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Fifth Section.—The true practice of the living worship of God in the management and adjustment of differences between the scrupulous and weak (the captives under the law), and the strong (those inclined to laxity and freedom). The Christian universalism of social life (to take no offence, to give no offence)
Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:4
A. Reciprocal regard, forbearance, and recognition, between the weak and the strong; of taking offence and judging. Romans 14:1-13.
B. Of giving offence and despising. Romans 14:13 to Romans 15:1
C. Reciprocal edification by self-denial, after the example of Christ. Romans 15:2-4
A. Romans 14:1-13
1Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations2[judgments of thoughts].1 For one believeth that he may eat all things:another, [but he] who is weak, eateth herbs. 3Let not him that eateth [or, the eater] despise him that eateth not [or, the abstainer]; and let not him which eateth not [or, the abstainer]2 judge him that eateth [or, the eater]: for God hath received him. 4Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth; yea, he shall be holden up [made to stand]: for God [the Lord]3 is able4 to make him stand. 5One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fullypersuaded in his own mind. He that [who] regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and 6he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it [omit this clause].5 He that [And6 he who] eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks [thanks unto God]; and he that [who] eateth not, to 7the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks [thanks unto God]. For noneof us liveth to himself, and no man [none] dieth to himself. 8For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die7 unto the Lord:whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived [Christ died and lived again],8 that he mightbe Lord both of the dead and [the] living. 10But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all standbefore the judgment-seat of Christ [God].9 11For it is written,10 As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess [givepraise] to God. 12So then every one of us shall give11 account of himself toGod. 13Let us not therefore judge one another any more:
B. Romans 14:13 to Romans 15:1
13But judge this rather, that no man [not to] put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall [of falling] in his [a] brother’s way. 14I know, and am persuaded by [in] the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing [that nothing is] unclean of itself:12 but to him that esteemeth any thing to be [accounteth any thing]15unclean, to him it is unclean. But [For]13 if thy brother be grieved with thy meat [if because of thy meat thy brother is grieved], now walkest thou not charitably [thou art no longer walking according to love]. Destroy not him16with thy meat, [Destroy not by thy meat him] for whom Christ died. Let notthen your14 good be evil spoken of: 17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink [eating and drinking]; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18For he that [who] in these things [herein]15 serveth Christ is acceptable19[well-pleasing] to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow16 after the things which make for peace [the things of peace], and things wherewith one may edify another [the things which pertain to mutual edification].20For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure [clean];21but it is evil for that [the] man who eateth with [through] offence. It is good neither [not] to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [to do] any thing whereby [wherein] thy brother stumbleth, or is offended,17 or is made [omit made] weak. 22Hast thou faith?18 have it to thyself before God. Happy [Blessed] is he that condemneth [who judgeth] not himself in that thing [omit thing] which Hebrews 2:0Hebrews 2:03alloweth. And [But] he that [who] doubteth is damned [condemned] if he eat, because he eateth [it is] not of faith: for [and] whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Romans 15:1 We then [Now we who] that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
C. Romans 15:2-4
2Let19 every one of us20 please his neighbour for his good [with a view] to edification. 3For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written,21 The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written22 for our learning [instruction], that we through [the]23 patience and [the] comfort of the Scriptures might have [our] hope.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
General Preliminary Remarks.—After the Apostle has described the duties of Christians, especially of the Christians at Rome, in their various general, fundamental relations: (1) As duties toward the Church; (2) In all personal relations; (3) Toward the State; and, (4) Toward the world, he proceeds to lay down the universal deportment of the Roman Church, by establishing the proper reciprocal conduct between, the strong (δυνατοί) and the weak (ἀδύνατοι, Romans 15:1; ἀσθενοῦντες, Romans 14:1).
In the first place, it is manifest that such a difference existed. This is especially evident from Romans 15:7-9. Second, it is likewise evident that the one tendency springing from Judaism was a legally punctilious tendency; while the other, being connected with heathen culture and freedom, was more liberal. This is supported in a very general way by the connection of this opposition with the, forms of opposition which the Apostle treats in his Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, &c. There is the following characteristic of the antithesis as it appears here: Some are weak in regard to faith, the freedom of faith, while others are strong in this respect (Romans 14:21-22). Some lay stress on their (under conditions which are not stated) eating no meat, drinking no wine (Romans 14:21), and keeping certain holy-days. The others know that they are free in this respect, and, proud of their freedom, and regardless of the consequence, seem inclined to use it at the expense of fellowship and unanimity. It is therefore the contrast of the punctilious and the large-hearted and liberal consciences (that is, decisions of conscience). Hence it is also characteristic of the former class, that they are inclined to judge, to take offence; and of the others, that they are inclined to despise, and thus to give offence. This contrast is so definite, that we deem it best to divide the section accordingly. Further, it follows from this that the more liberal party—we might even say the Pauline—was decidedly in the ascendancy (particularly according to chaps. Romans 14:1 and Romans 15:1), since it was necessary to make the repeated admonition, not to break off fellowship with the others. Though the Jewish-Christian element in the Church was a numerous one, it does not follow that the element of punctilious believers was equally so.
Finally, it is absolutely necessary to distinguish the standpoint of these punctilious believers as well from the very marked (alike in degree, but in fact divided) standpoints of the Galatian and Colossian fase teachers, as from the not less marked but yet already schismatic standpoint of the Petrine party of Corinth. The Apostle designates the Galatian false teachers, in Romans 2:4, as false brethren; he conditionally excludes them from communion, in so far as they persist in their doctrinally false gospel, and would make circumcision (which is at the same time the requirement of the legal standpoint) a necessary condition of Christian salvation. By these Ebionites there can only be meant Pharisaic, purely Jewish, people. The Colossian false teachers are, in degree, not less false brethren, because they likewise adulterate the ground of salvation by dogmatic confidence; but their characteristic plainly leads to the supposition of Essenic Ebionites, for their worship of angels and their asceticism indicate an infusion of heathen elements into Judaism.25 There were also such false brethren elsewhere (2 Corinthians 11:26); and the false apostles in 2 Corinthians 11:13 were, undoubtedly, actually connected with the Galatian false teachers. The Petrine party itself, however, which does not seem, in the first place, to have extended beyond ethical, liturgical, and ascetic peculiarities and inclinations to separation, must be distinguished from these agitators, who furthered the doctrinal adulteration of the law.
Yet the case stood still better with the weak brethren in Rome. The Apostle treats them so gently, that we can evidently not take them for decidedly Ebionitic Christians, nor according to the degree and manner of the Galatian and Colossian false teachers, nor according to the initiates of Ebionitism in the Corinthian church. He forbids them only from pronouncing sentence, from their own conscientious standpoint, upon their more liberal brethren; whereas, he even takes their right of conscience against the more liberal brethren under his protection; and there is nothing said of an anathema, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, nor of a warning, as in the Epistle to the Colossians, nor of a censure, as in the Epistles to the Corinthians, to say nothing of the severe criticisms in the Pastoral Epistles. If the Apostle could have expressed such different opinions on the same Ebionitic phantom of Dr. Baur, his character itself would be to us a phantom; that is, all theology would itself have to be gradually transformed into a phantom.
By regarding the mild26 judgment expressed by the Apostle on the weak brethren in the Church at Rome, we are therefore aided in finding out the character of their standpoint. Various suppositions:
1. They were Jewish Christians, who wished to retain the law, and also the legal holy-days, sabbaths, new-moon feasts (the early commentators, Chrysostom, Ambrose, &c., Calvin, and others). Origen’s rejoinder: “Meat and wine were not forbidden in the law.” Tholuck observes, that Paul speaks in quite a different tone against such Judaists. The laying down of this category becomes justifiable, if we distinguish between doctrinal and ethical legality in reference to the laws on food and purification. For the reason given above, the question here cannot be concerning a doctrinal statute.
2. Jewish-Christian ascetics. For examples of them, see Tholuck, p. 699. But pure Judaism is a stranger to all strictly doctrinal forms of asceticism, and is acquainted only with an ethical form: (1) That of the Nazarites for the whole life; (2) That of the Nazaritic vow for a limited time; (3) The theocratic general and special ordinance of fasts; (4) The personal fasting of individuals in special states of life. But there can be nothing said here of all this, and just as little of the doctrinal asceticism of Christians of Essenic prejudices,27 on whom the Apostle has expressed himself in Colossians 2:0. Thus the view of Baur, and others, falls to the ground. On the abundant confusion arising from the supposition that heathen motives are connected with the motives of the weak brethren here, see Tholuck’s quotations on the Neo-Platonists, the Pythagoreans, and the Gnostic Ebionites, pp. 699 ff. These do not belong here with the cited examples of Jewish Nazarites, because the latter never thought of compelling others to adopt their manner of life.
3. Ethical and social motives, arising from fear of mingling with the heathen sacrificial customs. Tholuck says: “According to Augustine, reference is here made to the same persons as in 1 Corinthians 7:0., the reference here being to those who, because they, in buying food at the market, could not sufficiently distinguish the meat offered to idols, preferred to abstain altogether from eating meat. This explanation is implied by Cocceius, and has recently been defended by Michaelis, Philippi, and especially by Neander, and certainly has by far the strongest grounds in its favor.” The weak brethren, therefore, were not influenced by doctrinal but by ethical motives: (1) Fear of eating meat offered to idols; (2) Of drinking the wine of the heathen drink-offerings (Deuteronomy 32:38; (3) In addition to this was their necessity of still retaining as a pious custom the Jewish holy-days, for it is well known that the Sabbath, which was observed together with Sunday, gradually died out in the Church as a day of rest.28 As examples of the abstinence named, Tholuck cites Daniel (Romans 1:8; Romans 1:12; Romans 1:16), Esther (Romans 4:16), Tobias (Romans 1:12), and the Maccabees. (2Ma 5:27). The gradations (cited by Tholuck) of this scrupulousness on the part of the punctilious Jews, do not here come into consideration, as the weak brethren, according to Philippi’s observation, did not withdraw from eating with the Gentiles (?) and the Gentile Christians. Likewise, the decree in Acts xv. is justifiably cited in favor of the view presented. Tholuck, with Philippi, is right in not admitting that, because of an adherence to special holidays, there were two parties among the weak brethren.
4. Various views. According to Erasmus, and others, both the tradition of laws respecting food and the fear of eating meat offered to idols, were motives. According to Chrysostom, and others, they would refrain from all meat, to escape blame, in consequence of the Jewish disdain of swine-meat. According to Eichhorn, these people were generally Gentile-Christian ascetics, who entertained philosophic and ascetic principles, especially the Neo-Pythagorean. Meyer supposes the “influence of Essenic principles,” yet so that they are not led into conflict with justification by faith; however, he opposes Baur’s view, that the people were Ebionitic Christians, because abstinence from wine by the Ebionites has been nowhere certified. He asserts, against view (3), that the Apostle did not speak, as in 1 Corinthians 8:10, of the sacrificial character of meat and wine—as if this had been necessary in the presence of the well-known variance in the Church at Rome! After all, the object of the scrupulousness here was not the principal thing, but the laying down of the canon by which “the weak and the strong” in a church specially called to universality have to preserve their unanimity—the one class, by not taking offence in a Pharisaic, censorious spirit, and the other, by not giving offence in a reckless arrogance of freedom.
A. Romans 14:1-13 : Reciprocal regard, forbearance, and recognition between the weak and the strong. Especially of the taking offence and judging on the part of the weak. Meyer, on Romans 14:1-12 : “Fraternal behavior toward the weak asked for (Romans 14:1). The first point of difference between the two classes, and the encouragement because of it (Romans 14:5). The proper point of view for both in their differences (Romans 14:6), and its establishment (Romans 14:7-9); censure and impermissibility of the opposite course of conduct (Romans 14:10-12).”
Romans 14:1. Him that is weak in the faith [τὸν δὲ ]. The δέ connects with the foregoing; Romans 13:14. After the Apostle has expressed the recognition of physical necessities, and the necessity of limiting the provision for them, he finds himself induced, first of all, to admonish those more freely disposed in this respect to be forbearing toward the weak (Meyer, Philippi). This applies to the formal connection; but, according to the real connection, he must come, at any rate, to this difference between Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity (De Wette), although only the first elements of it were present in the Roman Church.
Weak in the faith. The feeble in respect to faith, the standpoint of faith and its consequences. Since each party reciprocally held the other as the weaker in faith, we might think that in this sense the general exhortation applies to both parts in the sense of: him who appears to you as weak in the faith. But Paul does not deny his standpoint; he immediately afterward calls one who is scrupulous respecting food: ὁ . And this is important; it proves that the Apostle does not design to deprive the strong of the liberty, which he himself takes, of frankly expressing his judgment on the differences. The strong should therefore stand to their conviction; but they should not make any such application of it as would be against brotherly love and fellowship. According to Tholuck, his reason for addressing the strong first (yet not “altogether,” though “chiefly”) was, not that the Gentile Christians constituted the great majority of the Church, but, on the principle stated by Chrysostom, that the weaker part stands in continual need of most care. Yet the Christians of Pauline tendencies, who must not be identified strictly with Gentile Christians, constitute the body of the Church.
As the two parties were not at all separated, the προζλαμβάνεσθε cannot mean exactly receive; at least not in the sense of strict communion (Erasmus, Grotius, Luther, and others), nor receive him to yourselves (Olshausen [Hodge, Stuart], and other’s), according to Acts 28:2. Between these there lies the idea of reception in the emphatic sense, to draw into an inward, friendly intercourse. [Alford: “ ‘Give him your hand,’ as Syr. (Tholuck): ‘count him one of you,’ opposed to rejecting or discouraging him.”—R.] In such relations of difference, the relative danger of intolerance always lies on the stronger side; therefore the case was very different in Rome from what it was in Galatia. Yet the Apostle does not fail to point out the intolerance on the part of those who are punctilious.—Explanations of the πίστις:
1. The religious belief of the ecclesiastical doctrine (Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Beza; Luther: the Lutheran theologians in part).
2. Moral conviction in reference to what is permissible (Este, Bellarmine, Erasmus, some of the older Protestant theologians, Arminians, Socinians). [So Stuart, Hodge.]
3. Accommodating explanations: The practical application of faith (Chrysostom, and others); knowledge (Grotius, Semler).
Against (1) it must be said (apart from the fact that a difference still exists between the doctrine of faith, as such, and the vital energy of justifying faith), that the Apostle does not here emphasize the antithesis of truth and error, but that of confidence and doubt. Against (2) it may be said, that the reference cannot be, absolutely, to a merely subjective ideal fidelity to conviction without the objective basis of truth. It is clear from Romans 14:6, that the Apostle ascribes to both parties religious faith as well as fidelity to conviction; that the weaker brother holds, in a certain sense, most inflexibly to his conviction, follows from the fact that he is of the party that judges, while the other is of the party that despises. Romans 14:23 says, that he can even sin against his faith by eating in doubt; and the context says, as well, that the less careful brother can sin against his faith by an uncharitable abuse of his freedom. Thus both parties have and exercise faith, being true to their conviction of faith; but the weak in faith show their weakness by not venturing, in the traditional scrupulousness of their legal conscience, to draw the full conclusion from their justifying faith, in order to break through their religious prejudices and prepossessions.
The Apostle proves that he does not recognize this weakness as a permanent rule for their life, by the candidly expressed conviction of his standpoint, as well as by his doctrine, in Romans 14:14; but he does not wish that the free development of their consistency of faith should be affected by the strong giving them offence, either to make them more scrupulous, or to mislead to a frivolous transgression of their conscientious limits. As, therefore, faith in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is a vigorous faith in reference to performing miracles, so here, in reference to the practical development of life; in both cases there is the full consequence of world-conquering confidence—there, in overcoming the force of the disturbed states of body and soul, and here, in conquering the power of legal misconceptions and prejudices. Tholuck is correct in observing, that the two explanations (of religious faith and fidelity to conviction) do not conflict with each other. The religious Christian faith, according to its practical form in the developing stage of the dictate of conscience, comprises both elements; as even the early expositors, who explained πίστις by saving faith, have generally placed the certitudo conscientiœ along with it (see Tholuck, p. 705); while, on the other hand, it is made emphatic in many ways, that reference here is to the moral conviction of those who believe in Christ on the ground of this faith (Meyer). [Philippi, Tholuck, Meyer, and most German commentators, together with Alford, and others, have carefully guarded against the purely subjective meaning: moral conviction, adopted by Stuart and Hodge. At the same time, they very properly reject the purely objective sense of πίστις, Christian doctrine—a sense which the word rarely, if ever, has in the New Testament. Hence the correct rendering is not: weak in faith, or as to faith (Hodge), for thus the article is ignored, nor yet: weak in his faith, which is too subjective, but (as in E. V.): weak in the faith. Alford: “Holding the faith imperfectly—i.e., not being able to receive the faith in its strength, so as to be above such prejudices.”—R.]
But not to judgments of thoughts [μή εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν. Dr. Lange: Doch nicht zur Aburtheilung von Bewisgründen. See below.—R.] Διάκρισις means, in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Hebrews 5:14, to pronounce judgment, sentence. Αιαλογισμοί generally denotes thoughts, but, regarded as moral (or often immoral) motives, imaginations (Romans 1:21; 1 Corinthians 3:20), or even doubts (Philippians 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:8). Accordingly, the connection leads to the explanation: Not to the judicial decision of motives. Do not keep frequent company with them for the object, or even to such an issue of the matter, that the mutual motives or differences shall be concluded by premature decision, that a fault-finding of the different tendencies can arise from it. It is evident that the expression cannot mean: “Not for criticizing scrupulous niceties,” as an exhortation to the strong (Tholuck).30 For the Apostle himself has criticized the scrupulous niceties of the weak sufficiently plainly, by characterizing them as weak, and not yielding their point theoretically. Philippi is right when he observes that, throughout the present chapter, the Apostle ascribes the κρινεις to the weak, but the ἐξουθενεῖν to the strong. Yet he arrives at the explanation: Receive them affectionately, so that no mental doubts arise in them. But this is something quite different from Luther’s expression: Do not perplex their consciences. Mental doubts must needs arise in them, and even be awakened, if one would aid them to a more liberal standpoint. But, in their theoretical treatment, they must not be forced beyond the measure of their weakness, but such a premature decision should not also arise on their side. Paul could well exact of the strong, that they should not eat meat for the sake of the weak, &c.; but not, that they should hypocritically deny their more liberal view in mental intercourse with them, or allow it to be overcome and judged. This submission of many a more discerning one to the harsh judgment of the narrow-minded has ever been a source of serious injury. But the measure of possibility should be, to treat the differences as nonessential peculiarities, on the common ground of being the measure of a truly hearty, but also very careful, intercourse (comp. Romans 16:17-18). This premature decision of what the development of spiritual life can harmonize only in time, is therefore forbidden to both parties. The strong are, however, chiefly recommended to deport themselves according to their difficult task, just because the others are chiefly inclined to judge. This view becomes still stronger, if εἰς be taken in the sense of result.
If we distinguish candidly the two views: 1. Receive them, but not so that a reciprocal mental judgment is the result of it; 2. Receive them, but not to pronounce judgment on their scruples (Grotius, and others), we must urge against (2), that the stress lies on the modality, on the manner in which the strong should be accustomed to cultivate intercourse with the weak.31 Therefore Reiche is right in referring the prohibition to both parties, and Chrysostom was not incorrect in attributing criticizing to the weak. That διάκρισις may also mean doubt (Theophylact), does not come further into consideration. Erasmus, Beza, Er. Schmid, have accepted the classical meaning of “doubt” for διαλογισμοί, and “conflict” for διάκρισις. [So E. V.] Therefore disputations. But these have ever been unavoidable, and even Paul has not avoided them.
Romans 14:2. For one believeth, &c. [ὅς μὲν πιστεύει, κ.τ.λ.] The explanation: He is convinced that he can eat every thing (πιστεύει ἐξεῖναι; Tholuck, Reiche, and others), makes faith a subjective opinion. But it rather means: He has a confidence of faith, according to which he can eat every thing (ὥστε φαγεῖν πάντα; Fritzsche, Meyer, Philippi).
But he who is weak [ό δὲ . The E. V. assumes a strict antithesis here, but the τὸν (Romans 14:1). is resumed; hence it is not necessary to find any other special reason for the anacoluthon, though another may be allowable.—R.] The Apostle does not continue with ὃς δὲ, because he will first take the weak into special consideration.—Eateth herbs. Λάχανα. The expression is pressed by Meyer, but something symbolical or hyperbolical will nevertheless have to be allowed to his explanation; for example, the joint designation of bread, of vegetable food in general.32 And it would follow from his view, that this eating of vegetables is an essential characteristic of the weak one, which can be urged with as little literalness as that the strong one is addicted to the eating of all kinds of food. His characteristic is the eating of meat, free from all ordinances. Therefore Fritzsche, Philippi, and others, would not regard the expression as an unconditional preclusion from all enjoyment of meat, as Meyer does. Philippi: “Some would only absolutely refrain from eating meat in order the more easily to overcome temptation in special cases, and others only in those special cases, particularly in the social meals, where their conduct was marked in the church as surprising; and, finally, others would only do so at the social meals, where they were certain that the meat placed before them was meat offered to idols, or, at any rate, were uncertain whether or not it was meat offered to idols. But all these could be very well designated as λαχανοφάγοι.”
Romans 14:3. Let not him who eateth despise, &c. The ἐξουθενεῖν is the specifically improper conduct of him who, occupying a more liberal point of view, in his own wisdom pleases himself (Tholuck: “The conceit of illuminism, which was found even among the Gentile Christians, as 1 Corinthians 8:0.”).—Judge. On the other hand, the κρινειν is the specifically improper conduct of the legal believer, and it is not correct to suppose that (according to Tholuck) the ἐξουθενεῖν belongs as a species under this κρίνειν. That the Apostle, in the present section, has, first of all, to do with the one judging, the one taking offence, is plain, as well from the construction of the foregoing verse as from the succeeding fourth verse. It is also clear from the additional:
For God hath received him [ὁ Θεὸς γὰρ αὐτὸν προσελάβετο]. He has been received into the communion of God and Christ, and thou wilt excommunicate him? This should always be perceived by believers relying on the letter, in relation to Christians who are established upon the real ground of faith. [Stuart and Hodge (following Calvin) apply this clause to both classes, but this is forbidden both by the context and by the fact that the strong are not disposed to reject but to despise the weak; while the weak are ever for excommunicating the strong, withdrawing from fellowship, &c. Hence the pertinence of the clause to this class. So Meyer, De Wette, Philippi, Alford, and most.—R.] The mark of this reception is rather the peace and light of fellowship with God, than reception into the Church. Yet this also comprises the fact, that God has received him into His service as a servant (Vatabl.), but only indirectly.
Romans 14:4. Who art thou? &c. [σὺ τίς εἶ, κ.τ.λ. Comp. Romans 9:20.] Tholuck is here quite beyond the connection (in consequence of the supposition that ἐξουθενεῖν is only a species of κρινειν), when he questions whether the weak one here judging is addressed. The σύ is claimed to belong to both parts (also according to Reiche and Chrysostom) [Stuart, Hodge]; while Meyer and Philippi, on the contrary, properly find in it an address to the weak one judging.
Another man’s servant [ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην. Paul uses οἰκέτης only here, and it occurs in the New Testament but rarely (Luke 16:13; Acts 10:7; 1 Peter 2:18). It means a house-servant, who is more closely connected with the family than the other slaves (Meyer).—R.] We must not pass lightly over the ἀλλότριον. It means not merely another, but a strange one. Meyer, and others: “He who is not in thy service, but in the service of another. But the one who judges is also in the service of this other one. That which causes him to judge, is not chiefly the notion that he is the master of this servant, but that the servant conducts himself in his service as an ἀλλότριος, who has in him much that is in itself surprising. The weak one fails to find in him the manner of the οἰκεῖος.
To his own master [τῷ ἰδίω̣ κυρίω̣]. The κύριος is still chiefly figurative, the master of the strange servant. In order to understand the thought to its fullest extent, we must first consider the figure. It is the figure of a master who takes many kinds of servants in his service. Now, if he has one from a foreign country who makes himself a surprising exception, the matter belongs to the master alone, who has become “his own master”—that is, the exclusive master.
Standeth or falleth [στήκει ἢ πίπτει]. The standing and falling, as an expression of God’s judgment (Psalms 1:5; Luke 21:36, &c.), has therefore also the further figurative meaning of standing or not standing in the household judgment. But this figure is from the beginning a clear designation of the relation in which Jewish and Gentile Christians stand to Christ. Christ is the Master; see. Romans 14:8-9; comp. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 2:9. The dative may be regarded as dativ. comm., even if the master himself is the judge, because it is his loss or gain if the servant falls or stands. Explanations:
1. The standing or falling is judicially understood as God’s judgment (Calvin, Grotius, and many others).
2. The continuance or non-continuance in true. Christian life is meant (Vatabl., Semler, De Wette, Maier, Meyer).
The opposition of these two views has no well-justified meaning, since, in a religious sense, God’s judgment is executed through the life.33 Meyer, indeed, says, in favor of (2): “To make stand in the judgment (to absolve), is not the work of Divine power, but of grace.” But besides the fact that power and grace do not He so far asunder, there comes into consideration the further fact, that the question here is not concerning a making to stand chiefly in God’s judgment, but in the uninvited judgment of men (Ebionitism, hierarchism, &c.).
He shall be made to stand [σταθήσεταδέ]. Here the Apostle completely withdraws the figurative veil from the thought. The strong man will remain standing in his freedom of faith.34
For the Lord is able to make him stand [δυνατεῖ γὰρ ὁ κύριος στῆσαι αὐτόν. See Textual Notes3 and4.—R.] Christ supports the believer. If the reading κύριος were regarded as an exegetical correction, we would have to consider, in the reading Θεός, the universal historical, spiritual, and external protection which God has bestowed upon the more liberal heathen Christianity, in opposition to the narrow Jewish Christianity, and to the pure religion of faith in opposition to legally weakened faith. Meyer: “He does not say it as one who gives security, but who hopes.” This is against Reiche, who says that Paul could not go security for the perseverance for the strong one in faith, with his liberal views, and hence the reference must be to the being supported in the judgment. Grotius says, better: est bene ominantis. It must be observed, that the Apostle speaks of the future of the strong man in genere, but not of that of each individual, for he had early experienced that individual men, reputed to be strong, lapsed into antinomianism.
Romans 14:5. One man esteemeth one day above another [ὂς μὲν κρίνει ἡμέραν παρ ̓ ἡμέραν]. He distinguishes one day from another, and selects it as a holy-day. Κρίνειν = probare. The second point of difference. Selections for feast-days, and not for fast-days, are spoken of (Chrysostom, Augustine, Fritzsche). In harmony with the explanation of fast-days, ἡμέραν παῤ ἡμέραν has also been explained by alternis diebus (the Vulgate: judicat diem inter diem; Bengel: the appointment of days for distributing alms). [It has also been referred to the usage in regard to abstinence from meat, &c.—R.] Tholuck: “As from the commandments on food, so also from the Jewish holy-days (Colossians 2:16), particularly the Sabbath, the Jewish Christian could not wean himself, for we find the observance of the Sabbath even in the fifth century of the Church, also in Const. Ap. 25.” The same author correctly observes, that the holy-days, among the Jews, were not just the same as fast-days (see also Galatians 4:10).
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind [ἓκαστος ἐν τῷ ἰδίω̣ νοῒ πληροφορείσθω]. The Apostle does not decide in a dogmatical way, although he has sufficiently indicated his point of view. But he lays down a rule which infallibly leads to reconciliation. We cannot here translate νοῦς: in his disposition (De Wette), for every one of both these parties would be thus assured in disposition. Rather, every one should seek to change his conviction of feeling—as it is connected with faith in authority, party influence, &c.—into his inmost, spiritually effected conviction. We could therefore here translate νοῦς: in his understanding, his self-reflection, his practical reason, his mediated self-consciousness; the same thought is comprised in the expression: self-understanding, regarded as the conscious and reflecting spiritual life, by which the νοῦς constitutes an antithesis to the immediateness of the πνεῦμα (see 1 Corinthians 14:14-15). In this tendency the rationalist must become free from the dogma of deistical or pantheistical illuminism, and arrive at true rationality; in this tendency, the one who is bound to ordinances must learn to distinguish between the law of the Spirit and the law of the letter; in this tendency, both parties must become free from prejudice, fanaticism, and phraseology, so as to know how to be tolerant, and then to be in peace.37
Romans 14:6. He who regardeth the day [ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν]. This verse is a guiding-star, according to which every one, in his spiritual life, should become certain in his conviction. The more one seeks to sanctify his opinion religiously, to bring it before the Lord, and to change it to thanksgiving, so much the more must he distinguish the true and the false in the light of God.
Regardeth it unto the Lord [κυρίω̣ φρονεῖ. The dative is dat. commodi.] The κύριος is Christ (Meyer, Philippi, and others); referred by many to God, against which is Romans 14:9; Meyer: unto the Lord’s service. Yet, at all events, a service in a wider sense is meant: for the honor of his Lord (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).—[And he that regardeth not, &c. See Textual Note5.—R.]
Proof: For he giveth thanks unto God [εὐχαριστεῖ γὰρ τῷ Θεῷ]. The thanksgiving at the table (Matthew 15:36; Matthew 26:26, &c.) is a proof that, with pious feeling and a good conscience, he consecrates his food and his enjoyment to God as a thank-offering. [Alford: “Adduced as a practice of both parties, this shows the universality among the early Christians of thanking God at meals.”—R.]—And he who eateth not. He who abstains from eating meat. Even he is thankful for his scanty meal.
Romans 14:7. For none of us liveth to himself [οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἑαυτῷ ζῇ]. The Apostle designates the universal basis of the thought, that the Christian eats or does not eat to the Lord. This rests upon the fact that we exist here, that we live and die, to the Lord. Meyer says, correctly: The dative must be taken in the ethico-telic sense. This telic εἰς αὐτόν is, indeed, always connected with a δι ̓ αὐτοῦ and ἐξ αὐτοῦ; although the objective dependence on Christ (Rückert, Reiche) is not directly meant, and, in an absolute sense, all these terms apply, through Christ, to God.
Romans 14:8. We die unto the Lord [τῷ κυρίω̣ ἀποθνἠσκομεν. See Textual Note7.] Even the Christian’s dying is an act of consecration to the glory of Christ (Bengel: eadem ars moriendi, quœ vivendi.)
Whether we live, therefore, or die, &c. [ἐάν τε οὖν ζῶμεν ἐάν τε , κ.τ.λ.] This proposition does not merely serve to establish the foregoing (we eat or do not eat), but to explain and elucidate it. The stronger form, the stronger antithesis of living and dying, underlies the eating and not eating. But both coincide in our being the Lord’s (belonging to Him). [Alford: “We are, under all circumstances, living or dying (and à fortiori eating or abstaining, observing days or not observing them), Christ’s: His property.”—Meyer: “In the thrice-repeated and emphatic τῷ κυρίω̣ (τοῦ κυριοῦ) notice the divina Christi majestas et potestas (Bengel), to which the Christian knows himself to be entirely devoted.”—R.]
Romans 14:9. For to this end Christ died and lived again [εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ χριστὸς . See Textual Note8.] The telic definition of the death and resurrection of Christ serves, on the other hand, to establish our living and dying to the Lord. The ἒζησε here, as in Revelation 2:8, designates Christ’s return to eternal life, hence the ἀνέστη is passed over. Olshausen would understand the ἒζησε to be the earthly life of Jesus (therefore taken as a Hysteron proteron.) Thereby a uniformity would, at all events, be constituted by the statement: we live or we die, but a dissimilarity would be called forth in relation to what follows. Meyer properly brings out also the fact that the κυριότης of the Lord is established on His death and resurrection. But it is in harmony with the telic definition of Christ’s dominion that the antithesis in this life—the living and the dead—recedes behind the antithesis in the future life, the dead (in the act of dying and in Sheol) and the living, by whom it is conditionally established.
Both of the dead and the living. According to Meyer’s suggestion, the purpose is not to refer the effects of Christ’s death and return to life (as sundered) to the dead and to the living respectively (see his note on p. 497).
Romans 14:10. But why dost thou judge. The σύ is here opposed to the dominion of Christ over the dead and the living, as above, to another man’s servant; but the latter is now denoted brother.
Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? The Apostle, having spoken of the weaker one, now speaks these words to the stronger, in order to maintain his harmonizing position. Here, as well as in the supporting of him who stands, Romans 14:4, and in the thanksgiving in Romans 14:6, the Apostle goes back to the highest causality (see Textual Note9).
For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God [πάντες γάρ παραστησόμεθα τῷ βήματι τοῦ Θεοῦ]. We must appear before the judgment-seat of Cod himself, which Christ shall administer as Lord (Romans 2:16; Acts 17:31; comp. Matthew 25:33; Acts 26:6). The judging of one’s brother, therefore, first, encroaches upon Christ’s office as ruler, and, second, anticipates the judgment-bar of God.
Romans 14:11. For it is written. Isaiah 45:23. On the free form of the citation from memory, and from the LXX., see Philippi, p. 571. [See also Textual Note10.—R.] On ἐξομολογεῖσθαι, with the dative, meaning to praise (Romans 15:9; Matthew 11:25, &c.), see Tholuck, p. 719; Meyer, p. 498. [Meyer says the verb with the dative always means: to praise; with the accusative of the object: to confess (Matthew 3:6, &c.).—R.] That special kind of praise, however, is meant, which occurs after a finished act of Divine Providence according to a Divine decision (see Philippians 2:11). Tholuck says: “Isaiah 45:23 does not speak of the appearance of Christians before the judgment-seat of God, but of mankind’s universal and humble confession of dependence upon God.” But this unwarrantably removes the element of future time, the eschatological element, which is, at all events, also comprised in the passage in Isaiah. Meyer says, somewhat better: “In Isaiah God makes the assurance by an oath, that all men (even the heathen) shall reverently swear allegiance to Him, Paul here regards this Divine declaration which promises messianic victory, because it promises the universal victory of the theocracy, according to the special and final fulfilment that it shall have in the general judgment.”38—That even the prophetic passage; itself comprises, with Christ’s saving advent, also the eschatological references, follows from the definite prospect that every knee shall bow before Jehovah, &c. (see Philippians 2:10-11).
Romans 14:12. So then every one, &c. [See Textual Note11.] Meyer puts the emphasis on ἕκαστος, Philippi on τῷ Θεῷ, others on περὶ ἑαυτοῦ. The first is preferable.—R.] In this lies the ground of the following exhortation (Romans 14:13): Let us not therefore judge one another any more [μηκέτι οὖν ]. The Apostle here comprises both parts, and thereby makes his transition to the following admonition to the strong.
B. Romans 14:13 to Romans 15:1. On giving offence and despising. “Exhortation to the strong” in particular.
Romans 14:13. But judge this rather [ἀλλὰτοῦτο κρίνατε μᾶλλον]. The κρίνατε. The Apostle uses the same word in a changed meaning, in order to emphasize more particularly, by this antanaclasis, the antithesist o judging. The consideration of the future judgment should move believers in particular to so conduct themselves as to give offence to no one (Matthew 18:6 ff.). Meyer: “Let that be your judgment.”
Not to put a stumbling-block or an occasion of falling in a brother’s way [τὸ μὴ τιθέναι πρόσκομμα τῷ ]. It does not follow that, because the expressions πρόσκομμα and σκάνδαλον are, in general, used metaphorically as synonyms, we would here have to accept a “verbosity in the interest of the case” (Meyer). In Romans 14:21 we find even three special designations: προσκόπτει ἢ σκανδαλίζεται ἢ . There also, however, Meyer, with others, regards the threefold designation as only the expression of the urgency of the matter. But in a real reference, the twofold effect of the giving offence comes into consideration. The giving offence is either an occasion for the punctilious brother to become embittered and still more hardened in his prejudice, or to conduct himself frivolously, without an understanding of the principle of freedom, and thus, according to the present passage, eat meat with inward scruples of conscience.39 The Apostle indicates the first case in Romans 14:15, and the second in Romans 14:23. The use of different expressions, in themselves synonymous, to denote this antithesis, was quite natural, and, in Romans 14:21, the Apostle seems to distinguish even three cases: to take an offence forward, or backward, or to be strengthened in weakness. Even to this very day, the offence which the Jews take at Christianity is divided into the two fractions of extreme legality and of wild liberalism. The τιθέναι causes us to return to the original sense of the words (see the Lexicons).
Romans 14:14. I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus [οἶδα καὶ πέπεισμαι ἐνκυρὶω̣ Ἰησοῦ]. He knows it already as an Old Testament monotheist, who knows that God is the Creator of all things (1 Timothy 4:3-4; Genesis 1:31). But he also has the fixed assurance of it in the fellowship of Christ, by virtue of justifying faith in His Spirit. Calovius: libertate a Christo parta. [Alford: “These words give to the persuasion the weight not merely of Paul’s own λογίζομαι, but of apostolic authority. He is persuaded, in his capacity as connected with Christ Jesus, as having the mind of Christ.” So Hodge, substantially, but with less exactness, since he retains the incorrect by of the E. V. It is doubtful whether ἐν ever has this force. Jowett, however, calls these words: “the form in which St. Paul expresses his living and doing all things in Christ, as, in language colder and more appropriate to our time, we might say as ‘a Christian.” ’ But this is a dilution of the force of the expression.—R.] A consciousness of Christ’s declaration in Matthew 15:11 is here more probable than questionable; but then that declaration is not in a legal sense the basis of his freedom (comp. also 1 Corinthians 8:8; Colossians 2:14-16).
Unclean; κοινόν, profane, unclean in the religious legal sense (see the Commentary on Matthew, p. 277; the Commentary on Mark, p. 64). Levitically unclean was, indeed, even still a type of what was common or unclean in the real spiritual sense (Hebrews 10:29).
Of itself, δἰ αὑτοῦ, not according to Lachmann’s reading, δι ̓ αὐτοῦ. [See Textual Note12.] Of itself, according to its nature, in contrast with the economical order, the moral convenience, or the natural feeling or conscience of the one partaking. [Theodoret, reading αὐτοῦ, refers it to Christ.—R.] “The Apostle himself belongs to the strong (comp. ἡμεῖς in Romans 15:1, and 1 Corinthians 9:22);” Tholuck. But he also again distinguishes himself from the ordinarily strong one, in that he takes into the account, as a co-determining factor, conscience and regard to fraternal intercourse, or habitual practice.—[But to him, εἰ μὴ τῷ. This introduces an exception to unclean, not to unclean of itself. Hence not = ἀλλά but = nisi (Meyer).—R.]—To him it is unclean. With emphasis. [The uncleanness is accordingly subjective (Meyer).—R.]
Romans 14:15. For if [εἰ γάρ See Textual Note13.] The less authenticated reading εἰ δέ seems at the first glance to be most suitable; but the reading εἰ γάρ seems to compel us to accept, that even the strong one, who knows that a certain kind of food seems unclean to his weak brother, makes himself unclean by eating it to his offence.40
Because of thy meat thy brother is grieved [διὰ βρῶμα ὁ . Βρῶμα, that food which he holds to be unclean. Bengel calls this meiosis. Comp. Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 12:16; Hebrews 13:9.—R.] The difficulty occasioned by the expression λυπεῖται, is due to a neglect to distinguish properly the two kinds of offence. First of all, the question here is concerning that offence which consisted in the weak one’s being made to stumble by the strong one’s eating of meat. Tholuck: “λυπεῖν, according to the New Testament use of language: to afflict;” therefore λυπεῖσθαι is taken by expositors (Origen) = σκανδαλίζεσθαι. But would he who took offence at the eating be thereby induced to imitate the example?—According to the Apostle, it was, at all events, the one who ate, notwithstanding the offence he had taken, but not the other, who was irritated and felt himself aggrieved as much by the supposed pride as by the inconsiderateness of the strong one. “But such an affliction,” says Philippi, “would be the beginning of the judging forbidden by the Apostle, which he therefore would not recommend to special regard.” What! a prejudiced man’s being afflicted itself the beginning of judging? Philippi, in harmony with Elsner, ignores the subjective justification of this affliction, by interpreting the λυπεῖν according to the signification frequently occurring in the classics: to prejudice, to injure. Meyer, on the other hand, urges against this the New Testament use of language, and understands the expression to mean moral mortification, an insult to the conscience, with reference to Eph 4:30.41 Grotius, and others, have referred the word to the affliction produced by the charge of narrowness. The charge of narrowness comprised in reckless “eating” does, indeed, come into consideration as a single clement, but it is not the principal thing.
Thou art no longer walking according to love [οὐκ ἒτι κατὰ ]. For the one giving offence injures love, and also makes himself unclean.
Destroy not by thy meat, &c. [μὴ τῷβρώματι, κ.τ.λ.] Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:10-11. But it does not follow from this analogy (of 1 Cor.), that the brother is, in all cases, led only, by a narrow and frivolous eating with others, to infidelity to his conscience, and that it is only by means of this that he incurs the danger of the ἀπώλεια, or actually relapses into a state leading to this. The exasperations of the one falling back upon ordinances lead to fanaticism and the ἀπώλεια, just as surely as laxities lead to antinomianism. Meyer says: “The occasion to fall from Christianity (Theophylact, Grotius, &c.) is not at all taken into consideration. But can there be, in the case of Christians, a relapse into the ἀπώλεια without a real apostasy from Christianity? Bengel: Ne pluris feceris tuum cibum, quam Christus vitam suam.43
Romans 14:16. Let not then your good be evil spoken of [μὴ βλασφημείσθω οὖν ὑμῶντὸ . See Textual Note14. De Wette thus explains the connection of οὖν with what precedes: “If this does not take place, then your good will not be evil spoken of.”—R.] What is the good which the Apostle speaks of, and in how far is it exposed to slander? Explanations:
1. τὸ is Christian freedom (“in relation to eating meat”), Origen, Thomasius, Grotius and others; Tholuck, with reference to 1 Corinthians 10:29-30. Then the reference to the eating of meat is evidently nothing more than an accidental consistency of Christian freedom in its general meaning.44 De Wette and Philippi, on the contrary, observe, that the matter in question here is the possession not of a single party, but of the whole Church. But Tholuck aptly replies: “This freedom was objectively purchased for the whole Church.” Therefore also the reading ἡμῶν does not pronounce against this explanation.
2. Theodoret, De Wette, Philippi: faith. [Luther, Melanchthon, Hodge, &c.: the gospel. In fact, this is the view of Philippi: doctrina evangelica.—R.]
3. The kingdom of God, in Romans 14:17. [So Ewald, Umbreit, Meyer. With proper restrictions, this view seems least objectionable. (2) and (3) imply that the evil-speaking is from without the Church.—R.]
Unquestionably Romans 14:17 is an explanation of Romans 14:16, but the kingdom of God is here described as a treasure and enjoyment of faith, and there it is the first element: righteousness through Christ = freedom from human ordinances; see Galatians 5:1. The explanations harmonize, in maintaining that the question is concerning the Christian good, κατ̓ ἐξοχήν. And this good must be named objectively the gospel, and subjectively faith; or, if we comprise both these elements, the kingdom of God. It obscures the text to rend these things asunder by aut, aut. But it is unmistakable that the Apostle speaks relatively of this good, as it is represented in the freedom of faith enjoyed by renewed mankind. Now, as the punctilious Jewish Christians, and particularly the Jews, saw many Christians abusing their freedom, they were exposed to the danger, from this abuse of freedom, to abuse and finally to slander freedom itself, and even the gospel, according to a confusion of fanaticism similar to what occurs in our day, when men confound the Reformation with revolution, with the Münster fanaticism, with sectarianism, and apostasy from Christianity. Paul already had a sufficiently bitter experience in the impossibility of avoiding such slanders, even when the greatest care is observed; he all the more regarded it as an obligation of wisdom and love, to admonish those who were free to make a proper use of their freedom. We must not, however, consider the slander of Christian freedom in itself alone, apart from its principle, faith. Besides, this one slander of Christians against Christians had, as its result, another: that the Gentiles abused Christianity because of its division, and perhaps the proudest among them made it a subject of derision, that Christians contended about eating and drinking, as if these things were the real blessings of the kingdom of heaven. This latter feature is the explanation of Cocceius.
Romans 14:17. For the kingdom of God. [Γάρ. If the reference in Romans 14:16 be to freedom, then the connection is: Preserve your liberty from such evil-speaking, since nothing spiritual is involved. If, however, Meyer’s view be adopted, then a motive is presented here, with a reference to the tenor of the evil-speaking—i. e., the blasphemy would consist in such a wrong estimate of Christianity, or the kingdom of God in the minds of those without. The advantage of taking the wider view of Romans 14:16 becomes obvious here. For if it be restricted to the strong, then this verse must be so restricted also, when its most necessary application is to the weak brethren.—R.] The βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ, typified by the Old Testament theocracy, is God’s dominion over the heart, instituted and administered by Christ; it is the heavenly sphere of life, in which God’s word and Spirit govern, and whose organ on earth is the Church. Here, too, Meyer mixes up the second advent: there is “also here nothing else than the messianic kingdom, which shall be set up at the second coming of Christ.”
Is not eating and drinking [βρῶσις καὶπόσις. Comp. Colossians 2:16. The act of eating and of drinking. The reference is obviously to the practice of both parties.—R.] Its nature does not consist in this. [Not as the Greek fathers interpret: it is not won by this.—R.] Meyer: “The moral condition of its (future!) nature does not depend upon it.”
But righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost [ἀλλὰ δικαιοσύνη καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ χαρὰ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίω̣]. De Wette has full ground for contending against the shallow interpretations of these words, by a series of commentators from Chrysostom down to Meyer (Grotius and Fritzsche among the number), to the effect that the question here is only one of moral virtues. With Meyer, the “rectitude” naturally stands at the head. De Wette interprets these ideas in the full sense. Therefore he connects the doctrinal view (Calvin, Calovius, and others) with the ethical. [So Hodge, in last edition. In the earlier, he adopted the “ethical” view. But as he now says: “Paul does not mean to say that Christianity consists in morality—that the man who is just, peaceful, and cheerful, is a true Christian. This would be to contradict the whole argument of this Epistle.”—R.] Accordingly, righteousness is, first of all, justification; peace is chiefly rest of spirit; and joy in the Holy Ghost is the joy of our spirit, which has its ground in the Holy Ghost.45 But inasmuch as the question here is not so much concerning the virtues of God’s kingdom as its blessings, the doctrinal view must be regarded as the principal thing. It might be said, as regards the concrete occasion [i. e., the circumstances of the Roman Church]: a. With righteousness in Christ there is joined freedom from legality; b. With peace and the spirit of peace there are joined brotherly moderation and forbearance in the use of freedom; c. And with joy in the Holy Ghost there is joined the impulse to cultivate social joy through the proper tone of mind. Tholuck, with good ground, has cited Romans 15:13 in favor of the religious construction of the three definitions; also 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Php 3:1; 2 Corinthians 6:10. Grotius, and others, have interpreted the joy transitively, to establish joy; and this effect is, indeed, quite peculiar to the social impulse of Christian joy, which it has from heaven (“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy”); but this element is not the principal and fundamental thought.
Romans 14:18. For he who herein serveth Christ. Ἐν τούτω̣, according to Meyer, means: according to this; that is, according to the relation already given. Tholuck more fitly says: herein. The perception of the opposition between the inward and real and the unreal and outward in God’s kingdom, and the cultivation of the former, is meant. So far ἐν τούτω̣ is much stronger than ἐν τούτοις. [The singular is so strongly supported, that we must adopt it; see Textual Note15. But it has been referred by many commentators (from Origen to Jowett) to the Holy Ghost. Dr. Hodge assumes that this is the necessary view. But as Alford remarks: “It would be unnatural that a subordinate member of the former sentence, belonging only to χαρά, should be at once raised to be the emphatic one in this, and the three graces, just emphatically mentioned, lost sight of.” This difficulty has led a number of commentators to retain the plural. But this is contrary to the received canons of criticism, and an unfair method of avoiding the difficulty.—R.]
Is well-pleasing to God, &c. [εὐάρεστος τῷ Θεῷ, κ.τ.λ.] He who, in the perception of this rule of the New Testament, serves Christ with pure motive, has the twofold blessing of being well-pleasing to God and approved of men. Among these men, the best among those who dissent are undoubtedly chiefly meant, for the really quarrelsome partisans are most embittered by the peaceful conduct of faith.46
Romans 14:19. Let us therefore follow after the things of peace [ἂρα οὖν τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης διώκωμεν. The inference is from Romans 14:17-18 (De Wette, Philippi, Meyer), not from the whole preceding context (Hodge). See Textual Note16 on the form of the verb.—R.] The διώκειν is here in contrast with the impulse of party excitements.
The things which pertain to mutual edification [καὶ τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ]. Edification always comprises two elements, according to the figure which represents the Church as Christ’s temple: 1. Arrangement into the fellowship of Christ by the awakening, vivification, and preparation of the stones; 2. Arrangement into the fellowship of the Church by the promotion of what is essential, and by moderation in the exercise of grace according to the spirit of humility and self-denial; see 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:10, and other passages. In this sense, each should build the other up.
Romans 14:20. Do not for the sake of meat undo the work of God [μὴ ἒνεκεν βρώματος κατάλυε (pull down) τὸ ἒργον τοῦ Θεοῦ]. Instead of building up, the inconsiderate one tears down. The καταλύειν and λύειν are a specific expression of this fact. The work (building) of God has been understood as Christian faith, the σωτηρία, the extension of Christianity; Meyer, and others, have understood the Christian as such. [“His Christian personality.”] But the οἰκοδομή here evidently denotes the fellowship of faith. [This seems to combine the two favorite views, viz., that the fellow-Christian is here referred to—that the “kingdom of God” in its extension is meant. Alford, referring to 1 Corinthians 3:9, explains: “Thy fellow-Christian, as a plant of God’s planting, a building of God’s raising.”—R.]
But it is evil [ἀλλὰ κακόν. Instead of δέ we have ἀλλὰ here. See Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. p. 403.—R.] To κακόν we must simply supply, from what precedes: Every thing which is clean in itself (Meyer). [Alford thinks nothing need be supplied, except, as in E. V., the neuter verb. “It is evil—i. e., there is criminality in the man.” On the other proposed supplements, see Meyer, Alford, in loco.—R.] Κακόν, injurious in this case, because it is not only a sin to him, but also leads him to ruinous frivolity; see Romans 14:15.
To the man who eateth through offence [τῷ ̣ τῷ διὰ προσκόμματος ἐσθίοντι]. By the one who eats, there can only be meant the weak one (according to Chrysostom, Luther [Meyer], and others), and not the strong one, according to the explanation of most commentators (Calvin, Grotius, De Wette [Hodge, Alford], and others). But the address is directed to the strong. Do not destroy for the sake of meat—that is, by thy inconsiderate and free enjoyment—the work of God, for, by the πρόσκομμα which thou givest thy brother, thou leadest him to eat against his conscience. For it is said, first, concessively: all things indeed are pure; second, the one eating with (taken, not given) offence to his conscience, is, as an injured one, contrasted with the one who destroys, who has given him offence; we have, besides, in the third place, the whole context.
[Those who find in offence a reference to the offence given by the strong one, rather than to the offence taken by the weak one, also urge the context in favor of their view. The context, however, only proves that the strong are addressed here. They incorrectly infer from this, that the κακόν must be predicated of the action of the party addressed. But is it not like Paul to urge, as a motive, the evil effect upon the brother taking offence? Besides, as Meyer suggests, the other view has no special connection with the former part of the verse, but gives us only the vague remark, that it is wrong to eat so as to give offence to others. The objection, that offence cannot well be applied to offence against one’s own conscience, loses its force, when it is remembered that the strong are cautioned with reference to the effect of their conduct on the weak.—R.]
Romans 14:21. It is not good to eat flesh, &c. [καλὸν τὸ μὴ φαγεῖν κρέα, κ.τ.λ.] Luther, and others, incorrectly take καλόν as comparative in relation to ἐν ᾧ [“It is better that thou eatest no flesh and drinkest no wine, or (than) that thereon thy brother,” &c.]. Probably to tone down the force of the expression, which seemed all too strong. But καλόν itself contains the necessary mitigation, since it denotes a higher and freer measure of self-denying love. [Dr. Lange renders it: edel, noble. The case is not hypothetical; the scrupulous demanded abstinence from wine also, we infer from the whole passage.—R.]
Not to do any thing wherein thy brother, &c. [μηδὲ ἐν ω̣ ὁ . See Textual Note17.] Tholuck, and others, referring to 1 Corinthians 10:31, would supply ποιεῖν with ἐν ὧ, which is certainly more correct than to supply φαγεῖν ἢπιεῖν. [The E. V. seems to imply the latter view; it is emended, therefore.] As De Wette properly remarks: Paul does not here lay down, as a definite precept, this principle of self-denying love according to which he had lived (see 1 Corinthians 8:13). On the three expressions προσκόπτει, &c., see the explanation of Romans 14:13. [It is not necessary to find (with Calvin) a climax ad infra in these three verbs, yet they are not precisely synonymous. The figure of Romans 14:13 is retained, but the third verb expresses the mildest form of offence. De Wette, Philippi (and E. V.) render: is made (or becomes) weak; Meyer, Alford, and others, more correctly: is weak. The full thought, then, is: It is noble not to do any thing wherein thy brother is weak; even to avoid his weak point.—R.]
Romans 14:22. Hast thou faith? [σύ πὶστιν ἒχεις; See Textual Note18. The briefer reading is adopted there.—R.] Meyer, with Calvin, Grotius, and others, take these words as interrogative; Tholuck, with Luther, Fritzsche, and others, as concessive, which corresponds better with the context.48 [If ἢν be rejected, the interrogative form is to be preferred, as better suiting the lively character of the address (so Philippi, Alford, De Wette, Hodge, &c.). The question implies, on the part of the strong brother, an assertion: I have faith. The concessive view: you have faith, I grant, may imply the same. In fact, whatever reading or construction be adopted, the purport of the verse remains unchanged.—R.] Tholuck: “The stronger will depend upon his faith, but he should not come forward with it.” That is, should not come forward with it in practical uncharitable conduct; but, on the other hand, he should not dissemble the conviction of his faith.
Have it to thyself [κατὰ σεαυτὸν ἒχε. Keep it, because well founded, but for the sake of thy brother, keep it to thyself.—R.] This comprises not only a restriction for the strong, but also a limitation of the principle previously established in Romans 14:21. Or, in his private life, where he gives no offence to his brother, he may also live according to his faith, yet according to the rule that he should regard himself as present to God.—Before God. [As God sees it, it need not be paraded before man (Meyer, Hodge).—R.] Tholuck explains the ἐνώπιον τ. Θεοῦ by thanksgiving.
Blessed is he, &c. [μακάριος, κ.τ.λ.] Luther: Blessed is he whose conscience does not condemn him in that which he allows. So also Meyer; Philippi, with reference to Romans 14:5 : “Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But we cannot expect here a simple declaration of the strong man’s blessedness in opposition to the weak; and all the less so, because, immediately afterward, there is mention made of the weak one’s sinful eating in doubt, which the strong man has occasioned by his offence.49 Thus the proposition directs attention to the difference between the theoretical conviction and an inconsiderate conduct according to it. “Blessed is he whose conscience must not practically disapprove of what he, according to his theoretical conviction, approves.” No one can have a perfect conviction of practical good conduct, if he make a false application of the theoretical conviction of faith against love; see 2Co 8:9-12; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Corinthians 10:23. [This view of Dr. Lange, which seems to be peculiarly his own, implies a distinction so subtle, that it seems out of place in the practical part of the Epistle of this earnest Christian teacher. He adduces no arguments to support it, except the negative one, that the declaration of the strong man’s blessedness can scarcely be expected here, especially when the danger of the weak one from the example of the strong one follows immediately. But as, in Romans 14:20, Paul refers to the evil done to the weak, as a motive to the strong whom he is addressing, so here he may present the blessedness of a strong conviction, and then the danger of a weak one, as a double motive to be careful of the weak brother. As the whole argument tends toward chap Romans 15:1, this seems a satisfactory view.—R.]
Who judgeth not himself. The Apostle says κρίνων, and not κατακρίνων (as most commentators explain), because the Christian, with the unconscious and false application of a principle which is in itself righteous, and even holy, does not sin so ruinously as he who condemns himself by acting against his religious conviction.50 With the germinating principle of faith in the weak one, the law is no more of authority; but so long as it applies to him in connection with faith, he cannot do violence to it. It is not by presumptuousness, but by mature conviction, that we become free.—[Alloweth, δοκιμάζει. Agendum eligit (Estius).—R.]
Romans 14:23. But he that doubteth [ὁ δὲ διακρινόμενος]. With the act of eating, he is at the same time stricken and condemned, κατακέκριται; comp. John 3:18. Meyer: “It was necessary to define more specifically the actual self-condemnation (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Grotius, and most commentators).” But there is a great difference between self-condemnation and actual self-condemnation. If the explanation, “to be subject to Divine condemnation,” does not say: to be already subject to the final judgment, then must it be explained to mean, that a Divine sentence on his condemnable (not condemned) condition has occurred in his act itself, which sentence he must himself best experience in his own conscience, because the fact of his doubting is better known to himself than to any one else.51
Because it is not of faith [ὅτι οὐκ ἐκπίστεως]. Namely, that he ate. [Alford explains of faith here: “from a persuasion of rectitude grounded on and consonant with his life of faith. That ‘faith in the Son of God’ by which the Apostle describes his own life in the flesh as being lived, informing and penetrating the motives and the conscience, will not include, will not sanction, an act done against the testimony of the conscience.” This is, perhaps, more in accordance with Dr. Lange’s view of πίστις (see below) than the ordinary interpretation, which confines it to mere persuasion, moral conviction (Hodge, De Wette, and most).—R.]
And whatsoever is not of faith is sin [πᾶν δὲ ὅ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως ἁμαρτία ἐστίν]. To be read as a concluding sentence, and not as an explanation of the foregoing: because every thing which is not of faith, &c. [The E. V. (for) is incorrect; and should be substituted, δέ introducing, as Alford suggests, an axiom.—R.]—Conflicting explanations:
1. Augustine, and many other commentators; Calovius, &c.: which is not of Christian saving faith. Then the consequence is the proposition: The whole life of unbelievers is sin, even the morality and virtues of the heathen, &c. (Formula Cone. Rom 700: where even the peccata sunt are moderated by the peccatis contaminata.)
2. Moral faith, “the moral conviction of the rectitude of a mode of action” (De Wette, Reiche, and Meyer, after Chrysostom, and others). But undoubtedly Chrysostom’s explanation shows a better knowledge of the connection between the requirement of saving faith and subjective conviction than many modern explanations, with all their fidelity to conviction. Even Grotius does not speak of conviction, but of conscience: Peccatum est, quidquid sit, conscientia non adstipulante. There can be no perverted decision of conscience which conscience itself did not have to contradict, and consequently also no abstract and subjective certainty of conviction without an objective ground. But conscience itself harmonizes with God’s law, just as the law harmonizes with the gospel and its faith. Otherwise, the world would be irretrievably lost in egotistic separation. How would we ever get at the wayward, if the truth did not testify to their conscience?
We accordingly have to distinguish in explanation (2) between conscience and subjective conviction in the usual sense; see Romans 2:14-15. In explanation (1) we must distinguish: a. Between faith in a doctrinal system and saving faith itself; b. Between developed saving faith and its beginnings under gratia prœveniens, the doing of the truth in the life of the upright; John 3:21. It follows clearly enough from chap 2., that the Apostle does not here mean to characterize such a conduct as sin. Yet, on the other hand, he will not designate such conduct as sinless; for, until the conscious reconciliation or perfection of conscience, even the better man is in an inward darkness and vacillation concerning his ways, and selfish motives are mixed even with his better actions. But the Apostle also does not speak here solely of the opposition in the life of Christians. Christians must be conscious of their opinion as well as of their action, in the light of truth itself. Philippi has brought out prominently the connection between (1) and (2). But he returns to a modified Augustinian view, by deducing from the claim that the confidence of the acceptability to God of an action must be the result of saving faith, the conclusion that all conduct is sin which has not this saving faith as its ultimate source and origin (p. 584).53 It would be better to say: whose origin is not the shining of the Logos into the conscience. It is hazardous to regard believers as complete, but still more hazardous to distinguish only complete unbelievers from them. See the Exeg. Notes on Romans 14:1. On Augustine’s view, see Reiche, ii. p. 489.
On the doxology following here in some Codd. (brought over from the conclusion), see the Introduction, p. 35 [and Textual Notes on chap. 16.]; also on the controversies occasioned by the two concluding chapters. For further particulars, see Meyer, p. 507.54
See Romans 15:1 ff for DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL and HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Romans 14:1Romans 14:1.—[The literal rendering is given above. For further explanations, see the Exeg. Notes.
Romans 14:3Romans 14:3.—[Rec. (with D3. L., Vulgate): καὶ ὁ μή. א1. A. B. C. D1. (most modern editors): ὁ δὲ μή. Meyer and Philippi, however, consider the latter a mechanical repetition from Romans 14:2.—The emendations suggested above are from Alford. They avoid the diffuseness of the E. V., but would scarcely be admissible in a revision. Eœter, non-eater, would be more exact.
Romans 14:4Romans 14:4.—[Rec., C3. D. F. L., Chrysostom, Theodoret, read Θεός. א. A. B. C1., early versions: κύπιος. The latter is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles, Lange; the former by Philippi, Meyer, De Wette, Wordsworth. The Θεός might have been borrowed from Romans 14:2, as a correction; or the κύπιος may have been a gloss derived from τῷ ὶδίω̣. The probabilities are so equally balanced, that the MS. authority must decide in favor of κύριος.
Romans 14:4Romans 14:4.—[Rec., (L): δυνατὸς γάρ ἐστιν; a few authorities: δυνατὸς γάρ; א. A. B. C. D. F.: δυνατεῖ γάρ. The last is accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. Fritzsche, Philippi: δυνατὸζγάρ.
Romans 14:6Romans 14:6—[The clause: καὶ ὁ μὴ θρονῶν τὴν ὴμέραν, κυπίω̣ οὐ θρονεῖ, is omitted in א. B. C1. D. F., Vulgate, Coptic, by Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, Pelagius, Hilary, Mill, Lachmann, Meyer, Tregelles (in the versions of the Amer, Bible Union and of Five Ang. Clergymen). It is found in (Rec.) C3. L., Peshito, in Chrysostom and Theodoret; retained by Reiche, De Wette, Fritzsche, Philippi, Stuart, Wordsworth, Lange. Tischendorf varies in his different editions; Alford brackets it. The usual explanation of those who retain it is, that the omission was occasioned by the similar ending (θρονεῖ) in both clauses having misled some of the early copyists. To this Dr. Lange adds: “The fear that the clause might be used to support a disregard of Christian holidays.” Alford thinks it may have been omitted in the interest of the observance of the Lord’s Day. His own view on this subject probably leads him to bracket the clause. The uncial authority is so strongly against it, and the want of completeness in the antitheses might so easily have led to its insertion, that there need be but little hesitation in omitting it. Dr. Hodge is silent respecting the whole matter.
Romans 14:6Romans 14:6.—[The Rec. omits καί before ὁ ἐσθίων; but it is found in all the MSS., versions and fathers.
Romans 14:8Romans 14:8.—[The transcribers have made confusion with the verb ἀποθνήσκωμεν in this verse. The best-sustained reading gives the subjunctive ωμεν in the conditional clauses, and the indicative ομεν after τῷ. So Meyer, Alford, Tregelles.
Romans 14:9Romans 14:9.—[The Rec. reads καὶ . This is now generally rejected, and ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἒζησεν, accepted. So Lachmann, Tischendorf, Philippi, De Wette, Meyer, Stuart, Alford, Wordsworth, Tregelles, and Lange. Many of the older critics also, though generally retaining καί before ἀπέθανεν. The following note from Meyer states the case quite fully and fairly: “The origin of all the variations can be readily explained from the reading ἀπέθανε καὶ ἒζησεν (Lachmann and Tischendorf), which is, all things considered, best sustained, and now generally accepted as original. Somewhat as follows: to ἒζησεν, ἀνέστη was added as a gloss; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:14. Then, through the acceptance of the gloss instead of the original word, arose the reading: ἀπέθανε καὶ (F. G.): through the acceptance of the gloss besides the original word partly: ἀπέθανε κ. ἒζησε κ. ἀνέστη (Syr. Erp.), partly: ἀπέθ. κ. ἀνέστη (D2. L., &c.); from which latter, then, through the accidental or intentional repetition of AIV, arose the received reading (very poorly supported and spread by Erasmus). Finally, the transposition ἒζησε κ.ἀπέθ. κ. ἀνέστη (D1. E.) was made, after ἀπέθ. κ. ἀνέστη was read, through perverted criticism; in the attempt to restore ἒζησεν, neither the spuriousness of ἀνέστη nor the proper position of ἒζησεν being known, the latter was understood of the earthly life of Jesus, and hence placed before ἀπέθανεν.”
Romans 14:10Romans 14:10.—[Instead of χριστοῦ (Rec. א3. L., many versions and fathers), Θεοῦ is found in א1. A. B. C1. D. F., some fathers. The latter is accepted by Fritzsche, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth, Tregelles, Lange; the former by the older critics, Tholuck, De Wette, Philippi. Dr. Hodge says the latter “is retained by most critical editors;” but the current of criticism now sets against it; and what was true at the date of his first edition (1835), was scarcely correct at the appearance of the edition of 1866. χριστοῦ was probably inserted to correspond with Romans 14:9 (or from 2 Corinthians 5:10), though it is also claimed that Θεοῦ was substituted to correspond with Romans 14:11-12. Much has been said on both sides, but the MS. authority seems decisive in favor of Θεοῦ.
Romans 14:11Romans 14:11.—[From the LXX., Isaiah 45:23. Instead of ζῶ ἐγώ, the LXX. reads (at the beginning of the verse): κατ̓ ἐμαυτοῦ ὀμνύω. Instead of ἐξομολογήσεται τῷ Θεῷ, the LXX. (following the Hebrew): ὀμεῖται πᾶσαγλῶσσα τὸν Θεόν. The Alexandrine text of the LXX. agrees with this citation. Philippi and Meyer think this a change to conform with our verse; also, that Paul purposely varies, to express a general thought, which, however, lay at the basis of the special one expressed in the Old Testament passage.
Romans 14:12Romans 14:12.—[B. D1. F.: ἀποδωσει; Lachmann, Tregelles.א. A. C. D3. L.: δώσει; Philippi, Meyer, De Wette. Alford brackets ἀπο. The former is more usual with λόγον, hence the latter is to be preferred. The same authorities which support δώσει, insert οὖν.
Romans 14:14Romans 14:14.—[א. B. C. are cited by Alford in favor of ἐαυτοῦ (Rec.). A. D. F. G. L. read: αυτου (to which Tregelles adds B. Birch). The reading of the Rec. is adopted by Alford, but most modern editors follow the mass of uncial authorities. The only remaining dispute is whether it should be αὑτοῦ or αὑτοῦ. The former is adopted by Griesbach, Knapp, Philippi, Tholuck. De Wette, Meyer, Lange; the latter by Lachmann, Wordsworth, Jowett, Tregelles. If Theodoret (who refers it to Christ) be cited in favor of the latter, then Chrysostom’s explanation: τῆθύσει will support the former. Tischendorf varies (comp. his 7th ed., p. 58). See Winer, p. 143.
Romans 14:15Romans 14:15.—[א. A. B. C. D. F. G., Vulgate, and fathers: εἰ γάρ; adopted by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tholuck, Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth, Jowett, Tregelles, Lange. Rec. (with no uncial authorities) some versions: εἰδέ; adopted by Philippi, Hodge, De Wette, and the older editors. Dr. Hodge, in his new edition, states the exegetical ground for the latter reading, but is hardly justified in adding: “the majority of commentators and editors retain the common text.” Certainly the better supported reading is the more difficult one, hence doubly preferable on critical grounds. See the Exeg. Notes. Stuart says the sense seems to require γάρ, but takes no notice of the fact that it is read in the uncial MSS.
Romans 14:16Romans 14:16.—[D. F., a number of versions (Vulgate, Peshito), some fathers, read: ἡμῶν. A gloss, which is useful in the interpretation of the verse. It shows that τὸ was early referred to something which was a possession of the whole Church, not of a party in the Roman Church. Comp. the Exeg. Notes.
Romans 14:18Romans 14:18.—[Rec.: τούτοις, supported by א3. D3. L., most cursives, many versions (Syriac, Gothic), fathers (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Tertullian); adopted by Bengel, Fritzsche, Philippi, De Wette, Meyer (in 4th ed.), Hodge, and others. The singular: τούτω̣, is found in א1. A. B. C. D1. F., many versions, fathers (Origen, Rufinus, Augustine, Hilary, Pelagius, Bede); adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tholuck, Alford, Wordsworth, Jowett, Tregelles, Lange. The uncial authority is overwhelmingly against the plural, which is the easier reading; hence adopted by those commentators who are more governed in their decisions by exegetical than critical grounds. The later critical editors, as a rule, favor the singular. Meyer thinks it more probable that the plural was altered into the singular on account of the ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίω̣, immediately preceding, than that the singular was changed into the plural on account of the three terms of the last clause of Romans 14:17. But he overlooks the difficulty of the singular. The change to the plural seems far more likely.
Romans 14:19Romans 14:19.—[C. D., most cursives and fathers: διώκωμεν; adopted by modern editors generally. א. A. B. F. L.: διώκομεν. The vowels were readily interchanged. The indicative is lectio difficillima; it is taken interrogatively by Lachmann (ed. min., not maj.), but this does not accord with the presence of ἂρα οὖν.
Romans 14:21Romans 14:21.—[א1. A. C, some versions and fathers, omit ἢ σκσνδαλίζεται ἢ . Inserted in א2. B. D. F. L.; retained by critical editors generally. (Lachmann, Tischendorf in later editions, Tregelles).
Romans 14:22Romans 14:22.—[After πίστιν, א. A. B. C. insert ἢν; adopted by Lachmann, Tregelles (no points inserted between σύ and Θεοῦ). This reading would require us to render: The faith which thou hast, have it to thyself before God. Rec. D. F. L., many versions and fathers, omit ἢν. It is rejected by Philippi, De Wette, Tholuck, Meyer, Wordsworth; bracketted by Alford. Dr. Lange thinks it was inserted so as to emphasize πίστις as something stronger than a subjective opinion. On critical grounds, the probabilities are well balanced; on exegetical grounds, the briefer reading is preferable.—The punctuation is then open to discussion. If the sentence be taken interrogatively, it should be pointed accordingly; if not, a colon should be substituted.
Romans 15:2Romans 15:2[After ἒκαστος, the Rec. reads γάρ, which is found in no MS.; omitted by versions, fathers, and modern editors generally.
Romans 15:2Romans 15:2.—[Instead of ,ἡμῶν (א A. B. C. D1 3. L.), we find ὑμῶν in D2. F., in the Vulgate, and a number of fathers. The first person is adopted by modern editors.
Romans 15:3Romans 15:3.—[A verbatim citation from the LXX., Psalms 68:10 (Heb. Psalms 69:10; Eng. Psalms 69:9). The LXX. is a literal rendering of the Hebrew.
Romans 15:4Romans 15:4.—[The Rec. reads προέγραθη) (the second time), with א3. A. L., some fathers. א1. B. C. D. F., Vulgate, Peshito, ἒγραθη; adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, De Wette, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. B. has ἒγραθη the first time. The Amer. Bible Union omits the verb altogether; probably a typographical error, as there is no authority for it whatever.
Romans 15:4Romans 15:4.—[א. A. B. C. D. L., repeat διά before τῆς παρακλήσεως. Omitted in Rec., D. F., versions and fathers. It is adopted by Griesbach, Bengel, Lachmann, De Wette, Alford, Wordsworth, Tregelles; rejected by Hodge, Philippi, Meyer, because the transcriber might so readily repeat it before τῆς occurring a second time. Still, the most careful editors retain it. Dr. Hodge says, in his first and last editions: “The preponderance of evidence is greatly against it;” and yet, in citing the authorities in favor of it, omits B. and א., the two most important uncials, both of which had been collated carefully before his last edition appeared.—R.]
[A comparison of the two Epistles will show how much more sharply defined is the defence of the liberty of the gospel in the Galatian epistle. There, the Apostle appears as a champion of our freedom; here, as a judicious guide to those whom the truth was making free. The difference in tone is a striking proof of pedagogic wisdom.—R.]
[Comp. Lange’s Comm. Colossians, Introd., p. 7, where the character of these false teachers is discussed. The effort to define them by means of the nomenclature of subsequent heresies has led to the greatest variety of opinions. (Even the Ebionites do not date back of the destruction of Jerusalem.) They were ascetics, undoubtedly; their views might be called Ebionitic; yet, when we recall the Phrygian character, and consider the large Jewish element in that region, we see the seeds which were then just springing up, to bear fruit in the heresies so prolific in that region. Phrygian Ebionitism in the germ, is, perhaps, the best definition.—R.]
[The rebuke was mild indeed then, but how pregnant its meaning as we regard it to-day. Where could one repeat more appropriately than in Rome these words: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? “He who is strongest in the Roman Church of to-day, is “weak,” according to the Apostle’s judgment.—R.]
[Meyer, and others, adopt the opinion Dr. Lange here rejects. Dr. Hodge seems to incline to this view; but he is not decided in his preference of it, for he adds: “There is nothing inconsistent with the assumption that the weak brethren here spoken of were scrupulous Jewish Christians.”—R.]
[Dean Alford (following De Wette) presents a modification of this view: “The over-scrupulous Jew became an ascetic by compulsion. He was afraid of pollution by eating meats sacrificed or wine poured to idols; or even by being brought into contact, in foreign countries, with casual and undiscoverable uncleanness, which in his own land he knew the articles offered for food would be sure not to have incurred. He therefore abstained from all prepared food, and confined himself to that which he could trace from natural growth to his own use.” “All difficulty, then, is removed, by supposing that of these over-scrupulous Jews some had become converts to the gospel, and with neither the obstinacy of legal Judaizers, nor the pride of ascetics (for these are not hinted at here), but in weakness of faith, and the scruples of an over-tender conscience, retained their habits of abstinence and observation of days.” But in a Church which was metropolitan, and hence cosmopolitan, other peculiarities might sharpen the distinction between the weak and the strong. Such divisions are the result of temperament, as well as of nationality and education.—R.]
[If the purely prohibitory sense of Romans 13:14 be accepted, the formal connection is with the general exhortations of chap. 8. Δέ has, then, a specifying force, though it is, perhaps, at the same time, Slightly contrastive (so Alford).—R.]
[So Alford: “In order to settle the points on which he has scruples.” Hodge: “Not presuming to sit in judgment on the opinions of your brethren.”—R.]
[Fritzsche, Tholuck, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, and most, apply this added clause (caution; Meyer) of the exhortation to the strong alone. Notwithstanding Dr. Lange’s objection, it seems the preferable view; for certainly the first part of the verse is addressed to the strong exclusively, and the διάκρισις, which means “power of distinguishing between” (Alford), is more applicable to them. Besides, in Romans 14:4 the exhortation comes in turn to the weak, &c. The word διαλογισμῶν means thoughts, generally in malum partem, in the New Testament. It is referred by the authors above named to the scrupulous thoughts cherished by the weak. The idea of doubt enters only in connection with this reference.—R.]
That he does not mention bread, but vegetables, can be of service in the exegesis. Even tread first passed through the hands of many people; he could more easily have vegetables from the first hand. In this sense it was the shibboleth of the weak one. Therefore his motive was the careful avoidance of contamination from fellowship with the heathen.
[If, however, the judgment be confined to the finale and future one, there is an opposition, and (1) must be rejected. Alford: “Remains in the place and estimation of a Christian, from which those would eject him.” This is simplest and best.—R.]
[Dr. Hodge, who applies Romans 14:3 to both weak and strong, although admitting that the admonition is chiefly addressed to the weak, in his comments on this verse, makes a special application about treating the weak in faith with forbearance. This is altogether contrary to the context.—R.]
[Alford thinks this clause is inapplicable, if standing and falling at the great day are meant. He adds: “Notice, this argument is entirely directed to the weak, who uncharitably judges the strong; not vice-versâ. The weak imagines that the strong cannot be a true servant of God, nor retain his steadfastness amidst such temptation. To this the Apostle answers: (1) That such judgment belongs only to Christ, whose servant he is; (2) That the Lord’s almighty power is able to keep him up, and will do so.” That this expression is not to be taken as absolutely true of individuals, is evident; yet it must not be made too general.—R.]
[Dean Alford argues from this verse against the recognition of the Divine obligation of one day in seven by the Apostle. “The obvious inference from his strain of arguing is, that he knew of no such obligation, but believed all times and days to be, to the Christian strong in faith, Alike.“ “It must be carefully remembered, that this inference does not concern the question of the observance of the Lord’s Day as an institution of the Christian Church, analogous to the ancient Sabbath, binding on us from considerations of humanity and religious expediency, and by the rules of that branch of the Church in which Providence has placed us, but not in any way inheriting the Divinely-appointed obligation of the other, or the strict prohibitions by which its sanctity was defended.” But the presence of the fourth commandment in the Decalogue, the recognition (and explanation) of the obligation to keep the Sabbath by our Lord, as well as a true conception of the relation of the Law to the Christian Dispensation, is against this sweeping view. To make of the Lord’s Day a merely ecclesiastical institution, is to deprive it of all sanctity under a free government. Alford, too, assumes that there is a difference of opinion implied here, respecting the observance of the Lord’s Day, and infers then, from the language of Romans 14:6, that the Apostle could not have recognized the obligation, or he would not have commended the man who did not regard the day. But there is no hint anywhere of a difference of opinion in regard to the observance of the Lord’s Day, though we may admit that such observance was not yet universal; besides, the text of Romans 14:6 is disputed. Comp. Lange’s Comm. Matthew, Matthew 7:8, p. 217; Galatians 4:10, pp. 106, 109; Colossians, Colossians 2:16, pp. 53, 58; Haldane, Romans, pp. 688–721.—Also the literature of the Sabbath question, as published by the N. Y. Sabbath Committee.—R.]
[The use of νοῦς, not πνεῦμα, shows that reflection judgment, and all the proper exercises of the practical reason, are called for in the decision of questions of personal duty. It is not the intuition of the πνεῦμα in any sense, but the full conviction of an educated conscience, which is here referred to.—Wordsworth has a quaint fancy respecting the verb πληροθορείσθω: “Let him sail on quietly, as it were, with a fair wind of persuasion filling the sails of his own mind.” He adds: “There may be a πληροθορία, a strong wind of persuasion, which will not waft a man to the harbor of Truth, but wreck him on the quicksands of Error.”—R.]
[“With the reading τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Romans 14:10), Theodoret, Luther, Calvin, and many others, so Philippi, have, found in τῷ Θεῷ a proof of the divinity of Christ. Rut the fundamental idea is rather, that it is God, whose judgment Christ holds; which thought is contained in the reading τοῦ Θεοῦ (Romans 14:10) also;” Meyer. It is quite, unnecessary to found arguments on disputed readings, when so many other passages are at hand. Most of those who thus do, are naturally influenced in their critical judgments by their doctrinal positions.—R.]
[Philippi, Stuart, Hodge; Jowett, and most, regard the two expressions is synonymous, the latter perhaps explanatory of the former. Alford distinguishes: “an occasion of stumbling, in act; an occasion of offence, in thought.” Webster and Wilkinson: “A larger obstacle against which we may strike the foot; a smaller one likely to catch the foot. The former denotes a certain, the latter a probable, cause of falling.—Wordsworth gives as a commentary on this verse, some extracts from Hooker, in reference to the non-conformists. These remarks are eminently “judicious,” but have a flavor of remote antiquity in their allusions to “obedience to rites and ceremonies constituted by lawful public authority.”—R.]
[If δέ be read, then this verse introduces a limitation to the practical application of the principle of Romans 14:14 (Hodge); but if γάρ be read, then we must take the passage as breviloquent or elliptical. Tholuck and Meyer join with εὶ μή, κ.τ.λ., finding here the statement of the reason why he must add that exception, viz., to oppose the uncharitableness which is involved in not regarding it. Alford makes it depend “on the suppressed restatement of the precept of Romans 14:13 : q. d., ‘But this knowledge is not to be your rule in practice, but rather,’ &c., as in Romans 14:13 : ‘for if,’ &c.” Philippi objects to both views, and urges his objections against the better sustained reading. He says Meyer’s interpretation is “manifestly too far-fetched;” but his own lay so near, that the temptation to alter the text was as strong as the desire to sustain the change against overwhelming evidence seems to be in the case of some commentators.—R.]
[Dr. Lange’s view appears to he correct, but some remarks must be added for the sake of clearness. The weak brother is evidently the one who is “grieved.” The offence of the strong brother is one against charity; hence the objection of Philippi, about. Paul’s paying special regard to the very judging he had forbidden, is altogether irrelevant; since charity is not to be measured by the propriety of the demands made upon it by the weak brethren. We reject the meaning injure, and (with Meyer) take λυπεῖται in a subjective sense. It must be distinguished from ἀπόλλυε, to which it leads as a possible result (Meyer, and others). It does not necessarily imply that the weak brother is led to imitate and thus to offend against his own conscience, although this is a probable result. Wordsworth suggests, as part of the injury, that he is led “to make a schism in the Church by separating from thee.”—R.]
[In his 4th edition, Meyer omits all reference to this point. Philippi, however, calls this verse a dictum probans for the possibility of apostasy. But as Dr. Hodge remarks: “Saints are preserved, not in despite of apostasy, but from apostasy. If they apostatize, they perish.”—R.]
[It is evident that ἀπώλεια refers to eternal destruction, since Christ offered His life to redeem from this (Meyer); yet, as this destruction (like the antithetical notion, eternal life) begins here, according to the scriptural representations, we must take it in its widest sense.—Alford thus paraphrases the verse, bringing out the contrast implied in the use of βρῶμα: “The mere λυπεῖν your brother, is an offence against love; how much greater an offence, then, if this λυπεῖν end in ἀπολλύειν—in raising (causing to act against his conscience, and so commit sin, and be in danger of quenching God’s Spirit within him) by a meal of thine—a brother, for whom Christ died!”—R.]
[Alford: “Your strength of faith is a good tiling; let it not pass into had repute.” This is more exact, and avoids borrowing an interpretation from 1 Cor. x. Yet it is still more open to the objection, that the matter here referred to is a possession of the whole Church. The change to the plural (ὑμῶν), its emphatic position, and the phrase ἀγαθόν itself, sufficiently attest the correctness of the view, which refers this “good” to the whole Church.—R.]
[Alford prefers: “in connection with, under the indwelling and influence of,” the Holy Ghost, to De Wette’s view, which he, however, says is true, though not expressed here.—The phrase “in the Holy Ghost” does not qualify the whole clause, but “joy” alone. Dr. Hodge defended the wider reference in his earlier editions, perhaps to guard from error the “ethical” view of the terms, which he then adopted. In the last edition, he leaves the matter doubtful.—R.]
[Calvin: “Hunc probatum hominibus testator, quia non possunt non reddere testimonium virtuti, quam oculis cernunt. Non quod semper filiis Dei parcant improbi.—Sed Paulus hic de sincero judicio loquitur, cui nulla est admista morositas, nullum odium, nulla superstitio.—R.]
[Hence, while a Christian may strive to reach such a principle in his practice, no brother, especially no “weak brother,” has a right to demand it of him, or obtrude his stumbling, so as to exact self-denial from others.—R.]
[Fritzsche opposes the interrogative form, because it would imply a negative answer. Rut there is little warrant for this. If the better correspondence with the context mentioned by Dr. Lange is based on this view of the force of the interrogative, then it disappears at once.—R.]
[Philippi and Wordsworth make the clause apply to both classes; Meyer, to the strong alone (presenting the advantage they have, as a motive to considerate conduct toward the weak, whoso danger is set forth in the next clause); Alford, and most, find here a commendation of the state in which the strong in faith are. His view (which is also that of Meyer and Hodge) is to be preferred to Dr. Lange’s ingenious and refined distinction.—R.]
[Meyer properly rejects the common view, which takes κρίνων as = κατακρίνων, but explains it thus: “who does not hold judgment over himself; i. e., who is so assured in his conviction, that his decision to do this or that incurs no self-judgment.” Dr. Lange’s explanation is occasioned by his view of the whole sentence.—R.]
[Meyer finds here an antithesis to “blessed” (Romans 14:22); but the idea of Divine condemnation must be properly limited. Philippi: “The act of eating itself condemns him, of course according to the Divine ordering, so that the justice of this verdict appears not only before God, but before men, and himself also.”—R.]
[It is greatly to be doubted whether this explanation necessarily involves this conclusion. It is easy to force upon this, or any other passage, some incorrect inference. For example, as Dr. Hodge well remarks: “It is wrong to do any thing which we think to be wrong. The converse of this proposition, however, is not true. It is not always right to do what we think to be right.” Alford says: “Here the Apostle has in view two Christians, both living by faith, and by faith doing acts pleasing to God: and he reminds them that whatever they do out of harmony with this great principle of their spiritual lives, belongs to the category of sin. The question touching the ‘infidelis’ must be settled by another inquiry: Can he whom we thus name have faith—such a faith as may enable him to do acts which are not sinful?—a question impossible for us to solve.” Certainly the Augustinian inference may be deduced far more directly from other passages; and it should not prejudice any against the view which claims that Christian faith must underlie the “faith” here referred to. Bengel: “Iannuitur ergo ipsa fides, qua fideles consentur, conscientiam informans et confirmans; partim fundamentum, partim norma reclæ actionis.” Hodge, Haldane, and Wordsworth, however, limit the meaning to something like subjective persuasion, which seems tame and unpauline. The author last named shows the pernicious effects of the other view, especially among the Puritans. But the tone is so well adapted to the days of the Stuarts, that one may be excused for surmising the existence of a prejudice against the Augustinian view. Dr. Lange takes the same middle ground with Alford (see above), combining both views: “confidence proceeding from saving faith.”—R.]
[Philippi’s view will not be understood unless more fully cited. He says: “πίστις here is not immediately justifying, saving faith, but the confidence springing therefrom, that all the action proceeding from it, and consistent with it, is acceptable to God. The proposition of Augustine, omnis infidelium vita peccatum est, finds here not, indeed, its direct, but its indirect proof. For, if every action which does not proceed from the confidence of its acceptableness to God is sin, and this confidence is the result of evangelical, saving faith alone, then it follows, that all conduct is sin which has not this saving faith as its ultimate source and origin.”—R.]
[On chaps, xv. and xvi. Baur of Tübingen has doubted the genuineness of these two chapters, but on such insufficient grounds that it is not necessary to enter upon the question. See Introd., p. 35. Various theories have been suggested (by Sender, Paulus, Erchhorn, Schulz, Ewald, and now by Renan), which admit that Paul wrote these two chapters, but deny them a place in this Epistle. For this, a plausible ground is found in the insertion of the doxology at the close of chap. xiv., in the long list of acquaintances (chap. xvi.) at Rome, where. Paul had never been—none of whom are mentioned in the Epistles written from Rome, especially in the salutation to Aquila and Priscilla, who were at Ephesus shortly before and shortly after the date of this Epistle. But Rome was the capital of the world, and many acquaintances might be there, and as readily depart. Were the salutations few, no doubt the critics would have urged this as an argument against its genuineness. Meyer says: “Among all the reasons which are adduced in support of these different opinions, none hold good, not even those which seem least founded upon mere arbitrariness.” The St. Paul of Renan has just appeared. He accepts our Epistle as genuine, but denies the correctness of its title, and also its integrity. The following is a résumé: “The editors of the final and accepted text of Paul’s letters had, for a general principle, to reject nothing and add nothing—but above all, to reject nothing. The common body, then, of the so-called Epistle to the Romans was a circular letter, an encyclical letter addressed to the churches of Ephesus and Thessalonica principally, but also to the brethren at Rome and one or more other places. Local and individual items were adjoined, according as the special destination of the general circular. These specialties were selected, and sewed on, so to speak, to the final edition, by honest editors, more desirous of saving all St. Paul’s authentic words than of nice literary form. Here is the explanation of repetitions, and of salutatory phrase, in the midst of the Epistle to the Romans, otherwise inexplicable in the text of a so clean, straightforward, inelegant, out logical writer as St. Paul.” It would seem that his view is but a vivacious and characteristic phase of the general theory advanced by the German authors named above.—R.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Romans 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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