Reasons for Paul's Writing of the Epistle to the Romans

Topics: Christianity, Judaism, New Testament Pages: 7 (2559 words) Published: January 28, 2011

Before I touch the given text, it is needed to mention generally first the importance of letter to Romans and its introduction.
Many Christian thinkers have found that Romans is the key to understand the rest of the Bible. John Calvin called it “an open door to understanding all the treasurers of scripture.” William Tyndale said that it shone “light onto the whole Bible.” J. B. Phillips, in his translation of the New Testament, called it “the Gospel according to Paul.” M. Luther, after seeing the meaning of Rom 1:7, wrote: “The whole of scripture took on a new meaning!” He called it “the chief book of the New Testament and the clearest Gospel, so valuable that a Christian should not only know every word of it by heart, but should take it about with him everyday as the daily bread of his soul.”

Scholars have suggested many different answers to the reasons of Paul’s writing to the Romans. For example: 1)Paul hoped that the Roman Christians would help him in the new work which he was planning to do in Spain (Rom 15:24). So he wrote to tell them the Gospel which he preached, in the hope that they would approve and give him the help he needed. 2)Until that time, the center of the Church’s mission had been Antioch, in Syria. Now it was time to extend the Church’s mission to the West, so a new center was needed in the west. Perhaps Paul hoped that Rome might be that center. If so, the Christians there would need to have a good understanding of the Gospel. 3)In those days Rome was the world’s greatest city. If Christians there held the faith strongly, and that same faith was likely to spread throughout the world. 4)Paul wanted to preserve in writing a clear statement of Christian doctrine for the benefit of all Christians. So this is a “handbook of Christian beliefs,” sent to the chief city in the world. (Some scholars think that Paul sent another copy of the same letter to Ephesus, another great city). 5)One of the most likely answers, and one which is particularly helpful when we try to understand Romans 9-16, is Paul wanted to remind the Roman Christians about their unity with one another and with the whole Church of Christ. Perhaps some disagreements had arisen between Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. Romans 14:10 and 1`6:17 may indicate such disagreement. For this reason Paul showed in this letter: i.that everyone has the same real need (3:22, 23);

ii.that God’s good news is meant for everyone (10:12);
iii.that Gentiles and Jews are indebted to one another (11:30, 31); iv.that all Christians need one another’s help (12:2-8);
v.that Christians ought to care for one another in practical ways (13:8-10). We know very little about the Christians at Rome, and this epistle does not give us much certain information. To know them (Roman Christians) help us to understand the reasons why Paul wrote to the Romans? Scholars have made many different suggestions about the church at Rome. Suggestions are: a)The first Romans to become Christians were probably Jews who were bap-tized on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2:10). When they returned home, they spread the gospel to their Jewish friends. b)Rome, like Nairobi or Hong Kong today, was visited by many travelers. Some of these were Christians, who brought their new faith with them. This faith quickly spread among the inhabitants of Rome, many of whom were longing for a better way of life. c)The new faith was the subject of a lot of argument, especially in the Jewish synagogues. Sometimes these arguments became violent. They even led to rioting, so that the emperor Claudius ordered all Jews to leave the city (Acts 18:2). A Roman historian named Suetonius wrote: “Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because they were causing disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus.” Suetonius know little about the Jews, and even less about Christ, whose name he may just have heard mentioned. He probably wrote “Chrestus” my mistake for “Christus”...
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