The Church at Rome was probably started by Jewish Christians converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Gentile converts were added to the Church over the years but the Jewish Christians would have been among the longest-standing members and probably leaders of the church. When the Emperor expelled all Jews from Rome it would have meant that the church lost several members and leaders. The Gentile members had to take on added responsibilities as a result. That would have been the situation for the 5 years that the ban lasted until Claudius' death in AD 54. Gradually, many of the Jewish members moved back to Rome and back to the Church. You can quickly understand the potential conflict in such a situation. If the Jewish elders who were forced to leave move back, should they be automatically reinstated to their offices? Should the Gentile men who served as elders in their absence now step aside? Should things go back to the way they were 5 years earlier before the Jews were expelled or should the Jewish members who came back be expected to adapt and fit in with the way the church is operating and being led now? You see the problem! This explains why Paul addresses both Jewish and Gentile members separately at various places in the letter (2:17; 4:1; 11:13). As we will see, Paul is very concerned in Romans to stress the unity that Jews and Gentiles have in Christ. He does that by emphasizing the gospel, showing how it is all about God's grace to us in Christ Jesus. In this letter Paul lays out in a systematic way the fundamental teachings of the gospel of God's grace. He shows how this gospel makes us right with God and empowers us to live Christians
Great Sermon! I am THRILLED to see Tom Ascol tackle Romans; Martyn Lloyd-Jones' ecpodition of Romans changed EVERYTHING for this former lifelong Roman Catholic after floundering for a year in the spiritually dead OPC in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Thr study of Romans changed me profoundly indeed.