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The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, usually referred to simply as Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was written by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is by far the longest of the Pauline epistles, and is considered his "most important theological legacy".[1][2]


General presentation

The book, according to Jesuit scholar Joseph Fitzmyer, "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."[3] 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."[4]

Paul addresses the faithfulness of God to Israel, where he says that God has been faithful to His promise. Paul hopes that all of Israel 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 Christ. These verses could also be indicating that, even though Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, since they still believe in God, they will be saved (see dual-covenant theology). In Romans 9–11, Paul discussed about how the nation of Israel has been cast away, and the conditions under which Israel will be God's chosen nation again: when the Body of Christ (believers in Christ's payment for sin) stops being faithful (11:19–22).

The main theme of this letter is the Salvation offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1:16-17). Paul argues that all persons are guilty of sin and therefore accountable to God. It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that sinners can attain salvation. Therefore, God is both just and the one who justifies. In response to God's free, sovereign and graceful action of salvation, humanity can be justified by faith. Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that it is by faith that humanity can be seen as righteous before God.

Dating of Romans

The letter was most probably written while Paul was in Corinth, and probably while he was staying in the house of Gaius and transcribed by Tertius his amanuensis.[5] There are a number of reasons Corinth is 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.[7] 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.[8]

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 (Rom 15:25; cf. Acts 19:21; (Rom 20:2-3, 20:16; 1 Cor 16:1-4). The majority of scholars writing on Romans propose the letter was written in late 55/early 56 or late 56/early 57.[9] Early 58 and early 55 both have some support, while Luedemann argues for a date as early as 51/52 (or 54/55) following on from Knox who proposed 53-54. Luedemann is the only serious challenge to the consensus of mid to late 50s.[10]

Context of Romans in Paul's life

For ten years before writing the letter (approx. 47-57), Paul had travelled round the territories bordering the Aegean Sea evangelising. 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’.[11] 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, integral to his identity. His concern for his people is one part of the dialogue and runs throughout the letter.[5] Second, the other side of the dialogue is Paul’s conversion and calling to follow Christ in the early 30s.

The Church in Rome

The most probable ancient account of the beginning of Christianity in Rome is given by a 4th century writer known as ‘Ambrosiater’:[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, a church composed of both Jews and Gentiles was formed at Rome. According to Irenaeus, one of the earliest Church Fathers, 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 (Rom 16:14-15).

Jews were expelled from Rome because of Christian disturbances around AD 49 by the edict of Claudius.[18] The conflict developed because Jewish Christians and Jews argued with one another over the validity of Jesus as the Messiah. Both Jews and Jewish Christians were expelled as a result of their infighting.[19] The majority of people left in the Christian church at Rome would have been Gentile Christians. These gentile churches developed along a different trajectory from the Christian circles that grew out of Jewish synagogues.[19]

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, persecuted the Christians. 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.[20] 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.[21] Historians question whether the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva's modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in 96 (Jews payed the tax, Christians did not).

The Roman church would have to accept that the gospel was for the "Jew first and also to the Greek" (see Romans 1:16).


While scholars are often able to determine aspects of the context of NT writers from their letters, it is much more difficult to understand Paul's letter to the Romans. Scholars often have difficulty assessing whether Romans is a letter or an epistle:

"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.'"[22]

Joseph Fitzmyer argues, from evidence put forth by Stirewalt, that the style of Romans is an "essay-letter."[23] Philip Melanchthon, a writer during the Reformation, suggested that Romans was caput et summa universae doctrinae christianae ("a summary of all Christian doctrine").[24] 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.[25] 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."[24]

Paul sometimes uses a style of writing common in his time called a "diatribe". He appears to be responding to a "heckler", 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.

Purposes of writing

The main purpose of the epistle to the Romans is given by Paul in Romans 1:1, where he reveals that he is set apart by God for the purpose of preaching the Gospel.[26] He wishes to impart to the Roman readers a gift of encouragement and assurance in all that God has freely given them (see Romans 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:12).

The purposes of the apostle in dictating this letter to his Amanuensis Tertius (16:22) is also articulated in the second half of chapter 15:

  1. Paul asks for prayers for his upcoming journey to Jerusalem; he hopes that the offering collected from the Gentile churches will be accepted there.
  2. Paul is planning to travel to Rome from Jerusalem and spend some time there before moving on to Spain; he hopes the Roman church will support his mission to Spain.
  3. Since Paul has never been to Rome, he outlines his gospel so that his teaching will not be confused by that of "false teachers".
  4. Paul is aware that there is some conflict between Gentile and Jewish Christians in the Roman church, and he addressed those concerns (chapters thirteen and the first half of fourteen). While the Roman church was presumably founded by Jewish Christians, the exile of Jews from Rome in AD 49 by Claudius resulted in Gentile Christians taking leadership positions.


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.


Introduction (Rom 1:1-15)

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 (Rom 1:3). Paul, however, does not limit his ministry to Jews, though neither did Jesus if the Great Commission is authentic. Paul's goal is that the gentiles would also hear the gospel (1:5). He commends the Romans for their faith (1:8). The word for faith in Greek is "pistis." Paul also speaks of the past obstacles that have blocked his coming to Rome earlier (1:11-13).

Unashamed (Rom 1:16-17)

Paul's announcement that he is not "ashamed" (evpaiscu, nomai) of his gospel because it holds power (dunamis). 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 signifiance to this, but much of it is scholarly conjecture. We are hardpressed 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. Paul may have used the "Jew first" mentality to counter such a view.[27]

The Judgment of God (Rom 1:18-32)

Paul now begins into the main thrust of his letter. He begins by suggesting that some among them have taken up ungodliness and wickedness for which there will be wrath from God (1:18). These people have taken God's invisible image and made him into an idol. Paul draws heavily here from the Wisdom of Solomon.[28] He condemns unnatural sexual behavior and warns that such behavior will result in a depraved body and mind (1:26 - 27) and says that people who do such things (including murder and wickedness (1:29)) are worthy of death (1:32). Some claim Paul may undercut the idol worship system for the same reason that he undercuts the Jewish law later in the gospel—to bring the people together under Christ.

Paul's Judgment of Hypocrites (Rom 2:1-4)

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'" (Stowers, A Rereading of Romans [Yale Press, 1994], p.101).

Assurance of salvation (Rom 2:5-8, 9-11)

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). 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 nine through eleven, Paul addresses the faithfulness of God to Israel, where he says that God has been faithful to His promise. Paul hopes that all of Israel 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 Christ. These verses could also be saying that even though Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, since they still believe in God, they will be saved (see also Dual-covenant theology). 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 the Body of Christ (believers in Christ's payment for sin) stops being faithful (11:19–24).

Transformation of believers

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 the antinomistic interpretation.

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. He goes on to describe how believers should live: not under the law, but under the grace of God, see Law and grace. If believers live in obedience to God, study the scriptures, (and share them with others) and love everybody, believers are not going to need to sin. As Paul says in Romans 13:10, "love (ἀγάπη) worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of law". See also Great Commandment.

Concluding verses

The concluding verses contain a description of his travel plans and personal greetings 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.


Catholic interpretation

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:[29]

Who [God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.

Protestant interpretation

To argue their claim that sincere profession of Christ takes precedence over good works in God's eyes, Protestants hold up Romans 4:2–5 (emphasis added):

"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 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 2, Paul says that God will reward those who follow the law (as opposed to antinomianism) and then goes on to say that no one follows the law perfectly (see also Sermon on the Mount: Interpretation). Romans 2:21–25:

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 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".[30]

The Romans Road refers to a set of scriptures from Romans that Christian evangelists use to present a clear and simple case for personal salvation for each person.

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.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.catholicregister.org/content/view/2051/858/
  2. ^ http://www.tc.umn.edu/~parkx032/RM.html
  3. ^ Fitzmyer, xiii
  4. ^ Leander E. Keck and others, eds., The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) 395
  5. ^ Dunn, xliv; Stuhlmacher, 5; Romans 16:22
  6. ^ Dunn, xliv
  7. ^ Dunn xliv
  8. ^ Bruce, 280-281; Dunn, xliv
  9. ^ Bruce, 12; Dunn, xliii
  10. ^ Dunn, xliii-xliv
  11. ^ Rom 15:20; Bruce, 11-12
  12. ^ Bruce, 11-12
  13. ^ TIB IX 1955 p. 367
  14. ^ Ambrosii 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. ^ Acts 18:2; Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Claudius XXV.4
  19. ^ a b Fitzmyer, 77
  20. ^ Leander E. Keck, The New Interpreter's Bible, 407
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ A. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 2nd ed (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1927), 218, 220
  23. ^ Fitzmyer, 69
  24. ^ a b Fitzmyer, 74
  25. ^ Fitzmyer, 74, who notes that the Ekklesia, Eucharist and eschatology (espeically the parousia) are not present in Romans
  26. ^ For a discussion of the current scholarly viewpoints on the purpose of Romans, along with a bibliography, see Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, s.v. "Romans, Letter to the"
  27. ^ W.A. Brindle, "To The Jew First: Rhetoric, Strategy, History, or Theology?" Bibliotheca Sacra 159 (2002): 221
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ For an authoritative discussion of the Catholic viewpoint, see Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Epistle to the Romans"
  30. ^ Martin Luther's Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans cf. Luther's comments in his treatise on The Adoration of the Sacrament (1523) in which he refers to the words of institution of the Eucharist as being "the sum and substance of the whole gospel". Luther's Works, American Edition, St. Louis and Philadelphia: Concordia Publishing House and Fortress (Muhlenberg) Press, vol. 36 (Word and Sacrament II (1959)) , [1], p.277.


  • Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Epistle of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.  
  • Dunn, J. D. G. (1988a). Romans 1-8. Word Bible Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher.  
  • Dunn, J. D. G. (1988b). Romans 9-16. Word Bible Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher.  
  • Fitzmyer, J. A. (1992). Romans. Anchor Bible Commentary. New York: Doubleday.  
  • Stuhlmacher, P. (1994). Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Commentary. Westminster: John Knox Press.  

External links



This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.

Epistle to the Romans
Preceded by
New Testament
Books of the Bible
Succeeded by
1 Corinthians


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Epistle to the Romans is a book of The Bible, written by The apostle Paul. It consists of 16 chapters.

Note: There are many different translations of the Bible, and most have some small differences between their texts.


Romans 1:16,17

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek; for in it God’s righteousness is being revealed by reason of faith and toward faith, just as it is written: “But the righteous one—by means of faith he will live.”

Romans 1:20,21

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable; because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened.

Romans 3:1

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: What, then, is the superiority of the Jew, or what is the benefit of the circumcision?

Romans 15:1

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves.

Romans 16:17

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: Now I exhort YOU, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that YOU have learned, and avoid them.

See also

External links

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

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From Wikisource

Epistle to the Romans
by Ignatius of Antioch


Roberts-Donaldson translations

All of these translations are included in Ante-Nicene Fathers, written in the 19th century

See also

  • St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, usually called simply Romans

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EPISTLE TO THE. ROMANS In this book of the New Testament, the apostle Paul begins, after a brief pregnant introduction (i. 1-7), by explaining that he had hitherto been prevented from carrying out his cherished project of visiting the church of Rome, whose faith was world-wide (i. 8 f.). Meanwhile, he outlines the gospel which he preached as an exhibition of God's righteousness, 7rLcruv. This forms the leading theme of the epistle.

Both Gentile (i. 18-32) and Jew (ii. I, iii. 20) 1 alike have missed this righteousness up till now, but the revelation of God in Jesus Christ (iii. 21-31) had brought the divine boon within reach of all. The condition of its reception was not nationality but faith. Hence, as Paul stops for a moment to argue (iv. 1-25), the Jew cannot claim any preference; Abraham himself, before circumcision and the law came into force, was a man of faith, and consequently all believers (not all legal Jews, iv. 16) are true descendants of Abraham.' Returning to the blissful results of this SLKacoc1uv fl revealed in Jesus Christ (v. 1 - 11), Paul proceeds to contrast these with the sombre effects produced in humanity by the fall of Adam. Life had now triumphed over death, grace over sin (v. 12 f.). But the supersession of the law, which was bound up with the regime of sin and death, does not mean the relaxation of the moral bond. On the contrary (vi. 1 f.), the reception of God's grace and spirit implies the death of the believing man to sin. The struggle of the soul between the thwarting power of sin and the ethical demands of the law (vii. 1 f.) cannot be ended happily save by the interposition of Jesus Christ, whose Spirit guarantees a sound life in this world and life eternal in the world to come (viii. 12 f.).

The splendid and unfettered' prospects of faith, which thus break on the apostle's vision, only serve to deepen his distress in one direction.' As a theologian and as a patriot, he is confronted with the problem of Israel's collective repudiation of a boon to which their own history, as he read it, clearly pointed. Reverting to the thought of ii. 17 f. and iv. 1, Paul now essays, in ix. - xi., to show how this unbelief of Israel is to be reconciled with the justice and the promises of God. He begins by showing, as in Gal. iv. 7 f. (cf. Rom. ii. 28-29), that mere physical descent could not entitle a Jew to the promises. Besides (ix. 14-29), no Jew has the right to challenge God's sovereign freedom. If God determines to extend the promise of faith to the Gentiles, who shall accuse Him of injustice? The rejection of the Jews is their own fault, due to their obstinacy and legalism (ix. 30 - x. 21). Finally, Paul tries to see this fact of Israel's unbelief in the light of a wide religious philosophy of history; it (xi. 1-10) cannot be anything but a temporary and partial (xi. II-24) 6 phase; the future will clear up the present; the final 1 On iii. cf. G. W. Matthias's Exegetischer Versuch (Cassel, 1857).

Paul here unconsciously changes the conception of law. By introducing the example of Abraham he shows that the book of the law contains the doctrine of justification by faith, and through the latter, therefore, is not made of none effect. This proof rests, objectively regarded, on a fallacy; for the law, of which the validity is threatened by the doctrine of justification, is that part of the book of the law which demands the observance of all commands, not that which relates anything about Abraham. But this error of thought would be easily concealed from a mind with the rabbinical training of Paul's" (Schmiedel, in Hibbert Journal, 1902, pp. 548549) Cf. Engel's exhaustive monograph, Der Kampf urn Romer vii. (1902), and, for the ideas of i. - viii., Du Bose's The Gospel according to St Paul (1907), and Titius, Der Paulinismus (1 900), pp. 159 ff.

The word all, as Matthew Arnold observes (St Paul and Protestantism, ch. i.), is " in some sense the governing word of the Epistle to the Romans." As arranged in the canonical edition, ix. - xi. are closely interwoven with i. - viii., and xi. 32-36 concludes not simply ix. - xi. but i. - xi. (cf. Bahl in Studien and Kritiken, 188 7, 2 95-3 20). Certainly what Paul has in mind throughout the epistle is not a Judaizing tendency among the Jewish Christians at Rome, but the general and perplexing question of Judaism in relation to the new faith. Cf. Hoennicke's Das Judenchristentum (1908), pp. 160 f.

6 In this passage Paul has generally been held to have erred Phoebe" which includes vers. 1-23 (so e.g. Weizsacker, McGiffert and Pincher), though most break it off at ver. 20 (so Eichhorn, Ewald, Schulz, Renan, Weiss, Lipsius, von Soden, &c.), while others do not begin it until ver. 3 (so e.g. Ewald,' Schiirer, Reuss and Mangold: Der Romerbrief, pp. 136 f.). Vers. 21-23 might indeed follow xv. 33, but it is not Paul's way to add salutations after a final Amen, and the passage connects as well with xvi. 20, though it may have lain originally (Pincher) between 16 and 17. The main reasons 12 for conjecturing that this section was addressed separately, not to Rome but to a city like Ephesus, lie in its contents. Paul was as yet a stranger to Rome, and it is extremely difficult to suppose that he already knew so many individuals there. The earlier tone of Romans shows that he was writing as a comparative stranger to strangers. Any touches of familiarity with the local circumstances (as in xiv. - xv.) are no more than might have percolated to him through hearing and botanically in his allegory. For a defence of his accuracy, see W. M. Ramsay's Pauline and other Studies (1907), 219 f.

' On the method of dialectic in this section, see Bishop Gore's paper in Studia Biblica (vol. iii.). The literature up to 1907 is summarized in H. J. Holtzmann's Neutest. Theologie, ii. pp. 171 f., one of the most significant essays being that of Beyschlag on Die Paulin. Theodicee (1868). Wernle (Beginnings of Christianity, i. pp. 315 f.) sums up his discussion by pointing out that " the Jesus of history is simply non-existent for St Paul when he treats apologetic problems of this nature. No mention whatever is made of him in the three chapters of Romans which treat of Israel's fate. The literal text of the Septuagint seems to be the only decisive authority, and that is so sacred and almighty, that, whenever it comes into collision with the human conscience, the latter is silenced when the voice of revelation speaks." 8 The weaker minority probably were a Jewish-Christian circle (cf. Riggenbach in Studien and Kritiken, 18 93, pp. 6 496 7 8). For the religious aspect of vegetarianism in these and other circles, see von Dobschiitz's Christian Life in the Primitive Church (1904), pp. 125 f., 396 f.

9 " It was a sufficient reason for writing to the Romans that Paul was expecting to visit them, but was obliged once more to postpone an event to which he had long looked forward. There was nothing in the circumstances of the church that required his intervention, and, as he was therefore free to choose his subject, he wrote out of the fullness of his heart that grand defence of the gospel which, though shaped by the conditions of the times, is animated by the timeless Spirit, and has proved to be a possession for ever " (Drummond, p. 246).

1° For the literature, cf. the present writer's Historical New Testament (1901), pp. 209-213. The hypothesis has won very wide acceptance, but several editors and critics (including Harnack, Zahn and Clemen) remain unconvinced. Cf. also Wabnitz in Revue de theologie et des quest. religieuses (1900), 461-469.

11 On her functions, see Zscharnack's der Dienst der Frau in den ersten Jahrhunderten der christlichen Kirche (1902), pp. 45 f.

12 Cf. Lucht (Ober die beiden letzten Kapitel des Romerbriefes, 1871. pp. 126 f.), with Weizsacker's brilliant pages in his Apostolic Age, i pp. 379 f.).

report; they do not imply the presence of friends upon the spot who kept him supplied with information. On the other hand, the circle of people addressed in xvi. 1-23, with its wealth of individual colour and personal detail, presupposes a sphere where Paul had worked for long. He can appeal to these Christians. He can speak sharply with authority to them. Now, as he wrote from Corinth, the only other city which answers to this description is Ephesus, the centre of Paul's long Asiatic mission. With that city and district several of the names in xvi. 1-23 are more or less directly connected, e.g. Epaenetus (5), Aquila and Priscilla (3), who were at Ephesus immediately before Romans was written (Acts xviii. 18, 26; cf.

1 Cor. xvi. 19), and apparently were there (cf. 2 Tim. iv. 19) not long afterwards. These are the first people mentioned in the note, nor is there any likelihood that they or the rest of Paul's friends' had made a sudden migration to the, capital. Doubtless, there was fairly constant communication between Rome and the provinces, and in the course of time these friends may have gradually followed the apostle thither. Hence it is not remarkable that almost all the names mentioned in this note have been found by archaeologists (cf. Lightfoot's Philippians, pp. 171 f.) within the Roman Corpus Inscriptionum. Most of them, anyhow, are fairly common throughout the Roman world (cf. Lietzmann, p. 73), whilst half are to be found in the Greek Corpus Inscriptionum for Asia Minor (e.g. Epaenetus, Hermes, Hermas). 2 Furthermore, the sharp warning against errorists and heretics (xvi. 17-20) suits Rome at this period much less aptly than Ephesus (cf. 1 Cor. xvi. 8-9; Acts xx. 29 f.; Rev. ii.

2 f.), where trouble of this kind was in the air. Controversy against false teachers is conspicuously absent from Romans. Nor is it possible to regard (with Zahn) such counsels as merely prophylactic; they are too definite and pointed. They imply the existence of a community with which Paul was personally acquainted, and to which he felt himself bound and free to address keen, authoritative reproaches.

The textual phenomena of the doxology (xvi. 25-27), which occurs in some MSS. after xiv. 23, are sufficiently strange; they suggest that the epistle must have passed through a certain process of editing, during the 2nd century, previous to its final incorporation in the canon of the epistles. 3 It may further be conjectured that the epistle does not lie before the modern reader in the precise shape in which it left Paul and his amanuensis at Corinth. Opinions, indeed, vary on the doxology. Either it is authentic but irrelevant, added by Paul as a postscript, or it is unauthentic, 4 due to some copyist who added it as Erbes (Zeitschrift fiir Kirchengeschichte, 1901, 224-231) makes xvi. 1-16a a note forwarded by Paul to Rome during his last voyage thither, in order to advise some of the local Christians of his arrival (Acts xxviii. is), but this theory is no improvement upon that of Semler, who regarded xvi. 3-16 as designed for Paul's friends outside Rome, to introduce the bearers of the larger epistle. The point of such hypotheses is to explain how the note came to be attached to Romans, but this can be shown otherwise (cf. Deissmann's Licht vom Osten, 1908, pp. 164, 201). Eichhorn (Einleit. in das N.T. iii. 243 f.) regarded xvi. 1-20 as addressed to Corinth, while Schenkel viewed it as designed for all the churches which Phoebe was to visit.

2 In the Ephesian Ada Johannis (c. A.D. 160) the house of Andronicus (Rom. xvi. 7 ?) is one centre of Christian activity. E. H. Gifford (pp. 27-30) evades the difficulty by taking xvi. 3-20 as part of a second letter written by Paul after, not before, his release from imprisonment.

The most recent and radical analyses are those of Spitta (Urchristentum, iii. 1902) and Volter (Paulus u. seine Briefe, 1905). The former detects a short letter written (xii.-xv. 7, xvi. 1-20) after Acts xxviii. 30, during a tour of the Gentile churches (A.D. 63-64), and another (i.-xi. 10, xv. 14-33) written to believing Jews in order to justify the Gentile mission and afterwards edited for Gentile readers with the addition of xi. 11 f., xv. 8-13, &c, Volter (pp. 135 f.) distinguishes an original letter (in i. 1, 5b-7, 8-17, v. 1-12, 15-19, 21, vi. 1-13, 16-23, xii.-xv. 6, xv. 14-16, 23b-33, xvi. 21-24) from editorial additions, and also from still later accretions in ii. 14-15, iii. 23-26, vii. 25b, xi. 11 f., xv. 7-13, 17-23a, xvi. 17 f., 25 f. Spitta's views are properly set aside by Feine and Bahnsen (Protest. Monatshefte, 1902, 331 f.) amongst others.

4 I suggests a stereotyped form (cf. Mangold, Der Romerbrief, 44-81, and Holtzmann, Ephes. Col. Brief, 307-310). " In spite of the vindication of the style word by word, the impression it bears upon the mind is hardly Pauline. It seems artificial rather than a suitable finale at the close. In the Pauline canon Romans originally occupied the last place. It would therefore be natural that a note like that of xvi. 1-23 should be put in here, especially if this canon was drawn up at Rome, whither Phoebe probably travelled eventually. The doxology would then be shifted from after xiv. 23 or inserted for the first time for ecclesiastical purposes. The material conditions of such a process are lucidly stated by Dr C. R. Gregory in his Canon and Text of the New Testament (1907), pp. 319 f.

The problems presented by the structure of these chapters5 cannot be solved adequately by the mere hypothesis, worked out variously by critics like Paulus, Griesbach (Curarum in historian textus Graeci epistolarum Pauli spec. i. pp. 45 f.), Eichhorn and Flatt, that they are a series of postscripts or afterthoughts, much less by the conjecture that, in whole or in part, they are unauthentic (Baur, Volkmar, &c.). The only tenable line of argument, in the present state of criticism, is to regard their phenomena as due to compilation, at the time when the canon (perhaps of Paul's epistles) was first formed. If the hypothesis already outlined is set aside, it is open to the critic to regard large portions of the canonical Romans as having originally occupied a separate setting,5 or to ascribe the textual variations to the exigencies of church reading after the formation of the canon (which might explain the absence of Ev `Pt)t7j in i. 7, 15, and the duplicate position of the doxology).?

The uncertainty as to the literary structure of the epistle naturally renders it hazardous to infer the character of the Christians who are addressed, but it may be said that the results of the long debate on this point are converging upon the belief that the predominant class in the local church or churches were Gentile Christians, while proselytes must have swelled the ranks to no inconsiderable degree. Since Weizsacker wrote, the older view of Baur (cf. his Paul, Eng. tr. i. pp. 321 f.) has steadily lost ground. Zahn is now its main supporter, and his contentions are not convincing. Even were ix.-xi. taken as the kernel of the epistle, its obvious motive is to be found in the need of explaining to Gentile Christians the reasons for Israel's apparent rejection, and passages like i. 5 f., 13, xi. 13, xv. 15 f., are, if not decisive, at any rate superior to any references which can be urged fairly on the opposite side. To a church of this kind, in the capital of the Empire, Paul writes out his gospel more fully than in any other of his extant epistles. It is the essence of the gospel that he treats, and that is the revelation of God's righteousness to man by faith in Jesus Christ. Neither sacraments nor organization come within his purview. Even eschatology lies quite in the background. Paul writes of the inspired " (Denney, p. 582). Proofs of its Pauline authorship are led fully by Zahn (Einleitung in das N.T. § 21 f.) and Jacquicr (Histoire des livres du N.T., 1903, pp. 271 f.); cf. also Bacon in Journal of Biblical Literature (1899), pp. 184 f. The entire data of xv.-xvi. are discussed fully by Lightfoot and Hort, in the former's Biblical Essays (pp. 287 f.) and in the latter's admirable volume (Romans and Eph"tsians), as well as in Sanday and Headlam's edition (pp. lxxxv. f.).

Ryder (Journal of Biblical Literature, 1898, pp. 184 f.) suggests that xv.-xvi. 24 form a letter or part of a letter written not by Paul but by his amanuensis, Tertius, to his friends at Rome, c. A.D. 64, previous to the Neronic persecution.

So J. Weiss (in Theologische Studien, 1897, pp. 182 f.), as well as those who, like Renan (S. Paul, lxiii-lxxv), find different editions in the canonical epistle, one meant for Thessalonica (i.-xiv. 33, xvi. 25-27), one for Ephesus (i.-xiv., xvi. 1--20) and one for Rome (i.-xi., xv.), or who, like Lightfoot (Biblical Essays), see a double recension, the original draft having been meant for Rome (i.-xvi. 23), the later being, like Ephesians, a circular epistle.

' The epistle was so systematic in treatment and wide in scope that it lent itself readily to this " catholicizing " manipulation; thus the fact that xv.-xvi. are very rarely quoted in primitive tradition may be due to their fullness of local detail, which would have less interest for the later church. But the question of course arises, May not the epistle, in whole or in part, have originally been more of a treatise in epistolary form than at first sight appears? For various suggestions as to the problem of i. 7 see Harnack in Zeitschrift fiir die neutest. Wissenschaft (1902), 83-86; R. Steinmetz (ibid., 1908, 177 f.); and Schmiedel in Hibbert Journal (1903), pp. 537 f heart of the gospel with all his heart, and while a certain controversial' element inevitably enters into his expositionsince he is writing with his eye on the Roman Church-any such considerations are quite subordinate to his dominating aim.

The epistle dates itself. Paul is on his way to Jerusalem with the moneys collected from the Macedonian and Achaian churches (xv. 19-32), and, after his visit to the Jewish capital, he proposes to visit the church of Rome en route for a mission in Spain. The situation corresponds to that outlined in Acts xx. 2-3. Paul probably despatched the epistle from Corinth. This conclusion would be put almost beyond doubt were Rom. xvi. regarded as an integral part of the original epistle, since in that case Timothy and Sosipater (xvi. 21) would be with Paul as in Acts xx. 4, like Gaius (xvi. 23) and Erastus, both of whom were Corinthians (1 Cor. i. 14; 2 Tim. iv. 20). Phoebe of Cenchreae, the seaport of Corinth, would also be the bearer of the epistle (xvi. i). But even apart from the evidence of ch. xvi., the tone of the epistle (especially of xv. 19 f.) indicates that Paul regards his work in the eastern provinces as done, and now turns to the West. It is just possible, of course, that the epistle was written from some other town, perhaps in Illyricum (so H. E. G. Paulus), but the facilities of communication point to Corinth.2 Literature.-The ablest recent editions of the Greek text have been those of B. Weiss (in Meyer's commentary, 9th ed. 1899, thorough and all-round), R. A. Lipsius (Hand-Commentar, 2nd ed. 1892), H. Oltramare (Paris, 1881-82), Sanday and Headlam (Internat. Grit. Comm. 5th ed. 1905, strong in philology and external criticism), and Denney (Expositor's Greek Testament, 1901, a masterpiece of theological exposition), to which the Roman Catholic commentaries of A. Schafer (Munster, 1891) and Cornely (Paris, 1896) may be added. The patristic and medieval literature is summarized by Sanday and Headlam (op. cit. pp. xcviii. f.), and a conspectus of the vast later work may be found in W. P. Dickson's translation of Meyer (Edinburgh, 1873-74). The editions of Tholuck (1842), Moses Stuart (3rd ed. 1876), Godet (1879-80, Eng. trans. 1888), E. H. Gifford (Speaker's Commentary, 1881) and Philippi (4th ed. Frankfort, 1896) are of special theological value, Godet's for its delicate exegesis and Gifford's for its adequacy of treatment; so, from its own point of view, is F. Delitzsch's Brief an die Romer aus dem griech. Urtext in das Hebrc ische iibersetzt, and aus Talmud and Midrasch erlc utert (1870); with which may be classed the earlier works of Reiche (Versuch einer ausf ahrl. Erklarung, &c_, 1833-34) and C. F. A. Fritzsche (1836-43). Since Dean Alford (1852), the freshest English editors have been Dr David Brown (Glasgow, 1860), Moule (Cambridge Bible, 2879), C. J. Vaughan (7th ed. 1890), B. Jowett (3rd ed. 1894), J. Agar Beet (9th ed. 1901) and Garvie (Century Bible, 1901). Julicher's notes in Die Schriften des N T. (1907), though written from a different standpoint, resemble Denney's in their conciseness and penetration. Lietzmann's edition, again, is slight and philological (Handbuch zum Neuen Testament, 1907). Lightfoot's posthumous fragment (Notes on Epistles of St Paul, 18 95, pp. 2 37-3 0 5) unfortunately breaks off at vii. 25. In addition to the special monographs already noted in the course of this article, the essays of H. E. G. Paulus (De originibus Pauli epist. ad Rom., Jena, 180r), Lorenz (Der Romerbrief, 1884), Grafe (Uber Veranlassung and Zweck des R., 1881), G. B. Stevens (The Pauline Theology, 1894), Feine (Der Romerbrief, 1903) and A. Robertson (Hastings' Diet. of Bible, iv. 295-306) may be specially mentioned out of a large crowd, together with G. Semeria's monograph, Il pensiero di S. Paolo nella lettera ai Romani (Rome, 1903). Holsten's position is stated in a series of articles in the Jahrbuch Pr protest. Theologie (1879), pp. 95 f., 314 f., 680 f., Pfleiderer's in Das Urchristentum (2nd ed. i. 249 f., Er{g. tr. Primitive Christianity, i. pp. 211 f.) and Hilgenfeld's in his own Zeitschrzft fiir die wissensch. Theologie (1892), pp. 2 9 6 -347. The recent literary and historical discussions are chronicled in C. Clemen's Paulus, i. 85 f., ii. 238 f., with which the English reader may compare R. J. Knowling's The Testimony of St Paul to Christ (1905), pp. 60 f., 1 Not, however, in the sections bearing on the Law. " It has been customary to explain this feature of the epistle by the fact of its having been written to a church with which Paul had no personal relations, and this may count for something. But there is a deeper and a worthier reason for the contrast in tone between this epistle and those written to the Galatian and Corinthian churches. The whole situation is changed. Then Paul was fighting for existence with his back to the wall; now he writes as one conscious that the cause of Gentile Christianity is safe " (A. B. Bruce, St Paul's Conception of Christianity, 18 94, p. 96).

This is carefully worked out by Paley in his Horae Paulinae (ed. Birks, 1825), pp. 8 f.

311 f., 465 f. On Marcion's text of the epistle cf. Zahn's Geschichte des N.T. Kanons, ii. pp. 515-521; on the early reception of the epistle in the church, Gregory's Canon and Text of the N.T. (2907), pp. 192 f., and Leipoldt's Geschichte des neut. Kanons (1907), i. pp. 77 f., 188 f., 192 1., 209 f. (J. MT.)

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Romans was a letter written to the people of Rome by Paul


There are a number of ideas held by biblical scholars concerning the reasons why Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. The debate about these differing theories is one of the longest and most complex within modern day biblical scholarship. Much interpretation of Romans throughout Christian history advanced on the assumption that it was simply a theological writing; however, it is now thought that Paul had no theological interest of this sort and the letter served a much different purpose. A few substantive answers have been developed which relate to the context of the situation in the Roman churches at the time, Paul's mission work, and the actual contents of the epistle itself.


The letter holds some hints into working out a plausible timeframe of when it might have been composed by correlating it against some external evidence found in Acts. Paul wrote his letter just before a journey to Jerusalem, where he was intending to take charity money collected from Gentile Christians to give to the poorer Christians in Judea (Rom 15:25-27. In Acts 19:21 Luke explains how Paul planned to go to Jerusalem, and also to Rome. Acts 20 gives a detailed account of Paul's travels and placement around this time. Based on what Paul says in Romans, and what Acts records about Paul's movements, scholars have estimated that the letter would have been written around the winter of 56 or 57 AD. This was a later point in Paul's ministry, probably making the charity undertaking his third journey to Jerusalem.


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