“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.” (Romans 1:8). The second occurrence of ‘Christ Faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.
The founding history of the Roman Church is an open-ended discussion. The perplexities of this discussion are compounded by the common heritage claimed by the Roman CATHOLIC Church. The facts are that no biblical writing attests to the who, the what, or the time for the establishing of the ‘Christ Faith’ in Rome. To be sure, Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Rome IS the earliest record of this church. There is no indication in Acts or Romans as to who is credited with having evangelized the city of Rome.
What is perfectly clear is the level of regard that Paul pays these Christ followers. Not having met them, not having visited them, yea, even not like the church communities that he had evangelized in Thessalonica and Corinth and Phillipi — but based solely upon their reputation, Paul writes to them saying, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.”
Grateful is what I am in having spent this past week in Cleveland, my City of Origin. Family and another level of what it means to be a ‘friend’. My High School, Cleveland John F. Kennedy had Three Class Reunion gatherings and I came by the Golden 50 Yr Class and was a freshman in my Senior Year. I had dinner with my Classmates Terah Boozer and Loretta Kirk with Henry Johnson joining us. We joined the Class of ‘72 for their Dancing and I came to the reality that there are “Golden Friendships”… of 50+ Years. Faith is proclaimed throughout the world!
The Roman Catholic Church credits Peter with the founding of the ‘Roman Church’. I, personally, don’t believe that a common ‘fisherman’ whom Jesus found working the shores of Galilee ever made the trip to Rome. Like other New Testament scholars, I suspect that Luke would have never left out a fact as important as this if it were the case. Moreover, as a ‘world traveler’, Paul’s work was impeded by the fact that he consistently made trips to Jerusalem to council with Peter and the Jerusalem church.
The thing about history is that it depends upon who is telling and/or recording it. There can be no doubt, in my mind, that it is the ‘reputation of Rome’, that directly or indirectly accounts for the ‘new faith’! God had just ‘broken into history’ and sent his Son to redeem this ‘present world’ which was ALL Roman (Empire). A major problem with the ‘reputation of Rome’ had to do with ‘Caesar being god’. The Son’s teaching: “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” goes far beyond economics.
Paul indicates in this Letter that he is on his way to Jerusalem with ‘The Collection’ received from the Churches he has founded and recently visited in Greece. In the chronology established by the field of the New Testament, it is @56 AD. Nero has just very recently become Emperor and assumes a very aggressive assault upon the Christian community in Rome. When Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth, it was from Nero’s persecutions that they had fled.
Paul, (lest we forget), ‘a slave of Jesus Christ’; ‘commissioned to dispatch in wartime’; ‘God’s news of victory’; ‘in Jesus Christ’; now, First, gives thanks for the fact that their ‘faith rep’ is known throughout the world. And still is.
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