Daily Bible Reading for December 29, 2013: Romans 1-2.
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Approximate Date: AD 58
Context and Message: Paul’s letter to the Romans was written approximately 30 years after the ascension of Jesus Christ. Several years earlier, the Jews (Jews and Jewish Christians) had been forced to leave the city of Rome by the emperor. Following the emperor’s death, the Jews began returning to the city. This letter came to the Roman church at a time of change. A great amount of tension existed between Jewish Christians and Gentiles. Jewish Christians insisted that the laws of Moses, including circumcision and dietary restrictions, must be followed in order to gain salvation. Gentiles were reluctant to abide by the strict Jewish laws. One of Paul’s goals in this letter is to relieve the tension that exists between the two groups. Romans begins with a greeting and Paul expressing his desire to visit the Roman church. He then condemns the unrighteous, those who satisfy the desires of the flesh. In chapter 2, Paul warns against passing judgment on others while failing to see the unrighteous acts they themselves are committing. Paul goes on to explain that following the law alone will not guarantee salvation. More important is what is written on our heart.
World History: Nero became emperor of Rome in AD 54, approximately four years before Paul wrote his letter to the Romans. With Nero becoming emperor, the Jews began to return to Rome. Within the Roman Empire, war was on the horizon with the Persian Empire, who wanted to expand into Roman territory. The Great Fire of Rome occurred in AD 64, for which Nero attempted to blame the Christians, in part to deflect blame from himself.