Who founded the church in Rome?

Our adult Sunday School class is studying the epistle to the Romans for the next two quarters. As I was finishing the lesson this morning, I came across the following question: “What would be your guess as to the origin of the church of Rome?” Before consulting a commentary, I guessed that Priscilla and Aquila might have been involved in planting the church, but really had no idea. That’s where BKCNT helped to put together the pieces.

Since the Apostle Paul had not visited Rome, how had the Christian faith been introduced to the city? Apparently no other apostle had yet reached Rome, in the light of Paul’s stated purpose to be a pioneer missionary and to open virgin territory to the gospel (15:20). In particular, it is evident that Peter was not in Rome at that time because Paul expressed no greetings to him … .

Perhaps a partial answer to the founding of the church at Rome is the fact that “visitors from Rome” (Acts 2:10) were in the crowd that witnessed the miracle of Pentecost and heard Peter’s sermon. Some of them probably were among the 3,000 converts that day and returned to Rome as believers in Jesus Christ to propagate their faith. Other believers migrated to Rome through the years since Pentecost … . Aquila and Priscilla are good examples …. (Acts 18:2).

John A. Witmer, “Romans” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, (USA: SP Publications, 1983), 436.

1 thought on “Who founded the church in Rome?

  1. Andy Rupert

    A man by the name of David John Albert wrote his Masters thesis (1973) against the idea that Peter started the church in Rome. He notes that:

    “We find that the earliest records — those closest to the actual events — are the most vague, uncertain, and sparse, but that out of these scant notices evolves a constantly growing, increasingly precise and definite tradition that sharpens its clarity and certainty with the passing of time! The net result is that the historians of the fourth century speak with absolute certainly on matters that were unknown or unrecorded by the writers of the first and second!”

    His point is that what the Roman Catholic religion portrays as established, historical fact, is not necessarily established by history.

    You can read the entire paper at the following link:

    Peter in Rome?

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