Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Background of Romans

Most scholars agree that Romans was written in Corinth, because at the end of Chapter 16 there is a list of person X sends greetings, many of whom are natives to Corinth. The other hint we have is this letter is pretty easy to date- Paul writes it right before the end of the third missionary journey, before he leaves for Jerusalem. Chapter 15 has it that Paul plans to take the love offering back, then visit Rome on the way to Spain.
That matches up with the account in Acts 20:2-4 "And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And [there] abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus."
See Romans 16:21 where Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus send greetings.
Luke doesn't tell us where Paul was while in Greece, but I think that at least part of the time he's lying low in the big port city of Corinth.
My next guess is the next ship going out toward Jerusalem wouldn't sail for three months, which is why he's in the region for three months.
Acts also says the Jews who wanted to kill him forced him to abort his plan of sailing back, so he has to walk. I take that to mean they set the ambush aboard the vessel, and after they cast off they would kill him. It makes a certain sense.
Lastly, Secundus the Thessalonian is with him, in all likelihood he was helping carry the offerings and gifts for Jerusalem since they couldn't use them as freight aboard the ship. But I have to think that he was also concerned about being an escort to keep Paul safe.

And that's why my book opens up the way it does.

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