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Who wrote the book of Romans?

Categories Biblical Studies Commentaries (NT)

The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul. There's been almost no debate about this in the scholarly world over the years. Though the authorship of some of Paul's letters in the New Testament has been vigorously debated, I believe that Paul wrote all of them in the New Testament. There really hasn't been any debate about the book of Romans. 

The book has been viewed as very typical of the sort of letter the apostle Paul would write and would say. Romans has set this gold standard, if you will, for determining what writings are by the apostle. So there's not really any credible debate about who wrote this book.

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When did Paul write the letter?

It was probably written in AD 57. There's been a little bit of debate about that. Some people think it's a little bit earlier, maybe AD 55 or so, a few maybe think it is a little bit later. But AD 57 works pretty well with the narrative of the book of Acts.

Paul seems to have been was Corinth and the most likely opportunity that he had to write this letter in Corinth comes in the first part of Acts chapter 20, where Paul spent three months in Greece. 

He was probably in the city of Corinth because in Romans 16, he sends Phoebe, who was a deaconess in the church in Cenchrea, apparently with the letter to the Romans to Rome, and Cenchrea was a little port city right near Corinth. 

It'd make a lot of sense if Paul was in Corinth when he wrote this letter. The best place to locate that as see it in the narrative of Acts is Acts chapter 20, verses one to four, and so, the best place to date that part of Paul's career around AD 57.

What was happening in Rome at that time?

We know a good bit about what was happening in Rome in AD 57 because we have a Roman historian named Tacitus, who wrote in the early second century AD. Tacitus tells us a great deal about the emperor Nero. And we also have another historian, Suetonius, who tells us a lot about Nero. Nero was the emperor in this particular period. We actually have a lot of evidence for the historical and cultural background of this church to whom Paul was writing.

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This post is adapted from Frank Thielman’s commentary on Romans in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series and has been lightly edited for clarity.

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