Paul's epistle to the Romans was written in 35AD from Corinth to the Church in Rome, a group that Paul had not visited at the time he wrote the letter. Paul was returning to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey and viewed Rome as a necessary base through which he could extend his ministry further to the west. Rome was a well-established church at the time, and may have been the cause of agitation over "Chrestus" that Suetonius mentions. Paul was not going to build a church on top of the existing Church there.
Paul intended to send the letter as a contribution to the Romans before going up to Rome himself. To this end, he talks about his mission to the Gentiles and the pitfalls of antinomianism, which is opposed to Paul's explanation of the obedience of faith, and legalism. Romans also was an important text the interpretation of which led the Protestant faiths to break away.
Paul begins by calling himself a slave of Christ, and this implies a certain authority for Paul. Paul also calls himself an apostle, a word used to signify the twelve and also anyone sent on a missionary journey. Paul can claim to have an authority similar to that of Peter, though his mission was to the Gentiles while Peter's was to the Jews, so both would apply to him.
The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com
Direct download: Romans01a.mp3
-- posted at: 12:52pm EDT