The Early Christian Church - Vol. 1

By Philip Carrington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM

Origins of the Roman church, p.148. Christianity in Rome, p.150. The journal of the pilgrimage, A.D. 55 or 56, p.151. Philippi and Troas, p.152. The elders at Ephesus, p.153. The voyage to Caesarea, p. 155. James and the elders, p.156. The Epistle of James, p.157. Paul in Jerusalem, A.D. 55-56, p.158. Paul in Caesarea, p.159. The Caesarean imprisonment, A.D. 55-57 or 56-58, p.60. The written gospels, p.161 Festus and Agrippa II, p.163.


ORIGINS OF THE ROMAN CHURCH

It was twenty-four years after the Crucifixion when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, and we are able to make a survey, of a sort, of a remarkable expansion which was still proceeding very vigorously. He could claim that he had brought the gospel in all its fullness from Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, as far as the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It was his métier, however, to introduce it where Christ was not named, and that is the reason which he gives for not planning to work in Rome. He has planned to visit the city time and time again, but he has always been prevented. He hopes to visit it now on his way to Spain, where there will be scope for his special type of work. He feels that his work in the regions where he now is has been done; and this was actually true; he had laid foundations which would bear up the weight of Gentile Christianity in those parts.

We do not know what man or men had laid the foundations in Rome. The English translation speaks of them as having been laid by 'another man'; but this is too precise. The word only means that they had been laid by others.

We see no sign of an organized church. The Epistle is directed to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints. It looks as if the saints in the imperial city were divided into small groups or households. Paul seems to know of about six groups, together with a number of individuals. The Epistle was carried by a 'deacon' of the church at Cenchreae, a lady of the name of Phoebe, who had been a patroness of many; she was one of those prominent women whose services he was an adept at enlisting. The word 'deacon' would not yet seem to have been confined to its technical usage.

-148-

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