Paul’s letter to the Romans is one of the epistles of the Bible that is not read often. Most laymen are scared of it and most preachers refuse to preach from it. Some consider the book too difficult to understand. However, they have forgotten that there is a “Spirit of Truth” which guides “into all truth” (John 16:13 KJV). The Holy Spirit is willing to guide us as we wrestle with trying to understand scripture. I pray that you welcome Him in your study hour.
It is suggested that Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans around A.D. 57-58 when he was in Corinth (Brown, 560). There are two major clues in Romans that support this position. Paul names two people who are from the Corinth area in the last chapter.
The first is found in Rom. 16:1 where Paul “commends,” to the Roman church, a lady name “Pheobe, who is a servant of the Church which is at Cenchrea.” Cenchrea was a seaport that was located about 6 or 7 miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf (Nichols). Paul’s depiction of her in verse 2 have led some scholars to believe that she was the one that delivered the epistle to the recipients (Brown, 574).
The Second is a man named Gaius (16:23), who is described as providing a meeting place for the Christian community where Paul is writing from. The verse also suggests that Paul is staying in his house. The Gaius mention here may be the same one “whom Paul baptized in Corinth” according to 1 Cor. 1:14 (Carson and Moo, 394).
In the beginning of the Epistle, Paul writes that he is “a bond-servant of Christ Jesus.” Upon seeing that word, the first thought that comes to the mind of the modern reader is that Paul sees himself as one who is in the employment of another. However, the word that is often translated as “Servant” or “Bond-servant” in the English Bibles, can be best translated as “Slave” [gr. doulos δου̂λος]. A slave is “one who serves in obedience to another’s will” (Friberg Lexicon).
After Paul’s name, the first thing that the Romans read about him was that he was a slave. He was a person who was devoted to the will of another. He did not hide it; he declared it unapologetically. It shows that to Paul, Christ was worthy enough to dominate over all aspects of his being. His view of Christ was so high that he found the lowest position in society as fitting for him to identify with.
Would you take that title, slave of Jesus Christ, upon yourself? Many would rush to say yes, but give it some thought. Putting Jesus’ will above yours is not easy. However, it is absolutely necessary. It is the best decision we can make, and He is waiting for me and you today.
Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
Carson, D. A. and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
Nichols, Francis D. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: The Holy Bible with Exegetical and Expository Comment. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978.