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by Rhoderick D. Ice
INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER TO THE ROMANS
The Apostle Peter said that Paul wrote some things which were difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). Romans is perhaps the most difficult of Paul’s inspired writing, yet for just this reason it is extremely valuable. Luther says: “You find, then, in this epistle, the greatest abundance of things that a Christian ought to know: what the Law is, the Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, righteousness, Christ, God, good works, love, hope, cross-bearing, also how we are to conduct ourselves in every relation toward the godly and toward sinners, toward friends, toward enemies, and toward ourselves . . . It seems, therefore, that the apostle’s object in this epistle was to draw up a syllabus of the entire Christian and evangelical doctrine, and to prepare an introduction to the entire Old Testament.”
A Judge once said that “every part of a document should be examined in its relation to the whole, and the whole examined in its relation to the different parts.” This is true of the entire Bible, but especially so for this Letter to the Romans. Each verse and each statement stands in its relation to the entire Letter, and to the entire Bible. Some have said that Paul took a Jewish Gospel and distorted it with his own opinion. This cannot be true! The ONE Holy Spirit guided the sacred writers and each wrote what God wanted written! Compare 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
The controversy about the Law of Moses erupted very early at Rome. A certain type of Jew, both rich and extremist, fought over this question with more bitterness than in other churches. See note on Acts 6:9. The unbelieving Jews joined in the battle, and so great was the controversy that Emperor. Claudius banished all the Jews from Rome (see Acts 18:2 and note).
No one knows just when the church was planted in Rome. There were already Christians there before Paul arrived (Acts 28:14-15). On the day of Pentecost, there were both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism at Jerusalem who had come there from Rome (Acts 2:10-11). Paul wrote this letter to the Romans from Corinth, during his three months in Greece (Acts 20:2-3). At the time he wrote, he was about to take money to the poor of the messianic community in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-28). Ramsay gives the date of 57 A.D., in the spring, for the time of writing.
the Fifth Week after Epiphany