestowal of this righteousness (namely, faith) are the same for all, because God is One (3:27-31). Third, Paul backs up this astounding  assertion with proof from the life of Abraham (4:1-25). In essence, Abraham is seen to be father both of the Jews and of the Greeks—that is, he is a type of those who are saved by faith. This is illustrated by evidence that Abraham was not justified by works (4:1-8), nor by circumcision (4:9-12), but exclusively by faith in the promises of God (4:18-25). So too his spiritual offspring are justified by faith rather than by law (4:13-17, 23-25). Thus Abraham is seen to be the universal forefather of all believers, whether Jew or Greek.

Paul transitions the faith of Abraham to our faith in Christ (4:23-25), then concludes the section on justification with the implications of this justification (5:1-11). But the “therefore” in 5:1 reaches back behind the illustration of Abraham. In many ways, 3:21–4:25 is an apologetic with 5:1-11 being the application. Since all are sinners and since there is no partiality with God (3:22-23), both Jews and Gentiles must obtain this righteousness in the same way and the same God must be God of all (3:27-31). This new revelation of God’s righteousness is affirmed by the OT (3:21) and illustrated by Abraham’s example (4:1-25). There is no getting around it: if a man has Christ, he has peace with God right now—and the Law adds nothing to his salvation (5:1-2). Consequently, he exults in the hope of the glory of God (5:1-5). This salvation is truly marvelous, for sinners qua sinners were completely unable to deal with their sin. But Christ came at the right time and died for such (5:6-8). The eschatological result of this will be escape from God’s wrath (5:9-11).

Having established the basis of God’s pleasure in us, viz., the imputation of righteousness (or forensic justification), Paul now discusses the impartation of righteousness, or sanctification (5:12–8:39). This is the third major section of the epistle. In some ways there is a neat trilogy found in these first eight chapters. The apostle first discusses justification which is salvation from the penalty of sin (3:21–5:11). Then he deals with sanctification or salvation from the power of sin (5:12–8:17). Finally, he addresses glorification which is salvation from the presence of sin (8:18-39).12

Paul lays out his views on sanctification using the twin themes of reigning and slavery. He begins by contrasting the reign of grace with the reign of sin (5:12-21). Although many NT students would place 5:12-21 under the second major section (i.e., under “Justification”), “the words ‘just,’ ‘justice’ and ‘faith’ coming from the first part of the quotation [Hab 2:4 in Rom 1:17] as given by Paul, are of very frequent occurrence from 1:17 to 5:11, and almost entirely absent thereafter. On the other hand, the terms signifying ‘life’ (and ‘death’) occur regularly in chapters 5:12 to 7:1.”13 Thus the apostle seems to be signaling that he is now picking up a new topic.

In 5:12-21 Paul moves beyond the legal issue of justification. What is essential to get here is that imputed righteousness addresses the condemnation of the law while imparted righteousness addresses the inability of the flesh. That is to say, justification is forensic, stating emphatically that our position before God is one of righteousness. But justification, like the Law, can do nothing against the flesh. That is why Paul now turns to imparted righteousness and gives the basis as our union with Christ. Our union with Christ is more than forensic; it is organic.14 As Adam was our representative in sin, bringing death to all (5:12), so also Christ is our representative in righteousness, bringing life to all (5:18).15

Since believers are in Christ—and therefore they are assured of their salvation, why should they not continue sinning? Paul answers this in the second portion of this section (6:1-23). First, they should not continue (ἐπιμένωμεν) in sin because of their union with Christ—union in his death and his life (6:1-14). Second, they should not sin at all (ἁμαρτήσωμεν) because such an act leads to enslavement to sin (6:15-23). This is especially heinous because our release from sin’s slavery means redemption for the service of God (6:22), since we have been bought with a price.

Having established the reasons why we should not sin, Paul now turns to the issue of how not to sin (7:1–8:17). Negatively, neither our flesh nor the Law can do anything for us in this endeavor (7:1-25). Positively, we are sanctified through the ministry of the Spirit (8:1-17).

Chapter seven in notoriously difficult to interpret. Is Paul speaking here (using “I”) in an autobiographical sense? If so, is he speaking about his former life as an unbeliever or his present life as a Christian? (Can both chapters seven and eight be true of him at the same time?). Or is he speaking figuratively—either of believers in general or unbelievers in general?

In my understanding Paul is primarily dealing with the issue of how one deals with the problem of present sin—regardless of whether he is a believer or unbeliever. This is seen in the following way. The most consistent exegesis of this pericope sees the “I” as the same person throughout 7:7-25.16 If so, then he is the unbeliever before the Law was ever given (v. 9: “once I was alive apart from the law”; cf. 5:13)—And therefore not a Jewish unbeliever. But he is also the unbelieving Jew: “We know that the Law is spiritual; I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” (7:14). Further, Paul had just gotten done saying that believers are not under the Law (7:5). But he is also the believer (v. 25: “I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law”; v. 18: “I have the desire to do what is good”; cf. also vv. 21-22; contra 3:12).17 In light of this evidence it seems that Paul is not arguing chronologically in 3:20–8:17 (as if to say, “after salvation, we will deal with sanctification”). Rather, he is dealing with two distinct, though intertwined issues: the imputation of righteousness and the impartation of righteousness. Chapter seven is supremely, then, dealing with the issue of how one fights indwelling sin—and how one attempts to please God. It has its application for all people who attempt to fight sin/please God by subjecting the flesh to external commands, as if this will accomplish anything.

The apostle begins chapter seven, however, with a reminder to believers: we are dead to the Law (7:1-6). Since this is so, we do not have to attempt to please God by knuckling under to its commands. But does this mean that the Law is bad? No, it is simply powerless over sin (7:7-13). The Law may be likened to a sterile spoon dipped into a glass of water with sediment on the bottom (which represents our flesh). When the spoon stirs up the sediment it does not produce sin; rather, it merely reveals it (7:13). But at the same time, it is powerless to clean out the sediment.18

As good as the Law is, the flesh is equally bad (7:14-25). And it, too, is powerless to obey the Law. The point of 7:7-25 is that regardless of who attempts to fight sin—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—if his method is to subject the flesh to the Law he will fail. Focusing on the Law, an objective, cold standard, necessitates subjecting the flesh to it, because the Law is the handmaiden of the flesh. But since believers are dead to the Law, they are able to gain victory over the flesh (7:6, 24-25).19

Now comes the good news: those who are organically connected with Christ are not only not condemned (8:1), but also are set free from the law which could only produce sin and death (8:2). How is this accomplished? By the Spirit of God who enables believers to gain progressive victory over sin (8:1-8), death (8:9-11), and slavery (8:12-17). The Spirit is not an external, objective, cold standard, but a warm, internal witness to our hearts that God is our Father (8:14-17)—proving that we are organically connected to God the Father, not just judiciously excused by God the Judge.20

Finally, Paul concludes this section by discussing the goal of sanctification (8:18-39), which is our future glory—based, as it is, both on forensic justification and organic union with Christ (8:28-30). This glory needs to be kept in mind especially during the present sufferings we face simply because the world is not a perfect place (8:18-27). But lest anyone give up, thinking that his participation in glory is in jeopardy, Paul concludes with a hymn of assurance (8:31-39).

The fourth major section now turns to an issue which would have been in the back of his readers’ minds: If God is so righteous, how could he give Israel so many privileges (including unconditional promises) and then reject his chosen people? Chapters 9–11 deal with this issue (note especially 9:6—“It is not as though God’s word has failed”), the vindication of God’s righteousness in relationship to Israel.

Although Paul’s primary concern is to vindicate God’s righteousness, he prefaces his remarks by expressing his own deep sorrow over Israel’s unrepentant state (9:1-5). Then he details how God has dealt with the nation in the past (9:6-33). In essence, God’s choice was completely sovereign and gracious (9:1-29), as can be seen in Israel’s very history (9:6-13), as well as on the basis of the principle of God’s sovereignty (9:14-29). Further, they have rejected their Messiah by clinging to the Law (9:30-33).

God’s present dealings with Israel, then, can only be interpreted on the basis of the past (10:1-21). Once again, Paul prefaces his remarks by expressing his desire for Israel’s salvation (10:1). For the present time, Jew and Gentile have equal access to God (10:1-13). Yet the nation is still unrepentant even though they repeatedly heard the message (10:14-21).

This still does not answer the question of God’s unconditional covenants with his chosen people. Will Israel persist in their disobedience, or will there come a time when they will repent? Paul answers this in chapter 11. He points out, first, that God’s rejection of the nation is not complete, for God still has his remnant in the nation (11:1-10). Further, the rejection is not final (11:11-32). Indeed, the present “grafting in” of Gentiles not only functions to bring salvation to Gentiles, but also should arouse the jealousy of the Jews, hopefully even spurring them on to seek Christ (11:11-24). Once the number of Gentiles is full, then Israel will turn back to God (11:25-32). For this, all believers should be grateful, since the open window of salvation will not last forever. And God is to be praised for his infinite wisdom in how he deals with both Jews and Gentiles (11:33-36).

What remains to be said about God’s righteousness? Only the very pragmatic matter of how it should be applied by believers (12:1–15:13). First, it should be applied among fellow believers (12:1-21). This is accomplished by a consecration of our lives to God, in light of all that he has done for us (12:1-2). Once we have committed ourselves to him, we can begin to serve others. This service should be done by the employment of spiritual gifts for the benefit of the body (12:3-8), and with an attitude of sincere love—both for believers and unbelievers (12:9-21).

Second, the righteousness of God should be applied in the state (13:1-14). We demonstrate God’s righteousness by submitting even to pagan authorities (13:1-7), and by loving our neighbors (13:8-10). The urgency for such action is due to the fact that “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (13:11)—that is, because of our hope of the Lord’s return (13:11-14).

Third, those believers whose faith is strong and who have a good grasp on their death to the Law should not be judgmental on weaker brothers (14:1–15:13). Neither the weak nor strong brother should condemn the other, but instead should recognize the freedom that all have in Christ (14:1-12). But his freedom should not become a stumbling block to the weak: liberty must give way to love (14:13-23). That is to say, one believer’s freedoms should not cause another brother to sin by the latter’s imbibing in something against his conscience (14:23). Ultimately, the strong believer (as well as the weak) should imitate Christ in his selflessness (15:1-13), rather than using liberty as a means to please oneself.

Paul concludes his epistle (15:14–16:27) with a brief explanation of his mission, both in general (15:17-21) and specifically with reference to the Romans (15:22-33), followed by final greetings (16:1-27).

III. Outline21

I. Introduction: The Revelation of Righteousness (1:1-17)

A. Salutation (1:1-7)

B. Thanksgiving and Longing (1:8-15)

1. Paul’s Prayer of Thanks for the Romans (1:8-10)

2. Paul’s Desire to Visit the Romans (1:11-15)

C. The Theme of the Epistle (1:16-17)

II. Justification: The Imputation of Righteousness (1:18–5:11)

A. Condemnation: The Universal Need of Righteousness (1:18–3:20)

1. The Guilt of the Gentiles (1:18-32)

a. The Basis of Gentile Guilt (1:18-23)

b. The Results of Gentile Guilt (1:24-32)

2. The Guilt of the Jews (2:1–3:8)

a. The Stubbornness of the Jews (2:1-16)

b. The Hypocrisy of the Jews (2:17-29)

c. The Privilege of the Jews (3:1-8)

3. The Proof of Universal Guilt (3:9-20)

B. Salvation: The Universal Provision of Righteousness (3:21–5:11)

1. Manifestation of the Universal Provision of Righteousness (3:21-26)

2. Unification: The Universal God of Righteousness (3:27-31)

3. Justification of Universal Justification: Proof from the Life of Abraham (4:1-25)

a. Abraham Justified by Faith, not Works (4:1-8)

b. Abraham Justified by Faith, not Circumcision (4:9-12)

c. Abraham’s Seed Justified by Faith, not Law (4:13-17)

d. Abraham Justified by Faith in the Promise (4:18-25)

1) Explanation of the Hope of Abraham (4:18-22)

2) Application: Faith in Christ (4:23-25)

4. Exultation because of the Certainty of Justification (5:1-11)

a. Present: Peace with God (5:1-5)

b. Past: Powerlessness of Sinners (5:6-8)

c. Future: Escape from God’s Wrath (5:9-11)

III. Sanctification: The Impartation of Righteousness (5:12–8:39)

A. The Reign of Grace Vs. the Reign of Sin (5:12-21)

B. The Rationale for Sanctification (6:1-23)

1. Union with Christ (6:1-14)

a. The Divine Reckoning (6:1-10)

b. The Believer’s Reckoning (6:11)

c. The Believer’s Responsibility (6:12-14)

2. Enslavement to Righteousness (6:15-23)

C. The Inability of the Flesh and the Law to Sanctify (7:1-25)

1. The Believer’s Relationship to the Law (7:1-6)

2. The Law is Good but Sterile (7:7-13)

3. The Flesh is Bad and Powerless (7:14-25)

D. The Power of the Spirit to Sanctify (8:1-17)

1. Over Sin (8:1-8)

2. Over Death (8:9-11)

3. Over Slavery (8:12-17)

E. The Goal of Sanctification (8:18-39)

1. Present Sufferings (8:18-27)

2. Future Glory (8:28-30)

3. Hymn of Assurance (8:31-39)

IV. Vindication of God’s Righteousness in His Relationship to Israel (9:1–11:36)

A. God’s Past Dealings with Israel (9:1-33)

1. Preface: Paul’s Deep Sorrow because of Israel’s Great Privileges (9:1-5)

2. The Grace of God’s Election (9:6-29)

a. Seen in Israel’s History (9:6-13)

b. Seen in Principle (9:14-29)

3. The Nation’s Rejection of the Messiah via Legalism (9:30-33)

B. God’s Present Dealings with Israel (10:1-21)

1. Equality with the Gentiles (10:1-13)

2. Obstinance of the Jews (10:14-21)

C. God’s Future Dealings with Israel (11:1-33)

1. The Rejection is not Complete (11:1-10)

2. The Rejection is not Final (11:11-32)

a. The Present “Grafting” of Gentiles (11:11-24)

b. The Future Salvation of Israel (11:25-32)

3. Doxology: In Praise of God’s Wisdom (11:33-36)

V. Application: God’s Righteousness at Work (12:1–15:13)

A. In the Assembly (12:1-21)

1. The Consecrated Life (12:1-2)

2. The Use of Spiritual Gifts (12:3-8)

3. The Sincerity of Love (12:9-21)

B. In the State (13:1-14)

1. In Relation to Authorities (13:1-7)

2. In Relation to Neighbors (13:8-10)

3. Because of our Eschatological Hope (13:11-14)

C. In Relation to Weak Believers (14:1–15:13)

1. Judging and the Principle of Liberty (14:1-12)

2. Stumbling Blocks and the Principle of Love (14:13-23)

3. Selfishness and the Imitation of Christ (15:1-13)

VI. Conclusion: Paul’s Purpose, Plans and Praise in Connection with the Dissemination of Righteousness (15:14–16:27)

A. Paul’s Mission Explained (15:14-33)

1. His Reason for Writing (15:14-16)

2. His Work among the Gentiles (15:17-21)

3. His Plan to Visit Rome (15:22-33)

B. Final Greetings (16:1-27)

1. Greetings to Believers in Rome (16:1-16)

2. Warnings about Divisive Brothers (16:17-20)

3. Greetings from Believers with Paul (16:21-24)

4. Final Benediction (16:25-27)

This article is about the book of the New Testament. For St. Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Romans, see To the Romans.

The Epistle to the Romans or Letter to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the longest of the Pauline epistles[1] and is often considered[citation needed] his "most important theological legacy" and magnum opus.

General presentation[edit]

In the opinion of Jesuit scholar Joseph Fitzmyer, the book "overwhelms the reader by the density and sublimity of the topic with which it deals, the gospel of the justification and salvation of Jew and Greek alike by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, revealing the uprightness and love of God the Father."[2]

N. T. Wright notes that Romans is

...neither a systematic theology nor a summary of Paul's lifework, but it is by common consent his masterpiece. It dwarfs most of his other writings, an Alpine peak towering over hills and villages. Not all onlookers have viewed it in the same light or from the same angle, and their snapshots and paintings of it are sometimes remarkably unalike. Not all climbers have taken the same route up its sheer sides, and there is frequent disagreement on the best approach. What nobody doubts is that we are here dealing with a work of massive substance, presenting a formidable intellectual challenge while offering a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision.[3]


Main article: Authorship of the Pauline epistles

The scholarly consensus is that Paul authored the Epistle to the Romans.[additional citation(s) needed]

C. E. B. Cranfield, in the introduction to his commentary on Romans, says:

The denial of Paul's authorship of Romans by such critics ... is now rightly relegated to a place among the curiosities of NT scholarship. Today no responsible criticism disputes its Pauline origin. The evidence of its use in the Apostolic Fathers is clear, and before the end of the second century it is listed and cited as Paul's. Every extant early list of NT books includes it among his letters. The external evidence of authenticity could indeed hardly be stronger; and it is altogether borne out by the internal evidence, linguistic, stylistic, literary, historical and theological.[4]


Main article: Dating the Bible

The letter was most probably written while Paul was in Corinth, probably while he was staying in the house of Gaius, and transcribed by Tertius his amanuensis.[5] There are a number of reasons why Corinth is considered most plausible. Paul was about to travel to Jerusalem on writing the letter, which matches Acts[Acts 20:3] where it is reported that Paul stayed for three months in Greece. This probably implies Corinth as it was the location of Paul’s greatest missionary success in Greece.[6] Additionally Phoebe was a deacon of the church in Cenchreae, a port to the east of Corinth, and would have been able to convey the letter to Rome after passing through Corinth and taking a ship from Corinth’s west port.[6]Erastus, mentioned in Romans 16:23, also lived in Corinth, being the city's commissioner for public works and city treasurer at various times, again indicating that the letter was written in Corinth.[7]

The precise time at which it was written is not mentioned in the epistle, but it was obviously written when the collection for Jerusalem had been assembled and Paul was about to "go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints", that is, at the close of his second visit to Greece, during the winter preceding his last visit to that city.[8] The majority of scholars writing on Romans propose the letter was written in late 55/early 56 or late 56/early 57.[9] Early 55 and early 58 both have some support, while German New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann argues for a date as early as 51/52 (or 54/55), following on from Knox, who proposed 53/54. Lüdemann is the only serious challenge to the consensus of mid to late 50s.[10]


Some manuscripts have a subscription at the end of the Epistle:

  • προς Ρωμαιους ("to the Romans") is found in these manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, Codex Claromontanus;
  • προς Ρωμαιους εγραφη απο Κορινθου ("to the Romans it was written from Corinth"): B2, D2 (P);
  • προς Ρωμαιους εγραφη απο Κορινθου δια Φοιβης της διακονου ("to the Romans it was written from Corinth by Phoebus the deacon"): 42, 90, 216, 339, 462, 466*, 642;
  • εγραφη η προς Ρωμαιους επιστολη δια Τερτιου επεμφτη δε δια Φοιβης απο Κορινθιων της εν Κεγχρεαις εκκλησιας ("the epistle to the Romans was written by Tertius and was sent by Phoebus from the Corinthians of the church in Cenchreae"): only in 337;
  • προς Ρωμαιους εγραφη απο Κορινθου δια Φοιβης της διακονου της εν Κεγχρεαις εκκλησιας ("to the Romans it was written from Corinth by Phoebus the deacon of the church in Cenchreae"): 101, 241, 460, 466, 469, 602, 603, 605, 618, 1923, 1924, 1927, 1932, followed by Textus Receptus.[11]

Paul's life in relation to his epistle[edit]

Main article: Redaction criticism

For ten years before writing the letter (approx. 47–57), Paul had traveled around the territories bordering the Aegean Sea evangelizing. Churches had been planted in the Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Paul, considering his task complete, wanted to preach the gospel in Spain, where he would not "build upon another man’s foundation".[Rom 15:20][12] This allowed him to visit Rome on the way, a long-time ambition of his. The letter to the Romans, in part, prepares them and gives reasons for his visit.[12]

In addition to Paul’s geographic location, his religious views are important. First, Paul was a Hellenistic Jew with a Pharisaic background (see Gamaliel), integral to his identity: see Paul the Apostle and Judaism for details. His concern for his people is one part of the dialogue and runs throughout the letter. Second, the other side of the dialogue is Paul’s conversion and calling to follow Christ in the early 30s.

The churches in Rome[edit]

Main article: Textual criticism

See also: Early centers of Christianity § Rome

The most probable ancient account of the beginning of Christianity in Rome is given by a 4th-century writer known as Ambrosiaster:[13]

It is established that there were Jews living in Rome in the times of the Apostles, and that those Jews who had believed [in Christ] passed on to the Romans the tradition that they ought to profess Christ but keep the law [Torah] ... One ought not to condemn the Romans, but to praise their faith, because without seeing any signs or miracles and without seeing any of the apostles, they nevertheless accepted faith in Christ, although according to a Jewish rite.[14]

From Adam Clarke:

The occasion of writing the epistle: ... Paul had made acquaintance with all circumstances of the Christians at Rome ... and finding that it was ... partly of heathens converted to Christianity, and partly of Jews, who had, with many remaining prejudices, believed in Jesus as the true Messiah, and that many contentions arose from the claims of the Gentiles to equal privileges with the Jews, and from absolute refusal of the Jews to admit these claims, unless the Gentile converts become circumcised; he wrote this epistle to adjust and settle these differences.[15]

At this time, the Jews made up a substantial number in Rome, and their synagogues, frequented by many, enabled the Gentiles to become acquainted with the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Consequently, churches composed of both Jews and Gentiles were formed at Rome. According to Irenaeus, a 2nd-century Church Father, the church at Rome was founded directly by the apostles Peter and Paul.[16] However, many modern scholars disagree with Irenaeus, holding that while little is known of the circumstances of the church's founding, it was not founded by Paul:[17]

Many of the brethren went out to meet Paul on his approach to Rome. There is evidence that Christians were then in Rome in considerable numbers and probably had more than one place of meeting.

— Easton's Bible Dictionary[18]

Note the large number of names in Romans 16:3–15 of those then in Rome, and verses 5, 15 and 16 indicate there was more than one church assembly or company of believers in Rome. Verse 5 mentions a church that met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla. Verses 14 and 15 each mention groupings of believers and saints.[19]

Jews were expelled from Rome because of disturbances around AD 49 by the edict of Claudius.[20] Fitzmyer claims that both Jews and Jewish Christians were expelled as a result of their infighting.[21]Claudius died around the year AD 54, and his successor, Emperor Nero, allowed the Jews back into Rome, but then, after the Great Fire of Rome of 64, Christians were persecuted. Fitzmyer argues that with the return of the Jews to Rome in 54 new conflict arose between the Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians who had formerly been expelled.[22] Keck thinks Gentile Christians may have developed a dislike of or looked down on Jews (see also Antisemitism and Responsibility for the death of Jesus), because they theologically rationalized that Jews were no longer God's people.[23]


Scholars often have difficulty assessing whether Romans is a letter or an epistle, a relevant distinction in form-critical analysis:

A letter is something non-literary, a means of communication between persons who are separated from each other. Confidential and personal in nature, it is intended only for the person or persons to whom it is addressed, and not at all for the public or any kind of publicity...An Epistle is an artistic literary form, just like the dialogue, the oration, or the drama. It has nothing in common with the letter except its form: apart from that one might venture the paradox that the epistle is the opposite of a real letter. The contents of the epistle are intended for publicity—they aim at interesting "the public."[24]

Joseph Fitzmyer argues, from evidence put forth by Stirewalt, that the style of Romans is an "essay-letter."[25]Philip Melanchthon, a writer during the Reformation, suggested that Romans was caput et summa universae doctrinae christianae ("a summary of all Christian doctrine").[26] While some scholars attempt to suggest, like Melanchthon, that it is a type of theological treatise, this view largely ignores chapters 14 and 15 of Romans. There are also many "noteworthy elements" missing from Romans that are included in other areas of the Pauline corpus.[27] The breakdown of Romans as a treatise began with F.C. Baur in 1836 when he suggested "this letter had to be interpreted according to the historical circumstances in which Paul wrote it."[26]

Paul sometimes uses a style of writing common in his time called a "diatribe". He appears to be responding to a "heckler" (probably an imaginary one based on Paul's encounters with real objections in his previous preaching), and the letter is structured as a series of arguments. In the flow of the letter, Paul shifts his arguments, sometimes addressing the Jewish members of the church, sometimes the Gentile membership and sometimes the church as a whole.[citation needed]

Purposes of writing[edit]

To review the current scholarly viewpoints on the purpose of Romans, along with a bibliography, see Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.[28] For a 16th-century "Lollard" reformer view, see the work of William Tyndale. In his prologue to his translation of the book of Romans, which was largely taken from the prologue of German Reformer Martin Luther, Tyndale writes that:

... this epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the new testament, and most pure evangelion, that is to say glad tidings and what we call the gospel, and also a light and a way in unto the whole scripture ... The sum and whole cause of the writings of this epistle, is, to prove that a man is justified by faith only: which proposition whoso denieth, to him is not only this epistle and all that Paul writeth, but also the whole scripture, so locked up that he shall never understand it to his soul's health. And to bring a man to the understanding and feeling that faith only justifieth, Paul proveth that the whole nature of man is so poisoned and so corrupt, yea and so dead concerning godly living or godly thinking, that it is impossible for her to keep the law in the sight of God.[29]


This essay-letter composed by Paul was written to a specific audience at a specific time; to understand it, the situations of both Paul and the recipients must be understood.

Prologue (1:1–15)[edit]

Greeting (1:1–7)[edit]

The introduction[Rom 1:1–16] provides some general notes about Paul. He introduces his apostleship here and introductory notes about the gospel he wishes to preach to the church at Rome. Jesus' human line stems from David.[1:3] Paul, however, does not limit his ministry to Jews. Paul's goal is that the Gentiles would also hear the gospel.[1:5]

Prayer of Thanksgiving (1:8–15)[edit]

He commends the Romans for their faith.[1:8] Paul also speaks of the past obstacles that have blocked his coming to Rome earlier.[1:11–13]

Salvation in the Christ (1:16–8:39)[edit]

Righteousness of God (1:16–17)[edit]

Paul's announcement that he is not "ashamed" (epaiscúnomai) of his gospel because it holds power (dúnamis). These two verses form a backdrop for the rest of the book. First, we note that Paul is unashamed of his love for this gospel that he preaches about Jesus Christ. He also notes that he is speaking to the "Jew first."[1:16] There is significance to this, but much of it is scholarly conjecture as the relationship of Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still debated. We are hard-pressed to find an answer to such a question without knowing more about the audience in question. Wayne Brindle argues, based on Paul's former writings against the Judaizers in Galatians and 2 Corinthians, that rumors had probably spread about Paul totally negating the Jewish existence in a Christian world (see also Antinomianism in the New Testament and Supersessionism). Paul may have used the "Jew first" approach to counter such a view.[30]

Condemnation: The Universal corruption of Gentiles and Jews (1:18–3:20)[edit]

The judgment of God (1:18–32)[edit]

Paul now begins into the main thrust of his letter. He begins by suggesting that humans have taken up ungodliness and wickedness for which there will be wrath from God.[1:18] People have taken God's invisible image and made him into an idol. Paul draws heavily here from the Wisdom of Solomon.[31] He condemns unnatural sexual behavior and warns that such behavior will result in a depraved body and mind ("reprobate mind" in the King James Version) [1:26–27] and says that people who do such things (including murder and wickedness [1:29]) are worthy of death.[1:32] Paul stands firmly against the idol worship system which was common in Rome. Several scholars believe the passage is a non-Pauline interpolation.[32]

Paul's warning of hypocrites (2:1–4)[edit]

On the traditional Protestant interpretation, Paul here calls out Jews who are condemning others for not following the law when they themselves are also not following the law. Stanley Stowers, however, has argued on rhetorical grounds that Paul is in these verses not addressing a Jew at all but rather an easily recognizable caricature of the typical boastful person (ὁ ἀλαζων). Stowers writes, "There is absolutely no justification for reading 2:1–5 as Paul's attack on 'the hypocrisy of the Jew.' No one in the first century would have identified ho alazon with Judaism. That popular interpretation depends upon anachronistically reading later Christian characterizations of Jews as 'hypocritical Pharisees'".[33] See also Anti-Judaism.

Justification: The Gift of Grace and Forgiveness through Faith (3:21–5:11)[edit]

Paul says that a righteousness from God has made itself known apart from the law, to which the law and prophets testify, and this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus to all who believe.[3:21–22] He describes justification – legally clearing the believer of the guilt and penalty of sin – as a gift of God,[3:24] and not the work of man (lest he might boast), but by faith.[3:28]

Assurance of salvation (5–11)[edit]

In chapters five through eight, Paul argues that believers can be assured of their hope in salvation, having been freed from the bondage of sin. Paul teaches that through faith,[3:28][4:3] the faithful have been joined with Jesus[5:1] and freed from sin.[6:1–2][6:18] Believers should celebrate in the assurance of salvation[12:12] and be certain that no external force or party can take their salvation away from them[8:38-39].[34] This promise is open to everyone since everyone has sinned,[3:23] save the one who paid for all of them.[3:24]

In chapters 9–11 Paul addresses the faithfulness of God to the Israelites, where he says that God has been faithful to His promise. Paul hopes that all Israelites will come to realize the truth[9:1–5] since he himself was also an Israelite,[11:1] and had in the past been a persecutor of Early Christians. In Romans 9–11 Paul talks about how the nation of Israel has been cast away, and the conditions under which Israel will be God's chosen nation again: when Israel returns to its faith, sets aside its unbelief.[11:19–24]

In Romans 7:1, Paul says that humans are under the law while we live: "Know ye not...that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?" However, Jesus' death on the cross makes believers dead to the law (7:4, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye are also become dead to the law by the body of Christ"), according to an antinomistic interpretation.

Transformation of believers (12–15:13)[edit]

From chapter 12 through the first part of chapter 15, Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers and the behaviour that results from such a transformation. This transformation is described as a "renewing of your mind" (12:2),[35] a transformation that Douglas J. Moo characterizes as “the heart of the matter.”[36] It is a transformation so radical that it amounts to a “a transfiguration of your brain,” a "metanoia", a “mental revolution.”[37]

Paul goes on to describe how believers should live. Christians are no longer under the law, that is, no longer bound by the law of Moses,[38] but under the grace of God, see Law and grace. We do not need to live under the law because to the extent our minds have been renewed, we will know "almost instinctively" what God wants of us. The law then provides an "objective standard" for judging progress in the "lifelong process" of our mind's renewal.[39]

To the extent they have been set free from sin by renewed minds (Romans 6:18),[40] believers are no longer bound to sin. Believers are free to live in obedience to God and love everybody. As Paul says in Romans 13:10, "love (ἀγάπη) worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of law".[41]

Obedience to earthly powers (13:1–7)[edit]

The fragment in Romans 13:1–7 dealing with obedience to earthly powers is considered by some, for example James Kallas,[42] to be an interpolation.[43] (See also the Great Commandment and Christianity and politics). Paul Tillich accepts the historical authenticity of Romans 13:1–7, but claims it has been misinterpreted by churches with an anti-revolutionary bias:

One of the many politico-theological abuses of biblical statements is the understanding of Paul’s words [Romans 13:1–7] as justifying the anti-revolutionary bias of some churches, particularly the Lutheran. But neither these words nor any other New Testament statement deals with the methods of gaining political power. In Romans, Paul is addressing eschatological enthusiasts, not a revolutionary political movement.[44]

Epilogue (15:1–16:23)[edit]

Paul's ministry and travel plans (16:14–27)[edit]

The concluding verses contain a description of his travel plans, personal greetings and salutations. One-third of the twenty-one Christians identified in the greetings are women, some of whom played an important role in the early church at Rome. Additionally, none of these Christians answer to the name Peter, although according to the Catholic storyline, he had been ruling as Pope in Rome for about 25 years. Possibly related was the Incident at Antioch between Paul and Cephas.


Main article: Biblical hermeneutics

Catholic interpretation[edit]

Main article: Sola gratia

Catholics accept the necessity of faith for salvation but point to Romans 2:5–11 for the necessity of living a virtuous life as well:[45]

But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Throughout his writings, St. Augustine strongly affirms the Catholic understanding of this and other such Scriptural admonitions. In his sermons to his Catholic congregations, he is especially careful to warn them against an inordinate desire for a complete assurance of salvation. In his Exposition of Psalm 147 for example, he states:[46]

The gospel warned us, "Be on the watch for the last day, the day when the Son of Man will come," because it will spell disaster for those it finds secure as they are now – secure for the wrong reasons, I mean, secure in the pleasures of this world, when they ought to be secure only when they have dominated this world's lusts. The apostle certainly prepares us for that future life in words of which I also reminded you on that occasion.

Again, in his Exposition of Psalm 85, Augustine is perhaps even more specific:[47]

Let us not expect security while we are on pilgrimage. When we do find ourselves wanting it, what we are looking for is bodily sluggishness rather than personal security.

Protestant interpretation[edit]

Main article: Sola fide

In the Protestant interpretation, the New Testament epistles (including Romans), describes salvation as coming from faith and not from righteous actions. For example, Romans 4:2–5 (underlining added):

2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness.

They also point out that in Romans chapter 2:9, Paul says that God will reward those who follow the law and then goes on to say that no one follows the law perfectly (see also Sermon on the Mount: Interpretation) Romans 2:21–25:

21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Martin Luther described Paul's letter to the Romans as "the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul".[48]

Luther controversially added the word "alone" (allein in German) to Romans 3:28 so that it read: "thus, we hold, then, that man is justified without doing the works of the law, alone through faith".[49] The word "alone" does not appear in the original Greek text,[50] but Luther defended his translation by maintaining that the adverb "alone" was required both by idiomatic German and Paul's intended meaning. This is a "literalist view" rather than an literal view of the Bible.[51]

Apologist James Swan lists numerous Catholic sources that also translated Romans 3:28 with the word "alone," or testified to others doing so before Luther.[52] A Bible commentary published in 1864 reports that:

Catholic translators before the time of Luther had given the same translation. So in the Nuremberg Bible, 1483, "Nur durch den glauben." And the Italian Bibles of Geneva, 1476, and of Venice, 1538, per sola fede. The Fathers also often use the expression, "man is justified by faith alone;" [53]

The Romans Road (or Roman Road) refers to a set of scriptures from Romans that Christian evangelists use to present a clear and simple case for personal salvation to each person, as all the verses are contained in one single book, making it easier for evangelism without going back and forth through the entire New Testament. The core verses used by nearly all groups using Romans Road are: Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, and 10:13.[54]

Romans has been at the forefront of several major movements in Protestantism. Martin Luther's lectures on Romans in 1515–1516 probably coincided with the development of his criticism of Roman Catholicism which led to the 95 Theses of 1517. In 1738, while hearing Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans read at St. Botolph Church on Aldersgate Street in London, John Wesley famously felt his heart "strangely warmed", a conversion experience which is often seen as the beginning of Methodism. In 1919 Karl Barth's commentary on Romans, The Epistle to the Romans, was the publication which is widely seen as the beginning of neo-orthodoxy.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


A 17th-century depiction of Paul writing his epistles. Romans 16:22 indicates that Tertius acted as his amanuensis.
Saint Paul arrested by the Romans
  1. ^Felix Just, S.J. (2 September 2005). "New Testament Statistics: Number of Chapters, Verses, and Words in the Greek NT". Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  2. ^Fitzmyer, xiii
  3. ^Leander E. Keck and others, eds., The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) 395
  4. ^Cranfield, C. E. B. The Epistle to the Romans 1–8 (Vol. 1), International Critical Commentary Series. King's Lynn: T&T Clark Ltd, 2004, pp. 1–2
  5. ^Dunn, xliv; Stuhlmacher, 5; Romans 16:22
  6. ^ abDunn, xliv
  7. ^Bruce, 280–281; Dunn, xliv
  8. ^Rom 15:25; cf. Acts 19:21; Acts 20:2–3, 20:16; 1 Cor 16:1–4
  9. ^Bruce, 12; Dunn, xliii
  10. ^Dunn, xliii–xliv
  11. ^Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2001), p. 477.
  12. ^ abBruce, 11–12
  13. ^TIB IX 1955 p. 367
  14. ^Ambrosius, Works, iii 373.
  15. ^A.C. 1831 VI p. 3
  16. ^Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III,3,2
  17. ^"The Expositor's Bible Commentary", (Ed. F.E.Gaebelein, Zondervan, 1976–92) Commentary on Romans (Introduction)
  18. ^ Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Romans, Epistle to the". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons. 
    Acts 28:13–15
  19. ^Geneva Study Bible on Romans 16:5, regarding the "church" (translated as "company" or congregation in some 16th-century translations) says: (b) The company of the faithful, for in so great a city as that was, there were different companies.
    • Vincent's Word Studies (1886) on Romans 16:5 says: The phrase church that is in their (or his) house occurs 1 Corinthians 16:19, of Aquila and Priscilla; Colossians 4:15, of Nymphas; Plm 1:2, of Philemon. A similar gathering may be implied in Romans 16:14, Romans 16:15. Bishop Lightfoot says there is no clear example of a separate building set apart for christian worship within the limits of the Roman Empire before the third century.
    • People's New Testament (PNT 1891) on Romans 16:5 says: . As the early Christians had no houses of worship, they met in the homes of prominent brethren. In the large cities there would be several such groups. One of these in Rome met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila.
    • and PNT on verse 16:15 says: And all the saints which are with them. Probably another household church, which met with those just named.
  20. ^Acts 18:1–2 "After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them."
  21. ^Fitzmyer, 77
  22. ^Fitzmyer, 77 also argues that this may be what Paul is referring to when he talks about the "strong" and the "weak" in Romans 15; this theory was originally put forth by W. Marxsen, Introduction to the New Testament: An Approach to its problems (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) but is critiqued and modified by Fitzmyer. Fitzmyer's main contention is that Paul seems to be purposefully vague. Paul could have been more specific if he wanted to address this problem specifically.
  23. ^Leander E. Keck, The New Interpreter's Bible, 407
  24. ^A. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 2nd ed (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1927), 218, 220
  25. ^Fitzmyer, p. 69
  26. ^ abFitzmyer, p. 74
  27. ^Fitzmyer, p. 74, who notes that the Ekklesia, Eucharist and eschatology (especially the parousia) are not present in Romans
  28. ^s.v. "Romans, Letter to the"
  29. ^Tyndale's New Testament, edited by David Daniel (Yale University Press, London and New Haven, 1989), 223
  30. ^W.A. Brindle, "To The Jew First: Rhetoric, Strategy, History, or Theology?" Bibliotheca Sacra 159 (2002): 221
  31. ^for all of these comparisons see Ben Witherington's commentary on Romans, p. 63 which is available on a limited preview basis from Google books.
  32. ^Percy Neale Harrison, Paulines and Pastorals (London: Villiers Publications, 1964), 80–85; Robert Martyr Hawkins, The Recovery of the Historical Paul (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943), 79–86; Alfred Firmin Loisy, The Origins of the New Testament (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1962), 250; ibid., The Birth of the Christian Religion (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1962), 363 n. 21; Winsome Munro, Authority in Paul and Peter: The Identification of a Pastoral Stratum in the Pauline Corpus and 1 Peter, SNTSMS 45 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 113; John C. O'Neill, Paul's Letter to the Romans (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1975), 40–56; William O. Walker, Jr., "Romans 1.18–2.29: A Non-Pauline Interpolation?" New Testament Studies 45, no. 4 (1999): 533–52.
  33. ^Stowers, A Rereading of Romans. Yale Press, 1994, p. 101

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