Rome was the capital and largest city of the Roman Empire. A Christian community existed in Rome before Paul came to the city. Paul wrote his letter to the Roman Christians in the hope of gaining a favorable reception for a future visit. He planned to stop in Rome on his way to do mission work in Spain (Romans 15:22-29). There were apparently a number of house churches in Rome in the 50s C.E., including one hosted by Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16:3-5). According to the book of Acts, Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. After he appealed his case to the emperor, Paul was taken to Rome. In Rome, Paul was kept under house arrest but continued to teach and preach. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero in the mid-60s.
Roman forces destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 70 C.E., and Rome was sometimes called "Babylon," since the Babylonians had destroyed the first Jewish temple. The book of Revelation warns about the evil of the Roman "Babylon" (Revelation 17).
AUTHOR: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus