This introduction was written by Bishop John MacEvilly in his Exposition Of The Letters Of St Paul. Needless to say it is a bit outdated but does contain some useful information. Due to fatigue I did not bother changing any of the spelling or convert the Roman Numerals used in the Scripture references (e.g., “utilise” into “utilize”; Rom. vi int Rom 6, ect,) The work is in the public domain.
When St. Paul had spent a considerable time at Ephesus on his Third Missionary Tour he ” resolved in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem, traversing Macedonia and Achaia on the way, and he said : ‘ After I have been there I must see Rome ‘ (Acts xix. 21).” This journey to Jerusalem, following on a visit to Macedonia and Achaia, and to be followed by a visit to Rome, is obviously the journey to Jerusalem which Paul is about to undertake as he writes the Letter to the Romans : “At the moment I am setting out for Jerusalem in the service of the Saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have decided to make a collection for the poor who are among the Saints at Jerusalem” (Rom. xv. 25-26).
The work of evangelising the East has been completed : there ” is no place left (Rom. xv. 23) in these districts ” (i.e., the East) where Christ is still unknown. From Jerusalem to Illyricum (Rom. xv. 19) Paul has fully carried out’ the preaching of the Gospel in the Eastern world, and now he is determined, when he has handed over in Jerusalem the monies contributed by the Gentile Churches to the poor of the Mother Church, to seek a new field of preaching in the far off West where he will not have ” to build upon another’s foundation ” (Rom. xv. 20).
The Collection which the Apostle is about to take to Jerusalem is clearly that to which he refers in 1 Cor. xvi. 1-4 : x ” About the Collection for the Saints do ye just as I ordered the Churches of Galatia to do. On the first of every week each one of you is to set aside and store up whatever he gains, so that collections may not have to be- made when I arrive. When I come I will send such persons as you authorise with commendatory letters to Jerusalem. And if it seems worth while that -I should go, they can go with me.”
Later in the same year in which he wrote these words Paul wrote again to the Corinthians urging them to complete the good work of collecting which they had begun. To help them in successfully accomplishing that task he sends them his friend and companion Titus (2 Cor. viii. 9).
There can be no doubt that the situation implied in Rom. xv is the same as that which Acts and the Epistles to the Corinthians assign to the period immediately following Paul’s stay in Ephesus on the Third Missionary Tour. Paul has traversed Macedonia and Achaia and he is about to set out for Jerusalem with offerings of the Gentile Churches large enough to justify his conveying them, personally to the heads of the Mother Church. According to Acts xx. 2-3, Paul spent three months in Achaia on this occasion. These three months were apparently the months December, January and February the months in which travelling by sea was suspended. Some time, then, during these three months the Letter to the Romans was written probably either in January or February. At the Pentecost following Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, so that the Letter to the Romans was, in all probability, written in the first or second month of the year in which Paul’s imprisonment at Csesarea began viz., 58 A.D. The Letter to the Romans was thus the last Letter that Paul was to write before his imprisonment. It was written at the close of a long period of brilliant success in evangelising, when Paul was at the height of his powers, and when he was looking forward eagerly to a new missionary enterprise in the extreme West. The Epistle to the Romans belongs then to the same period (the ” Ephesian period “) as the two Letters to the Corinthians, and is probably comparatively close in date to ” Galatians.”
The three months of Paul’s stay in Achaia (Acts. xx. 2-3) were probably spent mainly at Corinth, the capital, and in Corinth, according to tradition, the Letter to the Romans was written. (Michaelis seeks to show in an article in ZNW (25, 1926) that the Letter was written at Philippi.)
The Corinthian origin of the Epistle is made likely by the commendation of Phoebe (xv. 1), the Deaconess of Cenchrese, for Cenchrese was a port of Corinth. The greetings from Gaius (xvi. 23) whom Paul calls his host and the host of the whole Church, point also to Corinth; for Gaius was one of the few whom Paul had baptised at Corinth when he was founding the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. i. 14). It is not unlikely that the Epistle to the Romans was composed wholly, or in part, in the house of Gaius. Erastus, ” the city-treasurer ” who also sends greetings (xvi. 23), seems to have been, like Gaius, one of the notabilities of the Church at Corinth. In 2 Tim. iv. 20 we hear of an Erastus being left behind at Corinth on Paul’s last journey, 2 and this Erastus may be identical with the ” city-treasurer ” of Rom. xvi. 23. With the composition in Achaia (and, therefore, probably in Corinth) of ” Romans “agrees the circumstance that Timothy and Sosipater join in sending greetings (xvi. 21), for we know from Acts xx. 4 that Timothy and Sopater (= Sosipater) left Achaia along with Paul when he set out with the Collections for Jerusalem.
Most of the old Marcionite Prologues make Corinth the place of origin of ” Romans “a few only perhaps by reason of the Marcionite suppression of Rom. xv-xvi assigning its composition to Athens.
Paul has been eager for a long time to visit Rome (i. 10-15), but his duty of making Christ known everywhere in the East has hitherto made it impossible for him to pay his long planned visit in the West. That obstacle is now removed, and Paul is determined to preach the Gospel in Spain, and to spend some time in Rome on his way thither (i. 15 ; xv. 24, 28). He hopes to enjoy, for a while, the pleasure of social intercourse with the Roman Christians (xv. 24). He hopes also to impart to them some spiritual gift, and to be strengthened in his own faith and works by the example of their faith and piety (i. 11-12). It is to make his coming visit both pleasant and spiritually profitable that he writes to the Romans. Phcebe’s departure for Rome (xvi. 1) supplied the Apostle with a convenient and reliable means of sending the Letter to the Church at Rome.
If Paul had wished merely to tell the Romans that he intended soon to visit them on his way to Spain he could have done this in a short Letter. Many theories have been put forward to explain the great length and the wide theological range of ” Romans.” (a) Augustine (and Ambrosiaster) thought that the Epistle was written to put an end to disputes between Jewish and Gentile Christians, and to reconcile the Gentile Christian majority with the Jewish Christian minority.
This view of Augustine has been accepted by many critics of all periods. It seems, however, to have little or no support in the text of the Epistle itself.
(B) It has been held that “Romans” was written to furnish the Christians at Rome with a summary of Pauline teaching so as to make the Apostle’s visit to Rome more fruitful. The absence in the Epistle of all express teaching on such vital points as the Lord’s Supper, the Resurrection, the Divinity of Christ, the Church, etc., excludes this view. The Epistle implies the possession by the Romans of the full tradition of Christian doctrine even in regard to abstruse points. There is no hint that Pauline doctrine involves anything that the Romans do not understand and believe : the Epistle everywhere assumes that the Romans have accurate knowledge on all the great points of Christian teaching.
(C) The Epistle was written to counteract Jewish or Judaising propaganda at Rome. But against this view stands the absence from the Epistle of the detailed treatment of Christological problems which such a purpose would surely require.
(D) It was written to counteract a tendency of Gentile Christians at Rome towards contempt for Judaism (soFeine). But it might as readily be argued as indeed it has been by many critics (so Aberle, Weber, etc.) that the Epistle was written to curb the excessive arrogance of Jewish Christians at Rome towards their brethren the Gentile Christians.
(E) It was intended to serve as a conciliatory statement of the Pauline Gospel for the Jewish Christians (a minority), who felt their position threatened by the steady growth
of Gentile Christianity (so Pfleiderer, Lipsius, etc.). But it has been stoutly held by other critics (especially Zahn) that the Roman Church addressed by Paul was predominantly Jewish, and that the purpose of “Romans ” is to set forth the doctrine of justification by faith so as to move a self-confident Jewish majority to give a sympathetic hearing to the claims of Gentile Christians.
(F) It was directed against Jewish agitators. A peculiar form of this theory sees in St. Peter the chief opponent against whom the Letter is directed (so Lietzmann). It is, however, difficult to find even the slenderest support for this view either in the Epistle or in tradition. The absence of all direct reference to St. Peter furnishes no basis for any theory as to the purpose of the Epistle.
It may be said in general that the Apostle’s purpose in writing such a profoundly doctrinal Letter, instead of a simple intimation of his intention to visit Rome, can scarcely be expressed in any single formula.
It may be assumed that Paul had considerable knowledge of the condition of the Church in Rome. His friends Aquila and Prisca must have told him much about Rome when he first met them in Corinth (Acts xviii. 2 f.), and since it is probable that Aquila and Prisca maintained their establishment in Rome during their absence at Corinth and Ephesus (Acts xviii. 18, 26 ; 1 Cor. xv. 19), they must have been able to keep Paul well informed on Roman affairs up to the time when they parted with him at Ephesus. It is well known that there was a great deal of travelling between Rome and the Provinces of the Empire during the New Testament period, and information about the general condition of the Church in Rome would have been accessible to Paul in all the great Eastern centres. The existence of a considerable Jewish Colony in Rome, and the close connection of Rome with the Palestinian coast towns, resulting from trade, would also have contributed to make knowledge of Roman Christian affairs available for Paul. His long- standing eagerness to visit Rome would lead him to seek out all possible sources of exact information on the Church at Rome.
Yet, in spite of his knowledge of conditions, at Rome, Paul nowhere suggests in the Epistle that there were serious abuses or grave differences of opinion among the Christians at Rome. He praises much more often than he blames, and his attitude throughout is rather that of a thinker dealing with a doctrinal question of general interest, than that of a worried pastor chiding existing defects, or warning against immediate concrete dangers. Neither does it seem to the unprejudiced reader that Paul puts forward in the Epistle any plan or policy for reconciling interests alleged to be seriously opposed, or for curbing ambitions alleged to be immoderate or disruptive.
Paul evidently does wish to secure a friendly reception at Rome ; and he feels that he is entitled to it as the Apostle of the Gentiles, but his long doctrinal Letter is not written so much to secure a friendly reception, as to set forth with fulness and convincing clearness the results of his meditation and preaching on the great central problem of the Church in the decades 40-60 A.D. the relations of Christianity and Judaism, of the Church and the Synagogue. That problem had been fundamental for Paul since the time when he and Barnabas taught together at Antioch. The problem was solved in principle at the Council of Jerusalem but it continued for nearly a decade afterwards to disturb many of the Pauline Churches.
How difficult the situation might become through the machinations of the Judaisers in a particular Church can be seen from the Epistle to the Galations. It is generally held that that Epistle was written during the early portion of Paul’s mission at Ephesus during the Third Missionary Tour, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Apostle was actively occupied, both in meditation and preaching, with the central problems of the Galatian controversy during the greater part of his long stay at Ephesus. “Galatians ” would thus belong to the beginnings of the Ephesian Mission and ” Romans ” would practically mark its close. In the three years of work at Ephesus Paul would pass gradually from the vehemence of expression and rapid movement of thought demanded by the threat of immediate Galatian defection to such comparative serenity of discussion as we find in ” Romans.” This mental process may well have occupied the greater part of Paul’s energies during the Ephesian ministry.
As in the Letters written during the First Imprisonment at Rome, Paul is primarily engrossed with the problem of the precise relations of the Church to Christ, and as in the Pastorals Paul is mainly concerned with the purity of doctrinal tradition, so in the Ephesian period his mind was occupied chiefly with the relations of the Church and the Synagogue. The Letters to the Corinthians which fall within this period reveal comparatively little of Paul’s doctrinal preoccupations, because they deal with definite concrete questions and situations which had been referred to Paul, or forced on his attention. Yet even in the Epistles to Corinth many aspects of the great problem dealt with in ” Romans ” are discussed.
Perhaps in the habit, which Paul shares with the Prophet Isaias, of concentrating for fairly long periods on- a particular question, may be sought the explanation of the long discussion of the relations between Judaism and Christianity in ” Romans.”
There is, of course, no difficulty in admitting that other factorscontributed, in a lesser degree, to transform a simple Letter of self- introduction into a great doctrinal synthesis, so that some of the theories above discussed (A-F) may contain at least a half truth. In any case, the Epistle to the Romans is not a merely abstract doctrinal discussion. The question of the relations between Judaism and Christianity was sure to be of vital interest to the Christians at Rome, and the Epistle supplies a mass of apologetic material which they might, at any time, be able to apply in a very practical fashion. But Paul in his Letter is thinking certainly less of the actual conditions of the Roman Church than of problems which might at a later time arise. Hence the brief warning in 16:17-20 deals with possible, rather than with existing, difficulties.
5. THE CHURCH AT ROME.
The Epistle to the Romans seems to be addressed to a Church in which the majority of the faithful are converts from heathenism. Many passages in the Epistle can hardly be explained except on this hypothesis.
It is as Apostle of the Gentiles that Paul writes to the Romans (i. 5, 6). It is, apparently, because the Church at Rome has been recruited from the Gentiles that he desires to have some fruit there “even as among the other Gentiles ” (i. 13). He longs to visit the Romans because ” to Greeks and Barbarians ” he ” owes a duty.” In xi. 13 f. we have: “But to you Gentiles, I say : Just because I am an Apostle to the Gentiles I do all honour to my office with a view to rousing to jealousy my own people, and thus saving some of them.” Thus it would appear that his chief interest in Rome is based rather on his office of Apostle to the Gentiles, than on his knowledge of Roman conditions and affairs.
Passages such as vi. 17-21 and xii. 1 f. seem definitely to imply that those addressed had lived in heathenism prior to their baptism. In other passages (cf. ix. 3 f. ; x. If.; xi. 23-28, 31) Paul is clearly writing to non-Jews about his own people. Paul’s reference in xv. 18 to what Christ has wrought through him ” unto the submission of the Gentiles ” would surely be out of place in a Letter addressed to Jewish Christians. The same must be said of his request to the Romans in xv. 30 f. :
“I exhort you Brethren by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, to unite in struggle with me by your prayers to God on my behalf that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judeea.”
The long treatment of Jewish incredulity in ix-xi is a necessary section of an argument which aims at proving that the Gospel is ” a power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, the Jew first and then the Gentile ” (i. 16). If the Jews as a people were to remain permanently impervious to the Faith, it might seem as if the Gospel were as much restricted to non-Jews, as the Law had been to Jews. Jewish incredulity is so treated in ix-xi that it may serve as an instruction and a warning to Gentile Christians. Throughout the section Paul speaks of the Jews as ” my brethren,” ” my fellow-countrymen according to the flesh ” not as ” our brethren,” ” our fellow-countrymen.” To show that all the Jews have not been rejected, he points in xi. 1 to himself. If he were writing to a Church that was mainly Jewish, he could have made a much stronger point by referring to the case of his readers.
The passages quoted by Zahn and others to prove that converts from Judaism formed the majority in the Church at Rome do not, when closely analysed, seem to support that view.
The introduction of Jewish opponents in the course of the argument (cf. ch. ii, etc.) is due primarily to the Apostle’s use of the vivid methods of the Stoic Diatribe. The use of expressions like ” Abraham our father ” (iv. 1) is due also to the methods of the Diatribe. Ch. iii. 9 is to be explained in similar fashion.
There is no difficulty in regarding vii. i : ” For I speak to such as know the Law,” as addressed to Gentile Christians. Paul might well presume that the Roman community contained many one- time Proselytes to Judaism. He could also assume that the Roman Christian Community generally had acquired a good knowledge of the Law from hearing it read at the Christian liturgical assemblies. It might be also argued that, as Paul was aware that the Septuagint was widely circulated in the Mediterranean world, he would be justified in taking for granted a wide knowledge of Jewish history and Jewish hopes among the more cultured Gentile Christians at Rome.
It is to be noted also that the whole tone of the argument in vii. 1-6 bears a striking resemblance to that of Gal. iv. 1-9, and “Galatians ” was certainly addressed to Gentile Christians.
Moreover, as has often been pointed out, the Romans, as such, had a special flair for law, and they would be greatly interested in the problem of Israel’s actual relation to the Mosaic Law. Thus it might be argued that “those who know the Law” of vii. 1, are more likely to be Romans converted from heathenism than. Jewish Christians.
Passages like vii. 4-6 and viii. 15 are no more indicative of Jewish readers than Gal. iii. 13 ; iv. 9.
Zahn takes the appeal for loyalty to the State in ch. xiii as implying that Paul’s readers were of the restless and insubordinate type which was regarded in the Roman Empire as characteristically Jewish. It is, however, not obvious why the warnings in ch. xiii should be less in place for Gentile than for Jewish Christians.
The ” weak ” at Home (ch, xiv) are clearly a minority, and if they are, as many think, converts from Judaism, the argument for the predominantly Gentile character of the Roman Community is thereby strengthened.
It is interesting to note in connection with this problem of the character of the Church at Rome in 58 A.D. that the Gospel of St. Mark, which, according to tradition, was written primarily for the Christians at Rome, was evidently intended for non-Jewish readers.
That the Church at Rome in the decade 50-60 contained more converts from heathenism than from Judaism is made probable not merely by the evidence of ” Romans,” but also by all that we know, independently of ” Romans,” about the early history of that Church. Of those who first brought the Faith to Rome we know as little as we do of the pioneers of Christianity at Damascus and Antioch. It was inevitable that some knowledge of the Faith should reach Rome very early. At the first Christian Pentecost there were present ” Roman ” Jews or Proselytes (Acts ii. 10), so that possibly among the first converts to Christianity at Jerusalem were people of Roman origin who afterwards brought back the Faith with them to Rome. Besides, people were constantly travelling in the New Testament period between Rome and the East, and it is reasonable to suppose that when the Faith began to spread in Jerusalem a small -percentage of such travellers would be Christians. The persecution of which St. Stephen was the first important victim (Acts vii-viii), scattered the Christians of Jerusalem especially the Hellenists and led to the publication of the Faith in the Mediterranean coast-towns. Through the close connection between these towns and Rome, and through the large Jewish Colony that lived at Rome some considerable knowledge
of Christianity must have reached Rome even before the founding of the Church of Antioch.
Early Christian tradition connects the name of St. Peter with the foundation of the Roman Church, and the departure of St. Peter ” to another place ” (Acts xii. 17) after his miraculous rescue from the hands of Herod Agrippa, has been traditionally explained as a departure for Rome. As the organisation of the Church in Samaria, after the first successful preaching of Philip, had been undertaken by Peter and John (Acts viii. 14-25), and as Barnabas was commissioned by the Apostolic body to investigate affairs at Antioch, and to organise the Antiochian Church (Acts xi. 22), we might expect that the Head of the Apostles would himself undertake the building up of the Church at the centre of the world as soon as the first definite news of Christian beginnings at Rome had reached Jerusalem. The great energy and the splendid condition of the Church at Rome in 58 seem to demand for their explanation the presence and activity in the infant Church of Rome of an outstanding Apostolic personality like that of St. Peter.
That St. Peter worked as an Apostle and died as a Martyr at Rome is fully established by very early and most reliable evidence. In his Letter to the Corinthians, written while St. Peter’s memory was still fresh at Rome, Clement of Rome implies clearly (ch. v-vi) that Peter worked and died at Rome. The same can be gathered from the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans (iv. 3), written in the days of Trajan. St. Peter’s work in Rome is implied by the greetings which he himself sends (1 Pet. v. 13) from the Church in ” Babylon ” (= Rome). The testimony of Bishop Dionysius of Corinth (in Eusebius, ii. 25, 7 f.), of Ireneeus (Hceer. iii. 1, 1 : 3, 3), of the Roman Presbyter Gaius (Eusebius ii. 25), of Tertullian (De Prcescriptione 36), and of early inscriptions and Liturgical documents is equally clear in favour of St. Peter’s presence in Rome. The testimonies to Peter’s work in Rome during the first two and a half centuries are thus not merely Roman, but come from all parts of the early Christian world Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Africa, South Gaul. Even the Gospel of St. John (xxi 1 8 f . ) seems to imply that the manner and the place of St. Peter’s martyrdom are known to the universal Church before the end of the first century. It is important to note that no Church in the first centuries but Rome claims to possess the tomb of St. Peter.
If, then, St. Paul’s eulogy of the Roman Church implies, as it seems to do, the activity of a powerful Apostolic personality in the building up of that Church, it is evident from what has been here said that the personality in question must have been that of St. Peter. 2
St. Peter’s episcopal rule in Rome from 42 to 67 did not involve his constant presence in the capital. We find him at the Council of Jerusalem in 49 (or 50), and his own First Epistle seems to imply that he carried through a number of missionary tours quite as extensive as those of St. Paul.(c/. 1 Pet. i. 1). The absence of all reference to St. Peter in ” Romans ” is readily intelligible if the Epistle was written during one of the great missionary journeys of the Bishop of Rome.
The history of the Church at Rome from its foundation up to 58 is very little known. From Acts xviii. 2 we learn that Aquila and Prisca were compelled to leave Rome, apparently about the year 50, because of an Edict of Claudius expelling all Jews from Rome. Suetonius in his Vita Claudii (25) seems to have that Edict in view when he says : Judceos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit. Unfortunately, however, he gives no date. Orosius in his Historia contra Paganos vii. 6, 15, says : Anno ejusdem (i.e., of Claudius) nono expulsos per Glaudium urbe Judceos Josephus refert, sed me magis Suetonius movet qui ait hoc modo ; Claudius Judceos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit.
The reference of Orosius to Josephus is not borne out by anything in the extant writings of the Jewish Historian, but the ascription of the Edict to the ninth year (49/50) of Claudius may be due to some other authority whom Orosius confuses with Josephus. The date 49/50 would fit in well with St. Paul’s first arrival in Corinth, and his meeting with Aquila and Prisca.
It has been generally assumed that Suetonius, in the brief notice quoted from his Vita Claudii, has in view disturbances among the Jews at Rome arising out of the growth of Christianity. 1 It is quite legitimate to suppose that Suetonius confused Christus and Chrestus for the two words would be very similar in pronunciation. It is not certain that Aquila and Prisca were already Christians before they were forced to leave Rome but it is likely that they were. If the policy of Claudius led to the departure of a considerable number of Jewish Christians from Rome, 2 the original Jewish majority in the Church at Rome would tend to disappear, and from. 50 to the death of Claudius in 54, recruiting for the Church at Rome would be mainly from among the heathen. With the death of Claudius his Edict seems to have lapsed, but between 54 and 58 the predominance of converts from heathenism in the Roman Church, due to the Claudian anti-Jewish policy, could scarcely disappear, and it is, therefore, quite natural that St. Paul should write to the Roman Christians in the year 58 as if they were mainly converts from among the Gentiles. (In a footnote the Bishop writes: “Dio Cassius referring (Ix. 6, 6) to the Edict of Claudius, says that the difficulty of expelling great numbers of Jews became so acute that Claudius, in the end, revised his Edict so as to make it merely a prohibition of Jewish assemblies.”
The Epistle’s own testimony to Pauline authorship was accepted without hesitation in the Ancient Church, and has never been questioned by any except the most radical schools of criticism. The influence of ” Romans ” has been detected by scholars in the First Epistle of St. Peter, and in the Epistle of James, and echoes of the Doxology (xvi. 25-27) have been sought in the Epistle of Jude. The Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, and the Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp show unmistakable traces of the phrasing and thought of ” Romans.”
Definite quotations from Romans appear in Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autolycum, iii. 14 ; cf. Rom. xiii. 7, 8), and in the Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons (Eusebius, Ch. Hist., v, 1, 6 ; cf. Rom. v. 18). The early heretics, Valentinus, Herakleon, Basilides, etc., etc., made considerable use of the Epistle, and Marcion ascribed its authorship definitely to St. Paul. Irenseus (Adv. Hcer., iii, 16, 3. 9) speaks clearly of the Epistle as written by Paul. The Muratorian Fragment (line 44 and following), Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, iii, 4, 39), Tertullian (Adversus Praxeam xiii), are all witnesses to Pauline authorship.
7. INTEGRITY .
In ancient times, as is shown in the Commentary, pages 256-260, Marcion, while admitting that St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans, refused to regard certain sections of the Epistle as authentic. The existence of the so-called ” short recension ” (i-xiv ; xvi. 25-27) is explained below in the Commentary as the result of a Marcionite mutilation of the primitive text. Marcionite influence also procured the omission of ” in Rome ” in i. 7 and i. 15, and it appears that Marcion regarded several other passages of ” Romans,” in addition to chapters xv and xvi, as not Pauline. His methods of excision, however, in regard to these other passages have not greatly affected
textual tradition. (Footnote: “Marcion apparently omitted i. ig-ii. i ; iii. 3i-iv. 25 ; ix. 1-33 ; x. 5-xi. 32. He also omitted other short passages, and altered a number of texts in ” Romans.” Marcion’s rejection of chapters xv and xvi was imitated by radical critics in Germany at the end of the i8th and the beginning of the igth century.”
Certain recent critics have held that we can distinguish a considerable section which, though Pauline, was not originally composed by Paul as part of a Letter to the Romans. Thus Lake (Earlier Epistles of /St. Paul) regards the Epistle to the Romans as an expanded form of an Epistle intended for all the Churches which was written by Paul about the time he wrote ” Galatians.” Others have supposed that Paul himself produced abridged editions of our ” Romans ” for use in churches outside of Rome, and it has been held that the various ” conclusions ” indicate the close of such abridgements.
Other radical critics have excluded from ” Romans ” the entire section beginning with ch. xii. Others, again, have sought here and there throughout ” Romans ” for the disjecta membra of one or more Pauline Epistles not addressed to Rome. More than a century ago the hypothesis was put forward that ” Romans ” includes fragments of an Epistle to Ephesus, and the delimitation of these ” Ephesian ” fragments has formed from time to time a sort of .amusement of radical critics. Now-a-days the only part of “Romans” regarded by serious critics as addressed to Ephesus is xvi. 1-23.
In support of the view that Rom. xvi. 1-23 was addressed to Ephesus rather than to Rome two chief arguments have been advanced :
(1) It is unlikely that Paul, who had not yet visited Rome, could have known at Rome all the people whom he greets in ch. xvi. It is much more likely that those greeted belonged to Ephesus where Paul spent about three years 011 the Third Missionary Tour. Moreover, some, at least, of the persons greeted seem to have definite connections with Ephesus.
Aquila and Prisca had certainly been with Paul at Ephesus (Cf. 1 Cor. xvi. 19 ; Acts xviii. 18, 26), and just as their house at Ephesus was an assembly-place for Christians (1 Cor. xvi. 19) so their residence, according to Rom. xvi. 5 is still a meeting-place for a ” House- Church.” If we suppose that Rom. xvi. 1-23 was addressed to Rome we must suppose that Aquila and Prisca had returned from Ephesus to Rome and had established a ” House-Church ” at Rome. Yet from 2 Tim. iv. 19, it would appear that Aquila and Prisca were again in Ephesus after Paul had been released from his first Roman imprisonment. It would be much more natural to suppose that they had stayed on at Ephesus. It is difficult to think of them as moving to and fro restlessly between Ephesus and Rome. Further, Epsenetus, ” the first-fruits of Asia,” is surely more in
place in Ephesus, the Capital of Asia, than in Rome ! Besides, if it is alleged that Paul had come to know in the East all those whom he greets in ch. xvi, it will be necessary, the critics argue, to postulate that a miniature exodus a sort of minor Volkerwanderung from East to West had taken place in the interval.
(2) The warnings in xvi. 17-20 are out of place in a Letter addressed to a Church which St. Paul had not yet visited, whereas, they are precisely such warnings as would be suitable for a Church like Ephesus, where false teaching of the type here warned against certainly flourished when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy.
In reply to (1), it may be pointed out that in the Epistle to Colossae a Church which Paul had not founded or visited more individuals are greeted than in Letters written by Paul to Churches which he had founded. Indeed in Letters addressed to his own Churches St. Paul seems to have shrunk from singling out individuals for special greeting lest the others whom he knew just as intimately might feel aggrieved. On the contrary, when writing to a Church which he had not visited, he would naturally be inclined to seek out and utilise every existing link, or point of contact, between himself and the Church in question. Paul, as has been pointed out above, could have learned from Aquila and Prisca and others, a great deal about outstanding personalities and groups in the Church at Rome, and he would not be slow to use the knowledge so gained to secure a friendly reception in Rome. Nor is there any difficulty in supposing that several of Paul’s acquaintances had actually moved from the East to Rome. His visits to important Eastern cities must have brought him into contact with many people about to travel to Rome. It should be remembered that Paul had long been planning a visit to Rome, and, in view of this, he would surely make every effort to get into touch with people
going to Rome, or in any way . connected with Rome.
The destination of ch. xvi cannot be inferred from the mere names of those greeted. Most of the names are such as might be found in any important centre of the Roman Empire at the time of St. Paul. They are all to be found in Roman inscriptions (seeLightfoot, Philippians, 3rd ed., pp. 171-175), and no doubt they could all be paralleled from the inscriptions of St. Paul’s Ephesus.
To describe Epaenetus as ” the first-fruits of Asia ” is as natural in a letter to Rome as in one written to Ephesus. A citizen of the Roman Province of Asia might well move from Ephesus to Rome!
Much use has been made of the difficulty of supposing that Aquila and Prisca had moved within a period of about sixteen years from Rome to Corinth, from Corinth to Ephesus, from Ephesus to Rome, and finally from Rome to Ephesus. But Aquila and Prisca may have been wealthy folk. When they left Rome for Corinth on account of the Edict of Claudius they probably left their property in the hands of a procurator, so that when they returned to Rome after the death of Claudius and the practical repeal of his anti- Jewish Edict, they were able at once to resume control of their Roman belongings. When they went to Ephesus with Paul they probably established there a new centre of their business, and their Ephesian home became a meeting-place for Christians. Just as we suppose that they retained their Roman possessions when they first left Rome for Corinth, so it can be readily assumed that their Ephesian establishment continued to be maintained up to the date of the Second Epistle to Timothy. It is likely that thepersecution of Nero drove them from Rome to Ephesus.
The Roman destination of ch. xvi does not imply such a Volkerwanderung as has been alleged by the supporters of the ” Ephesian ” theory. Paul does not, in fact, claim to know personally all those whom he greets. Besides Aquila and Prisca he seems to have known personally Epsenetus, Andronicus, Junias, Ampliatus, Persis, and probably the mother of Rufus, and Rufus himself. Aquila and Prisca were residents in Rome before Paul knew them, so that the alleged Volkerwanderung would consist of seven people ! The others whom he greets Paul may have known (like some of those whom he greets in ” Colossians “) only by hearsay. When Paul first began to plan his visit to Rome he must have used every available opportunity to make himself acquainted with the condition of things at Rome, and to ascertain the names of such Christians at Rome as would be helpful to him on his arrival there. The list in ch. xvi is conceivably in part, at least, the outcome of the Apostle’s inquiries.
(2) It is not clear why Paul could not have addressed xvi. 17-20 to a Church he had not visited. It would almost seem as if Paul at verses 17-20 suddenly took the pen from the hand of Tertius, the Scribe, to insert a word of solemn warning. In 1 Cor. xvi. 21ff in similar abrupt fashion, after greeting the Corinthians, the Apostle bursts forth unexpectedly into an anathema against those who do not love Jesus Christ.
The warning in w. 17-20 is not really out of harmony with the generally eulogistic lone of the Epistle, for the danger at which it hints need not be regarded as actual. A warning against a merely problematical danger could not have been put in a central part of the Epistle. Lagrange thinks that the real answer to the difficulty of xvi. 17-20 is to admit, on the one hand, that Judaising agitators were already, to Paul’s knowledge, at work in Rome, and, on the other hand, to insist that their subversive activity was still almost negligible, and certainly not such as to call for mention at a central stage of a Letter so profoundly speculative as “Romans.” The warning is really more against possible than actual evils, and to make it more than a sort of post-script would lead to the risk of exaggeration. The comparative vividness with which the agitators are depicted does not necessarily indicate real uneasiness on the part of the Apostle. It should be noted that the agitators are not of the Gnostic type that one might expect to find at Ephesus, but apparently, of the Judaising type which Paul had met everywhere.
It appears, then, that the reasons advanced for the Ephesian destination of xvi. 1-23 cannot be regarded as valid. Moreover, it is practically unthinkable that Paul could have written a Letter consisting almost exclusively of greetings.
If Rom. xvi. 1-23 were a Letter to Ephesus it would have to be explained how it has come to be attached to ” Romans.” Various unconvincing explanations of the connection have been put forward. One of these represents Phoebe, the bearer of both the ” Ephesian ” and the Roman Letter, as ‘travelling first to Ephesus where she hands over the ” Ephesian ” Letter to the Ephesian Church, and permits the Ephesians to make a copy of the Letter to Rome. In the Ephesian Collection of Pauline Letters the original Letter to Ephesus and the copy of Romans came to be closely associated, and ultimately to be regarded as one Letter.
The theory has also been advanced that the two Letters came to be united because they were close together in Paul’s own set of copies of the Letters he had written. This view seems to contain the fantastic implication that Paul carried on his correspondence like a modern business-man. It is now generally held that the first Collections of Pauline Letters were made by individual Churches. The arrangement of the Letters within the local collections had nothing to do with any ” typical ” arrangement in a conjectured set of documents kept by St. Paul himself.