Romans : Christian Community Bible
Introduction to Romans
In this letter to the Christians of Rome, capital of the Empire, Paul intends to respond to the concerns of the Greeks but without thereby neglecting the Jews. Jews were numerous in the Roman community as in all of the Roman Empire, and for those who believed in Christ it was difficult to reposition themselves towards God after a great majority of their own people had rejected the Christian faith. Up to then they had shared the hope of their people thinking that all Israel would recognize the coming of the Savior God. Now they were apparently no more than a minority on the margin of a long, biblical history.
The Letter to the Romans is for the most part a long exposition about Christian vocation. To us it will seem difficult, because that is what it is. We shall find there discussions and use of biblical texts which will often disconcert us, for Paul discusses as he had learned to do in the rabbinical schools of Jerusalem. It must be remembered that Paul’s teaching does not stem from a doctrinal system or from a theology: rather it constantly springs from his own experience. The encounter with the Risen Christ, the call made to Paul that put him at the service of the Gospel, the long experience as an apostle, the gifts of the Spirit acting in him and constant communion with Jesus: these were the sources of his vision of faith.
So Paul spoke of God’s salvation as if forgetful of the explosive Palestinian context where Jewish nationalism was at grips with the Romans and where all religious hopes were politicized. God’s salvation is the salvation of the human race, a total project, but taking place in the heart of people; all will depend on our response to God’s call: can we trust him?
NOTE: excerpted from the book's introductory material.