Saul, Founder of the Church at Rome?
I get in trouble sometimes for my titles and the way I present my articles, but my desire is only to stir up your pure mind.
The world is under the mis-guided belief that Peter, assigned as the “first Pope” by the Catholic church, was by default, founder of the church at Rome. But with a little detective work, we’ll find most of the credit should go to Saul.
Saul? Why are you calling him Saul? Wasn’t his name changed on the road to Damascus?
No. Act 13:9 Then Saul, (who also [is called] Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him
Jesus called him Saul. Ananias called him Brother Saul. John and Mark knew him as Saul. Act 12:25 The church at Antioch knew him as Saul. No less an authority than the Holy Ghost called him Saul Act 13:2
His name wasn’t changed, but the Greek version of Saul translates more comfortably as Paul. A minor point perhaps, but if we slip in the little things…
Saul, okay, Paul’s brilliant letter to the Romans tells us in chapter one how great their faith is and how much he desires to preach to them in person one day.
Rom 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
A close examination of the book, when Paul is closing out his letter in the 15th and 16th chapters sets his policy about when and where he preaches.
Rom 15:19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Rom 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
Paul doesn’t go where another man has preached and labored. Yet, in the final two chapters of Romans, he mentions some 35 people by name. It’s clear from history and other scripture he was personally acquainted with about 27 of them. I contend Paul’s converts and friends who knew him and gravitated to Rome – a cultural and economic center – banded together to form a church. Even before Paul ever came to Rome – he desired to preach for them
So we should be able to determine from these two statements no other preacher has gotten to Rome yet. He met these folks in his early travels. Some had been asked to leave Rome and find a living elsewhere.
Act 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
Act 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
When the ban on Jews was lifted, many returned, and sought out like-minded believers and fellow sojourners and formed a church or a fellowship. We can’t say with biblical certainty that Paul pastured at Rome at any time, but we do have evidence that while awaiting his appeal to Cesar, he taught many of them:
Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Given this evidence, who did more to found the church at Rome?
Brother Royce Ellis