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When in Romans ...

I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of any sources for themes, issuses, and the audience St. Paul had in mind when he was writing his letters to the Romans. I would greatly appreciate if you could point me to any sources.

St. Paul's Letter to the Romans is considered by some (myself included) to be one of the most incredible written works ever penned. The thought progression, tone, language and urgency that flows forth from it stirs the soul and challenges any reader whose heart is truly open; obviously, I'm really glad you're taking the time to read, pray and study it.

I would suggest you first look at the Introduction to Romans in the pages that immediately proceed the book. If your Bible doesn't contain an intro, search for one that does - preferably a Catholic Study Bible, before you begin your research. This will prepare you with background information. But to help you out, I have listed some background below:

The book of Romans was written (probably) between 56-58 A.D. during Paulís third missionary journey. He had written it while in Greece, just before he set out for Jerusalem. He had heard and learned of the conditions of the church in Rome (most likely from his friends, Aquila and Priscilla - Acts 18:2 - and other travelers/missionaries.

Paul wrote the letter to introduce himself because he planned to travel to Rome, strengthen them in their Christian pursuit and to enlist support there for a mission to Spain. He didnít end up traveling there as a missionary, actually. He did arrive there later, however, but as a prisoner in chains.

Rome consisted of both Jewish and Christian population. The church in Rome began around 49 A.D. (roughly). Rome had a Christian community, likely within the Jewish population there. Scholars disagree as to whether the Jews or the Gentile Christians predominated in the house of churches.

Romans is a powerful book of the doctrine of Jesus and faith in Christ as our salvation. It is a plea to those in Rome and to all Christians to hold fast to their faith. Romans is a book that talks of how a Christian life reaches Heaven, whereas James is a book that describes Christian life on earth.

Some more themes in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans are:

  1. The freedom that you find only in Christ

  2. The need to resist any pressure to accept the doctrine of salvation through the Jewish law

  3. Israel's relationship to the church

  4. The duties of Christians

  5. Salvation and justification through faith in Christ

Again, it's a beautiful book. Once you've taken the time to read through the Introduction to Romans, be sure to take time and work through each chapter slowly. Try journaling while you do it. Take time to read the footnotes and as you go along, write down the questions that come to you. Seek answers to those questions from priests, ministers or from other adults who are not only knowledgeable about the Word but humble in their spirit (they need to be both if they're really going to help get you to where you want to go in the Word).

I'm happy you're jumping into this book and further into the Word...well done.

Be God's.

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