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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Romans 14



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14. [1] Scruples must not be allowed to separate brethren: [3] they do not separate from GOD: [4] we have no right to judge those who, in their particular choices of action, all own allegiance to the one Lord: [10] judgment is reserved for GOD.

[13] The true Christian way is to avoid all offence to brethren in matters indifferent, and, positively, to concentrate our aim upon the weightier matters.

Verse 1

1. τὸν δὲ ἀσθενοῦντα κ.τ.λ. S. Paul passes to a special case (δὲ) of the duty of love and the consequence of the corporate character of the Christian life: we may perhaps regard it as a special case of the injunction, Romans 12:16.

ἀσθ. τῇ πίστει, Romans 4:19; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 8:7 f. Cf. Romans 4:20; 1 Corinthians 16:13. τῇ πίστει = his faith—the weakness lies in the fact that his faith in GOD through Christ does not carry him to the detailed conclusions as to the true use and place of all material things and acts in the spiritual life: it is not a wrong faith, but a faith which in certain directions is ineffective. The cause of this ineffectiveness is assigned in 1 Corinthians 8:7, as the associations which certain acts have with the sins of the former heathen life. These prevent him from realising the full Christian ἐξουσία (ib[269]).

προσλαμβάνεσθε. Philemon 1:17; Acts 18:26; here Romans 11:15, Romans 15:7; make it a rule to take him into your company and intimacy, whoever he may be.

μὴ κ.τ.λ. = but not; the negative qualification is expressed separately, to give its full scope to the positive injunction.

εἰς διακρίσεις διαλ. For settling doubts, or deciding difficulties; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:14. This is the only meaning of διάκρισις in N. T. and suits the context well: διαλογισμοί = thoughts involving doubts and scruples; cf. Matthew 16:7-8; Luke 5:22. They are not to aim at deciding the questions which the weak brother raises in his mind, in the spirit of judging. It is a fine piece of charity to take a man, opinions and all.

Verses 1-23

14–15:13. A special case of Christian conduct—its true bearing towards scrupulous brethren

Verse 2

2. ὃς μὲν κ.τ.λ. The absence of connecting particle shows that this is an illustration of the principle.

ὃς μὲνὁ δὲ ἀ. Cf. Blass, p. 145. πιστεύει, has faith to, so far as to—no |[270] to this use; Acts 15:11 the only other case of inf. after π. is different. Giff. qu. Dem. Onet., p. 866, προέσθαι δὲ τὴν προῖκ' οὐκ ἐπίστευσεν.

λάχανα ἐσθίει, i.e. refuses to eat meat. This is the only clear evidence that an ascetic vegetarianism existed among the Christians of this time. It is very remarkable that S. Paul should choose this form of asceticism as his illustration; and the reason must be sought in special conditions at Rome. The practice may have been due mainly to the imitation of contemporary asceticism (cf. von Dobschütz, op. cit[271], p. 93 f., Lietzmann, Romans, p. 65). But it is conceivable that these influences may have been at least reinforced by the difficulty in which Christians found themselves of avoiding εἰδωλόθυτα (cf. 1 Corinthians 8). For tender consciences a solution was ready, in the avoiding of animal food altogether; cf. the wide statement 1 Corinthians 8:13. The whole argument shows that it is not a case of sects imposing rules on others, but of private scruples and practice. See Introd. p. xxx.

Verse 3

3. ὁ ἐσθίων, sc. κρέα. The injunction is put in form as if the preceding statement had been negative, κρέα οὐκ ἐ.

μὴ ἐξ.—κρ. The idiomatic use = give up despising—judging; cf. Romans 14:13.

ἐξουθενείτω. The contempt which ignores: )[272] προσλαμβάνεσθαι; cf. Luke 18:9; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 6:4.

κρινέτω. The judgment which makes sins out of what are not sins. Both tempers are subversive of ἀγαπη.

ὁ θεὸς γὰρ κ.τ.λ. This implies the principle of the whole argument against the validity of the law for Christians: but in such a way as to assume that there is now no controversy on the matter. His admission to the body of Christ carried no such conditions. The aor. must refer to that admission in baptism.

Verse 4

4. σὺ τίς εἶ κ.τ.λ.: the tables are turned: in judging him as a sinner thou art committing a sin of presumption, in judging one who is not accountable to thee. For the dramatic form, cf. 1 Corinthians 4:7 f.

ἀλλότριον οἰκ. Cf. Luke 16:13. οἰκ. only here used of the relation of the Christian to the Lord, but cf. δοῦλος, and οἰκονόμοι of apostles, οἰκία of the Christian family. ἀλλ. belonging to and therefore accountable to another master.

στήκει. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:13 : a present, formed from the perf. ἕστηκα (which is used for the present) probably to allow of emphasis on the durative action (as κράζω by the side of κέκραγα (= pres.)); cf. Moulton, p. 147, 248. Blass, p. 40 f., cf[273] γρηγορεῖν, mainly found in imper.; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13; Mark 3:31.

Verse 5

5. ὃς μὲν γὰρ κ.τ.λ. A second instance is given—scruples as to the observance of days. Here it is almost inevitable to think of Jewish influence (cf. Colossians 2:16): and all the more remarkable is the detached way in which the case is treated: as long as such observance is not made occasion for judging others, it is open to individual choice.

κρίνειπαρ'. No exact parallel: = judges or esteems one day as superior to another for certain purposes: and perh. distinguishes one day from another. Cf. on Romans 12:3.

πληροφορείσθω, be assured. Cf. Romans 4:21; Colossians 4:12 : alibi 2 Timothy 4:7; Luke 1:1.

Verse 6

6. ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμ. Cf. Romans 8:5; Philippians 3:19; Colossians 3:2; Mark 8:33 (|[275] Mt.).

κυρίῳ φρονεῖ. Dat. to denote the person whose interest is affected, Blass p. 111. Anarthrous κύριος is used [1] after O.T. as a name for GOD, passim. [2] of Christ, very rarely without the addition of . or Χρ. or both: and then only with a preposition (2 Corinthians 11:17; Ephesians 6:8 = Colossians 3:20 (?); 1 Thessalonians 5:17) or in gen. after anarthrous subst. (1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:24). There is no clear parallel to the use in this passage if we take κ. as = the Lord Christ.

So tr. to a master: he has a master to whom he is responsible and in view of whom he forms his opinion; the master is Christ. See next verse.

Verse 7

7. οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν κ.τ.λ. None of us Christians. As Christians we all recognise our subordination, in living and in dying, to the one Lord. It must be assumed then that the particular rules a man makes for himself are made with that reference, and must be treated with respect by others accordingly.

ἑαυτῷ, for his own ends, with regard to himself (not by himself); as contrasted with the Lord’s ends: the assertion of course involves the supposition that the Christian is living up to his calling.

ἀποθνήσκει. The service of the Lord is not exhausted by the life of the servant; it is regarded and furthered in his death also. The decision of time and manner of death, just as the regulation of the details of life, therefore lies with the Lord not with the servant; cf. Philippians 1:21 f.; cf. Lid.

Verse 8

8. τῷ κυρίῳ, for the Lord; dat. as above, 6.

τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμέν. The whole argument rests on the position of Christians as δοῦλοι τοῦ κυρίου.

Verse 9

9. εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ κ.τ.λ. To establish this relationship was the object of Christ’s death and resurrection. Note that in dealing with these secondary matters S. Paul bases his argument on this external relation, not on the deeper vital relation ἐν Χριστῷ; cf. S. H.; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20.

ἔζησεν. Came to life—ingressive aorist: clearly of the entrance into the Resurrection life, in which He became κύριος. S. H. Lid.

ἵνα καὶ ν. κ. ζ. Cf. Luke 20:38 : the absence of the article emphasises the state of the persons.

κυριεύσῃ = to establish his lordship over—(ingressive aor.). Is there a reference here to the Descent into Hell? Lid. cf[276], Philippians 2:10; Ephesians 4:9. The order ν. κ. ζ. is remarkable, and suggests such a ref. 1 Peter 3:18 f., Romans 4:6 f. may be partly dependent on this passage; cf. Romans 10:7. Swete, Ap. Creed, pp. 56 f.

Verse 10

10. σὺ δὲ τί κ.τ.λ. The dramatic emphasis is again applied as in Romans 14:4; but here the appeal is based on the equality of brethren.

πάντες γὰρ κ.τ.λ. The common responsibility to one Lord is now put in its most forcible form, of ultimate responsibility to GOD as judge; cf. 1 Peter 4:5.

τῷ βήματι τ. θ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (τοῦ χριστοῦ) of the judgment seat; cf. Acts 25:10 alibi

Verse 11

11. γέγραπται γὰρ. Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 49:18 (conflat.).

ἐξομολογήσεται. Cf. Romans 15:9; Matthew 11:25; cf. Philippians 2:11.

Verse 12

12. ἄρα οὖν. The final conclusion on this line of argument: each man will account to GOD, and to Him alone.

λόγον δώσει. Elsewhere ἀποδίδοναι, Matthew 12:36 alibi

Verse 13

13. μηκέτι οὖν κ.τ.λ. concludes the preceding argument.

κρίνατε = make it your judgment—different from κρίνωμεν; cf. Acts 15:19.

τιθέναι κ.τ.λ. To lay a stumblingblock or trap for your brother; cf. Matthew 18:6-7; 1 Corinthians 8:9 = προσκοπή, 2 Corinthians 6:3; supra Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8.

σκάνδαλον. Orig. a trap = σκανδαληθρόν (LXX[279] tr. for noose, snare), then any cause of offence. It seems generally to include the idea of ‘causing to sin’ as well as that of ‘offending,’ so Mt. l.c[280] and Romans 16:23; 1 John 2:10.

Verses 13-23

13–23. While Christian freedom is to be maintained, it must not be so maintained as to violate charity. S. Paul has developed in the strongest terms the Christian right, and consequently the wrong of judging. Now he develops the higher considerations, which should influence the strong, in suspending their rights for the greater matters of righteousness, peace and joy, for love’s sake. The principle is enforced by repetition; cf. 14 a and 20 b, 15 b and 20 a; in each case some fresh aspect enforces the principle. The argument is the same as in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13.

Verse 14

14. οἶδα καὶ πέπεισμαι κ.τ.λ. A very strong assertion of the complete abolition of legal definitions of clean and unclean, not however by way of controversy, but as fully admitting the principle maintained by the ‘strong.’

ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰ. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 where διὰ τοῦ κ. . repeats ἐν κ. . of Romans 14:1 : the force of ἐν here seems to be ‘on the authority of,’ and it is a direct appeal to the teaching of Jesus recognised as authoritative (κυρίῳ); cf. for kindred cases of ἐν, 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Matthew 12:24; Acts 17:31; cf. Blass, p. 130 f. The reference would then be to such teaching as is contained in Mark 7. Gif. on the other hand takes ἐν κ. . = ἐν Χριστῷ, “the conviction is that of a mind dwelling in communion with Christ, and therefore enlightened by His Spirit.” So Lid. S. H. But this interpretation seems to strain the language (= ὡς ὤν ἐν …) and to neglect the peculiar force of the combination ἐν κ. Ἰης. The name Ἰησοῦς (without Χριστός) seems in S. Paul always to suggest some act, teaching or characteristic of Jesus in His life on earth. Cf. Zahn ad loc[281] (p. 578 f.); Weiss (p. 561).

εἰ μὴ = ‘still,’ πλήν; cf. Blass, p. 216.

κοινόν. The technical term for ‘unclean,’ i.e. in itself and making the person who does or takes the thing unclean; cf. Hebrews 10:29; Revelation 21:17; Mark 7:2; Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8. So the verb ll. cc.; Acts 21:28; Hebrews 9:13.

Verse 15

15. γὰρ. Romans 14:14 is a parenthetic admission and qualification, γὰρ refers back to Romans 14:13. The whole passage is curiously elliptic and interjectional.

διὰ βρῶμα. Owing to meat—that meat which you in your strength and freedom take, but he regards with scruples.

κατὰ ἀγάπην περ. Cf. Romans 8:4; 1 Corinthians 3:3 : love no longer rules your conduct, as of course it ought to do.

μὴἀπόλλυε. Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:11 : the pres. act. of this verb occurs only here and John 12:25. Moulton, p. 114, includes this verb among those in which the prep. has the effect of ‘perfectivising’ the action of the verb. Here it must be the ‘linear perfective,’ i.e. describe the process which inevitably leads to the end. ‘Do not bring to ruin as there is danger of your doing.’ The point seems to be (as in 1 Cor. l.c[282]) that the example which encourages the weak brother to do what he feels to be wrong is destructive to him.

ὑπὲρ οὗ Χρ. ἀπ. The strongest appeal to the Christian. You ruin him to save whom from ruin Christ died, 1 Cor. l.c[283]; cf. Matthew 18:6-7.

Verse 16

16. μὴ οὖν. As this ruin is the result of such action, do not give occasion for such a charge being brought against what is for you and in itself good.

βλασφημείσθω. The result of such an action would be that an evil character could be imputed to what is in itself good; cf. Romans 2:24, Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Timothy 6:1.

τὸ ἀγαθόν = your freedom, a good gained by your faith = ἡ ἐξουσία, 1 Corinthians 8:9; ἡ γνῶσις ib[284] 11.

Verse 17

17. οὐ γάρ κ.τ.λ. No question of fundamental principle is raised; you may suspend your freedom in such matters: for the fundamental matters are etc.

οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἡ. β. τ. θ. Cf. Matthew 6:31-33, ib[285], Romans 5:3 f. This is one of the clearest particular cases of the influence of the teaching recorded in the Gospels upon S. Paul’s thought and language; cf. S. H. p. 381. Knowling, The witness of the Epistles, p. 312; id. The Testimony of S. Paul to Christ, p. 316 f.

ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. Here and 1 Corinthians 4:20 only does S. Paul speak of ‘GOD’s sovereignty’ as a present condition: in other places he speaks of it as a future condition, participation in which is dependent upon character formed in the present life; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Colossians 4:11 (?); 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:5. In Colossians 1:13 the present condition is regarded as the sovereignty of His Son or Christ. The two conceptions are combined in Ephesians 5:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:24; cf. Luke 22:29 f.; John 18:36. (Robinson, Eph. p. 117.) On the meaning of the phrase = ‘government or sovereignty of GOD,’ cf. Dalman, The Words of Jesus, E. T., p. 91 f. Dalman, op. cit[286] p. 135, points out “that the phrase (in Jewish literature) never means the locus of the divine sovereignty but the power itself in its present and future manifestations in the teaching of Jesus. The idea is closely connected with the ‘life of the future age,’ and includes comprehensively the blessings of salvation.” The use here regards the effect of GOD’s government as already operative in those that are His and producing in them that condition of life which is a fit preparation for the future life when the ‘sovereignty’ will be fully revealed. For the connexion of ἡ βας. τ. θ. with δικαιοσύνη in S. Paul cf. Sanday, J. T. S., I., p. 481.

βρῶσις καὶ πόσις, ‘eating and drinking’; cf. Luke 22:30. The Gospel gives a metaphorical description of the common life of joy and love in the future life. S. Paul here declares that the character of that life does not depend on these external matters but on the moral and spiritual state.

δικαιοσύνη κ.τ.λ. Cf. Psalms 96-99, descriptions of the revealed and established sovereignty of Jehovah and the conditions it brings in; cf. Dalman, op. cit[287], p. 136; cf. also Luke 17:21 : and Matthew 5:3-12.

δικαιοσύνη. Here ‘righteousness,’ as describing the condition of those who do GOD’s will—cf. the negative 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21.

εἰρήνη. Peace with GOD and between man and man; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (after 12–22), 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (after 6–15).

χαρὰ. The natural outcome of righteousness and peace; cf. Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22.

ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. In the Holy Spirit—inspired by and dependent on Him; cf. Gal. l.c[288], 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

Verse 18

18. ὁ γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ κ.τ.λ. Cf. Romans 15:3, the service of the Christ involves the adoption of His principle of ‘not pleasing Himself.’

ἐν τούτῳ = in this matter, of conduct as regards things in themselves indifferent.

δουλεύων τῷ χρ. This is the true service of the Christ (the Messiah) in contrast with pretended services; cf. Hort, Eccl., p. 111; cf. below Romans 15:3-4.

δόκιμος τοῖς ἀν. Contrasted with μὴ βλασφημ. . τὸ ἀγαθόν: men will not be able to find fault.

Verse 19

19. ἄρα οὖν, ‘so then after all’: brings to the front some of the implications of the preceding verses, for further enforcement of the appeal.

τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης. The aims which the peace established by Christ dictates.

τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλ. οἰκ. = the building up of the individual character so that each can take his place in the one building. This is a duty which each Christian owes to each; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 13:10.

Verse 20

20. κατάλυε τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ. The οἰκ., the duty of Christian to Christian, is GOD’s own work; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9; Acts 20:32. καταλ. is suggested by the metaphor of building; cf. Mark 15:29; Galatians 2:18; 2 Corinthians 13:10.

πάντα μὲν καθαρά. The admission of Romans 14:14 is repeated, to bring out more explicitly the harm which may be done by insisting on rights; 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 8:9.

ἀλλὰ κακὸν, sc. your use of this principle, τὸ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ χρῆσθαι. The assumption, as throughout, is that the weak brother may be led to act against his conscience by the example of the strong.

διὰ προσκόμματος. Under conditions which will make him fall. διὰ w. gen. expresses the conditions of an action; cf. Romans 2:27, Romans 8:25; 2 Corinthians 2:4; Blass, p. 132 f.

Verse 21

21. καλὸν κ.τ.λ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:13.

μηδὲ ἐν ᾧ, sc. πράττειν τι.

Verse 22

22. σὺπ. κ.τ.λ. π. ἔχεις = πιστεύει, Romans 14:2. It is not necessary to exhibit your faith in this matter to men: to be taken with the preceding.

μακάριος κ.τ.λ. gives the final contrast between the really strong and the weak: the one with a clear conscience is to be envied (cf. James 1:25): the doubter must not claim the freedom he does not feel.

ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει. ἐν ἐκείνῳ ὃ δοκ. in the matter which he passes as right and sound; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (pass.).

Verse 23

23. ὁ δὲ διακρινόμενος κ.τ.λ. Cf. James 1:6, ‘he that hesitates or doubts,’ who wavers in his judgment; cf. Romans 4:20; Acts 10:20.

κατακέριται is at once condemned by the act, not by the doubt.

οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως, ‘because the action does not spring from faith.’ It is not the result in him, as it is in the other, of faith: and action which cannot justify itself thus proceeds from some other motive, which necessarily makes it sinful. Faith here as throughout is the man’s faith in GOD through Christ. This faith settles for the man the principles and details of conduct. Only that conduct is right for him which springs properly from this faith. When a man’s faith either gives no answer to a question as to conduct or condemns a particular line, the conduct is sinful. Thus we are given here a practical rule for individual action: not a general principle of the value of works done outside the range of Christian profession and. knowledge. It has been constantly used for the latter purpose. Cf. S. H. “faith is used somewhat in the way we should speak of a good conscience.” It is important to observe the negative character of the phrase. It does not follow that everything which a man believes he may do is right; cf. Lid.


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"Commentary on Romans 14:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Saturday, October 31st, 2020
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