A brief introduction to Romans
In the winter of approximately AD 57, the apostle Paul writes his letter to the Christians in Rome as he nears the end of his third missionary journey. He is staying in the vicinity of Corinth until the cold season passes. Once spring arrives, he can safely return to Caesarea then Jerusalem. He’s carrying a collection for the Jewish saints, which he gathered from Gentile churches throughout Macedonia and Greece (1Co 16:1).
Paul doesn’t intend to stay in Jerusalem for long. He tells the Romans, “When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you” (Ro 15:28). Christ previously sent him to open the eyes of the Gentiles, not the Jews, so he won’t remain in Israel (Ac 26:18, 17). He plans to carry the gospel as far west as he knows is possible and hopes to visit Rome along the way.
Paul’s ambition is to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest he build on someone else’s foundation, so he won’t stay in Rome either (Ro 15:20). The church in Rome was already established, possibly as a decentralized network of house churches. Near the end of the letter, Paul sends his greetings to the church in their house followed by a list of individuals and distinct households (Ro 16:5). Regardless, he doesn’t need to lay a foundation in Rome, though he believes his visit will be mutually beneficial. A brief layover to enjoy their company for a while will suffice (Ro 15:24).
According to the author himself, Paul writes this letter as a reminder to the Romans (Ro 15:15). While he is satisfied to think they are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another—relatively mature in the faith, that is—he also knows every believer benefits from reinforcement (Ro 15:14). He also knows his theological insights may be uniquely edifying because of the grace given him by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.
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