“In short, not only in his impending visit to Jerusalem to discharge the relief fund and not only in his subsequent Spanish project, but in all the aspects of his apostleship Paul was eager to involve the Roman Christians as his partners and to involve them as a united body. He did not know how much longer time he had to devote to the evangelization of the Gentile world. He may have believed himself to be immortal till his work was done (he never explicitly says so), but for one so constantly exposed to the risk of death it would have been irresponsible to make no provision against the time when death or some other hazard would prevent him from continuing his work. He had his younger associates, we know—men like Timothy and Titus—who could bear the torch after his departure.
But if he could associate with his world mission a whole community like the Roman church, the unfinished task might be accomplished sooner. The influence of that church sprang not only from the centrality of the imperial capital and its unrivaled means of communication with distant regions, but even more (he had reason to believe) from the outstanding faith and spiritual maturity of which the Roman Christians gave evidence. An individual might suffer death or imprisonment, but a church would go on living. Therefore in all the parts of his letter to the Romans he instructs them, he exhorts them, he shares with them his own concerns and ambitions in the hope that they may make these their own. These hopes and ambitions embraced not only the advance of the Gentile mission but also the ingathering of Israel which, he was persuaded, would follow the completion of the Gentile mission. Because of its history and composition, the church of Rome was uniquely fitted for this ministry. That its members might see the vision and respond to it Paul sent them this letter.
Did the Roman Christians rise to the occasion? The witness of history is that they did. From now on, and especially after A.D. 70, Christendom, which could hitherto be represented by a circle with its center at Jerusalem, became rather (in Henry Chadwick’s figure) an ellipse with two foci—Jerusalem and Rome. The influential part played henceforth by the Christians of Rome in the life of the ecumenical church is due not so much to their city’s imperial status as to the encouragement given them by Paul in this letter.” (F. F. Bruce, “The Romans Debate—Continued,” in The Romans Debate, 2nd ed., pp. 193-94)