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[Series showing the progressive unfoldment of the Christ, Truth, throughout the Scriptures.]

Epistle to the Romans: Chapters 1 to 8

From the August 1976 issue of The Christian Science Journal

After sending his joyful final letter to the church at Corinth, Paul set out for Greece, where he stayed three months (see Acts 20:2, 3). Acts recounts neither his preaching nor his literary activity in Greece; but in all probability it was during this period, about a.d. 56-57, that Paul composed his longest and perhaps most carefully tailored letter, the Epistle to the Romans.

Scholars differ as to the original length and recipient of Romans because of certain difficulties in the text as we have it. While 1:7 addresses only the church at Rome, the last chapter lists many personal greetings from the apostle—improbable remarks for a church as yet unvisited by Paul. Chapter 16 also has greetings for Priscilla and Aquila, and for Epaenetus, the first convert of Asia, all of whom most commentators believe to have been living in Ephesus when Romans was written. In addition, a number of apparently separate benedictions are found from 15:33 to the letter's end.

One popular explanation for these features suggests the letter originally was written to the Roman church, but also circulated among various other churches, with appropriately different salutations added by Paul. Chapter 16 (as we have it) may be a compilation of salutations and benedictions from various copies, words Christians naturally would have been eager to preserve.