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Introduction to Paul's Letter to the Romans

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

I: Paul and his Gospel (1:1 - 17) II: The Bad News (1:18 - 3:20)
III: The Good News (3:21 - 5:21) IV: Sanctification (6:1 - 8:39)
V: Election and Mercy (9:1 - 11:36) VI: Living the Gospel (12:1 - 15:13)
VII: Travel plans, Greeting (15:14 - 16:27)


Paul's letter to the Romans is often described as his greatest and most theological epistle, giving a clear exposition of the Gospel. It describes God’s plan of salvation, beginning by demonstrating that all people, whether Jew or Gentile, are condemned and deserve God’s wrath. However the righteousness of God is available to all those who respond to God in faith, trusting that Christ's death is the means by which God can remain righteous and yet can justify those with faith. This faith relationship involves dying to sin, dying to the power of the law and walking in the new life of the Spirit.

Influence of Romans

This letter has had an immeasurable impact on church history. People whose lives have been changed through reading this book have been instrumental in changing the course of church history, particularly by bringing the church back to the pure Gospel at times when it had drifted from it. Some of the most famous church leaders in history were brought to faith in Jesus through this book, including Augustine, Martin Luther and John Wesley. Each of these people had a great influence on the church in their time, and that influence has continued through the centuries to today.

At a time when Augustine wanted to begin a new life, but lacked the final resolution to break with his old life, he heard a child singing in a neighbouring house "Tolle, Lege!" (Take up and read!). He picked up and read, "not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Rom 13:13b-14). At the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded his heart, and all the darkness of doubt vanished away (Confessions 8.8).

Martin Luther came to understand that the righteousness of God came through faith, from the quotation of Habakkuk 2:4 (Rom 1:17). Previously, he understood God's righteousness as something to condemn him as a sinner, and not to save him. Finally he grasped the truth that God's righteousness, through his grace and mercy, justifies us by faith. Luther felt himself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of scripture took on a new meaning, and the righteousness of God became inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to him a gateway into heaven.

In the evening of 24th May 1738, John Wesley went very unwillingly to a society meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, where one person was reading the Preface of Luther's Commentary on Romans. In his Journal, Wesley described what happened: "About quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I trusted in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death".

Historical background

The foundation of the church in Rome

The exact origin of the church in Rome is unknown. It is not mentioned in Acts and there is no other record in the New Testament. The reference to "not building on another mans foundation" (Rom 15:20) shows that Paul had no part in establishing the church. Paul had never visited Rome before he wrote this letter, and did not arrive in Rome until four years later, as a prisoner (Acts 28).

There were around 40,000 Jews living in Rome in the first century. Some of these visited Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 2:10), so it is quite likely that some of these were converted and brought the Gospel back to Rome. This would mean that the church started off being very Jewish, like the Jerusalem church. The freedom of travel in the first century made possible by the Roman Empire means that it would be quite likely that some in the Jewish community in Rome honoured Jesus within months after the crucifixion.

The Roman Catholic tradition that Peter started the church, and was there for about 25 years after AD 42, appears to have little basis in history. Peter was in prison in Jerusalem around AD 46 (Acts 12), and in Jerusalem for the Council in AD 49 (Acts 15), and afterwards in Antioch (Gal 2:11). If Peter was the leading member of the church in Rome then Paul would have certainly sent greetings to him, or at least mentioned him in the letter.


Romans is usually dated during Paul's stay in Corinth on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:3). He spent AD 56-57 in Corinth, staying there through the winter months, when sea journeys were especially dangerous. Paul was staying with Gaius, who sent his greetings to the Roman church (16:23). Paul used an amanuensis or secretary, Tertius (16:22). Paul himself probably wrote the last paragraph of the letter by hand, having dictated the rest.

Timeline of Paul's Missionary Journeys and Letters

Year AD Letters Travels Chapters in Acts Events in Rome
47 1st
Cyprus 13
48 Galatia 13 - 14
49 Galatians
Jerusalem Council 15 Jews expelled from Rome
50 2nd
Galatia, Macedonia, Athens 17
51 Corinth
(18 months)
1 & 2 Thess
53 Ephesus
(2 years)
54 1 Cor
2 Cor Jews allowed to return
Macedonia 20
Romans Corinth 20
57 Trials in Jerusalem 22 - 23
58 Prison in Caesarea
(2 years)
24 - 26
59 Journey to Rome 27
60 Prison in Rome
(2 years)
61 Phil
Eph Col Phm
63 1 Tim Titus 4th missionary journey?
64 Fire of Rome
Persecution by Nero
2 Tim Final imprisonment
66 Martyrdom

Purpose of the book

At first sight, Romans appears to be a systematic treatment of God's plan of salvation, seeming to be removed from specific problems or instructions. The question is: Why did Paul set out his gospel so thoroughly for the church in Rome?

Paul gives some details of his travel plans (15:22-32). From Corinth, he intended to travel to the west, especially to Spain (v23). He had often intended to come to Rome, but had been prevented from doing so up to this time (v22, 1:10). He was now on his way to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints (v25-27, 2 Cor 8-9). After Jerusalem, he intended to visit Rome on his way to Spain, and to be sent on his way by the church in Rome (v24).

In this letter Paul laid out his gospel completely was so that he could introduce himself and his teaching, so the church would be able to decide if they wanted to support him and speed him on his way to Spain. Paul wrote to prepare the Roman church for his visit, so he could use the church as a sending church, as Antioch had been, for his thrust out to the west including Spain. Paul had spent the previous ten years from AD 47 to 56 in intense evangelisation of the Eastern Mediterranean area, and planted churches in many major Roman cities, so he could say that he had fully preached Christ from Jerusalem to Ilyricum (15:18-19), and now was making plans to visit them on his way to Spain (15:24).

Paul intended to travel to the west, but was prevented by trouble in the churches and hindrances to the completion of the collection for the saints. Paul was now on the way to Jerusalem, at the end of the third missionary journey, with the collection and would soon be free to look west, so wrote the Letter to the Romans to prepare the way and ask them to pray for his protection and the reception of the collection in Jerusalem (15:31).

This view does recognise the missionary emphasis (1:13-15) and Paul's ambition to preach in new places (15:20f) and to go to Spain (15:24). His ambition was to bring the gospel to the whole Roman world, Spain being the western limit. He had already evangelised Asia Minor and Greece, where he had planted thriving churches. He hoped that the Roman church would support his ministry to the west in prayer and financially, as well as acting as a link between Spain and Jerusalem to prevent the converts there from being very isolated.

However, this seems to be too weak a purpose of such a powerful letter. It would not really be necessary for Paul to expound his gospel in such detail just to gain their support. This is probably partly the reason for the letter, but not the main reason.

Romans was addressing a concrete situation in Rome

All the others of Paul's letters were written to address specific situations in the churches. They were written primarily from a pastoral perspective, rather than a theological one. In Romans there is very clear pastoral situation being addressed through the all of the letter.

Three times Paul mentions that he is called to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles (1:5, 15:18 16:26). He states clearly that he has addressed them on concerning some specific issues, "on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder" (15:15). Paul is not merely stating his doctrine, but also using rhetorical questions and arguments against an imaginary opponent. The pastoral problem seems to be disunity between the Jewish and Gentile believers.

In the early years, Christianity in Rome would have been strongly Jewish, and probably attached to the synagogue. The Jewish believers in Jesus, forming the nucleus of the church, were probably an offshoot of this and other synagogues.

According the historian, Suetonius, in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, all Jews, whether believers in Jesus or not, were expelled from Rome by Claudius in AD 49 after riots, leaving a Gentile church. "... since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius expelled them from Rome" (Suetonius: Lives of the Twelve Caesars - Claudius 25). The Crestus mentioned by Suetonius was probably meant to be Christus, implying that the Jewish community had probably been fighting and rioting over whether Jesus was the Messiah.

In the early years, Jews and Christians shared the complete toleration that Jews enjoyed under Roman rule. The Roman authorities saw Christianity as merely another sect of Judaism. Therefore when there was trouble with Jews, Claudius did not make distinction, but simply expelled all Jews, whether they believed in Jesus or not. Aquila was a Jewish believer who was expelled along with his wife Priscilla (Acts 18:2).

In AD 54, Claudius was succeeded by Nero, who reversed the edict, or allowed it to lapse. Jews, including believing Jews, then began to return to Rome. The letter to Romans was written from Corinth on Paul's third missionary journey in AD 57/58, by which time most Jews had returned, including Pricilla and Aquila (16:3).

The expulsion of Jews would mean that all Jewish believers left. Therefore all the Christians remaining in Rome would have been Gentile. This means that for a few years the Gentile influence would have grown and the church would have taken on non-Jewish, Gentile characteristics.

When Jewish Christians, who were still committed to the law, Jewish culture and tradition, returned to Rome after the expulsion, they found a very different situation. There were several house churches with no connection with the synagogue, dominated by Gentile Christians who had remained in Rome and had increased in numbers, forming a Gentile majority. This would result in problems and tensions between the two groups and great problems after the period of separation.

One church or many?

For many years, it was assumed that there was only a single congregation in Rome, as in other cities. However, the evidence in the letter would not support this. The letter is not addressed to the "church in Rome" (as in 1 & 2 Cor, 1 & 2 Thess etc.). Instead, the letter is addressed to "all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints" (1:7).

In chapter 16, there appears to be five or six separate house churches: the church in the house of Prisca & Aquila (v3-5), all who belong to the family of Aristobulus (v10), all who belong to the family of Narcissus (v11), all the brethren with Asyncritus (v14), and all the saints with Philologus (v15), possibly more.

Each group had probably come into existence under a different leader at a different time, each would have different conceptions of what is involved in the gospel. The ban on public assembly and disputes between the groups would keep them apart, especially over Jew / Gentile issues, such as holy days and eating or abstaining from particular food.

How Paul dealt with the disunity

Paul sent the letter to deal with the sources of friction and to bring about a new spirit of co-operation and interdependence between the groups, demonstrating the unity of Jewish and Gentile believers before God. At times Paul addresses the Jews specifically: "But if you call yourself a Jew ..." (2:17), "then what advantage has the Jew?" (3:1), "What then? Are we Jews any better off?" (3:9), "... to those under the law ..." (3:19), "I am speaking to those who know the law ..." (7:1). At other times, Paul addresses Gentiles specifically: "... Even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" (9:24), "Now I am speaking to you Gentiles" (11:13f), "Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience ..." (11:30).

Paul also addresses both groups together, showing that the distinction is broken: "The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, for the Jew first, then the Greek" (1:16), "... the Jew first and also the Greek ... no partiality" (2:9-11), "... both Jews and Greeks are under the power of sin" (3:9), "for there is no distinction, since all have sinned ..." (3:22), "Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles also?" (3:29), "Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith" (3:30), Abraham is the ancestor of both Gentiles and Jews who have faith (4:11-12, 16), "No distinction between Jew and Greek" (10:12).

In chapters 14 and 15 Paul addresses this problem specifically. The primary division was between the liberal minded Gentile majority (who Paul refers to as the strong in faith), and the conservative Jewish minority (referred to as the weak in faith). The two groups were condemning and passing judgement on each other. A few Jews may have found their new liberty in Christ and joined the Gentile groups, and a few Gentiles may think that they had to obey the whole law and joined the Jewish groups, but the split would predominantly be ethnic.

The weak in faith (mostly Jews) ate only certain foods (14:1-4), particularly vegetables (v3) and passed judgement on and condemned those who had no scruples about food. They did not regard all days as equally sacred (v5-9), and abstained from wine (v21). Some followed an ascetic form of Judaism, others were scrupulous Jews who would not eat meat with Gentiles, in case it had been offered to an idol, or if it had not been killed to Jewish standards.

The strong in faith (mostly Gentiles) considered all foods acceptable, nothing being unclean in itself (14:2,14), that all days are equally sacred (v5). They despised the more inhibited (v3, 10), and enjoyed disputing with the weak (v1).

Paul identifies himself with the basic position of the strong (15:1), but disassociates himself from their bad points especially when they scorn the weak. He brings the following principles in order to prevent disunity: God has welcomed the other brother (14:3), and only God can judge and vindicate his servants (14:4), therefore welcome each other, as God has welcomed you (14:1,3, 15:7). These principles are denied when the weak (Jews) judged the strong (Gentiles), and when the strong (Gentiles) despised the weak (Jews).

He recognised that both groups eat or abstain out of the best motives - to honour the Lord (14:6), they have a common relationship to Christ (v7-9) and mutual accountability to God (v10-12). Paul brings the two sides together (v13-23) showing what is right in the two positions. Nothing is unclean in itself (the strong), but unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean (the weak) (v14), while everything is clean (the strong), but it is wrong to make others fall by what they eat (the weak) (v20). If a person is forced to eat food he thought was unclean, he would be sinning against his conscience. The strong Gentile Christians were totally lacking in sensitivity: injuring and ruining a brother (v15), causing him to stumble (v13, 21), causing him to sin and be condemned (v23), and being a factor in destroying God's work in his life (v20).

Love is the factor missing in the strong. Paul is trying to get both groups to focus on priorities. The kingdom is not a matter of food or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy (14:17). Therefore keep personal convictions a matter between yourself and God, and concentrate on strengthening your own faith and avoid sin (14:22). His prayer is for joy, peace and abounding in hope by power of Holy Spirit (14:13). Paul wants the strength of the Holy Spirit to produce joy, peace and hope, not the arid disagreements between the weak and strong.

The summary of Paul's goal for the Roman Christians is expressed in these verses, "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Jesus Christ, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (15:5-6).

A Letter to the Heart of the Roman Empire

This letter was written to the believers in Rome, the capital of the Empire, and home of the Emperor. The Romans boasted about their military power, and that they had brought peace to their huge empire - the Pax Romana. There was a growing trend towards worship of the emperor, known as the imperial cult. Temples were dedicated to Roma, the goddess of Rome, personified in the emperor. In contrast to this, the Gospel could appear to be weak and feeble, but Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel. "It is the power of God for salvation ..." (1:16). Many of the Christian terms have politically loaded associations. Jesus was declared as the King or Lord, and the divine Son of God, in contrast to the Emperor. He was the Saviour, which was also a title claimed by the Emperor. Paul preached the Gospel, the Good News, which was a word associated with bringing news of new military conquest, the emperor’s birthday, or the accession of a new emperor to the throne. So the good news of a new king would be a highly political statement. Even Paul claiming to be an apostle would have political associations, as it was an apostle, or messenger, who brought the good news of military victory.

Integrity of the letter

Many scholars claim that only the first fifteen chapters and the benediction were in the original letter, and that chapter sixteen was added later, being addressed originally to Ephesus. However, considering that Paul did so much travelling, it is more likely that he would know 26 Christians in Rome, than that he would single them out from the congregation in Ephesus, when he knew the whole congregation, having spent three years there. Many of those greeted in chapter 16 would have been expelled from Rome by Claudius in AD 49, and met Paul in their exile (like Prisca and Aquila). Once the edict was repealed, they had returned to Rome. Paul wrote the letter in AD 57-58 from Corinth, and sent greetings to his friends. There is more evidence for the names in chapter 16 being Roman, than Ephesian. For example, Stachys (v9) was a rare name, but which appears on an inscription of an officer in the imperial court in Rome in Paul's time. Apelles (v10) appears in other inscriptions in Rome, but not in Ephesus.

The textual evidence is best explained that chapter 16 was part of the original letter, which was later cut to make it more general and universal. This chapter gives us clues about the setting and purpose of the letter.

People Mentioned in Romans 16

Phoebe (v1)

Paul wrote a brief introduction to commend Phoebe. Such letters of commendation were common if someone was moving to a strange town or in the Christian spheres, visiting a church in another town. Phoebe was a deaconess at the church of Cenchreae, the eastern seaport of Corinth, and was probably the post-woman, taking the letter to Rome. The Roman church was requested to help her. She is spoken well of by Paul as a 'helper'.

Believers in Rome

Paul greets twenty-six people by name in the churches in Rome, giving us a fascinating insight into the composition of the church. There is a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, and including a number of people with connections with the imperial household. There are seven Jews (four men and three women). There are twelve free Gentiles (eight men and four women), and nine Gentile slaves (six men and three women). He greets a total of nine different women, five of whom are commended for their labour in the Lord. Thirteen of all the names mentioned occur in inscriptions or documents that have connections with the Emperor's palace in Rome. The church had certainly penetrated Caesar's household (Phil 1:13, 4:22).

1 & 2. Prisca and Aquila (v3)
This couple arrived in Corinth because of the edict by Claudius that Jews should leave Rome (Acts 18:2). Aquila was a Jew. Aquila is a Latin name meaning eagle, so he would also have had a Jewish name which is not known, but it seems his wife was not Jewish. Luke uses the diminutive familiar form Priscilla. When Paul arrived in Corinth, they established a friendship that would continue for many years. They, like Paul, were tent makers.

When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus on the second missionary journey, Priscilla and Aquila travelled with him. He left them there while he visited Jerusalem during which time they ministered to Apollos "... teaching the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:26). Around AD 55, Priscilla and Aquila were still in Ephesus where they had a church in their house (1 Cor 16:19). By AD 56, they were back in Rome, where Paul's describes them as fellow workers, who risked their necks for my life, to whom many Gentiles gave thanks, and who have a church in their house. By the mid-sixties, they were once again back in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19).

3. Epaenetus (v5) is otherwise unknown. The fact that he was Paul's first convert in Asia, probably in Ephesus on the third missionary journey, made him special to Paul.

4. Mary (v6) was a common name and no evidence to relate this to any other Mary in the New Testament. Paul describes her as a hard-working lady, indicating that she had been a believer for some time.

5 & 6. Andronicus and Junia (v7) were probably a husband and wife team, who are both referred to as apostles. They would have been saved soon after (if not at) Pentecost. "My relatives" means they were Jews. During their ministry they had shared one of Paul's many imprisonments. They had an outstanding ministry and were well known among those who were called Apostles, perhaps being commended by the apostles in Jerusalem.

7. Ampliatus (v8) is unknown, other than that he was beloved by Paul. Ampliatus was a common slave name, and often used in the imperial household. In the earliest of the Christian catacombs, there is a decorated tomb with a single name Ampliatus. The single name implies that he was a slave, while the fact that his tomb was decorated shows he was of high rank in the church.

8. Urbanus (v9) is unknown fellow-worker in the church. His name means that he belongs to the urbs or city, meaning that he is a citizen of Rome.

9. Stachys (v9) An unknown woman, beloved by Paul. An unusual woman’s name, others of this name have been found in association with the imperial household.

10. Apelles (v10) is a very common Jewish name, meaning approved or tested in Christ. He is otherwise unknown.

11. Those who belong to the family of Aristobulus (v10). Aristobulus may have been one of the seventy disciples sent out by Jesus. He later preached in Britain and become bishop. The "family of Aristobulus" would either mean his household or a church meeting in his house. There was a grandson of Herod the Great called Aristobulus, brother of Herod Agrippa I. He was a quiet man and did not inherit any of Herod's land.

12. Herodian (v11) A Jewish believer in Rome, no more known about him. Described as a kinsman of Paul, perhaps a relative. His name might indicate some link with the family of King Herod.

13. Family of Narcissus (v11) It is not known whether this refers to a family or a church. It is interesting to note that Paul says to greet those "in the Lord". Perhaps not all of the family of Narcissus were Christians. Narcissus was a common name. There was a Tiberius Claudius Narcissus who was a secretary to Claudius. He amassed almost £4,000,000 because he was the way by which letters reached Claudius. Nero compelled Narcissus to commit suicide to get his wealth. This may be referring to the slaves and servants of this man. If so, then Christianity was well established in Caesar's household.

14 & 15. Tryphaena and Tryphosa (v12) These are both women in Rome who were 'workers'. Their names mean 'Dainty' and 'Delicate', they were probably sisters, or even twins, as their names have the same root. These names have also been found in the imperial household.

16. Persis (v12) was another Gentile woman in Rome who is beloved and worked hard. Her name means 'Persian woman'.

17. Rufus (v13) is a very common name meaning 'Red or red haired'. Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross, is described as the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). Mark wrote his gospel for the Roman Christians and mentioned these three people by name perhaps because they were known to them. His Mother (v13) is otherwise unknown. Paul refers to her as 'his mother', indicating that he must have known her personally some time in the past. Paul had not yet been to Rome but there was a Simeon called Niger (black) in the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1). If this was Simon of Cyrene, then Paul could well have known the family there and had Rufus' mother care for him. They could then have moved to Rome, and as Simon is not mentioned, it seems that Simon was not alive when Romans were written.

18 & 19. Asyncritus and Phlegon (v14) are also unknown.

20. Hermes (v14) a common slave name, named after Hermes the god of good luck.

21. Patrobus (v14), an abbreviation of Patrobius, a name of a wealthy freedman of Nero.

22. Hermas (v14) was a very common name. Jerome identifies him as the same Hermas who later wrote The Shepherd of Hermas, a popular Christian allegory. "Hermas whom the apostle Paul mentions in writing to the Romans, 'Salute Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren that are with them' is reputed to be the author of the book which is called Pastor and which is also read publicly in some churches of Greece. It is in fact a useful book and many of the ancient writers quote from it as authority, but among the Latins it is almost unknown." (Jerome Lives of Illustrious Men 10).

All five names in v14 are Greek. The brethren with them could be the elders of one of the fellowships in Rome.

23 & 24. Philologus and Julia (v15) are an otherwise unknown and probably a married couple.

25. Nereus (v15) Nothing else is known about him. However, In AD 95 two of the most distinguished people in the city were condemned for being Christians, Flavus Clemens and his wife Domatilla. Nereus was the name of the chamberlain, who was probably a slave, perhaps who had led them to Christ. The father of Flavius Clemens was Flavius Sabinus who was Nero's executioner. Nothing else is known about his unnamed sister (v15).

26. Olympus (v15) nothing else known.

Philologus, Julia, Nereus, his sister, and Olympus were probably members of the same family: father, mother, two sons and a daughter, or otherwise leaders of the church. The saints with them (v15) would be a church that met in their house or under their leadership.

Believers in Corinth

These are the people with Paul in Corinth, who are sending greetings to the believers in Rome:

Timothy (v21), Paul’s loyal co-worker, was also with Paul in Corinth when he wrote Romans.

Lucius (v21). A man named Lucius was one of those praying with Paul and Barnabas when they were set apart for the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1). This may be the same man. If so he is from Cyrene in Libya, North Africa.

Jason (v21) is unknown, unless he is the same Jason who was host to Paul in Thessalonica (Acts 15:5). He house was attacked and he was dragged before city authorities. He could well have been with Paul in Corinth.

Sosipater (v21) is a fellow-Jew. He may be the Sopater of Beroea (Acts 20:4), who was with Paul on his return to Jerusalem.

Tertius (v22) was Paul's scribe in Corinth.

Gaius (v23) is a name mentioned in several places in the New Testament (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 3 John 1), but these are unlikely all to be the same person. Paul baptized a man named Gaius (1 Cor 1:14), one of the few people who was baptized by Paul in Corinth, who is likely to be the same man, who was Paul's host in Corinth when this letter was written. The whole church could mean Gaius was leader, or that it met at his house.

Erastus (v23) was the City Treasurer of Corinth. A Latin inscription on a paving block was found in Corinth in 1929, saying "Erastus, in return for his aedileship (appointment as commissioner for public works) laid this pavement at his own expense".

Quartus (v23) is an otherwise unknown believer in Corinth. Quartus (fourth) may have been the younger brother of Tertius (third), their numeric names indicating that they were both born as slaves.

Quotations from the Old Testament

Paul quotes plentifully from the Old Testament, particularly in the sections addressed to Jews. The quotations are particularly frequent in chapters 9-11, where they mostly come in pairs.

1:17 Hab 2:4b 10:5 Lev 18:5
10:6-7 Deut 30:12-13
2:24 Is 52:5 10:8 Deut 30:14
10:11 Is 28:16
3:4 Ps 51:4 10:13 Joel 2:32
3:10-12 Ps 14:1c, 2b-3, (Ps 51) 10:15 Is 52:7
3:13a Ps 5:9 10:16 Is 53:1
3:13b Ps 140:3 10:18 Ps 19:4
3:14 Ps 10:7 10:19 Deut 32:21
3:15-17 Is 59:7-8 10:20 Is 65:1
3:18 Ps 36:1 10:20 Is 65:2
3:20 (Ps 143:2)
11:3 1 Kg 19:10,14
4:3 Gen 15:6 11:4 1 Kg 19:18
4:7-8 Ps 32:1-2 11:8 Is 29:10 / Deut 29:4
4:17 Gen 17:5 11:9 Ps 69:22-23
4:18 Gen 15:5 11:26 Is 59:20-21
4:22-23 Gen 15:6 11:27 Is 27:9 / Jer 31:33
11:34 Is 40:13-14
7:7 Ex 20:17, Deut 5:21 11:35 Job 41:11
8:36 Ps 44:22 12:19 Deut 32:35
12:20 Prov 25:21-22
9:7 Gen 21:2
9:9 Gen 18:10 13:9a Ex 20:13-17, Deut 5:17-21
9:12 Gen 25:23 13:9b Lev 19:18
9:13 Mal 1:2-3
9:15 Ex 33:19 14:11 Is 45:23
9:17 Ex 9:16
9:25 Hos 2:23 15:3 Ps 69:9b
9:27-28 Is 10:22a, 23 15:9 Ps 18:49, 2 Sam 22:50
9:29 Is 1:9 15:10 Deut 32:43
9:33 Is 28:16 15:11 Ps 117:1
15:21 Is 52:15

Related articles

I: Paul and his Gospel (1:1 - 17) II: The Bad News (1:18 - 3:20)
III: The Good News (3:21 - 5:21) IV: Sanctification (6:1 - 8:39)
V: Election and Mercy (9:1 - 11:36) VI: Living the Gospel (12:1 - 15:13)
VII: Travel plans, Greeting (15:14 - 16:27)

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS