Epistle To The Romans, one of the canonical books of the New Testament. The epistle was written by the apostle Paul, according to the opinion of most critics, in A. D. 58, during his abode at Corinth, where he stayed about three months after making a journey through Macedonia and Achaia. Paul despatched the letter by a Cenchrean woman who was travelling to Rome, and sent greetings from an inhabitant of Corinth. Many modern commentators suppose that the debates mentioned in ch. xiv. and xv. called forth the epistle. Its special bearings are particularly manifest in ch. xiii. to xvi., in which Paul shows to both Jews and gentiles the glory of Christianity as being the only true religion, and especially endeavors to confirm the faith of the converts from Judaism. - As to its contents, the epistle consists of two chief divisions, one of which is argumentative, the other hortatory. In the former, the apostle, after an introduction (i. 1-16) expressing his desire to see the saints at Rome, sets forth the gospel plan of salvation.
The gospel is a power unto salvation to every one who believes, both Jew and gentile; it is needed by all, for none, not even the Jew by his law, are justified before God (i. 16 to iii. 20). It is only faith in Christ which works justification, even as Abraham and David were justified by faith (iii. 21 to iv. 25). Those who are justified have peace with God, and rejoice; for through Christ, the reconciler, a new life has begun for mankind (ch. v.). But with reconciliation holiness must be connected, not under law, but under grace (vi., vii.). The spirit of life in Christ overcomes sin and the flesh, and all earthly sufferings, through hope; the believer lives already here below in security (viii.). The apostle then deplores the rejection of Jews, but finds some consolation in the assurance that it will not be final (ix. to xi.). In the second or hortatory part the apostle enjoins various duties (xii.), in particular duties to magistrates (xiii.). He urges mutual forbearance (xiv.), and especially admonishes the strong to bear with the weak (xv.), and concludes with various salutations and directions (xvi.). - The authenticity of the epistle has rarely been impugned, though Bruno Baur has denied the genuineness of the last two chapters, and Sem-ler, David Schultz, Weisse, and Ewald have maintained that ch. xvi. did not originally form a part of the epistle.
Weisse and Ewald consider it a fragment of an epistle addressed to the Ephesians. Renan has supposed that the epistle was written originally as a circular letter, four copies being made with different endings, and sent to the churches in Rome, Ephesus, and Thessalonica, and to some church not known. Lightfoot maintains that it was first written to Rome, but afterward altered by Paul in the address and salutations, and sent out generally. - The literature on this epistle is very copious, and is detailed in De Wette's Einleitung in das Neue Testament (8th ed., Berlin, 1869), and in the American edition of Lange's commentary. It is treated in the general commentaries of Estius and Cornelius a Lapide, written from the Roman Catholic standpoint, and of Calvin, Bengel, Olshausen, De Wette, Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth, and Ewald; and in special works by Reiche (Göt-tingen, 1833-'4), Hodge (Philadelphia, 1835; enlarged ed., 1864), Fritzsche (Leipsic, 1836-'43), Rückert (2d ed., 1839), Turner (New York, 1853), Tholuck (5th ed., Halle, 1855), Van Hengel (Bois-le-Duc, 1855), Umbreit (Go-tha, 1856), Brown (Edinburgh and New York, 1857), Stuart (6th ed., Andover, 1857), Jowett (2d ed., London, 1859), Vaughan (2d ed., 1861), Mangold (Marburg, 1866), Forbes (Edinburgh, 1868), Hofmann (Nördlingen, 1868), and Pau-lus (Zürich, 1875).