Romans 1:7 (ESV)

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who were the members of the Church in Rome? Where they

  1. Jewish Christians?
  2. Slaves?
  3. Freedmen(slaves who gained freedom)?
  4. Roman citizens(by birth or by paying the price)?

If the church in Rome was a compound of all kinds of people, who were the majority?


Here are some excerpts from some study materials I have on this subject, you may find other sources, but this seems to be the most reliable I have found, There is also some information in the Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, which you might wish to check out.

When Paul wrote his letter to Christians at Rome towards the end of his third missionary journey, he was communicating with what appears to be a firmly established collection of believers in that city.

Based on a study of relevant biblical and extra-biblical documents, it is generally agreed that non-apostolic Jewish Christians brought the faith of Christ to Rome in the early decades of the church.

After generating both interest and controversy within the synagogues, Christianity was forced to reorganize in the wake of Claudius’s edict against the Jews. The resulting Gentile-dominated church that received Paul’s letter in the late 50’s met in small groups around the city of Rome but maintained communication and held onto a common identity and mission.

apparently Peter was instrumental in the formation of the church in Rome and became the first Pope in that branch of the Orthodox Church which split in 1055 from the Orthodox church in Jerusalem.

Paul and Peter leave their mark on these believers, though they merely strengthen the work that had already begun to flourish in the capital city.

Beyond these main points, scholars still differ on the exact timeline of the birth and growth of the Christian community, as well as on to what degree Roman reactions against Jewish instability stem from disagreements about Christ.

When all is said though, the overall picture of the emergence of Christianity in Rome constitutes yet another significant example of God’s extraordinary work in the early church during the decades following Christ’s death and resurrection.

  • 1
    Intrigued by the assertion that Paul was the first Pope rather than Peter. Can you explain that? – lonesomeday Feb 8 '14 at 8:11
  • @lonesomeday it's easy to explain 'I messed up and said Paul when I meant Peter'. My apologies I have corrected that, and thank you for pointing it out. – BYE Feb 8 '14 at 12:52
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    Care to name your source(s)? – Ryan Frame Feb 8 '14 at 14:03
  • @RyanFrame These came from my study notes, and unfortunately when I wrote them down I did not put down the source I took them from. The study notes were from the category of Biblical History, and most of these are taken from trusted sites on the web, although not all of them. Sorry I cannot give you the exact place to research them, and there are probably 25 or more sites I trust. – BYE Feb 8 '14 at 14:16
  • So the epistle was written with the understanding that the church in the Rome area was composed of Gentiles because the Jews had been expelled. – Steve Feb 8 '14 at 14:19

The statement that the faith of the Romans “is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8) is evidence that the Christian community of Rome had grown to some size. Raymond E.Brown says in An Introduction to the New Testament, page 561, that Paul’s letter implies that the community had been in existence for a long time, since he had been wishing “for many years” to visit (Romans 15:23). This also tells us that Paul had never visited Rome at the time he wrote this letter.

To me, the Epistle to the Romans is a job application, albeit an unsolicited one. Paul spends the first chapter winning the trust of the Romans, assuring them that he would fit into their group, and closes by assuring them that he has no intention of stepping on toes and will not outstay his welcome, because he plans to proceed to Spain after a short stay in Rome (15:24,28). He provides a detailed resume by laying out much of what we know about his theology.

As with his other epistles, Paul’s chief message is utter opposition to adopting Jewish law, especially on circumcision, and he spends a large part of the epistle making his case. This points to Paul's belief that a large proportion of the Christians in Rome were gentiles, who were being pressured to undergo circumcision. But they were not all gentiles. In Romans 2:12-15, Paul is careful to gain the support of Rome's Jewish Christians as well, saying that people will be judged according to what they do – Jews according to the Law, Gentiles according to nature, which is based on the Law.

Because there was as yet no leader of the church in Rome, Paul's letter was written to the congregation as a whole (Romans 1:7: "to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy..."). This no doubt included freemen and slaves, gentiles and Jews.

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