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The Epistle to the ROMANS.
1: 1 - 5.
pp. 81 - 85
If there is one part of the N.T. that is essentially basic to Christianity, it is the epistle to
the Romans. While other portions deal with the gospel of God's grace, it is in this great
epistle that the profound need of failing man and God's saving remedy for his condition
is brought forward and expounded in depth and detail with inescapable logic. Great
leaders of former generations such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Wesley, have been
irresistibly drawn to this letter and have given their exposition to it.
We should remind ourselves that the risen Christ specially made known His gospel to
the Apostle Paul in what was probably Paul's first epistle, namely Galatians, and it was
presented by the Apostle in no uncertain language:
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after
man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of
Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1: 11, 12).
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1: 8).
But here there is no reasoned exposition of the good news except where the question
of keeping the law was concerned. The atmosphere is tense, for the challenge of Paul's
apostleship was in the forefront and this burning question had to be settled first and the
opposition of the Judaizers defeated.
When we come to Romans the condition is entirely different. These problems have
been resolved and there is a calm in the later epistle which is absent in Galatians,
although in some respects they are covering the same ground from a doctrinal standpoint.
Authorship. There never has been any serious problem over this. The stamp of Paul
is on it from the beginning to the end. As to the church at Rome, we have few details to
help us. Certainly Paul did not found it. Neither the Acts or his other epistles form any
basis for this, and we can say the same about Peter in spite of Roman Catholic doctrine.
The Apostle Paul declared that he did not build on another man's foundation
(Rom.xv.20), yet he regards the church at Rome as within the sphere of his commission.
We know for certain that Peter was still in Jerusalem at the time of the council (c.50A.D.)
whereas it is almost certain that a church existed in Rome before this. There is no
reference to Peter in the Roman epistle and it is difficult to imagine that Paul wrote as he
did if Peter had founded the church there. Moreover Acts 18: 2, 3 shows that Aquila
and Priscilla were already believers when they arrived at Corinth from Rome and there
they became Paul's companions. This means the church existed before 40A.D., since
they were banished under the edict of Claudius and this date is before Peter moved from