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Paul, who was originally named Saul, was born ten to fifteen years after Jesus as a Roman citizen. He was raised as a Jew, but the was a Roman citizen too. He more than likely had the upper hand in an argument with a Jew. He was educated by his father. Paul was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus. This is when his named was changed from Saul to Paul. The Jews were not too excited about this conversion experience. He later went on several mission trips to help early churches grow and flourish. The Church’s beliefs are based on Paul’s theology. (Harris, 464)
During Paul's time, Rome had a population that exceeded one million people, most of which were slaves. Paul wanted to attend Rome’s empire and he wanted to bring the information of Christ "to all ends of the earth". (Acts, 1:8) Around 49 CE Jews were told to leave Rome because of Christian disturbances. Later, under Emperor Nero, the Jews were allowed back into Rome. Gentile Christians began to look down upon Jews, because the believed that Jews were no longer God’s people. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans)
The letter to the Romans was written at Corinth. Paul was said to have written this letter during his visit to Greece. During this time, Jews covered a substantial amount of the population in Rome. The Gentiles were able to become informed with the story Jesus of Nazareth through the Jewish synagogues.
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Paul’s style is unique throughout this letter to the Romans. This is one of the longest letters that Paul wrote. Paul’s style was, in his time, called a "diatribe". The letter was more of a sermon to the church than an actual letter. Paul’s overall tone was sympathetic to Jews because a lot of the Jewish Christians lived there and were the majority of the population of the Roman church. The style is much more difficult to understand than any other letter in the New Testament. The letter is set up as a series of arguments. Paul’s arguments are shifted from addressing the Jewish members of the church, to the Gentiles, to the church as a whole. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans)
The content of this letter consists of a salutation, thanksgiving, body, paranesis, and closing. Throughout the body of the letter, Paul states that he is not ashamed of his gospel. He also talks about the judgment of God and his own judgment of hypocrites. Everyone knows the Romans road, which is in Paul’s assurance of salvation and transformation of believers. (Christian in Connect, outline)
In Paul’s introduction he provided some general things about himself. He tells about his apostleship and his notes about the gospel he wishes to preach to the roman church. Paul’s goal was not only to spread his teachings to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. He also speaks about the problems he has encountered as his reason for not previously visiting Rome. Paul praises the Romans for their faith. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans)
Paul is unashamed of his gospel that he preaches, because he believes that it holds power. He notes in this section that he is talking to the Jews first. Paul begins the body of the letter by telling the people that some among them have became ungodly and wicked and the consequence will be the wrath from God. (Romans, 1:18) He states that they have taken the image of God and made him an idol. Paul uses heavy teachings from the Jewish Book Wisdom of Solomon. Paul uses the idol worship system for the same reason that he used the Jewish law later in the Gospel, which was to unite people under Christ. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans)
In Paul’s judgment of hypocrites he calls out Jews who are putting down others who are following the law, as where they are not following the law either. In Paul’s assurance of salvation, he argues in chapters five though eight that believers can be assured of their salvation, because they have been freed from the bondage of sin. He teaches that being faithful and freed of sin you can be joined with Jesus. He tells them in the letter that since everyone is a sinner that the promise is open to anyone. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans)
Paul states that salvation is offered to both Jews and Gentiles. Jews received it first, since God is God of the Jews who sent his only Son to the Jewish. It is then received by the Gentiles. Disregarding the advantages of the Jews, Jews and Gentiles are both equal in front of God. All have sinned and all can make it right with God by faith. There lies one of the major themes of the gospel: "God has not gone back on his promises and has not rejected his people" (Ehrman, 264).
The transformation of believers results in a change in behavior. Paul says that people who believe should live not under the law, instead under God. Believers who are rightfully dedicated to God should live with obedience. They should study the scriptures, and love everyone. If you do so there will be no need to sin. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans) "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of law" (Romans, 13:10).
Paul’s theme is simply the salvation that is offered though the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation can only be achieved if you believe in God’s death and resurrection. Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that salvation depends upon your faith not on your works. (Wikipedia, Epistle to the Romans) For example, if you do things “for God” that will not enable you to achieve salvation. You have to believe and have faith in God and in his word.
The fact the God stated Abraham “righteous” while he was not circumcised implied the circumcisions of the Gentiles, gave a model for God’s plan to save everyone though faith. Abraham is not only the father of his descendants but also the father who has faith even though he is uncircumcised. (Genesis, 4:3-11) If the Gentiles who imitate Abraham’s example are also subjected to God’s divine promises. (Harris, 486)
In conclusion, Paul’s letter to the Romans was one of the most important letters in the New Testament. Although it is not known if he completed his mission, his point that he was trying to get across was completed. Paul describes salvation as a redemption, which would be like a payment, or in this case a repayment to God. I believe that everyone is in debt to God. He took his life for ours, and that is one thing that cannot be replaced.
An Overview of the Book of Romans. 2001. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from http://www.christianinconnect.com/romans.htm
Ehrman, Bart D. A Brief Introduction to The New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Epistle to the Romans. (2008, March 11). In Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_the_Romans
Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2007).
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. (1991). New York: Oxford University Press.