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Bible Commentaries

Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 14

Introduction

Romans CHAPTER 14:

I. THE NEED FOR THIS LESSON:

'In every generation, there is an attempt to justify a "broader fellowship" to include those preaching and practicing some sin or doctrinal error. The attempt to justify such invariably includes Rom_14:1-23 . The advocate of a "broader fellowship" notes the apostle's instructions to "receive" the one with whome we have a difference in preaching and practice ( Rom_14:1 ). The next step is to say the differences discussed would include a doctrinal matter or practice of some sin . Thus, we are told we ;must "receive" those who are preaching some errors or practicing some sins if we obey this instruction. The crux of the issue is this" Does Rom_14:1-23 include doctrinal error and sinful practice in the differences under discussion ?'

II. LESSON FROM THE PAST:

In the January 2nd, 1992 issue of the Guardian of Truth, Ron Halbrook points out that 'every false doctrine to appear in the last 200 years has appealed to Rom_14:1-23 ; Rom_15:1-33 to pave the way for compromise to open doors of fellowship'.

'Those who advanced instrumental music in worship, missonary societies among the churches, and subsequent forms of liberalism constantly appealed to Rom_14:1-23 '

'When Premillennialism was infiltrating churches of Christ in the 1930's -40's, many pleas for tolerance were based on Rom_14:1-23 ; Rom_15:1-33 .'

In fact it was argued that we could maintain fellowship with those that taught premillennialism:

'In conclusion, my proposal for a ground of unity and fellowship to our challenging brethren is a follows: on the basis of Rom_14:1-23 , although we feel that you misinterpret many of the prophetic passages, we will receive you as brethren; and on the basis of Rom_14:1-23 , though you think we are unwarranted in giving these prophetic passages their literal import, we request that you receive us'

'Ed Harrel wrote 17 articles in Christianity Magazine explaining why he can continue in fellowship with brethren holding "five or six, perhaps more", contradictory positions on "divorce and remarriage". In seven of those articles Rom_14:1-23 was used. After granting that the issues found there "were not matters bound by God", he adds, " but the intent of the passage clearly encompasses more than that "

Does Rom_14:1-23 describe a situation in which one brother is 'right' and another 'is in the wrong and holds a false practice'?

III. THE TEXT ITSELF:

Verse 1

Rom_14:1 But him that is weak in faith receive ye, yet not for decision of scruples.

'Weak in faith' -the Christian who at this time cannot bring themselves to eat meat (14:2)

' receive ye ' -4355. proslambano pros-lam-ban'-o; from 4314 and 2983; to take to oneself, i.e. use (food), lead (aside), admit (to friendship or hospitality): -receive, take (unto).

-'receive into your fellowship' (Con)

-'welcome a man' (Mof)

-'take to yourselves'

-PROSLAMBANO-denotes to take to oneself, or to receive, always in the Middle Voice, signifying a special interest on the part of the receiver, suggesting a welcome. The same is found in verse 3.

Right here we learn something about Rom_14:1-23 . The first argument that I would offer that Paul is not discussing matters in which one brother is wrong/or in sin/or doctrinally in error and another is right, is the world "receive". THIS WEAK BROTHER IS TO BE 'ACCEPTED'. Are we to 'accept' those in doctrinal error? Or in sin? Is nothing to be done about the person in error?

THE OTHER PATTERN:

2Jn_1:9 Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son.

2Jn_1:10 If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting:

2Jn_1:11 for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works.

In the case of one who violates the 'teaching' of Christ (i.e. goes into 'doctrinal error'), John clearly states, 'RECEIVE HIM NOT'. Now if Rom_14:1-23 is dealing with a situation or applies to situations in which a brother is in error, we have a big problem with 2Jn_1:9-11 . Because John says that if we do 'receive' such a one, we become involved in his error and are guilty too!

'Clearly, John says no habor is to be given to one practicing sin or preaching error'

Rom_14:1 But him that is weak in faith receive ye, yet not for decision of scruples.

'NOT FOR DECISION OF SCRUPLES' -'BUT NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PASSING JUDGEMENT ON HIS OPINIONS' (NASV)

-'welcome, but not for the purpose of getting into quarrels about opinions' (Arndt pg. 185)

'welcome a man whose faith is weak, but not with the idea of arguing over his scruples' (Phillips)

'not with a view of deciding (or passing sentence on) his doubts

Clearly, this chapter is dealing with 'opinions' that you are not to 'pass judgement on'; sound like 'doctrinal' matters?

Verse 2

Rom_14:2 One man hath faith to eat all things: but he that is weak eateth herbs.

'faith to eat all things'-this is the 'stronger brother'; he realizes that 'all foods are clean according to God'.

Mar_7:19 because it goeth not into his heart, but into his belly, and goeth out into the draught? This he said, making all meats clean.

'Meats' -1033. broma bro'-mah; from the base of 977; food (literally or figuratively), especially (ceremonially) articles allowed or forbidden by the Jewish law: -meat, victuals.

1Ti_4:3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.

While God clearly informed Christians that all foods were 'clean', and that is was perfectly alright to eat meat sacrificed to idols as long as it was done with no worship to the idol and other's were not offended. And yet for those brought up under the Jewish dietary laws or those brought up worshipping the idol, it would take time to remove all your doubts.

Clearly we are dealing with something that is not right or wrong.

Verse 3

Rom_14:3 Let not him that eateth set at nought him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

'Set at nought' -1848. exoutheneo ex-oo-then-eh'-o; a variation of 1847 and meaning the same: -contemptible, despise, least esteemed, set at nought.

-'regard with contempt' (NASV)

'eateth not' -the herb eating brother

'judge' -2919. krino kree'-no; properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish: -avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

THE SECOND MAIN POINT THAT THIS CHAPTER CANNOT BE DEALING WITH DOCTRINAL ISSUES, RIGHT AND WRONG, AND SIN, IS BECAUSE NO 'JUDGING IS ALLOWED'.

In this chapter there is to be 'no judging, arguing, disputing, condemning, CENSURING': But in cases of 'sin' one must judge!

Rom_16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them.

'Mark' -4648. skopeo skop-eh'-o; from 4649; to take aim at (spy), i.e. (figuratively) regard: -consider, take heed, look at (on), mark. Compare 3700.

Verse 4

Rom_14:4 Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.

'he' -the last person mentioned was the 'meat-eater'

'he shall be made to stand' -the meat-eater will stand justified at the final judgement, because he has done nothing wrong.

'The Lord hath power' -No one has the authority to reverse the Lord's acceptance of the meat-eater..and thus cause the meat-eater to be lost.

***The person in verse 4 IS NOT IN A FALLEN CONDITION! 'He shall be made to stand' (i.e. at the final judgement), WHICH MEANS HE IS STANDING NOW ALSO-APPROVED OF GOD-VERSE 3. Eph_6:11 ; Php_1:10 .

A great danger I see in apply verse 4 to a fallen Christian or a Christian in error, this would have verse 4 teaching that God will save all fallen Christians-i.e. once saved always saved?

Verse 5

Rom_14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.

'esteemeth' -2919. krino kree'-no; properly, to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish: -avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

The practice of esteeming days is clearly identified as being of the same nature as the eating of or not eating of meat. (14:6)

'Let each man be fully assured in his own mind'

-the setting apart a day for God was right, as long as it met the above condition.

'Fully assured' -4135. plerophoreo play-rof-or-eh'-o; from 4134 and 5409; to carry out fully (in evidence), i.e. completely assure (or convince), entirely accomplish: -most surely believe, fully know (persuade), make full proof of.

-'fully convinced' (NASV)

This last statement is another Proof that Paul is dealing with matter's neither right nor wrong within themselves. Because if you apply Rom_14:1-23 to matters of 'sin and error', then you would have Paul saying, 'It's alright to sin..as long as you are fully persuaded'. "Why would the sinner be the better because he was mistakenly sure in his own mind?" AGAIN WE ARE DEALING WITH A PRACTICE, A PRACTICE THAT PAUL DOES NOT CORRECT!

If Paul is not dealing with matters of indifference, this chapter would have Paul not only tolerating error, but encouraging it!

DANGEROUS APPLICATION:

Some have applied Rom_14:1-23 to the person in an unscriptural marriage, or, the teacher that endorses such. 'You can commit adulterly as long as you are fully assured in your own mind?'. You can teach that the guilty party can remarry, as long as you are fully assured in your own mind?'

HOW DO YOU STOP-THE NEXT APPLICATION?

Abortion, homosexuality, women preachers, women elders, premill., etc.....every other doctrinal error.

Verse 6

Rom_14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord: and he that eateth, eateth unto the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, unto the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

'unto the Lord' -can one do something 'unto the Lord' that is sinful?

' does it in the Lord's honor ' (Gspd)

'for the Lord's sake' (Wey)

'he giveth God thanks' -can you sin and give God thanks at the same time?

Here is another problem for those that apply these verses to matters that involve sin. So as long as I 'do it unto the Lord.. and give thanks..that makes a sinful practice right?'

Clearly, Paul would not make a statement 'unto the Lord..giveth God thanks', IF THE PRACTICES INVOLVED WERE SINFUL!

Verse 7

Rom_14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself.

The motivation behind each group was, what they were doing was with God in mind.

Verse 8

Rom_14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

NOTE: These people were 'living unto the Lord..'WE ARE THE LORD'S'

Verse 9

Rom_14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

One of the purposes for the death/resurrection of Christ, was that He would become the Judge of all.

Verse 10

Rom_14:10 But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God.

'Judge/set at nought'-in the context refering back to verse 3.

Again, if we use Rom_14:1-23 as a chapter dealing with 'sin, error', then no judging of sin (and who is to say which sins) can be done in this life! This would contradict all passages dealing with church discipline!

Verses 11-13

Rom_14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, And every tongue shall confess to God.

Rom_14:12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Rom_14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock in his brother's way, or an occasion of falling.

Here is another Proof that Paul is not discussing sin and error in this chapter! If Paul has been arguing for us to accept the person in indvidual sin, THAT IS A STUMBLING-BLOCK! That will cause other's to sin!

Paul is discussing things 'indifferent', but when pushed or in a certain setting could cause problems. (14:20,23) Pushing the non-meat eater to eat, and thus violate his conscience, would be a stumbling-block. ( 1Co_8:7-9 'liberty of yours'-man never has the liberty to sin).

Verse 14

Rom_14:14 I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself: save that to him who accounteth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

'nothing is unclean of itself' -Paul therefore in this chapter is discussing things which are clean in themselves! Matter's of indifference.

'Paul isn't discussing fornication, murder, adultery, homosexuality, stealing or the like'

'save that to him who accounteth anything to be unclean'

'Accounteth' -3049. logizomai log-id'-zom-ahee; middle voice from 3056; to take an inventory, i.e. estimate (literally or figuratively): -conclude, (ac-)count (of), + despise, esteem, impute, lay, number, reason, reckon, suppose, think (on).

It is not the something in the 'meat' but rather something in the man. Eating meat or doing anything, when it violates my conscience, is wrong (14:20,23).

But again, if Paul is here discussing matters of sin and error, then you would have Paul saying that 'all things'-i.e. even sinful things are pure, but they only become sinful went they violate our conscience. So adultery committed in a pure conscience would be right?

Verse 15

Rom_14:15 For if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love. Destroy not with thy meat him for whom Christ died.

Starting from verse 13 Paul is addressing the meat-eater. He was right, he had a right to eat meat, but that right could be abused!

The following verses will express the same truth as addressed in 1Co_8:1-13 /10. In certain situations, eating meat, and espeically that sacrificed to idols, could do harm to another.

Here is another verse that proves that the items under consideration are 'indifferent in themselves'. But for those that agrue Rom_14:1-23 is dealing with or cover's matters of sin and error. Can sin become more sinful? Whatever is under consideration here is right, and in certain settings wrong. But those things inherently sinful are WRONG REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES!

Verse 16

Rom_14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

'your good' -the meat-eater's practice WAS GOOD! In fact all the practices under consideration here were 'good', they were not sinful! And yet, this good, if abused could become wrong!

Verse 17

Rom_14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The matters under discussion here are not ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. This is why they could be practiced and not practiced, being in the kingdom was not dependent upon 'not-eating or eating meat'.

Before you try to apply Rom_14:1-23 to something, YOU MUST FIRST PROVE THAT IT CAN BE PRACTICED!

Verse 18

Rom_14:18 For he that herein serveth Christ is well-pleasing to God, and approved of men.

'he that herein serveth Christ' -'serves Christ in this way pleases God' (TCNT)

The person that realizes, I am not going to let my 'rights' cause other's to sin. (15-16)

Verse 20

Rom_14:20 Overthrow not for meat's sake the work of God. All things indeed are clean; howbeit it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

'the work of God' -i.e. the weak brother.

'all things indeed are clean' -i.e. again this demands that the chapter is dealing with things 'morally pure'.

'howbeit it is evil' -NOTE: PAUL DOES BRING UP SIN, AND TELLS THE WEAK BROTHER-DON'T VIOLATE YOUR CONSCIENCE EVEN IN AREA'S OF INDIFFERENCE!

Romans chapter 14 is not as 'loose' as some claim. Not only does it not teach toleration of those in sin and error, rather it teachers toleration in matters of 'neither right nor wrong', and TEACH'S THAT SIN CAN HAPPEN IF YOU VIOLATE YOUR CONSCIENCE IN A MATTER OF INDIFFERENCE!

Verses 21-22

Rom_14:21 It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth.

Rom_14:22 The faith which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God. Happy is he that judgeth not himself in that which he approveth.

'The faith' -the faith under consideration here is one's own personal conviction about eating meats, exercise it in a situation were 'weak brethren' are not present.

This is not 'the faith of the gospel', for this is to be shared ( Mar_16:15-16 ). And neither is this a 'believe what you want to believe' ( 2Th_2:10-12 ).

'have thou to thyself before God'-i.e. in private exercise your right to eat meat.

'approveth' -1381. dokimazo dok-im-ad'-zo; from 1384; to test (literally or figuratively); by implication, to approve: -allow, discern, examine, X like, (ap-)prove, try.

This is not a subjective opinion. The man that does not condemn himself in what he eat's, can do so because HE REALIZES THAT GOD DOES NOT CONDEMN HIM! ( 1Ti_4:3-4 ). There is an objective standard of truth behind this man's 'allowing of himself to eat'.

Happy is the person who has been able to bring their conscience in line with the instructions of God.

Verse 23

Rom_14:23 But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

NOTE: Even in area's of indifference, a violation of conscience is wrong! The only sins that I can find in Rom_14:1-23 are:

a. Condemning or looking down on someone in a matter of indifference.

b. Abusing your rights.

c. Violating your conscience in a matter of indifference.

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Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 14". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/romans-14.html. 1999-2014.