The first of the epistles, as well as the first epistle of the apostle Paul, in the New Testament is
the letter to the Romans.
The author of the epistle is introduced in the first chapter and the first verse: “Paul, a servant of
Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” Thus, the apostle
Paul is plainly stated to be the author. That he used a secretary in writing this epistle is shown
in 16:22 with the words: “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” This does
not in any way detract from the authorship of the epistle any more than the use of a secretary
detracts from the authorship of a modern businessman for the letters he dictates either
personally or into a dictaphone.
Romans is one of those few books of the New Testament of which the modern “higher critics”
have not denied its authorship.
As B.W. Johnson states: “We have only space to add that even the most radical rationalistic
criticism has always admitted that this Epistle has for its author the Apostle Paul. The
testimony of the ancient church is unanimous; Renan has no doubt as to its genuineness,
and even Dr. Baur, of the Tubingen school of critics, admits that it is one of the Epistles which
must be ascribed to the authorship of the great Apostle to the Gentiles” (The People’s New
Testament With Notes, Vol. II; p. 12).
For a biographical sketch of the life of the apostle Paul, see A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
THE APOSTLE PAUL (Vol. II; No. 8).
The date of the epistle is very precisely calculated to be the Spring of 58 a.d. Conybeare and
Howson enumerate these reasons for the date assigned:
“(1.) St. Paul had never yet been to Rome (i.11,13,15).
“(2.) He was intending to go to Rome, after first visiting Jerusalem (xv.23-28). This was exactly
his purpose during his three months’ residence at Corinth. See Acts xix.21.
“(3.) He was going to bear a collection of alms from Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem (xv.
26 and 31). This he did carry from Corinth to Jerusalem at the close of this three months visit.
See Acts xxiv.7.
“(4.) When he wrote the Epistle, Timotheus, Sosipater, Gaius, and Erastus were with him (xvi.
21,23); of these, the first three are expressly mentioned in the Acts as having been with him at
Corinth during the three months visit (see Acts xx.4); and the last, Erastus, was himself a
Corinthian, and had been sent shortly before from Ephesus (Acts xix.22) with Timotheus on
the way to Corinth. Compare 1 Cor. Xvi.10,11.
“(5.) Phoebe, a deaconess [incorrect – rlr] of the Corinthian port of Cenchreae, was the bearer
of the Epistle to Rome” (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul; p. 499).
The only decension from this date seems to be some who are not sure whether the epistle
was writtin in the winter or the spring.
Phillip Schaff in commenting upon the canonical books of the New Testament said:
“The twenty-seven books of the New Testament are better supported than any ancient classic,
both by a chain of external testimonies which reaches up almost to the close of the apostolic
age, and by the internal evidence of a spiritual depth and unction which raises them far above
the best productions of the second century” (History of the Christian Church, Vol. I).
The books of the New Testament are accepted into the canon upon the basis of their
inspiration. Their inspiration is dependent upon their authorship. With the authorship of the
apostle Paul, there is no question as to the canonicity of the Epistle to the Romans. Those
who testify to its acceptance into the canon are: Clement of Rome (95 a.d.), Marcion (140 a.d.),
Justin Martyr (140 a.d.), Polycarp (150 a.d.), the Muratorian Canon (150 a.d.), the Syriac
Peshitta (150 a.d.), Tertullian (160-240 a.d.), Clement of Alexandria (165-220 a.d.), Irenaeus
(170 a.d.), Origen (185-254 a.d.), Cyril (315-386 a.d.), Athanasius (326-373 a.d.), Cheltenham
(360 a.d.), the Council of Carthage (397 a.d.), and the Council of Hippo (419 a.d.).