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Romans; Paul's obligation to Rome

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posted on Sep, 6 2019 @ 05:03 PM
Paul is writing to the church in Rome.

I don’t aspire to writing full-scale commentaries on these letters, but one question ought to be considered here;
Where did the church of Rome come from?
We don’t really know the name of the founder, because history has not given us any reliable information.
Luke is not going to tell us. In the symbolic design of Acts (“How the gospel travelled from Jerusalem to Rome”), the arrival of the Christian faith in Rome is represented by the arrival of Paul himself, so any mention of the existing church in Rome would spoil the effect.

Indirect clues can be found in this very letter.
In this first chapter, Paul tells the Romans that he intends to visit them and work for the gospel amongst them.
But we learn later that he has scruples about “building on another man’s foundation” (ch15 v20), so he does not want to work where other leaders have been working.
Combining those two points together, we must draw the conclusion that he did not regard their church as “another man’s foundation”.

Another clue is the long list of greetings in ch16. How does Paul know all these people?
There is no need for the desperate theory that Paul wrote this chapter in Rome, addressing his old friends back in Greece. “All the churches in Christ greet you” (v16) confirms that he’s writing from the eastern region where most of the churches are located.
A better explanation, to my mind, is that they are mostly traders and regular travellers between Rome and the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Then Paul could have met them whenever they came to the Aegean.
We know that some of them, at least, discovered the gospel outside Rome. Epaenetus was the first convert for Christ in [the Roman province of] Asia. Andronicus and Junius were “in Christ” before Paul himself; they were his kinsmen and had been his fellow-prisoners.
Many of the others are called his “fellow-workers”, beginning with the well-known Prisca and Aquila.
My guess would be that once they discovered the gospel, Paul would have encouraged them to share the knowledge of Christ with their existing friends in Rome.
On that theory, the Christian faith would have got there informally.
Certainly the signs are that the church was organised informally. It seems to be a collection of groups meeting in different households. This would make them vulnerable, perhaps, to “those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrines which you have been taught” (v17).

When Paul writes to his own churches, he tends to identify himself as their apostle, as in “called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians ch1 v1).
But the church in Rome don’t know him except by reputation, though they are meeting in the homes of his friends.
So he is obliged to spell out his authority in more detail (ch1 vv1-6).

First place goes to the fact that he is a servant of Christ Jesus. Everything else stems from that.
He was called to be an apostle. This means someone who has been set apart for [the preaching of] the gospel which comes from God.

This gospel is not a completely new thing. It was promised beforehand all the way through the old scriptures.

The gospel concerns the Son. Two things need to be said about him.
“According to the flesh”, on the one hand, he is descended from David.
“According to the Spirit”, on the other hand, he was publicly revealed as the Son of God by an act of power, namely his resurrection from the dead.

Through him, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Paul and the other apostles have received grace for the purpose of promoting the obedience to God which comes through faith. As distinct from the refusal to hear which comes from unbelief.
Their work lies among “all the nations”, which necessarily includes the Romans.

On that basis, Paul writes to the church in Rome, who are themselves loved and called by God..
He makes a point of addressing them with encouraging words.
As in most of his epistles (Galatians being one of the exceptions), he begins by thanking God for them, “because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (v8).
He mentions them in his prayers without ceasing.
In particular, he prays that God will enable him to fulfil his “longing” to visit them.
He has been giving priority to his work in the Aegean area, but he tells his readers later that “I no longer have any room for work in these regions” and he will be free to travel westwards instead (ch15 vv23-24).

The purpose of the visit would be “that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” (v11), though he amends this with a tactful afterthought; “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (v12).

Beyond that, he had been intending to visit their city in order to “reap some harvest” for the gospel among the unbelievers there.
He has been commissioned to preach to the Gentiles, putting him under an obligation, and this covers both kinds of Gentiles, the Greeks and the barbarians.
The difference is defined primarily by language, though the distinction between “wise” and “foolish” is another way (from the Greek viewpoint) of saying the same thing.
The Lycaonians (Acts ch14) were still barbarians.
In this period, though, Rome is part of the Greek-speaking world, for practical purposes.
So his obligation makes Paul eager to include Rome in his preaching of the gospel.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel” (v16).
This transition is not as abrupt as it looks, at first glance.
He’s going to use this letter to begin explaining the gospel, sending the explanation ahead of himself while he waits for the chance to travel.
Most of the argument is addressed to the Jews, which convinces me that he was expecting the letter to be seen by some of the Jews of Rome.

He says “not ashamed”, because the hard-line Jewish case is that he ought to be ashamed. He follows someone who died upon a cross, which is a sign of weakness, and also marks the victim as “cursed”.
Not so, says Paul. The gospel is not weakness, but the power of God, acting for the salvation of all those who have faith. It is not limited to the Jews, but comes to them first, and then comes to the Greeks (meaning, in this case, the Gentiles in general).
The gospel is the revelation of the “righteousness” of God; that is, his power to vindicate and save his people.
This righteousness does not depend on the law.
It works through faith, and continues in faith.
That is the fundamental message which will be explained in more detail in the rest of the letter.

edit on 6-9-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 6 2019 @ 05:06 PM
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul was trying to counter the influence of “Judaizers”, Jewish Christians who were pressing Gentile Christians to commit themselves to the laws of Moses.
Was there a similar controversy in Rome? That has been a longstanding debate.
But there seems to be a substantial difference in Paul’s approach here.
He will be talking to the Jews, not about them. In fact his argument seems to be aimed at Jews who have not yet decided to become Christians, and making one final effort to convince them.
So my theory is that separation and controversy between Christians and Jews had not yet advanced as far in Rome as it had in the east, closer to Jerusalem.
That may be supported by the assurance in the last chapter of Acts that the Jews in Rome had not even heard anything bad about Paul, and the implication that they were still open to persuasion.
Then Paul might have a reasonable hope that traditional Jews of the synagogues would have opportunities to read over what he was writing.
So this letter is an example of the way he “became as one under the law that I might win those under the law” (1 Corinthians ch1 v20).
Otherwise, we are obliged to assume that the very long address to the Jews is nothing more than a rhetorical device for the benefit and instruction of his Gentile readers, which strikes me as more implausible.

posted on Sep, 6 2019 @ 07:30 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Honestly, Paul, is the who and the what, that drove me from the church years ago.

posted on Sep, 6 2019 @ 07:48 PM
Ads blocking....byeRom. 16:25 is what you're looking to for the remedy..the law had no life in it......the law to provoke theews

originally posted by: BlueJacket j
a reply to: DISRAELI

Ads blocking.......cya

Honestly, Paul, is the who and the what, that drove me from the church years ago.

edit on 6-9-2019 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)

This is huge.....the last phrases of verse 26 say....for the obedience of faith correctly.....
edit on 6-9-2019 by GBP/JPY because: IN THE FINE TEXAS TRADITION

posted on Sep, 7 2019 @ 01:34 AM
a reply to: BlueJacket
Isn't that the standard excuse nowadays for rejecting the gospel? He's teaching the same as the rest of the New Testament, just in more detail.

posted on Sep, 8 2019 @ 03:38 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: BlueJacket
Isn't that the standard excuse nowadays for rejecting the gospel? He's teaching the same as the rest of the New Testament, just in more detail.

Why do some many people disagree with your point that Paul and Yeshua have the same message?

1. Either you are wiser and more logical than others and others cannot understand the words they read.
2. Or you have a blind spot where you can believe in opposing ideas without questioning and other people are not able to blind themselves to so they see "no difference between Paul and Yeshua".

I see several ideas from Paul and Yeshua that points to different places so I cannot believe in both Paul and Yeshua. Maybe I am suffering from reading comprehension or I am right and logically they are not the same.

In other threads I have discussed the difference between Rumi the Sufi and Muhammad in Islam and the believers make them the same while I logically can see they are not.

posted on Sep, 8 2019 @ 03:45 PM
a reply to: LittleByLittle
There is at least one third option, that ability to absorb an idea is blocked by conscious will. In this case, people are looking for an excuse to reject the central messages of the New Testament, and "everything we don't like comes from the evil Paul" is very convenient for the purpose. I can think of one poster on this site who more-or-less avowed that as his reason.

edit on 8-9-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 9 2019 @ 01:38 AM

originally posted by: BlueJacket
a reply to: DISRAELI

Honestly, Paul, is the who and the what, that drove me from the church years ago.

Honestly Pauls writing helped me to understand the NT revelation of OT theology.

When you say church I take it your not talking about the body of Christ His bride?
edit on 9-9-2019 by JON666 because: added thought

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