Ancient Rome the capital of Italy and the Roman Empire, situated on the Tiber River on the Italian Peninsula and spread over seven hills, lies south of modern Rome, sixteen miles inland, east of Ostia, its seaport on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was a melting-pot for a population usually estimated at more than a million. However, an inscription discovered at Ostia in A.D. 1941 claims 4,100,000. Little is known about the origin of the local church at Rome, most likely founded by Jews who heard Peter's first sermon at the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2:10,14-40) and returned or traveled there in the diaspora. Its foundation could not have been laid by another apostle because Paul would not have been building upon it (2 Cor. 10:15,16 cf. Rom. 15:20).
The writer was also the Apostle Paul, whom God used to write fourteen New Testament Books (see Introductory Notes on First Thessalonians, page 536). Romans is the second Epistle of Paul's trilogy (with Galatians and Hebrews) on Habakkuk 2:4b (cf. 1:17) and emphasizes the "righteous" apect. "Now the righteous one shall absolutely live for himself by means of faith."
Internal evidence to Paul's authorship is clear by his opening salutation in which he identifies himself (1:1), by his reference to himself as the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (15:16 cf. Acts 9:15), his further reference to his powerful ministry bearing the signs of an apostle (15:18-20), his reference to his anticipated trip to Jerusalem and its purpose (15:22-28), and his request for prayer to be delivered from the disbelieving Jews in Jerusalem (15:30,31).
External evidence comes from the writings of the "church fathers" (patristic tradition of the early church); Irenaeus (c. A D. 120-202), disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John; and the Muratorian Canon (A.D. 160-200): "For the Epistles of Paul . . . he wrote to not more than seven churches, . . . the seventh to the Romans." There is no contradictory evidence found in the early church.
Dating of Romans is based upon the Gallio inscription (see Introductory Notes on First Thessalonians on page 538) which puts Paul before Gallio in August A.D. 52 and the succeeding events to late A.D. 57, noted in the Introductory Notes on Second Corinthians (which see on page 466). After leaving Macedonia, he spent three months in Greece (Acts 20:1-3): Athens, Kenkh-reh-aí, and Corinth, from whence he wrote this Epistle in early A.D. 58.
The purpose of Paul's writing is to inform of and prepare the Roman saints for his intended visit; to explain the reason for the unavoidable delay of such visit; to set forth the foundation truths of the Christian faith, especially explaining the righteousness of God and justification by faith; and to commend Phoebe to their care.
Characteristics include: the most esteemed literary logic (studied by law students for court-room reasoning and debate; called "the law court book of the Bible"); it has intellectual, historical, theological, spiritual, practical, philosophical, and literary values; seventy Old Testament quotations are cited.
The Book may be outlined as follows:
I. Doctrinal (1:1-8:39) The Righteousness of God Revealed in the Gospel.
II. Dispensational (9:1-11:36). The Righteousness of God Harmonized with
His Dispensational Ways.
III. Devotional (12:1-16:27). The Righteousness of God Producing Practical
Righteousness in the Child of God.
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