Introduction to Romans

Author: The Apostle Paul is the indisputable author of the book of Romans. Paul’s authorship is often attested by the Church Fathers and accepted widely as an authentic Pauline letter.

Date: As we date letters and Books of the Bible, we look at internal and external evidence. 67 AD is generally accepted as the year of Paul’s martyrdom and thus becomes a terminus date for all Pauline letters. Therefore, we know Romans was written before 67 AD. Historically we also know the Edit of Claudius, which expelled many, but not all, Jews from Rome occurred in 49 AD. From internal evidence, we see Priscilla and Aquila have returned to Rome after being expelled from the city (Compare Acts 18:2 and Romans 16:3). The Edit of Claudius was automatically lifted at Claudius’ death in 54 AD. We have narrowed the possible dates from 54 AD to 67 AD. We can narrow the gap even more as we consider information within the letter itself and as we take into account The Book of Acts. We know, for instance, the end of Paul’s third missionary journey can be dated to around 57/58 AD.  In 58 AD, Nero imposed a tax on farmers that Paul may be addressing in chapter 13:6-7. Further, we know that in 59/60 AD, Paul finally made it to Rome, another terminus date for us. Also, we note in 16:1 that the letter was carried to Rome by Phoebe of the church in Cenchreae, near Corinth. With all this information, we can agree with most scholars the Epistle was written during Paul’s stay in Corinth (Acts 20:3) around 56/57 AD.

Occasion: The reason for Paul’s letter to the Romans is multi-faceted. There is not simply one reason Paul penned this beautiful and deep letter. Paul had never been to Rome but hoped to stop in Rome on the way to Spain. He wanted to introduce himself and encourage a church he did not know well. He also hoped to impart spiritual gifts and fruitful ministry among them (Ro 1:11-13). He also wrote Romans hoping to gain missionary support for his trip to Spain (15:22-24).  

In God’s sovereignty, He had Paul write a theological treatise, a summary of Paul’s theology. In Romans, we learn about our desperate need for a Savior and begin to understand that through the death of Jesus, the forgiveness of sin is available through faith. In the gospel, we see God’s power to save all who have faith and believe in Jesus. In Jesus, God has provided righteousness based not on what we can do for ourselves but on what God has done for us by sending His Son as an atoning sacrifice. This only scratches at the theological depth we see in Romans.

         It is also a letter encouraging unity between the Gentile and Jewish Christians. In AD 49, the Edit of Claudius was established, and many Jews were forced out of Rome (See Acts 18:1-2). Five years later, the Jews returned to a mostly Gentile-led church. Disunity is easy to imagine. In Romans, Paul levels the field at the cross. They were all called saints and sinners. But thankfully, God sent Jesus to save sinners and make them saints.

During Paul’s ministry, he was often misrepresented and disrespected (See Acts 15:1-2; 2 Cor 10:10; Gal 5:17). Since Paul has not visited Rome, this is an introduction to his ministry and a defense of his theology. Some may wonder if Paul is leaning toward antinomianism, a belief that those saved by grace are no longer bound to the moral law in the Ten Commandments. What were his views on Israel? Has God rejected His covenant people? Paul will assure his people that God has indeed been faithful to His covenant people through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  

Finally, Romans is a wonderful pastoral letter. In the sixteen chapters, you see the pastor’s heart of Paul. He wanted to see the Roman Church grow in unity and in love. Paul knew there would be division and difficulty between Gentiles and Jews. However, he also knew their unity around the gospel would be sufficient to unify and draw many into the Kingdom. One of the subtle messages from Paul’s pastoral heart is the need for patience. We are different, yet in Christ, we are the same. Our uniqueness is what creates division, but our sameness trumps our uniqueness. Be patient with each other; put others before yourself; don’t worry over your preferences but seek first the Kingdom of God.

Themes: Here are just a few themes we will consider in Romans: God’s self-revelation, Jesus, gospel, sin, God’s righteousness, God’s wrath, justification, sanctification, glorification, Holy Spirit, Prayer, Israel, and the role of the Law,

Conclusion: As we read and study Romans, we will learn more intimately how loved you are by God. You will see how God’s love for us resulted in God sending His Son, Jesus, to rescue us from sin. As we navigate the book, we will see that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans is a book of the love of God. Join us as we read and study this wonderful letter. 

My Journey of Grief

To define grief simply, I would say grief is a season of sadness. For a more in-depth definition, I’d say grief is a season of sadness brought on through a major life change, a change that might even be catastrophic. As we enter the holiday season, the intensity of grief is often dependent upon the primary catalyst for your grief. A simple reminder is not to compare your pain. Your pain is your pain. No matter the root cause of your grief, it is absolutely ok and necessary to grieve.

That is the heart of the first lesson I’m learning through my own personal grief. I know some of you will be walking through the depth and darkness of great grief. I’ll be celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas season for the first time without my parents. I know it may not compare to the grief of the first holiday, or any holiday for that matter, without one of your children. Nonetheless, it is my grief, and I am giving myself permission to grieve. Over the next few weeks, I want to encourage you through your own grief.

There are times in the pain of grief it feels as if God is distant and doesn’t care. However, I know He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I know I can cast my cares upon Him because He does care about me (1 Peter 5:7). It feels as if I am alone in the silence and solitude of my depressed soul. But I know God is faithful and will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).

My parents loved the holidays. Some of my most precious and earliest memories revolve around the joy and happiness of gathering during the holidays. The Thanksgiving my family were the only Houston Oilers football fans during the annual Dallas Cowboy game. Somehow Houston won, and my family celebrated in a sea of silver and blue. The numerous Christmases in Plainview, we had to wait on my cousin and uncle to arrive before opening gifts. The year my boys were seated on the fireplace with their cousins wearing their brand-new John Elway jersey, a gift from my dad. Memories are sweet and never die. One of the first ways to battle grief is to remember. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person or people who are not there. Laugh, cry, and remember. Allow the deep seeds of grief to come to the surface.

            In a few hours, I’ll pack in the car with part of my family and travel to Texas to be with all my children and grandchildren. Those who know me know how much I love the holidays. But there is a part of me dreading spending this first holiday without my parents. My dad passed away four years ago, and my mom only a couple months ago. I feel the freshness of the wound of grief. But I will rejoice in my family. I will remember the joy of past holidays and cling to our future reunion.

I know many of you have much greater pains of grief than I do, and I want to be praying for you. If you want me to pray specifically for you during this holiday season and beyond, just drop me a note ( I’d be honored to pray for you and would covet your prayers for me as well. I know God is good and faithful. I will trust in Him and press deeply into His comfort and care for me. Keep following the blog this season, and I’ll update with other ideas to help in your grief during the holidays. For now, remember them, laugh at the memories, cry with the pain, and trust in the goodness of God. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.