INTRODUCTION tO rOMANS - BY LENSKI
Paul wrote Romans in the year 58, at the end of his third missionary journey, toward the close of his three months’ stay in Corinth. Acts 20:1–6.
He had left Philippi early in April, immediately after the Jewish Passover. We are enabled to estimate the date of his departure from Corinth. It occurred in March, 58, when the shipping season opened. His destination was Jerusalem, and he had with him the eight brethren who had been delegated by the congregations to convey to Jerusalem the great collection for the relief of the famine-stricken brethren in Palestine. Acts 20:4; 24:17. Before Paul left Corinth on this journey he wrote Romans.
All the old orthodox, as well as all the old heterodox testimonies without a single exception ascribe this epistle to Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ. Stronger even than this united ancient testimony is that embedded in the epistle itself. The great chorus of commentators down to the present day presents a full harmony on this point. So few have been the later efforts to shake this fact by means of hypotheses that they scarcely deserve mention.
Time and place of writing are equally certain. Paul was in Corinth twice: the first time on his second missionary journey for a period of eighteen months when he planted the gospel in Corinth and in Greece (Acts 18:11); again on his third missionary journey for a period of three months (Acts 20:3), at the end of which time he accompanied the bearers of the great collection to Jerusalem. Rom. 15:25, 26 state that Paul is now on his way to help deliver this collection in Jerusalem. This makes time and place certain.
All else agrees perfectly. In 16:1, Paul recommends Phoebe, “a servant of the church that is in Cenchrea,” the eastern seaport of Corinth. This recommendation stands at the head of the greetings which Paul appends to his letter and marks Phoebe as the bearer of his document to the Romans; compare the note at the end of Romans in the A. V. In 16:23, Paul conveys the greetings of his host Gaius, who according to 1 Cor. 1:14 was a member of the church at Corinth. These are valuable items for fixing the time and the place of the composition of Romans. First Corinthians was written in Ephesus some time before Paul left this city for his three months’ stay in Corinth.
We know even Paul’s plans. When he went to Corinth the first time, his work in Europe had just begun, and we hear of no plans for entering upon new territory. But when Paul was completing his work of evangelizing the province of Asia toward the end of his two years’ stay in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) just before he left for his second visit to Corinth, Luke tells us about his plan: first to visit Macedonia and Achaia again and to take the collection to Jerusalem and then also to see Rome (Acts 19:21). Now after Paul has been in Corinth in Achaia and just before leaving for Jerusalem, when he writes to Rome, he tells us more about his plans. He, indeed, wants to see Rome but only for a visit for mutual benefit (1:10–12), then to proceed on to entirely new fields of labor in the far west, namely to Spain (15:24). There was much to detain Paul in Rome; but the church had already been planted there without the help of an apostle. It was Paul’s calling to take the gospel into new territory, and his plan was to work in Spain which was territory that was entirely new.
The Lord himself wanted Paul to testify in Rome (Acts 23:11), and we know from Luke’s record in Acts how the Lord brought this about in his own way so that the apostle’s testimony continued in the great city for no less than two years (Acts 28:30, 31), which was more than Paul had hoped for. In March, 61, Paul was brought to Rome as a prisoner and was acquitted and set free in the spring of 63. He then visited Philemon in Colossæ and also visited the Philippians, wintered in Nicopolis, and in the spring of 64 started for Spain. On his way thither he stopped at Rome, found Peter there, and conferred with him. This explains how, during Paul’s absence in Spain, Peter came to write First Peter to the churches in Paul’s Asian field. While Paul was at work in the west, Rome was burned in July, 64, and in October of this year this crime was blamed onto the Christians, many of whom suffered martyrdom under Nero. Among their number was Peter. This explains why Peter wrote his first letter—Christianity had become a religio illicita in Rome, and the churches in the Asian provinces would soon feel the terrible effects of this measure. Some time after that letter had been written Peter was nailed to the cross.
All of this occurred while Paul was in Spain. On his return to the east in 66 he was arrested—just where we do not know—and was beheaded in Rome at the end of 66 or early in 67. In 66 the fatal war with the Jews began in Palestine, which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the nation of the Jews in 70. See the introductions to I Timothy and II Timothy, also that to Hebrews. The readers addressed in Hebrews are the many former Jews in Rome whom Paul converted during his first imprisonment (Acts 28:17–31).
Romans has always been highly praised, and it is beyond question the most dynamic of all New Testament letters even as it was written at the climax of Paul’s apostolic career. Early given the first place in the list of Paul’s letters (Lietzmann, Handbuch zum Neuen Testament, the third volume on Romans, shows also three other ancient lists), Romans still holds that place in our Bibles in spite of the actual chronology of Paul’s letters. But the contents of this great letter were not effectively used until the time of Augustine, and even this church father failed fully to appropriate the apostle’s teaching although he crushed Pelagius in regard to the doctrines of sin and grace. His greatest error was in regard to predestination. Augustine died in 430, and centuries passed before the contents of Romans again became effective, but this time they were fully utilized through Luther and by the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The first Protestant dogmatics and ethics, Melanchthon’s Loci communes (1521), were the result of lectures on Romans. The great Lutheran Confessions, written in that magnificent era of the church, were founded in large part on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, beside which was placed Galatians. Augustine, too, was now corrected. To this day the truth laid down in Romans forms the Gibraltar basis of doctrine, teaching, and confession in the true evangelical church. Romans is finally prized with full understanding as never before.
We could not think of altering one word of Luther’s famous introduction to Romans, the first sentences of which read: “This epistle is the real chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel, which, indeed, deserves that a Christian not only know it word for word by heart but deal with it daily as with daily bread of the soul. For it can never be read or considered too much or too well, and the more it is handled, the more delightful it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
Melanchthon points to the heart of Romans (C. Tr. 147, 87): “In the Epistle to the Romans Paul discusses this topic especially, and declares that, when we believe that God, for Christ’s sake, is reconciled to us, we are justified freely by faith.” He then quotes the vital passage Rom. 3:28. In his Table Talk Coleridge feels constrained to say: “I think St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans the most profound work in existence.”
It does not seem possible that the justitia Dei, the blood-bought righteousness which alone avails before God, the antithesis to all self-earned human righteousness with its correlate sola fide justificamur, in particular also this exclusive sola of Luther in rendering Paul’s thought, will ever again be dimmed in the church. The verdict must stand that the men of the Reformation and the post-Reformation era brought out in strong relief the doctrinal contents of Romans and made them the actual spiritual possession of the church. As far as the teaching of Romans is concerned, all succeeding generations can do only one thing: enter into the fruits of their labors.
From the very beginning Calvinism failed in this task. Its fundamental error was and still is the removal of justification from the center of the gospel teaching as set forth by Paul in Romans as well as in the entire teaching of Scripture. The root of this error is the elevation of the voluntas beneplaciti above the voluntas signi, thus interpreting the divine will as signified in the written Word, not according to this written Word alone, but, in the last analysis, according to what our imperfect vision thinks it sees God’s good pleasure doing with men. We must always do the reverse. Failure to apply this vital principle of interpretation is peculiarly fatal as regards Romans, and especially chapters 9 to 11. The issue is not one between rival interpreters, call them exegetes, dogmaticians, or New Testament scholars, but one pertaining to the ultimate divine realities on which the salvation of every believer rests. The exposure of the false Calvinistic exegesis necessarily must go on, and it cannot be too thorough.
All Catholic, rationalistic, and finally modernistic efforts to interpret Romans are of negligible character even as regards the more external questions. Preconceptions as well as animus misread Paul at the vital turns.
The older evangelical expositors made it their great task to bring to view the full doctrinal wealth of Romans, and the allegation is true that they had little or no inclination to investigate what may be called the historical side of the letter. The fact is that interpretations of this type have continued to the present time. Romans has thus been expounded as a “Pauline dogmatics” in which the apostle sets forth the gospel as he generally taught it. The letter is regarded as Paul’s “doctrinal system,” as a compend of his theology, “in a way the dogmatical and moral catechism of the apostle,” a sort of Lehrbuch. The criticism of such a treatment of Romans cannot charge that it misapprehends the contents but only that it misconceives its form and the purpose of that form. Since the middle of the last century a new type of treatment has been introduced which is based entirely on the “circumstances” of the letter. The new aim was to determine all the historical facts in connection with the letter, in particular those regarding the church at Rome, its proportion of former Jews and former Gentiles, their relation to each other plus their mutual relation to the great synagogues of the Jews in Rome, the organization of the Roman church, its attitude toward Paul and Paul’s entire work among the Gentiles, etc. These attempts intend not merely to view Romans more exactly as a letter written for a specific purpose but to make the historical data connected with it decisive for interpreting and for evaluating its entire contents.
The very beginning of this new form of exposition was unfortunate, being coupled, as it was, with radical textual criticism, the excision of the very parts of the letter, 1:1–15 and the last two chapters, that contain the historical data of the letter itself, all of them most vital for understanding its real aim and purpose. Then, too, the widest divergence appeared in regard to what the historical data really were and thus also in regard to what they meant. We may at once add that this divergence continues unchecked to the present day with the prospect of unanimity still far in the distance.
The chief difficulty lies in the paucity of our information regarding the church at Rome. Suppositions have, therefore, been introduced. These not only vary, they eventuate in contradictions. In the battles ensuing some of the actual information at hand has been ignored (for instance that supplied in Acts 28:17–29) or set aside. Romans has thus been viewed as a strong polemical document, again as being wholly irenical, yet again as conciliatory, or even as apologetic, or at least as prophylactic. Each view attempts to refute the others, and this effort consumes much valuable ink. The results are neither edifying nor helpful. Instead of constituting a decided advance upon the simpler dogmatical expositions, the cloud of contending hypotheses regarding the historical data obscures what those simpler expositions have succeeded in presenting with helpful clearness.
Whoever seeks to understand Romans today must, first of all, conserve all the doctrinal wealth brought out by the best of his predecessors who have made the availability of this wealth their only or their chief business. If he is able to bring out an added nugget or two of his own finding, let him count himself fortunate. A new need constantly arises to review and to restate Paul’s teaching as presented in this letter. Nine-tenths of the entire task must be devoted to the doctrinal contents, and even if nothing more is offered, no one needs to grieve. In the very nature of the case the historical side is of minor importance. Without special investigation of the historical data one may know thoroughly just what Paul taught the Romans to believe and to practice in their lives. Yet, to be sure, Romans is a letter and not a treatise of a general nature, a letter written by Paul at a definite time in his career with a well-defined purpose to the church as it then existed in the capital of the world, concerning whose membership and standing he was also adequately informed. The actual data on these points that are still available to us today are not many, not difficult to secure, and, when all is considered, quite sufficient for apprehending the real purpose for which the letter has been preserved. Beyond these data no man is able to go. Even if we had more, the additions would not change a single important point in the letter itself. Hypotheses might be innocuous, most of them have been harmful.
We have already indicated how far Paul’s work had progressed when he wrote Romans and the connection of this letter with his plans for the future. As soon as possible after his impending visit to Jerusalem he intended to visit the Romans on his way to his contemplated missionary work in Spain. His letter brings them this information. Apart even from his contemplated Spanish tour Paul had long been desirous of visiting the church at Rome, to contribute something to its great work, and, in turn, also to receive something for himself from intimate contact with its membership. When he writes these things, we hear the voice of the apostle speaking as a debtor to Greeks and to barbarians alike (1:14) and as a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (15:16), addressing a church in the general territory allotted to him which was peculiar in this respect that it had almost two decades before this established itself unaided in the world’s capital.
All of this presents no difficulty to the modern reader. Yet this information is conveyed only in the opening statements and in those at the close, which are a little fuller. The great body of the letter consists of doctrinal teaching which is followed by ethical admonition and instruction. In substance this body of the letter is also clear to present-day readers. All of the material is carefully arranged, we may say even systematically arranged. We have little difficulty in grasping every bit of this wealth of instruction. It is in general didactic, at times dramatically so, then also hortatory. Its tone is personal throughout, highly so, as though instead of just writing, the apostle is speaking to his readers face to face. An attractive warmth is felt throughout. We are not reading a treatise but a letter, and not a treatise merely in letter form, but a genuine letter.
One question may come into our minds as we read this letter: “Just why did Paul feel moved to put all this into his letter to the Christians at Rome?” And this suggests another: “Did the conditions in Rome call for just such a letter as this?” Those who have learned to know Paul from the records in Acts, especially from his addresses there preserved and from his other letters, will surely agree that what he wrote to the Romans must have eminently fitted their situation whether we today are able fully to gauge that situation or not. In fact, we may well say more on the strength of what the letter itself records. Concluding, as we have seen, on his own account to write to the Romans about his present plans, Paul felt that he should state far more in this his first direct contact with them, namely, to put them in mind of what they, indeed, already knew but certainly would be glad to hear again, as being most necessary for their faith and their life, since it was now coming from him, God’s apostle sent especially to the Gentiles among whom he also had worked with such signal blessing (15:14, etc.). We take it that our questions are fairly answered by Paul himself.
But must we not say more, perhaps much more, in fact, something different, perhaps entirely different? What about this church at Rome, its makeup, its internal conditions, etc., as far as our proper view of the epistle in general and our interpretation of its various parts are concerned?
The church at Rome, like that at Antioch, began when Christians who had been converted elsewhere found each other in the great capital and got together. This may have occurred about the year 40, scarcely earlier but also not much later, thus about eighteen years before Paul wrote his letter. It is not known who organized this congregation; tradition fails to report even a single name, but the founders were, no doubt, former Jews. After the mother church at Jerusalem was scattered by the persecution following Stephen’s martyrdom, some believers more than likely came to Rome, since among the 3,000 present at Pentecost there was a number of Romans, Jews and proselytes who were temporarily residing in Jerusalem, Acts 2:10. We also know that Rome, the world’s great capital, was the center of travel and drew men to it as Paul himself was drawn to it. The nucleus, once formed, would naturally grow.
The correctness of the statement made by Eusebius (Chronicon III) that Peter went to Rome in 42 and remained there for twenty-five years is doubtful in view of Acts, Peter’s own epistles, and those of Paul that were written in Rome. Jerome (Scrip. Eccl. I) states that Peter was bishop of Rome for twenty-five years after he had gone there to refute Simon Magus. But this Simon Magus, with whom Peter is supposed to have waged constant and successful battle, is only a mask for Paul, and the entire tradition about this stay of Peter’s in Rome is only historical fiction to portray the idea that the Christianity preached in Rome by Paul was to be overcome by Jewish Christianity as supposedly preached by Peter, or that it was to lose its detested peculiarities through unity with its supposed opposite. Zahn, Introduction II, 170, etc. Peter did get to Rome but not until after Paul’s first imprisonment. He was executed there in 64, before Paul’s second imprisonment and execution. The story that both apostles were executed simultaneously on June 29 grew out of a Roman festival that was commemorative of the removal of their remains, or what were supposed to be their remains, to the Appian Way in the year 258.
Dio Cassius, (Ix, 6, 6) reports, in connection with the first year of the reign of Claudius, A. D. 41: “The Jews, who had again so increased in numbers that it would have been difficult to exclude them from the city without a riot on the part of their rabble, he did not, indeed, drive out but commanded them, while retaining their ancestral customs, not to assemble.” The thought seems to be that they were permitted to conduct their Sabbath services in their different synagogues but were not to stage tumultuous gatherings to which they were prone. Now in the fall of 51, when Paul came to Corinth for the first time, he found Aquila and Priscilla there, who had been driven out of Rome by Claudius (Acts 18:2), and the historian Suetonius writes: Judaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultantes Roma expulit. In spite of this emperor’s great friendliness toward the Jews and his first warning decree he was finally forced to order all of them out of Rome although not out of Italy. The question is, “Who was this instigator ‘Chrestus’ who was causing such tumults?” Suetonius writes as though this agitator was living among the Jews in Rome. The usual opinion is, therefore, undoubtedly wrong, viz. that Jesus is referred to (“Chrestus” being a misspelling for “Christus”), and that these tumults were violent clashes between the Jews and the Christians in Rome regarding Jesus’ being the Messiah. Whether we are able to determine who this agitator really was or not we cannot accept the common view nor believe that the Christians had anything to do with these tumults.
The decisive evidence for this is Acts 28:17–29. When Paul gets to Rome he invites the leading Jews to come to him, and they not only come with all readiness but even arrange an all-day conference with him, and at the end of it some were being persuaded, while some were not. Luke writes as though about half of the leading Jews of Rome were that day won for the gospel. All this would have been impossible if some years previously the line between Jews and Christians had been sharply drawn in Rome which resulted in violent tumults that eventuated in the expulsion of the Jews from Rome and their return only after the emperor’s death in 54, four years before Paul wrote his epistle, seven before he was brought to Rome. Some assume that even the Christians were expelled from Rome together with the Jews, no distinction being made between them. Luke upsets this interpretation of the words of Suetonius, and this fact ought to be acknowledged.
Acts 28:17–29 reveal the fact that until the time when Paul himself came to Rome the Christians at that place had quietly pursued their way without invading the synagogues in the city, without attempting to convert any of the Roman Jews. No clashes had occurred. Not until Paul came, but then at once, was Jewish missionary work begun in Rome and begun with great success on the very first day that the attempt was made. See the writer’s exposition of this section in Acts. A light is thus shed on the Lord’s word to Paul that he was to testify also in Rome, Acts 23:11. A great work awaited this first apostle who came to Rome, and judging from the prompt beginning which he made, he accomplished it with wonderful success.
We now glance at the various assumptions regarding the church at Rome and at their effect on the interpretation of the epistle. The historical interpretation of Romans began with the assumption that the church was not only Jewish but Jewish in a Petrine sense, i.e., heavily legalistic. Paul’s epistle was regarded as a grand effort to transform this Petrine into a Pauline type of Christianity. Needless to say, this view is untenable and has been discarded. Romans is not in the least a polemical letter, to say nothing about a polemical letter of such a type.
Were the Roman Christians divided into two congregations or into two parties, Jewish and Gentile, that were antagonistic to each other or at least disturbed by friction? Is Paul’s letter irenical, an effort to remove disunion or friction? This idea is untenable. The letter does not operate with a status controversiae and does not indicate points of friction and does not seek to remove them.
But, perhaps, the Romans entertained wrong views regarding Paul, his work and his teaching? We are told that the church was predominantly Jewish and was filled with “a considerable degree of mistrust” against this Apostle of the Gentiles and with “dissatisfaction” because of his abolition of all Jewish influences and demands, coupled with painful regrets that his unscrupulous procedure alienated and embittered the Jews and made them so hostile to the gospel. This feeling against Paul is thought to have emanated from the mother church in Jerusalem and to have been more harmful to Paul than the work of the outspoken Judaizers whom we meet in the Galatian churches. So in Romans Paul is trying to conciliate these distrustful Romans; his letter is regarded as an apologetic. Planning a stay in Rome before going on to Spain, the apostle feels that he must win the Romans so they will think better of him and of his work. It is even supposed that he sent Aquila and Priscilla from Ephesus to Rome so that they might help in this work of conciliation and therefore praises them so highly in his letter (16:3, 4).
Let us begin with these latter. The role assigned them is beyond their ability. Aquila is a very humble and quiet man, and while Priscilla is more able than her husband, she, too, is retiring and not in the least the woman who could undertake a task such as the one here assigned to her. Nor does Paul’s praise in 16:3, 4 hint at such an assignment. As far as the introduction of the Jews in Rome in this connection is concerned we have already described the situation. No mission work had been done among them by the Roman Christians. Then also Paul had very many friends in Rome, people from churches he himself had founded, and not a single opponent to speak of him in a derogatory manner. To cap the climax, even the leading Jews who, indeed, knew that “this sect was everywhere spoken against” speak of this sect only in general and do not hold Paul as such personally responsible; they are even ready to hear Paul at length, do hear him, and about half of them are won by Paul on the very first day. Why are such facts disregarded? When one ventures upon assumptions, all the data should be taken into account. Paul has no need to conciliate, his letter is not an apology.
Is it prophylactic? This point is also overdone. Judaizers, men who mixed law and gospel and called that mixture the genuine, original gospel, and the preaching and the practice of Paul an emasculation of the real gospel did, indeed, break into his Galatian churches. But where is there evidence that these Judaizers followed Paul so that he had to fear that they would soon break into Rome? Even when a few years later Paul wrote to Ephesus and to Colossæ when he was in Rome he did not say a word about such Judaizers; yet these churches were far nearer to Galatia than was Rome. The Judaizers in Colossæ were of an entirely different type. In its very nature truth is prophylactic and arms against error in advance; beyond that fact Romans shows no trace of prophylaxis.
There has been considerable debate as to the composition of the church at Rome, especially as to the proportion of former Jews and former Gentiles. It seems strange that the fact is overlooked that Paul himself acquaints us with the entire Roman congregation, with all its leading persons, and with its various groups. He indicates those among the leadership whom he knew personally and those whom he did not as yet know personally. There are eleven in each group, twenty-two altogether. He identifies those who were once Jews, and those who were not. He does this in 16:3–16. These salutations have been minutely studied, but the fact has been overlooked that they include the entire congregation, that it cannot be assumed that in these greetings Paul omitted a part of the membership. We see the exact proportion of former Jews and former Gentiles.
More than this. We now see the proportion of slaves in the Roman church. It was rather large. We even have means for an approximate estimate of the size of the congregation. Still more important, we now see why a congregation of this complexion had during the eighteen years of its existence never attempted Jewish mission work in Rome; some of the reasons are patent. New light is shed on Acts 23:11, on the Lord’s order that Paul was to testify at Rome as he had testified in Jerusalem—mark it, as he had testified in Jerusalem among Jews. Paul was to do Jewish mission work in Rome. We see Acts 28:17–31 in a new light and understand why Paul, on arriving in Rome, sent for all the Jewish leaders of the synagogues, why they actually came to him, why οἱ μέν and οἱ δέ in Acts 28:24 show that Paul’s first effort won about fifty per cent of the Jewish leaders during one day’s discussion with them. All these facts are now salient. They stand out the more when we perceive the significance of that list of greetings in 16:3–16.
There we see the whole congregation. Paul’s epistle was to be read to all as they met in full assembly. He does not write: “I greet—I greet!” but: “You salute this member, that member, with this, with that group—you salute this, and salute that group!” He states how the congregation is to do this, namely by means of the holy kiss. Can one think that Paul omitted any part of the membership, whether small or large? That one part or another was not at his request to be saluted with the holy kiss? Such a thing cannot be attributed to a man like Paul. The whole epistle shows that he is approaching the whole congregation. The last sections show how unity and unanimity are his great concern. Read 15:5–7, and 16:17–20 with this in mind, and it will become evident how unlikely it is that Paul himself should have made a division by having some members and not others saluted. And why does he have the two groups of slaves referred to in 16:10, 11 saluted if other groups are left out? We might add more, but this is surely sufficient.
Now 16:3–16 become a text on which one may preach a most interesting and effective sermon. It presents to us the actual membership of the congregation in the onetime capital of the world, its leaders, its slaves in the emperor’s own palace and court, etc. To these people, the greatest letter ever written on the greatest doctrine ever known in the church was addressed. The sermonic possibilities are immense. This is not a mere list of foreign and uninteresting names. The critical view that chapter 16, or chapters 15 and 16, do not belong to this epistle will prove unacceptable. A companion piece to chapter 16, is the section 2:1 to 3:20, and the view that in this section Paul proves also the Jews to be sinners. Did the Romans need proof, so much of it at that, to believe that all Jews were sinners? When we see what this section does contain it at once becomes alive. It at once becomes up-to-date. How it then invites us to preach sermons on it! God knows our people would need them, need them today.
Phoebe carried this letter. But the fact that she was going from Cenchrea to Rome at just this time did not induce Paul to write. Opportunities for sending letters by trusted bearers were too many for us to assume that this woman’s going to Rome precipitated Paul’s writing.
The opinion is voiced that the congregation at Rome was still unorganized. And Paul does not mention Roman elders. On this assumption another is built, namely that Paul planned to go to Rome in order to effect an organization. The underlying thought is that only he could do this, or only some person delegated by apostolic authority. This hierarchical idea must be brushed aside. All Jewish Christians and all proselytes of the gate knew how to organize, namely after the pattern of the synagogues. And all apostolic Christians knew that they had full right to proceed to an organization. It is unlikely that this congregation should have existed in an unorganized state for so many years. When he writes to other congregations Paul does not always mention their elders.
But perhaps Paul had sent one or the other of his assistants to Rome to attend to this matter or at least to inspect the church, to teach there, or to perform some other errand. Then Paul would have mentioned that fact in this elaborate letter of his. The idea is also unwarranted that he regarded Rome as a part of his field because at an earlier date he had sent some representative of his to Rome. No such thought of ownership appears in his letter but rather the very contrary. This congregation came into existence some eighteen years before the composition of this letter. The sending of a representative even a few years before his own proposed coming could no more establish a claim of ownership than did the eventual coming of Paul himself. Paul never looked upon the Roman church as though it were an ownerless, stray flock which he was privileged to appropriate for himself.
Romans is usually divided into two parts, doctrinal and hortatory, which division, however, is merely formal as well as disproportionate. Some writers seem to care little for the structure of the letter, others go to an extreme in outlining its pattern. The headings of the various parts are inserted as we progress in our interpretation.