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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 14

Verses 1-12

Romans 14:1-12 . A Lesson in Toleration.— A special homily for Rome ( Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:13) follows the comprehensive exhortation of chs. 12 f. Some ascetic circle in the Roman Church (p. 650 ), led perhaps by Jews of Essenic tenets (see Lightfoot’ s Colossians, on the Essenes), practised vegetarianism; others made much of sacred days. On such matters Christians should not judge or quarrel with each other.

Romans 14:1-4 . “ The man who eats herbs only,” has a feeble apprehension of the Gospel, imagining his salvation affected by his diet; see Romans 14:17; cf. Mark 7:14-23 Still he has faith and “ must be received” as a brother, “ for God has received him; but not received so as to raise questions of doubtful debate.” The atmosphere of controversy is injurious to the Christian society. The man free from scruples “ despises” the stickler, who retorts by “ judging” the libertarian. Both are “ servants of” God’ s “ household,” who “ stand or fall to their own Master— yes, and will stand,” though they try to pull each other down, for “ mighty is the Lord, the upholder.”

Romans 14:5 . So in regard to sabbath and festa observance: conscientious conviction is the essential thing (p. 647 ).

Romans 14:6 . “ He who minds the day” ( cf. Romans 8:5-7, Romans 12:16, for the verb), “ minds it” with a view “ to” serve “ the Lord” ; “ and he who eats flesh, eats it to the Lord, for he gives God thanks” ( cf. 1 Timothy 4:4 f.), while the vegetarian does the same over his spare diet— they are agreed in the vital point (see 1 Corinthians 10:30 f.).

Romans 14:7-11 lifts the reader into the realm of “ Christ’ s lordship, won by His death and resurrection,” which covers “ life and death alike” ; in both estates, the fact that “ we are the Lord’ s” determines everything. Now, “ to judge” or “ to despise your brother,” with whom you “ must stand side by side at God’ s tribunal”— a certainty expressed in solemn words of Scripture ( Romans 14:11)— is an encroachment on Christ’ s sovereignty. Paul puts the “ dead” before the “ living” ( Romans 14:9), the former being nearer to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:8, Php_1:23 , 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16).

Romans 14:12 . Instead of meddling with other men’ s responsibilities, let each see to himself in view of the final account.

Verses 13-23

Romans 14:13-23 . Considerateness instead of Censoriousness.

Romans 14:13 . “ Let us stop judging one another ( cf. Matthew 7:1-5); but come rather to this judgment, not to lay a stumbling-block in a brother’ s way,” etc.

Romans 14:14 . For himself, Paul stands firmly on the side of liberty: “ I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus”— as one obedient to Christ’ s authority and convinced by His teaching (see Mark 7:14-23; cf. Acts 10:9-16)—“ that religious distinctions in food have no intrinsic ground.”

Romans 14:15 f. enforces the appeal of Romans 14:13: the selfish indulgence of the man without food-scruples may not only “ pain” his stricter “ brother,” by overbearing his conscience (see Romans 14:23) it may “ destroy him for whom Christ died” and thus “ destroy the work of God” ( Romans 14:20). The Cross tests everything in Christianity ( cf. 1 Corinthians 8:10 f.).— The liberty you claim is good (see 1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Corinthians 10:29): be it so; “ then let not your good be blasphemed” ( cf. Romans 2:24; Romans 3:8)— bringing the reproach on religion occasioned by self-enjoyment to the damage of others ( cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23-30).

Romans 14:17 . The fundamental motive for abstinence lies in the nature of “ the kingdom of God,” whose citizenship consists in “ righteousness, etc., not in eating and drinking!” Righteousness has been expounded in chs. 1– 6 ; Christian peace and joy were set forth in Romans 5:1-11, Romans 8:28-39. “ Peace” looks man-ward here ( Romans 14:19); “ joy” contrasts with the “ grief” deprecated in Romans 14:15.

Romans 14:18 concludes the ease for avoiding offence toward the weak: “ For he that in this” self-restraint “ serves Christ ( cf. Galatians 6:2, John 15:12, etc.) is well-pleasing to God, and approved in the eyes of men” ; see 1 Corinthians 10:32 ff. for the latter consideration, indicated negatively in Romans 14:16.

Romans 14:19 ( mg.) . “ Accordingly then”— for all these reasons—“ we pursue the things of peace,” etc.; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23-26.

Romans 14:20 f. reiterates the main appeal: “ Don’ t for the sake of food be destroying the work of God,” wrought in saving individuals ( Romans 14:15) and in building the Church ( 1 Corinthians 3:9-17). “ All things are pure,” etc.: the ethical taint lies not in the tabooed food, but in the mind of the partaker; any food is “ bad to the man who eats with a hurt conscience.” “ Eating flesh” and “ drinking wine” were classed together by the rigorists of the time. These considerations apply to “ anything over which one’ s brother stumbles.”

Romans 14:22 f. Finally, Paul challenges the libertarian and the ascetic in turn: “ You have faith”— faith permitting you to eat whatever suits you ( Romans 14:2)—“ keep it as your own in the sight of God,” without thrusting it injuriously upon others ( cf. 1 Corinthians 14:28); “ he is blessed” who has no misgivings about the liberty he takes, nor the charity with which he exercises it. “ But the man of divided (wavering) judgment” ( cf. James 1:6), “ if he eats, is condemned, because he does it not out of faith”— not assured of his right to do so. As “ faith is reckoned for righteousness” ( Romans 4:4), so “ whatever is not of faith is sin” ( Romans 14:23 b).

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 14". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/romans-14.html. 1919.