Summary: Made righteous through the righteousness of Jesus, which we receive by faith in Him. Whoever believes in Jesus shall not be ashamed. Whoever calls upon His name will be saved. Sincere faith leads to public confession of Christ.
CONFESS AND BELIEVE
According to a Roman historian, the Emperor Claudius ordered all the Jews to leave Rome after public disorders caused by the preaching of the claims of Jesus Christ in the synagogues. This fact is echoed in the Scriptures, where we find the Jewish Christian couple Aquila and Priscilla playing host to the Apostle Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:2-3), and travelling with him to Ephesus.
It appears that when Claudius died, his successor the Emperor Nero lifted the edict, for by the time that Paul wrote his letter to the Romans the Apostle’s friends and co-workers were back in Rome. (Romans 16:3-4).
For at least five years, Jewish Christians had been absent from Rome, leaving the Gentile Christians in charge. This no doubt gave rise to tensions between the two groups when they were reunited. For the first time in history, the local Church had been led by people who were not from Abraham’s earthly family.
Although Paul had not yet been to Rome, he knew a lot of people there and perhaps heard about the particular problems which they were facing. The arrival of so many Jewish Christians in the now predominantly Gentile fellowship would have been a challenge to the leadership and unity of the community in Rome. Prior to their expulsion from the City, the Jews had founded and led the Church. However, now the Gentiles had become used to having things their own way.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is very carefully thought out, and tactfully worded. He spoke of the unity of the body of Christ, and how we as the members of that body belong to one another. He spoke of living in harmony.
In the land of the Jews there was the beginning of the unrest which would ultimately lead to rebellion, and the destruction of Jerusalem. With the Emperor still just a youth, Rome itself was far from secure, and Paul taught submission to the authorities as appointed by God.
Paul spoke of the different groupings within the Church as the “weak” and the “strong.” Some Jewish Christians had problems about what they might and might not eat. Some kept particular solemn days, in accordance with their earlier Jewish faith. Paul encouraged the strong to be patient with the infirmities of the weak.
Paul emphasised the impartiality of God in His dealings with Jews and Gentiles. All were under sin, so what right had one group to feel superior to the other? As descendants of Adam, through whom sin had entered the world, all stood guilty before God. As believers in Christ, those who were Christians were redeemed by the same Saviour.
It is amazing to observe the passion of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, on behalf of his people Israel. There was no doubt in his mind that the history of the Church was bound up with the history of Israel. It was “to the Jew first” that the gospel was preached. As Jesus said, “salvation is of the Jews.” Paul’s own missionary procedure on arriving in a new city was to go first to the synagogue with the gospel, and only after that to the Gentiles.