The Division in the Church of Romans

Although the book itself doesn’t include the founders of this particular church,[1] the book of Acts highlights that “Jews from Rome were among those who saw the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.”[2]  It can be assumed that these Jews made their way back to Rome and established a church there.[3]  However, it is evident that the writer was addressing not only Jewish Christians, but likewise included Gentile Christians because the church “added a significant Gentile element at an early time.”[4] 

Less than ten years prior to the publication of Romans, the Roman emperor Caligula banished Jews from Rome and the church resulted in a congregation comprised primarily of Gentile converts.[5]  Yet, once the writer had written the book, “Jews were allowed back into Rome,”[6] and upon returning there, their church was “dominated by Gentiles.”[7]  This would obviously have created a distinctive chasm between the two people groups, which may be why the writer addressed various facets concerning Jewish law and its relevancy to the newly budding faith of Christianity, the admonishment of Gentile pretension, and his pastoral and cautionary instructions for the “strong and weak.”[8]

The apostle Paul appears to be the writer of Romans (Rom. 1:1) and the occasion in which Paul wrote the book seems to address a variety of issues that he believed were intrinsic to the church specifically.  “The first-century situation of the church at large and the church in Rome in particular leads Paul to develop his theology on certain particular issues.”[9]  In the book, Paul elucidates “basic theological issues against the backdrop of early Christianity and with reference to some affairs in the Roman community.”[10]

While Paul was staying in Corinth during his third missionary journey,[11] he wrote several letters to various churches addressing situations by encouraging and admonishing them for their behavior.  It is believed that this book was written sometime between 56-58 A.D., and the purpose behind him writing the book has resulted in an array of interpretations.  Scholarship predominantly agrees that Romans is a letter that “demonstrates his orthodoxy and worthiness of missionary support.”[12]  However, this is not the purpose of the entire book, and likely is purposed in the fact that there was an implication that both Jewish and Gentile Christians were “divided over whether believers need to obey certain provisions of the Mosaic Law.”[13]  One can only be reminded of the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15), and how that eventually played out in favor for the Gentiles.  Rightly so, because just as Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets concerning Him (Matt. 5:17-18; Mark 7:18-19; Luke 24:27; John 5:39-46; cf. John 4:21; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23-25; Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14; Heb. 7:23-24; 9:12; etc.), it can be deduced that all of the requirements of the law displayed within the ritualistic system were satisfied in Jesus’ efficacious submission on the cross (John 19:30; cf. Phil 2:8). 

[1] Douglas J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary: Romans, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 17, accessed March 29, 2018,

[2] Ibid., 17.

[3] Ibid., 17.

[4] Ibid., 17.

[5] Ibid., 17.

[6] Ibid., 18.

[7] Ibid., 18.

[8] Ibid., 18.

[9] Ibid., 20.

[10] Ibid., 19.

[11] Ibid., 16.

[12] Ibid., 21.

[13] Ibid., 22.