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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Romans 14

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verse 1

Romans 14:1

Romans 14:1

But him that is weak in faith receive ye,—A man’s faith is weak when it is troubled over untaught and doubtful ques­tions. He whose faith is not fixed and firm is to be accepted with the hope that his faith will grow strong and steadfast by using.

yet not for decision of scruples.—It was the duty of Chris­tians to receive these persons of weak and morbid consciences, but not to the discussion of doubtful questions. It is sinful to disturb the peace and harmony of Christians over these untaught questions. The continual discussion of questions of this character will destroy the harmony and zeal of any congregation, and Paul instructs the church not to permit it. The character of these questions is given in the following verses. They are questions concerning which God has given no teaching and which have no bearing on the character of man.

Verse 2

Romans 14:2

Romans 14:2

One man hath faith to eat all things:—His faith will let him eat flesh as well as vegetables. He has no scruples about either. [His grasp and hold of the teachings of Christ is so strong that he recognizes how indifferent all such matters in themselves really are.]

but he that is weak eateth herbs.—Another has doubts about eating flesh. It is a weak and morbid conscience, growing out of a weak faith, that troubles over this question. In all ages some persons have persuaded themselves from one cause or another that it is wrong to eat flesh. Their faith does not allow them to eat it, so is called a “weak” faith. But nothing is found in the Bible showing that God is displeased with his children’s eating flesh.

Verse 3

Romans 14:3

Romans 14:3

Let not him that eateth set at nought him that eateth not;—God has given clear evidence that there is no sin against him who eats flesh. Yet he does not require it, but he per­mits any man, who sees fit, to live without it. So he who eats flesh may not set at nought or refuse fellowship for a man that refuses it.

and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth:—Neither can he who eats not reject him as a Christian who eats flesh.

for God hath received him.—God has given no law to gov­ern men on this subject; so every man is left to follow his own judgment or preference in the matter. If any one wishes to eat, none should hinder him; if any does not want to eat, none should require him to eat. Let each be persuaded in his own mind on these untaught questions. Where God has given no law or rule that condemns a man, no one can condemn him.

Verse 4

Romans 14:4

Romans 14:4

Who art thou that judgest the servant of another?—When the master has given no rule to govern his servant, no one else can.

to his own lord he standeth or falleth.—He is accountable only to his own master.

Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.—If he is faithful in obedience to the laws God has given, God will own and sustain him regardless of his peculiarities on questions concerning which God has given no law.

Verse 5

Romans 14:5

Romans 14:5

One man esteemeth one day above another: another es­teemeth every day alike.—Another doubtful or untaught ques­tion is the observance of other days not set apart for worship by God. The observance of the first day of the week, the Lord’s day, set apart of God, is not a doubtful or indifferent question. Where God has decided, there can be no doubt. But many thought it well to observe other days, such as the new moon and other days that had been sacred under the law of Moses. Those who desire to observe these days can do so, if they will spend them in true worship to the Lord, but they have no right to require that others observe them. If a man wishes to devote Saturday to the worship of God, he may do so; but he must not let it interfere with the worship God has directed on the Lord’s day, neither must he impose it on others.

Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.—The rule in these matters is, in things not commanded by God, but that are permissible, let each be persuaded or satisfied in his own mind and act for himself. But he may not require others to do things God has not commanded, to the disturbance of the church. To do this is sin, and the man is not to be re­ceived if he creates disturbance by insisting on others’ doing things not required by God.

Verse 6

Romans 14:6

Romans 14:6

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord: and he that eateth, eateth unto the Lord, for he giveth God thanks;—He that observes the day spends it in the worship of God. This is pleasing to God.

and he that eateth not, unto the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.—Another fails to observe the day, or fails to eat meat not required by God; yet in failing to observe it he serves and honors God, gives thanks, and God accepts him, no matter how he acts on questions indifferent.

Verse 7

Romans 14:7

Romans 14:7

For none of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to him­self.—We all live or die to God, if we serve him, not to our­selves alone. This is sometimes interpreted to mean that what we do affects others as well as ourselves. This is true, but this passage teaches that whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. We cannot be without the Lord whether living or dying. [No Christian considers himself as his own master, or at liberty to regulate his conduct according to his own will, or to his own ends. He is the servant of Christ, and, there­fore, endeavors to live according to his will and for his glory.]

Verse 8

Romans 14:8

Romans 14:8

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord;—In living according to the will of God, we live to the Lord, in his serv­ice and to his honor and to promote his glory.

or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.—In dying, we die to him; so, living or dying, we are the Lord’s. [Our whole earthly existence, our life and our death even, is a service for our Lord and Master. Neither life nor death can make us cease to be his. And how comforting the thought that, while we cannot do many things or any great things for God, we can serve him in little things, in all our daily acts! When we toil with our minds or toil with our hands and earn our bread with the sweat of our brow—yea, we can do all to the glory of God. If we live or if we die, we belong to Christ and serve him.]

Verse 9

Romans 14:9

Romans 14:9

For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.—Christ lived and died, then rose and lived again, that he might show he is Lord, or Ruler, of both the living and the dead. Men do not pass from under his dominion when they die, not when they are raised. So, whether they live or die, they are the servants of the Lord. Jesus lived and showed his power over all that lived. He, indeed, went into the grave, showed his power over death, was raised, ascended to his Father’s throne, and was crowned “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” He is Lord of all. We live to him, we die to him.

Verse 10

Romans 14:10

Romans 14:10

But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother?—He has been speaking of things indifferent. We should not condemn one another in these. God will judge him, and to his own Master he stands or falls. So on these questions of doubtful disputa­tion, as to whether it is good to eat meat or live on vegetable food, whether we shall set apart days for worship that God has not set apart, or other untaught or indifferent questions, why do we reject our brother who differs from us?

for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God.—We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, who will judge each man according to his law.

Verse 11

Romans 14:11

Romans 14:11

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God.—The connection shows that this was to happen in connection with, or as a result of, all standing before the judgment seat of God. The promise that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess is dependent upon their standings before the judgment seat of God. So, I take it, the effect of the judgment will be that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord and Christ. A confession not made until then will be too late to save. All who truly confess his name while in this life will be saved.

Verse 12

Romans 14:12

Romans 14:12

So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.—This is the general conclusion from what has just been said. He impresses the thought that every man shall give account of himself. The revealed will of God will be the standard of judgment. They were, therefore, not to interfere with and annoy one another in matters indifferent, or untaught by God.

On matters indifferent God gave no instruction. When God by precept or example has given instruction in reference to a matter, this shows it is not a matter of indifference, but of divine appointment. For example, God has appointed the first day of the week for the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The observance of the Supper on that day is fixed. On no other day can the Supper be observed. But if one wishes to devote another day to the service of God in other ways—reading the word of God, praying, fasting—he is at liberty to do so; no one has a right to object. God has given no direc­tion as to this. So God has ordained his church as the medium of doing his service and of spreading the gospel. This takes that away from matters indifferent and places it under divine enactment. Eating or not eating meat is placed among things indifferent.

Verse 13

Romans 14:13

Romans 14:13

Let us not therefore judge one another any more:— When God gives a law to regulate actions or conduct, he judges, not we. When we erect rules where God has ordained none, we judge, not God. We are here admonished not to judge or condemn one another in things indifferent.

but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock in his brother’s way, or an occasion of falling.—This had spe­cial reference to eating meat offered to an idol. Those who are strong, who know that an idol is nothing, who can eat the meat without any reference to the idol, might do it without injury to themselves; but if by eating, a weak brother, whose conscience is yet tender toward the idol, who has not lost all reverence for the idol, should see him freely eat things to the idol, he might thereby be emboldened to eat in a spirit of worship to the idol and be led back into idolatry. A man who by his example leads another into sin, sins against his weak brother and against Christ, who died for him. This principle has a wide application. A man could possibly take a drink of ardent spirits and so control his own appetite as not to be led into excess; but if by his drinking it wouId lead a weak brother, who could not govern his appetite, to partake and fall, then he would put a stumbling block, or an occa­sion to fall, in his brother’s way. “And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ.” (1 Corinthians 8:12). To wound here does not mean to hurt their feelings, but to weaken their con­science as to right and make them tolerate the wrong. On this point we must judge ourselves, and cannot be too careful.

Verse 14

Romans 14:14

Romans 14:14

I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that noth­ing is unclean of itself:—Everything created by God is for a good purpose and will bring good to man if used as God in­tended it should be.

save that to him who accounteth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.—A man must act according to his best judgment. To do this is to be conscientious, or to keep a clean conscience. Conscience does not determine things to be right or wrong. The judgment determines this, and the conscience is the feeling or principle within that demands that a man shall act according to it and bears witness if he does or does not. A man who esteems a thing unclean, and yet uses it, goes contrary to his own judgment. His conscience bears witness to this fact, and he is untrue to himself. A man untrue to himself cannot be true to any being in the universe. God demands that a man shall be true to himself, live in all good conscience as Paul did, then with a good conscience he shall serve him. God will not accept service from a defiled or debauched conscience, and to know the right and follow the wrong defiles it.

Those most offensive to God are those who compromise the truth and defile their consciences. The man who worships with an organ, believing it to be wrong, to be sin against God, is a much worse man that he who worships with it, believing it to be right. Then, a man ought to do nothing he believes wrong. Then, if a man believes an organ wrong, he de­bauches his own conscience in approving it by word or act and renders himself unfit for the service of God. Men that are true to their consciences are what the world needs and God delights in. A man who believes it right to meet on the and is in great danger of destroying his own soul. We ought not to countenance the wrong; we ought to practice the right.

Verse 15

Romans 14:15

Romans 14:15

For if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walk­est no longer in love.—This is usually interpreted: if it hurts the feelings of another or offends his sense of right. It is wrong to needlessly grieve a brother or do violence to his sense of right, but this is wholly a different matter. It means: If you so act, so eat meat as to lead your brother into sin, so that he falls or stumbles and his eternal well being is endan­gered, you do not walk in love toward him.

Destroy not with thy meat him for whom Christ died.—Do not use your privileges, especially of fleshly enjoyment, so as to lead your brother to destruction. Do not go into associa­tions and partake of enjoyments that would lead him into temptations that he is not able to withstand. To do this would be to counteract the death of Christ and defeat the ends of his death for the sake of eating meat. You must be will­ing to deny yourself these fleshly gratifications rather than to nullify the sufferings of Christ for him.

Verse 16

Romans 14:16

Romans 14:16

Let not then your good be evil spoken of:—Do not use your privileges and rights to bring evil to others, or that may give occasion to speak evil of what you do. This is a much- needed caution. Men sometimes do good in such a manner that it makes a bad impression, is misrepresented, is evil spoken of, and produces evil results. [As strong Christians in faith, we may have liberty to do many things which the weak may think wrong: but if by doing those things we subject our liberty to unfriendly criticism, we must refrain. It is better to seem not free than that our freedom should lead to mis­chief.]

Verse 17

Romans 14:17

Romans 14:17

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,—The kingdom of God is not to provide meat and drink, nor is it to gratify our taste in these things, nor will the kingdom of God be promoted by eating one kind of food or another. We should not, therefore, for the sake of eating and drinking, act in such a manner as to counteract and defeat the ends of Christ’s death.

but righteousness—Right doing and right living, encourag­ing active work in the way of righteousness. This is placed in contrast with doing things not taught.

and peace—Follow after or practice the things that promote peace, in contrast with disputations of untaught questions.

and joy in the Holy Spirit.—Rejoicing in following the teaching of the Holy Spirit, which bestows the joy that the Spirit in its mission brings to every man faithful and true to the law of God. [These are weighty matters of the kingdom, and, therefore, the matters of chief concern to us, and not the indifferent and trivial questions of eating and drinking. But as it was in the kingdom in those days, so it is still. There is a large class of professed Christians who are never through with scruples of conscience on untaught questions, but who can never know anything or never will care anything about righteousness, peace, and joy. They, of course, are always righteous themselves, and their peace and joy must ever be consulted; but as for others, they are not concerned.]

Verse 18

Romans 14:18

Romans 14:18

For he that herein serveth Christ is well-pleasing to God, and approved of men.—He that serves God in following after righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, that led Christ, or that follows his example in denying self to save man from sin, is well-pleasing to God, and is approved of good men, or does that which uplifts and benefits men.

Verse 19

Romans 14:19

Romans 14:19

So then let us follow after things which make for peace, —Inasmuch as these things are true, let us not follow after untaught questions which gender strife, but let us seek that which brings true and lasting peace and harmony by helping and benefiting all. Let us not look to selfish gratification, but to the well-being of all.

and things whereby we may edify one another.—The orig­inal meaning was to build up. It came to refer to teaching, as this is the usual way of building up intellectually, morally, and spiritually. But it comes from the idea of building them up and making them strong by teaching the things taught by God as distinguished from the untaught speculations of men.

Verse 20

Romans 14:20

Romans 14:20

Overthrow not for meat’s sake the work of God.—Even if you with your superior knowledge could eat more offered to an idol without injury to yourself, do not eat it; forego your right rather than destroy the work of God in your weak brother. The same lesson is taught in the instructions given to the Corinthians: “If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice, eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake.” (1 Corinthians 10:27-28). In this he shows that a man may eat things offered to an idol; but if one say it is offered to an idol, he must refrain from it for the sake of those who sit by. In some cases it is right for one man to regulate his conduct by the conscience of another—that is, for the conscience of the weak brother or the unbeliever who sits at meat with you. Do not eat, lest he be encouraged to eat in worship to an idol. He then adds: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or what­soever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

All things indeed are clean; howbeit it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.—All things are pure to eat in them­selves, but it is a sin for anyone so to eat as to lead others into sin, or cause them to stumble.

Verse 21

Romans 14:21

Romans 14:21

It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth.—From the cases presented, this general practical truth is drawn. He empha­sizes the principle that it is good for a Christian neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, which leads the weak to ruin, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is led to sin, or is made weak. This is a principle the Holy Spirit lays down to guide the children of God. It teaches that Christ denied himself to save us; that he gave up heaven, with all its joys and glories, to help us. We must be willing to forego our privileges of a temporal and fleshly character to help our weak brother. Much is said in the Bible on the subject of the use of wine and intoxicants. The Holy Spirit, knowing fully all that was taught on the subject, gives this as the final deliverance of God to guide men for all time. In it is safety to ourselves and to our fellow man and honor to God. Even if a man thinks he could drink in moderation of in­toxicants without injury to himself, he is under obligation to refrain from it, lest by his example a weak brother be led to drink. In leading him to do what leads to his ruin he sins against Christ. He destroys the work of God. I knew a young Christian who became a slave to intoxicants. He was very fond of the preacher, went with him from place to place. He was offered whisky. He refused several times. He re­fused to touch it. One night he and the preacher lodged with an elder of the church. On the following morning the elder offered him liquor. He refused to drink. The preacher drank. It was again offered the young man. This time he drank. Within a few days he was wallowing in the mire. The preacher and the elder sinned against him, destroyed the work of God, and led him for whom Christ died down to ruin. So in all the paths that lead to sin.

Verse 22

Romans 14:22

Romans 14:22

The faith which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God.—If you have faith that would enable you to eat the meat offered to an idol, keep the faith to yourself for your brother’s sake. Do not so use it as to lead others into sin and so condemn yourself.

Happy is he that judgeth not himself in that which he ap­proveth.—The man is happy who does not condemn himself in what he practices.

Verse 23

Romans 14:23

Romans 14:23

But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith;—He who eats the meat offered to an idol, or does anything else that he doubts whether it be of God, is condemned in so doing. The convictions of our hearts must be respected, must be honored. God accepts nothing as wor­ship that is not done heartily with full faith. One who habit­ually violates his convictions of right soon loses all sense of right, hardens his heart, and makes his reformation impossi­ble. When we do things not commanded by God as service to him, we act on our own human wisdom, or from human tradition, and substitute this for the will of God. This is sin. He who has a doubt about any service being required of God must refrain from it. He must keep on the safe side. To substitute the will and appointments of man for the will of God is the unpardonable sin.

and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.—Whatever we do re­ligiously that is based on opinion and not on faith is sin. No man can perform any service or introduce any order into the service of God by faith unless it is ordained of God. To introduce anything is to act on human wisdom and opinion and not on faith in God; hence, it is sinful. The idea that man can act on his opinion in the service of God is the root of all erroneous practices in the religious world. Man is re­quired to act on faith in religion, not on opinion.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Romans 14". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/romans-14.html.
 
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