Background to Romans
Knowing the background of the letter helps us to understand the some of the issues and points
- Jews expelled in AD 19 for evangelizing but later returned.
- There were some Jewish visitors from Rome at Pentecost (Acts 2:5,10) who may heard Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.
- It was evidently members of the Christian rank and file who first carried the gospel to Rome and planted it there – probably in the Jewish community of the capital
- Jews were expelled again in 49-50 AD. This was apparently due to rioting by Jews against the preaching of Chrestus introducing Christianity.
- Less than three years after the death of Claudius (AD 54) they returned. There is a thriving Christian Community whose faith is well known, made up primarily of Gentile believers.
- When Paul writes in AD 57 or 58, he mentions some prominent believers who are in Rome whom he knew in other places where he had ministered (#16). Apparently, he met them when they had been expelled from Rome. because they had been expelled from where he ministered.
- Paul eventually arrived in Rome as a prisoner to be tried and was kept under house arrest. While there he proclaimed the gospel from 60-62, even reaching Caesar’s household (Php. 4:22) He was beheaded in 62 AD.
Reflections: How does this information help us to better understand Paul’s letter to the Romans? How does the apparent ongoing animosity between the Gentile Roman citizens and the Jews in Rome shed light on Paul’s insistence to strengthen the faith of the believers in Rome and to preach the gospel there? What does this say to us about sharing the gospel in a hostile culture?
7 Reasons Paul Wrote the Letter to the Romans
- He wanted to introduce himself and his mission to them (1:1-6)
- He wanted them to pray for them (1:8-10)
- He wanted to minister to them, to impart a spiritual gift to them and build them up (1:11)
- He wanted to be encouraged by them (1:11)
- He wanted to unite the Jews and Gentiles in Rome (1:13-14)
- He wanted to explain the gospel to them (1:15)
- He wanted to prepare them for his visit on his way to Spain (15:24)
Reflection: What does this tell us about Paul? What can we learn about sharing our faith from his example?
Coming Soon: A look at how Paul uses such terms as righteousness, flesh, sin, law and spirit in more than one way in his arguments in Romans.