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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 14

 

 

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Verses 1-4

DOUBTFUL QUESTIONS NOT TO BE AGITATED

1-4. In that day the entire meat market was under the auspices of the Greek and Roman idolatry, a beef sacrificed to Jupiter, a mutton for Apollo, a hog to Hercules, a turkey to Minerva, a goose to Venus, a chicken to Diana, and a goat to Mercury, the meat being at the same time sold in the markets for all the people to purchase and eat. Of course those gods had no existence, but were mere creatures of poetic imagination. Therefore it did not hurt the meat to offer it to them. Hence, everyone having clear light and solving the problem in his own mind, could eat this meat with impunity; meanwhile, others saw idolatry as in their old religion while eating the meat offered to their old heathen gods. In the latter case, of course all such must abstain from eating the meat offered to idols. At the same time Paul decides that if the eating of this meat on the part of the people who have clear light and a good conscience, puts a stumbling-block in the way of the weak, they must also abstain. The New Testament early reveals but one thing necessary to bona fide membership in the gospel church, i. e., “that by one spirit we all be baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Paul positively forbids the magnification of anything else except the work of Christ, which alone is necessary to salvation. This magnification of non-essentials is the fatal heresy of all ages by which Satan maneuvers to get his black wing between the weak believer and Jesus, and turning his attention to non-essentials, run him into idolatry and plunge him into hell. We are here positively forbidden to tangle up weak believers by disputations over doubtful and non-essential matters. The truth essential to salvation is so plain “that wayfaring men though fools shall not err therein.” In the popular churches the devil has always managed to get the preachers and people to spend their time on non- essentials, leaving the experimental salvation of the soul for death and eternity to settle.


Verse 5

EVERY DAY HOLY

5. “For indeed one judgeth a day above a day and another judgeth every day alike; let each one be fully persuaded in his own mind for


Verse 6

6. “He that regardeth the day regardeth it to the Lord.


Verse 7

7. “For no one of us liveth to himself and no one of us dieth to himself; if indeed we may live, let us live to the Lord, and if we may die we die to the Lord.


Verse 8

8. “Therefore whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord’s.


Verse 9

9. “For unto this Christ died and is alive, in order that he may be the Lord both of the dead and of the living.


Verse 10

10. “Why do you condemn your brother or why do you discount your brother?


Verse 11

11. “For we shall all stand at the judgment seat of God.


Verse 12

12. “For it has been written, I say, saith the Lord, that every knee shall bow to me and every tongue confess to God. Then, therefore, each one of us shall give an account to God concerning himself.” Here we are having the day problem, which the devil in all ages has used to upset myriads, clearly and unequivocally settled. The Christian says, “Keep Sunday,” the Jew, Saturday, and the Moslem, Friday. Go round the world eastwardly and Saturday would become Sunday; go round westwardly and Monday is your Sunday. Here Paul certifies the utter nonessentiality of the day problem. You must simply satisfy your conscience and that of others and be true to God. “Sabbath” is a Hebrew word which means “rest,” symbolizing the soul-rest we have in Jesus when sin is dead and gone. The sanctified have perpetual Sabbath in the soul and life, i. e., seven Sabbaths every week. We see in the above Scripture that every man is to follow his conscience as to this matter. All days are holy when you are holy. God requires you to be holy. If you are truly holy, all your days are holy. If your own heart is not holy, it is idolatry to depend on holy days. You will go straight to hell through holy days if you yourself are not holy. Hence the silly nonsense of the people who try so hard to get you to Judaize on Saturday and at the same time let the devil have your soul. There is no issue here raised on holy days, but holy people. When we are all right, the day is all right. We must all keep Sunday for the conscience of Christendom (1 Corinthians 8:12). If your conscience requires you to keep Saturday, then do it for the sake of your own conscience, at the same time remembering that God requires you to keep Sunday for the conscience of Christendom.

So, in that case, you have two days to keep. It will not hurt you to desist from labor and attend church two days in the week. The Christian church began all Jews, revolutionizing in a century and becoming all Gentiles. The primitive Jewish Christians kept Saturday, and commemorated Sunday also as a sacred memento of our Lord’s resurrection (Acts 20 and 1 Corinthians 16:3). This is corroborated by Justin Martyr and other Christian fathers who lived and wrote in the second century. As the Gentiles never did keep the Jewish Sabbath, the universal hebdomadal division of time which followed the evangelization of the nations and exists this day, is demonstrative proof that the early Christians kept Sunday. Some fanatics tell us the Pope of Rome changed the day, when there never was a pope till the seventh century, when Procas, King of Italy, crowned Boniface the Third Bishop of Rome. When a student in college I read the Roman historians Suitonius, Pliny, Sallust, and Livy, who wrote in the first centuries of the Christian era their graphic accounts of the Christians suffering persecution under the Emperors. They are to be taken as perfectly reliable, because they were all heathens and in no sympathy with the martyrs. In their descriptions of their martyrdom, they simply narrate how their persecutors questioned them, “Doininicum servasti?” “Hast thou kept the Lord’s day?” The answer came, “Christianus sum; intermittere non possum ,” “I am a Christian; I can not omit it.” On this confession they killed them. Now this is positive proof that these early martyrs kept Sunday, which is called the Lord’s day, whereas Saturday never was so called. If those martyrs had kept Saturday, they would have asked them: “Sabbaticum servasti?” “Have you kept the Sabbath?” This question they never did ask them. It is a shame to have weak Christians upset about the old Jewish Sabbath. The very genius of the gospel dispensation corroborates the charge. The old dispensation was under the law, which was work first and then rest, — “if you do not work you shall not rest,” — while our dispensation is under the gospel characterized by love and mercy, which says, “Rest first and then you will be in good fix to do your work.” Some people in our time worship a day-god, others a water-god, and still others worship gods of wood and stone in a fine edifice, worship the institutions of their own making and many other gods. Get saved through and through. Keep your eye on Jesus, be sure that you are holy, then all your days will be holy. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. If you keep on your knees before God and confess Him constantly with your tongue you are going to come out all right. On any other line, with all your holy days, the devil will get you.


Verse 13

13. “Therefore let us not judge one another, but judge this rather that no one put a stumbling block or an offense in the way of his brother. All we have to do is to be true to God and keep out of each other’s way.


Verse 14

14. “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean through itself, but to him that thinketh it is unclean, to him it is unclean.” Hence, you see, we have large liberties in the gospel, there being no prohibitions as under Judaism except from hygienical considerations discretionary with the recipient. While this is true on edibles and potations, it affords no sort of apology for narcotics, such as intoxicating drinks, tobacco, opium, and all poisons and drugs indiscriminately, which must be rejected from both a moral and hygienic standpoint.


Verse 15

15. “For through thy meat thy brother is grieved thou art not walking according to divine love. Do not by thy meat destroy him for whom Christ died.” This would clear the churches of all tobacco, beer, jewelry, etc., as so many of the brethren are grieved by these things. How in the world can anyone use them and have a clear conscience?


Verse 16

16. “Therefore let not thy good be evil spoken of.” We must not only keep our own conscience clean but the consciences of others also.


Verse 17

THE KINGDOM OF GOD A PURE SPIRITUALITY

17. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Here you see the pure spirituality of the Lord’s salvation. Temporalities, — e. g., eating, drinking, sacraments, water baptism, church rites, ceremonies and institutions — have nothing to do with your salvation. You receive righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost in conversion. These graces are made perfect in sanctification when their antagonisms are all eliminated. False religions always magnify temporalities, e. g., church ordinances and good works, and minify the spiritual graces, which are the whole sum and substance of the matter. Nothing else has anything to do with it. Your old body which receives the ordinances and performs the church duties, you leave in the grave, while your naked soul goes to God. Get your soul emptied of sin and filled with the Holy Ghost and you will be ready to meet God, and your body in due time will rise to be glorified.


Verse 18

18. “For he that serveth Christ in this, is well pleasing to God and approved unto men.” If you have the righteousness, peace and joy all right, and are true to Christ, you are well pleasing to God and irreproachable to men. If you have these essentials of the kingdom in your heart, you are prepared for any tribunal of heaven or earth. Without the righteousness, peace and joy wrought in you by the Holy Ghost, you are bankrupt in the sight of God and good men, though you be the greatest churchman on the globe. With the pope and all the hierarchies you will go down.


Verse 19-20

19, 20. “Do not destroy the work of God on account of meat. All things are pure, but it is evil to the man who eateth with offense.


Verse 21

21. “It is good to neither eat meat nor drink wine nor anything else by which thy brother stumbleth.” We must have the kingdom of God in our hearts, i. e., righteousness, peace and joy wrought by the Holy Ghost, or we ourselves are reprobates. Then we must keep out of everybody’s way, i. e., we must not do anything over which others will stumble, and thus keep clear of their blood.


Verse 22

22. “The faith which you have, have it with yourself before God. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth.” We must keep a conscience void of offense before God and man in all things if we keep justified.


Verse 23

23. “If any one may eat doubting, he has been condemned, because it is not of faith. For everything which is not of faith is sin.” “Damnation,” as in E. V., does not take place in this world. The same word means condemnation here and damnation in the world to come. You see from this scripture that faith must be stalwart and conscience clear in every case. We must make it a rule to take the self-denial side in every doubtful case, even at financial cost and inconvenience. God will give us clear light on all the ground we can cultivate, His Spirit leading your spirit, His Word your intellect and His providence your body, so if true you will never lack His guidance.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 14:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-14.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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