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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 14



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Romans 14:3. καὶ ] Lachm. and Tisch.: δέ, according to A B C D* א* 5. Clar. Goth. Clem. Damasc. Mechanical repetition from Romans 14:2.

Romans 14:4. δυνατὸς γάρ ἐστιν] A B C D* F G א have δυνατεῖ γάρ (commended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch.); D*** Bas. Chrys.: δύνατος γάρ (so Fritzsche). The original is certainly δυνατεῖ γάρ; for δυνατέω is found elsewhere in the N. T. only in 2 Corinthians 13:3, and was there also in codd. exchanged for more current and better known expressions.

θεός] A B C* P א, Copt. Sahid. Arm. Goth. Aeth. Aug. et al.: κύριος (so Lachm. and Tisch.), the origin of which, however, is betrayed by dominus ejus in Syr. Erp. It was here (at Romans 14:3 the connection furnished no occasion for it) written on the margin as a gloss, and supplanted the original θεός.

Romans 14:5.] Instead of ὃς μέν, A C P א*, Vulg. codd. of It. Goth. and some Fathers have ὃς μὲν γάρ; so Lachm. (bracketing γάρ, however) and Tisch. 8. But the testimony in favour of the mere ὃς μέν is older, stronger, and more diffused; as is frequently the case, γάρ was here awkwardly inserted to connect the thought.

Romans 14:6. καὶ μὴ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν, κυρίῳ οὐ φρονεῖ] is wanting in A B C* D E F G א, 23. 57. 67.** Copt. Aeth. Vulg. It. Ruf. Ambrosiast. Pel. Aug. Jer. al. Lat.; Chrys. and Theodoret have it in the text. Condemned by Mill, omitted by Lachm. and Tisch. Rightly, since the evidence for omission is so decisive, and since the interpolation was so very readily suggested by the sense of a want of completeness in the passage, in view of the following contrast, that the explanation of the omission from homoeoteleuton (Rückert, Reiche, de Wette, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Philippi, Tischendorf, and several others)—however easily it might have been occasioned thereby (especially as καί before ἐσθίων, which Elz. has not, is undoubtedly genuine)—appears nevertheless insufficient. Among the oldest witnesses, Syr. is too solitary in its support of the words not to suggest the suspicion of an interpolation in the text of the Peschito.

Romans 14:8. ἀποθνήσκωμεν] Lachm. both times has ἀποθνήσκομεν, according to A D E F G P min. But Paul has in no other place ἐάν with pres. indic. (in Galatians 1:8 only K and min. have the indic.), and how easily might a slip of the pen take place here!

Romans 14:9. Before ἀπέθανε Elz. and cholz have καί, against decisive testimony.

After ἀπέθανε Elz. has καὶ ἀνέστη (which is wanting in A B C א*, Copt. Arm. Aeth. and Fathers), and afterwards, instead of ἔζησεν, ἀνέζησεν (against largely preponderating evidence). Further, F G, Vulg. Boern. Or. Cyr. (twice) Pel. Ambr. Fulgent. have not ἔζησεν at all, although they have ἀνέστη (therefore ἀπέθανε καὶ ἀνέστη); D E, Clar. Germ. Ir. Gaud. have even ἔζησε κ. ἀπέθανε κ. ἀνέστη, but D** L P א** Syr. p. and several Fathers: ἀπέθανε κ. ἀνέστη κ. ἔζησε. The origin of all these variations is readily explained from ἀπέθανε καὶ ἔζησεν (Lachm. and Tisch.), the best attested, and for that very reason, among the many differences, to be set down as original. First, ἔζησεν was glossed by ἀνέστη, comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:14. Thus there arose, through the adoption of the gloss instead of the original word, the reading ἀπέθανε καὶ ἀνέστη; and by the adoption of the gloss along with the original word, in some cases ἀπέθανε κ. ἔζηαε κ. ἀνέστη, in some cases ἀπέθανε κ. ἀνέστη κ. ἔζησεν (so Matth.)—whence there then arose, by an accidental or designed repetition of the AN, the ἀπέθ. κ. ἀνέστη κ. ἀνέζησεν of the Recepta (very feebly attested, and diffused by Erasmus). Finally, the transposition ἔζησε κ. ἀπέθανε κ. ἀνέστη was formed, after ἀπέθανε κ. ἀνέστη was already read, by mistaken criticism, inasmuch as there was a desire to restore the original ἔζησε, but the non-genuineness of ἀνέστη was as little known as the proper place for ἔζησε, and hence the latter, explained of the earthly life of Jesus, was placed before ἀπέθ.

Romans 14:10. χριστοῦ] A B C* D E F G א* and several VSS. and Fathers: θεοῦ. So Lachm. and Tisch., also Fritzsche. Rightly; χριστοῦ was introduced from the preceding, and perhaps also (comp. Rufinus) through comparison of 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Romans 14:12. δώσει] Lachm.: ἀποδώσει, according to B D* F G 39. Chrys. But this compound is the usual expression with λόγον.

Romans 14:14. αὐτοῦ] Elz.: ἑαυτοῦ, instead of αὐτοῦ (see exegetical notes). So again Tisch. 8, but only according to B C א, Chrys. Dam. Theophyl. A reflexive more precise definition.

Romans 14:15. δέ] Lachm. and Tisch.: γάρ, which Griesb. also commended, according to decisive testimony.

Romans 14:18. Instead of the Rec. ἐν τούτοις, Lachm. and Tisch. have ἐν τούτῳ, according to A B C D* F G P א*, 5. Vulg. It. Copt. Sahid. Ruf. Aug. But the Rec., sufficiently attested by D*** E L א**, and almost all min., Syr. utr. Goth. Chrys. Theodoret, Tert., is the more to be defended, since ἐν τούτῳ might very easily have intruded through the immediately preceding ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. It was less likely that τούτῳ should be converted into τούτοις on account of the plurality of the particulars contained in Romans 14:17. The latter is rightly retained by Beng. Matth. Reiche, Fritzsche, van Hengel, and various others.

Romans 14:19. διώκωμεν] The reading διώκομεν, adopted by Tisch. 8, although in A B F G L P א, is an old error of the pen, attested by no version, abandoned rightly also by Lachm. ed. maj. (in the ed. min. he had adopted it, written ἆρα, and taken the sentence interrogatively).

After ἀλλήλ. D E F G, Vulg. It. and a few Fathers have φυλάξωμεν. A supplement.

Romans 14:21. σκανδ. ἀσθ.] omitted by Tisch. 8, is wanting in AC 67.** Syr. Erp. Copt. Aeth. and some Fathers, including Origen. The former is suspicious as an addition from Romans 14:13, the latter as a gloss. However, in the case of synonyms, one or the other was often omitted, as e.g., in Romans 14:13, πρόσκομμα (and therewith ) is wanting in B, and the evidence in favour of omission is not here sufficiently strong to condemn the words. Instead of προσκ. σκανδ. ἀσθ., א* has merely λυπεῖται, a gloss in itself correct according to Romans 14:15.

Romans 14:22. After πίστιν Lachm. and Tisch. 8 have ἥν, according to A B C א, Copt. Ruf. Aug. Pel. A double writing of IN, or explanatory resolution, to which the weight of evidence of almost all VSS. and Greek Fathers especially is opposed.

On the doxology, Romans 16:25-27, not belonging to the end of chap. 14, see critical notes on chap. 16.

As elsewhere (Acts 15:1; Acts 15:5; Galatians 3:1 ff.; Colossians 2:16 ff.), so there were even in the predominantly Gentile-Christian community at Rome, among the Jewish-Christian minority belonging to it, persons who sought still to retain the standpoint of pre-Christian legalism. But these Jewish-Christians in Rome had not, as elsewhere, come forward as the defenders of circumcision, or generally in an aggressive anti-Pauline attitude. Hence Paul speaks of them in so forbearing and mild a way, and keeps direct polemics entirely in the background. They were men not of hostile, but only of prejudiced minds, whose moral consciousness lacked the vigour to regard as unessential a peculiar asceticism, according to which they ate no flesh (Romans 14:2), and drank no wine (Romans 14:21), and still held to the observance of the Jewish feast-days (Romans 14:5), passing judgment withal, as is usually the case with men of a separatist bias, on those who were more free, but only earning the contempt of these in return. In presence of this asceticism, and in respect of its main feature, namely, abstinence from flesh and wine, the question arises: Was it based generally (Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Jerome, Calovius, and many others, including Reiche and Köllner) on the Mosaic-Jewish ordinances respecting meat and drink? or, in particular (Clement of Alexandria, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, Michaelis, Anm., Flatt, Neander, Reithmayr, Tholuck, Philippi), on the dread of heathen sacrificial flesh and sacrificial wine (comp. the apostolic decrees, Acts 15)? or on both (Erasmus, Toletus, and others, including Rückert, Borger, de Wette)? Against the first of these three possibilities it may be urged that Romans 14:2; Romans 14:21 do not allow us to assume any limitation of the abstinence at all, but require it to be understood of flesh and wine generally; while, on the other hand, the law does not forbid all flesh and does not forbid wine at all, and the Rabbins forbid only the flesh slaughtered by the Goyim and the wine of the Goyim (see Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. II. pp. 616 ff., 620 ff.). To assume now, with Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact, that those persons had abstained from all flesh for the reason that they might not be blamed by the others on account of their despising swine’s flesh, or from contempt towards the Gentiles ( τινές in Theodoret), would be completely arbitrary, indeed opposed to the text; for they themselves were on one side the censurers, on the other the despised, Romans 14:3. Against the second opinion, that the abstinence in question referred only to the flesh offered in sacrifice to idols (Acts 15) and the wine of libation (see Mischn. Surenh. IV. pp. 369, 384; Eisenmenger, l.c. p. 621), it may be urged that the whole section contains not a word on the sacrificial character of the flesh and wine, while yet we are bound to conclude from 1 Corinthians 8, 10 that Paul would not have passed by this essential aspect of the matter without touching on it and turning it to account. Hence also the third view, which combines these, cannot be approved. In fact, the Jewish-Christian abstinence in question appears rather to be a supra-legal anxiety, such as was nothing rare in Judaism at that time (Philo, in Eusebius, Praep. ev. viii. fin.; Josephus, Vit. 2, 3; Grotius on Romans 14:2; Ritschl, in the theol. Jahrb. 1855, p. 353), under the influence of Essenic principles (see Ritschl, altkath. K. pp. 184, 187). It appears certainly as an ἐθελοθρησκεία, brought over from Judaism into Christianity by persons of Essenic tendencies, and fostered by the ethics of Christianity, which combated the flesh. By its adherents, however, among the Jewish-Christians of Rome at that time, it was not maintained in opposition to justification by faith, but was so practised without pretentiousness and polemics (and in particular without separation from a common table with the Gentile Christians), that the wisdom of the apostolic teaching deemed it inappropriate to enter into special conflict with such a remnant of an Essenic ἰουδαΐζειν, or to speak of it otherwise than with the most cautious forbearance. Baur, I. p. 381 ff., declares those persons to be Ebionite Christians (according to Epiphanius, Haer. xxx. 15, the Ebionites abstained from all use of flesh, because flesh originated from generation; see Ritschl, p. 205). But against this view it may at once be urged, that complete abstinence from wine on the part of the Ebionites is nowhere expressly attested; and further, that, if the weak brethren at Rome had been persons who regarded the use of flesh as on principle and absolutely sinful, as was the case with Ebionitism, Paul would not have expressed himself so mildly and tolerantly respecting an error which would have been fundamental, dualistic as it was and opposed to justification by faith. Moreover, the Ebionites date only from the destruction of Jerusalem (see Ullhorn, d. Homil. u. Recogn. d. Clem. p. 387 ff.); hence the Roman weak brethren could only be termed Ebionitic in so far as their abstinence had the same root with the asceticism of the Ebionites, viz. Essenism. That among the numerous Roman Jews, who had arrived as prisoners of war from Palestine, there were various Essenes who thereafter became Christians, cannot be subject to any well-founded doubt (comp. Ritschl, p. 233 f.). And the less reason is there to call in question not merely the Ebionitic, but also the Essenic, root of the phenomenon (Th. Schott). To refer it to the general interest of world—denying holiness does not suffice for the explanation of the several passages, and in particular does not explain the observance of days and the impure character which was attributed to the use of flesh (Romans 14:14). Hence, too, we are not, with Hofmann, to abide by the mere general conclusion, that doubt prevailed as to whether it was compatible with the holiness of the church of God to use such food as man had not assigned to him from the beginning, and as the Christian should for this very reason rather dispense with than enjoy for the sake of good cheer. Thus the matter would amount to an odd theoretic reflection, without any connection with historical concrete antecedent relations,—a view with which we can the less be content, since the observance of days cannot exegetically be got rid of as a point which had likewise occasioned dispute (see on Romans 14:5). Eichhorn takes the weak brethren to be earlier, mostly Gentile-Christian adherents of ascetico-philosophic, chiefly Neo-Pythagorean principles. There was certainly at that time diffused among the Gentiles, through the influence of the Neo-Pythagorean philosophy, an abstinence quite analogous to that Jewish one, as we know from Senec. Ep. 108, Porphyr. De abstin., and others (see Grotius on Romans 14:2, and Reiche, II. p. 463 f.); but, on the other hand, that view is at variance partly with Romans 14:5 (comp. Colossians 2:16-17), partly with Romans 15:8-9, where Paul sedulously brings into view the theocratic dignity of the Jews, while he bids the Gentiles praise God on account of grace—which is most in harmony with the view that the despised weak ones are to be sought among the former. It may be also conjectured a priori that our ascetics, if they had arrived at their habit by the path of philosophy, would hardly have behaved themselves in so passive and unpretentious a manner and have been merely regarded by Paul just as weak ones. We may add that Romans 14:5-6 do not justify us in assuming two parties among the Roman weak brethren, so that the κρίνοντες ἡμέραν παρʼ ἡμέραν, Romans 14:5, are to be distinguished from the λάχανα ἐσθίοντες, Romans 14:2,—the former as the stricter and probably Palestinian, the latter as the freer and probably Hellenistic, Jewish

Christians (so Philippi). As the observance of the feast days, especially of the Sabbaths, was essentially bound up with the Essenic tendency, the assumption of such a separation cannot be justified exegetically (from the κρίνειν.) Just as little is there exegetical ground for the view that the community addressed and instructed in Romans 14:1 ff. is notified as being Jewish-Christian in its main composition; whereas Romans 15:1 ff. betrays a Gentile-Christian minority, which had been more exclusive and intolerant towards the weak than the great body of the church, the relation of whom to the weak the apostle has in view in chap. 14 (Mangold, p. 60 ff.)

Verse 1

Romans 14:1. δέ] passing over from the due limitation of care for the flesh (Romans 13:14) to those who, in the matter of this limitation, pursue not the right course, but one springing from weakness of faith.

τὸν ἀσθενοῦντα τῇ πίστει] That πίστις here also denotes faith in Christ, is self-evident; the infirmity, however, is not conceived of—according to the general πάντα δυνατὰ τῷ πιστεύοντι (Mark 9:23; 1 Corinthians 13:2)—in a general sense and without any more precise character, but, in conformity with the context (see Romans 14:2; Romans 14:14; Romans 14:22-23), as a want of that ethical strength of faith, in virtue of which one may and should have, along with his faith, the regulative principle of moral conviction and certainty corresponding to its nature and contents. In this more definite and precise sense those ascetics were weak in faith. Had they not been so, the discernment of conscience and assurance of conscience, analogous to faith, would have enabled them to be free from doubt and scruple in respect to that which, in the life of faith, was right or wrong, allowable or not allowable, and to act accordingly; and consequently, in particular, to raise themselves above the adiaphora as such, without prejudice and ethical narrowness. It is therefore evident that the ἀσθένεια τῇ πίστει carries with it defectiveness of moral γνῶσις, but this does not justify the explaining of πίστις as equivalent to γνῶσις (Grotius and others), or as equivalent to doctrine believed (Beza, Calvin).

προσλαμβάνεσθε] take to you, namely, to the intercourse of Christian brotherly fellowship. The opposite would be an ἐκκλεῖσαι θέλειν (comp. Galatians 4:17), whereby they, instead of being attracted, might be forced to separation. So in substance, Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, Semler, Reiche, Köllner, Fritzsche, Rückert, de Wette, Tholuck, Philippi, Hofmann, etc. But others take it as: interest yourselves in him, “of furthering, helpful support” (Olshausen, comp. Chrysostom), which, however, προσλαμβάνεσθαι τινα does not mean. Acts 28:2 is appealed to, where, however, προσλ. is to take to oneself,—a meaning which is here also required by προσελαβετο, Romans 14:3, as well as by Romans 15:7, comp. also Romans 11:15.

μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογ.] not to judgings of thoughts. διακρίσεις διαλογ. is a result, which in the case of the enjoined προσλαμβ. must not be come to, so that thus μὴ εἰς διακρ. διαλ. contains a negative more precise definition of προσλαμβάνεσθε, in the sense, namely: not in such a manner that the προσλαμβάνεσθαι, which you bestow on the weak, issues in judgments passed on the thoughts. Those persons formed their ideas under the influence of conscience; such scruples should be indulgently treated by the stronger, and criticisms passing judgments on them should not be instituted, whereby the προσλαμβάνεσθαι would be abused. Thus διάκρισις, dijudicatio, retains its usual signification (Hebrews 5:4; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Plato, Legg. vi. p. 765 A, xi. p. 937 B Lucian, Herm. 69); and διαλογισμός likewise (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 9:46, et al.; Romans 1:21; 1 Corinthians 3:20). Nothing is to be supplied, but εἰς is simply to be taken in the sense of the result (as just previously εἰς ἐπιθ., Romans 13:14), not even as usque ad (Reiche). Substantially in agreement with this view of διακρίς. διαλογ. are Chrysostom, Grotius, and others, including Köllner, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Reithmayr, Fritzsche, Krehl, Tholuck, Hofmann, likewise Reiche, who, however, makes the prohibition apply to both parties, which is opposed to the text, since the exhorted subject is the church, in contradistinction to its weak members, while the weak alone are the object of the exhortation. Augustine aptly, Propos. 78: “non dijudicemus cogitationes infirmorum, quasi ferre audeamus sententiam de alieno corde, quod non videtur.” Others take διακρίσεις as doubts, which are not to be excited in the thoughts of the weak. So Luther, Bengel, Cramer, Ernesti, Morus, Böhme, Ammon, Flatt, Klee, Olshausen, Philippi, Umbreit. But διάκρισις never means doubt, and therefore is not to be explained with Ewald, who takes the words as an addition by way of exclamation: “may it not come from doubts to thoughts! may such an one not become uncertain in his conscience!” Following the Vulgate, Beza, Camerarius, Er. Schmid, Toletus, Estius, Glöckler, and others, διάκρ. has also been explained as dispute, which is not unfrequently its meaning in the classics (Plato, Legg. vi. p. 768 A Polybius, xviii. 11. 3). But dispute concerning thoughts would be at least far from clearly expressed by the mere genitive (instead of περὶ διαλογ.); and the notion disceptatio [ ζήτησις, συζήτησις] is nowhere denoted in the N. T. by διάκρισις. Rückert takes it as separation: “But be on your guard lest the consequence thereof may possibly be this, that thoughts and sentiments are severed, become more abruptly parted.” διάκρισις may certainly bear this meaning (Job 37:16; Plato, Phil. p. 32 A); but in that case the article must have stood before διαλογ., and the climactic sense (more abruptly) would be gratuitously imported.

Verses 1-12

Romans 14:1-12. Summons to brotherliness towards the weak ones (Romans 14:1). First point of difference between the two parties, and encouragement in relation to it (Romans 14:2-4). Second point of difference, and encouragement in relation to it (Romans 14:5). The right point of view for both in their differences (Romans 14:6), and reason assigned for it (Romans 14:7-9); reproof and disallowance of the opposite conduct (Romans 14:10-12).

Verse 2

Romans 14:2. More particular discussion of the subject, and in the first place, exhibition of the first point of difference between the two parties.

ὃς μέν] without a corresponding ὃς δέ, instead of which there is at once put the definite δὲ ἀσθ.: the one (i.e. the strong) believes, etc.; but the weak, etc. Comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. ii. 3. 15; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 507.

πιστεύει φαγεῖν πάντα may mean: he is convinced that he may eat all things, so that the notion ἐξεῖναι is implied in the relation of the verbal notion to the infinitive (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 753 f.; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 235); so Tholuck, Borger, and older interpreters. But more agreeable to the τῇ πίστει, Romans 14:1, and to the contrast ἀσθεν., is the rendering: he has the confidence, the assurance of faith, to eat all things; Winer, p. 302 [E. T. 405]. Comp. Dem. 866. 1, and generally Krüger, § 61. 6. 8. To supply ὥστε (van Hengel) is in accordance with the sense, but unnecessary.

λάχανα] excludes, according to the connection, all use of flesh, not merely that of Levitically unclean animals, or of flesh sacrificed to idols, or on feast and fast days,—limitations of which nature are introduced by most interpreters (including Reiche, Köllner, Neander, Tholuck, Philippi). The weak in faith eats no flesh, but vegetables are his food. Comp. Wieseler in Herzog’s Encyklop. XX. p. 595.

Verse 3

Romans 14:3. Prohibition for each of the two parties. The self-consciousness of strength misleads into looking down with contempt on the weak; the narrowness of weakness is unable to comprehend the free thinking of the strong one, and judges it.

κρινέτω] defined by the connection as a condemning judgment, pronouncing against the true Christian character, as in Romans 2:1 and frequently.

θεὸς γὰρ κ. τ. λ.] ground assigned for μὴ κρινέτω; hence αὐτόν is to be referred to τὸν ἐσθίοντα (i.e. him who eats all things), not with Reiche (following Calvin and others) to both, the strong and the weak, against which Romans 14:4 is also decisive.

προσελάβετο] has taken him to Himself, namely, into His fellowship (comp. Romans 14:1) through Christ; not: into His house as servant (see on Romans 14:4), as Vatablus, Reiche, and Hofmann hold.

In θεὸς γὰρ κ. τ. λ. is contained the contrariety to God of this κρίνειν, and its consequent impiety; and

Verse 4

Romans 14:4 then adds what a presumptuous intermeddling such a κρίνειν is. In this the emotion rises to an animated apostrophe, addressed to the weak in faith who passes judgment, not to both parties, as Reiche and Tholuck think; for κρίνων corresponds to the κρινέτω of Romans 14:3.

σὺ τίς εἶ] comp. Romans 9:20. It discloses the presumption, without however standing in the relation of apodosis to the preceding θεὸς αὐτὸν προσελάβετο (Hofmann), which is nowise indicated and is forbidden by the fact that the following relation of domestic slave points to Christ as Master.

ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην] who is not in thy domestic service, but in that of another. This other is Christ (see Romans 14:6), not God, who is rather distinguished from the master by δυν. γὰρ κ. τ. λ.

τῷ ἰδίῳ κυρίῳ] to his own master. The dative denotes the relation of subordination to the interest of the ἴδιος κύριος (Bernhardy, p. 85). His own master, and no other, is interested therein; whence the incompetence of the κρίνειν is obvious.

The figurative standing and falling is either explained of standing firm (Psalms 1:4; Luke 21:36), and of being condemned (causa cadere) in the divine judgment (Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Estius, Wolf, and others, including Reiche, Köllner, Borger, Tholuck, Philippi), or, as in 1 Corinthians 10:12, of continuance and non-continuance in the state of true Christian faith and life. So in substance, Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, Toletus, Bengel, Semler, and others, including Flatt, de Wette, Fritzsche, Rückert, Maier, Baumgarten-Crusius, Umbreit, van Hengel, Hofmann. The use of πίπτειν would not tell against the former (Hofmann), for it would have its warrant as contrast to the σώζεσθαι in the divine judgment figuratively set forth by the standing (Soph. Trach. 84, and see Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 568); but the second explanation is to be preferred, partly because the unwarranted κρίνειν denied to the more free the possession of a right Christian frame of life, partly because of the following δυνατεῖ γὰρ κ. τ. λ. For to make to stand in the judgment, i.e. without figure, to acquit and pronounce righteous, is not the work of divine power, but of grace. But according to His power (against Reiche’s objection to this, see Ephesians 3:20) God effects an inner strengthening, so that the Christian stands in that which is good, and even he who thinks more freely does not succumb to the dangers to which the nature of his Christian faith and life is exposed by the very fact of his freer principles, but perseveres in the true Christian state. For this Paul looks to God’s power, and promises it. When Tholuck, on the ground of the reading κύριος, finds the thought, that the Judge will even find out sufficient reasons for exculpation, this is a pure importation into the text.

δυνατεῖ] See on 2 Corinthians 13:3. Comp. Clem. Hom. i. 6.

Verse 5

Romans 14:5. Second point of difference, as is evident from the contents themselves, and in particular from the general laying out of the representation, which is quite similar in form to Romans 14:2. Hence we are not here to find, with Hofmann (who defends the reading ὃς μὲν γάρ), merely the first member of a chain of thought which is intended to make good the correctness of the proposition δυνατεῖ γὰρ κ. τ. λ.,—so that Paul does not pass over to another controverted point. The fact that he does not thereupon enter at length on the question of days, but returns immediately in Romans 14:6 to the question of food, indicates that the latter formed in the church the controversy most prominent and threatening in an ascetic point of view. Moreover, what he had said on the point of food might so readily of itself find its application in an analogous manner to the question of days, that an entering into equal detail in regard to both points was not required.

κρίνει ἡμ. παρʼ ἡμ.] he sets his judgment on day before day, i.e. he is for preferring one day to another, so that he esteems one holier than another. This refers to the Jewish feast and fast days still observed by the weak in faith. The classical ἡμέρα παρʼ ἡμέραν, in the sense alternis diebus (Bernhardy, p. 258; Lobeck, ad Aj. 475), does not apply here (in opposition to Fritzsche, who imports into our passage the notion that the people had ascetically observed, in addition to the Sabbath, the second and fifth days of the week). Of so surprising a (pharisaical, Luke 18:12) selection of days there is no single trace in the Epistles to the Galatians (not even ἡμέρας, Romans 4:10) and Colossians, and hardly would it have met with such lenient treatment at Paul’s hands. But the Jewish observance of days, continued under Christianity, so naturally agrees with the Essenic-Jewish character of the weak in faith generally, that there is no sufficient ground for thinking, with Ewald, of the observance of Sunday (at that time not yet generally established), and for seeing in Romans 14:5-6 only an example illustrating the preceding, and not a real point of difference (comp. Hofmann). On κρίνειν τι, in the sense of to declare oneself for something, i.e. aliquid probare, eligere, comp. Aesch. Agam. 471 ( κρίνω δʼ ἄφθονον ὄλβον), Suppl. 393 ( κρἵνε σέβας τὸ πρὸς θεῶν); Plat. Rep. p. 399 E Xen. Hell. i. 7. 11; Isocr. Paneg. 46. On παρά, in the sense of preference, Xen. Mem. i. 4. 14, and Kühner in loc.; but in Soph. Aj. 475, παρʼ ἧμαρ ἡμέρα is (in opposition to Valckenaer, Schol. II. p. 153 ff.) to be otherwise understood; see Lobeck ad loc.

κρίνει πᾶσαν ἡμέραν] not omnem diem judicat diem (Bengel, Philippi), but corresponding to the first half of the verse: he declares himself for each day, so that he would have each esteemed equally holy, not certain days before others.

ἕκαστος κ. τ. λ.] Here too, as in the case of an adiaphoron, no more than in Romans 14:2, an objective decision, who is or is not in the right; but rather for both parties only the requisite injunction, namely, that each should have a complete assurance of faith as to the rightness of his conduct, without which persuasion the consciousness of the fulfilment of duty is lacking, and consequently the adiaphoron becomes sinful (Romans 14:20; Romans 14:23).

πληροφ.] Comp. Romans 4:21.

ἐν τ. ἰδίῳ νοΐ] i.e. in the moral consciousness of his own reason (Romans 7:23), therefore, independently of others’ judgment, assured in himself of the motives of action.

Verse 6

Romans 14:6. The right point of view, according to which each must have his own full persuasion, expressed not imperatively, but indicatively, as the Christian axiom in these matters, which conditions and regulates that πληροφορία.

φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν κ. τ. λ.] he who directs his carefulness to the day, exercises this carefulness in his interest for the Lord, namely, in order thereby to respond to his relation of belonging to the Lord. τὴν ἡμέρ. with the article denotes textually the day concerned, that which comes into consideration conformably to the κρίνειν ἡμέραν παρʼ ἡμέραν, not the day as it happens (Hofmann). By κύριος most understand God, others (as Estius, Rückert, Köllner, Fritzsche, Philippi) Christ. The former appears to be correct, on account of εὐχαρ. γὰρ τ. θεῷ; but the latter is correct, on account of Romans 14:9. The absence of the article is not at variance with this. See Winer, de sensu vocum κύριος et κύρ., Erl. 1828; Gramm. p. 118 [E. T. p. 154]; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 573.

κυρίῳ ἐσθίει] using his Christian freedom in regard to the use of flesh in the interest of the Lord, which definite ethical direction of his ἐσθίειν he attests by his εὐχαριστεῖν τῷ θεῷ therein. This refers to the prayer at table, and, as is also the case with the subsequent εὐχ. τ. θ., not to that offered after the meal (Hofmann), but to that before it; comp. Matthew 15:36; Matthew 26:26; Acts 27:35; 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Timothy 4:4. The thanksgiving to God consecrating the partaking of food presupposes the conviction that one does the ἐσθίειν in the capacity of belonging to Christ, and conformably to this specific relation; for anything that is opposed to Christ the Christian cannot thank the Father of Christ.

καὶ μὴ ἐσθ. κ. τ. λ.] The opposite of the preceding point (the observance of days) Paul has not added (see critical notes), because he has not at the beginning of Romans 14:6 planned his language antithetically; and it is only on the mention of the second more important point that the conception of the opposite occurs to him, and he takes it up also. To append the antithesis also to the first clause of the verse, was indeed not necessary (Philippi); but neither would it have been confusing (Hofmann), especially as the selecting of days and its opposite, as well as the eating and not-eating, were for those respectively concerned equally matters of conscience.

κυρίῳ οὐκ ἐσθίει] for the Lord he refrains from the eating (of flesh), persuaded that this abstinence tends to serve the interest of Christ.

καὶ εὐχαρ. τῷ θεῷ] That which was previously conceived as the reason ( γάρ) is here conceived as the consequence ( καί); and so he utters his thanksgiving table-prayer to God, namely, for the other, vegetable food, which forms the meal to be enjoyed by him. He is enabled to do so by the conviction that his οὐκ ἐσθίειν has its holy ethical reference to the Lord.

Verses 7-9

Romans 14:7-9. Proof for the threefold κυρίῳ, Romans 14:6, and that generally from the whole subjective direction of the life of Christians towards Christ. Paul does not mean the objective dependence on Christ (Rückert, Reiche, Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, II. p. 19), because it would not prove what was said in Romans 14:6, but would only establish the obligation thereto.

ἑαυτῷ ξῇ] so that he believes that his life belongs to himself, that he lives for his own interest and aims. 2 Corinthians 5:15. Comp. the passages in Wetstein and Fritzsche. The dative is thus to be taken in the ethically telic sense, and so, too, in ἑαυτῷ ἀποθνήσκει; for also the dying of the Christian—in so ideal a manner is Paul conscious of the moral power and consecration of fellowship of life with Christ—is a moral act (Bengel: “eadem ars moriendi, quae vivendi”) in the relation of belonging to Christ, in which the Christian at death feels and knows that he has stood with his life, and is now also to stand in his dying. Such is the conscious ἐν κυρίῳ ἀποθνήσκειν, Revelation 14:13. Comp. Philippians 1:20; Romans 8:38.

Romans 14:8 contains the positive counterpart, proving the negative contents of Romans 14:7, and is likewise to be understood as a subjective relation.

On τὲ γὰρτέ, for as well … as also, see Hartung, Partikell. I. pp. 88, 115; Baeumlein, Part. p. 219.

τοῦ κυρίου ἐσμεν] the Lord’s property are we. This now derives the sum of the entire specifically Christian consciousness from its previously adduced factors.

In the threefold emphatic τῷ κυρίῳ ( τοῦ κυρίου) observe the “divina Christi majestas et potestas” (Bengel), to which the Christian knows himself to be completely surrendered.

Verse 9

Romans 14:9. Objective historical relation, on which this subjective attitude towards Christ, Romans 14:8 ( ἐάν τε οὖν κ. τ. λ.), is founded.

ἔξησε] became alive, to be understood of the resurrection life. Comp. Revelation 2:8; Revelation 20:4-5; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 4:10. The aorist denotes the setting in of the state; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 18. Wrongly Olshausen (so also Schrader) thinks that the earthly life of Jesus is meant, so that there occurs a hysteron proteron; in which view he overlooks, first, that the mutual reference of the two elements in protasis and apodosis is only formal, and secondly, that it was not Jesus’ life and death, but rather His death and life (resurrection), which led to His attainment of the heavenly κυριότης. Comp. Romans 8:34, Romans 6:9-10; Philippians 2:8-9; Luke 24:26; Matthew 28:18.

ἵνα] destination in the divine counsel. This aimed, in the death and resurrection of Christ, at the establishment of His munus regium, and that over the dead (in Scheol, Philippians 2:10) and living; hence Christians are conscious of belonging to Him in living and dying (Romans 14:8). Unsuitably to ἔξησεν, since the raising up of the Lord is certainly, in the apostle’s view, the work of God (Romans 1:4, Romans 4:24, Romans 6:4, Romans 8:11, and many other passages), Hofmann sees in ἵνα Christ’s own purpose expressed.

Verse 10

Romans 14:10. σὺ δέ] discloses the contrast to the κυριότης of Jesus.

The first σύ addresses the weaker, the second the freer Christian, as is clear from Romans 14:3.

γάρ] justifies the censure of presumption which lies in the preceding questions: for all, etc., and therefore in both cases thou as well as he.

παραστης., we shall stand before; “stare solent, quorum causa tractatur,” Grotius; Acts 26:6; Matthew 25:33.

τῷ βήμ. τ. θεοῦ (see critical notes): for God will cause the judgment to be held (John 5:22) by Christ (Romans 2:16; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31). So the judgment-seat upon which Christ will sit (2 Corinthians 5:10; Polycarp, ad Phil. 6; Matthew 25:31) is God’s.

Note how decisive is the testimony of such passages against any limitation of the universality of the final judgment.

Verse 11

Romans 14:11. Scripture proof for the πάντες παραστησόμεθα κ. τ. λ., Romans 14:10. The point of its bearing on the matter lies in the universality, as is clear from the reference of πᾶν and πᾶσα, Romans 14:11, to πάντες above, Romans 14:10. Thus the proposition of Romans 14:10, πάντες γὰρ κ. τ. λ.—although in and by itself it required no scriptural proof—receives, nevertheless, a hallowed confirmation, which makes the injustice of the previously censured judging and despising the more apparent, because it encroaches on the universal final judgment of God.

The citation is Isaiah 45:23, quoted very freely with deviations, partly of memory, partly intentional, from the LXX., and abbreviated. In Isaiah, God certifies upon His oath that all men (including the Gentiles) shall render to Him adoring homage. This divine utterance

Messianic, because promising the universal triumph of the theocracy—is here taken by Paul in the light of that highest final historical fulfilment which will take place at the judgment of the world.

ζῶ ἐγώ] Instead of κατʼ ἐμαυτοῦ ὀμνύω, as the LXX. following the Hebrew have it, Paul uses, by a variation of memory, a frequently-occurring verbal formula of the divine oath: חַי אָני (Numbers 14:21; Numbers 14:28; Deuteronomy 32:40, et al.; Daniel 12:7; Ruth 3:13; Judith 2:12).

λέγει κύριος] is added by Paul according to the elsewhere familiar O. T. formula. Comp. Romans 12:19.

ὅτι] that, because in ξῶ ἐγώ is involved the assurance on oath, that, etc. Comp. 2 Chronicles 18:13; 1 Samuel 14:44; Judith 11:7 and Fritzsche in loc.

ἐμοί] to me, as the Judge (so in the sense of the apostle), for homage and submission.

ἐξομολογ. τ. θεῷ] departing from the LXX., which, following the Hebrew, has ὀμεῖται πᾶσα γλ. τὸν θεόν, for the reading of Cod. A of the LXX. (also א on the margin), ἐξομολογήσεται instead of ὀμεῖται, was probably—seeing that the Septuagint has very frequently undergone similar alterations of the text from N. T. citations—first introduced from our passage, and not a reading which Paul found in his copy of the LXX. (Fritzsche), as is too rashly inferred from Philippians 2:11. The variation itself is—as was allowed by the freedom in the handling of Messianic proof-passages—intentional, because Paul required, instead of the oath of God, a more general conception, which, however, lies at the basis of that special conception; for the swearing is the actual acknowledgment and glorification of God as the Judge. The correct explanation is: and every tongue shall praise God (as the Judge), and therewith submit to His judicial authority—parallel in sense to ἐμοὶ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ. ἐξομολογεῖσθαι with the dative always denotes to praise (Romans 15:9; Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; frequently in the LXX. and Apocrypha, see Biel and Schleusner, s.v.): it only denotes to confess, as in later Greek, with the accusative of the object, Matthew 3:6 : James 5:16; Tobit 12:22. Hence the explanation of Er. Schmid, Reiche, Köllner, following Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, is erroneous: to confess sins, which would only then be admissible if the parallelism obviously suggested the supplying of τὰς ἁμαρτίας.

With the reading τῷ βήματι τοῦ χριστοῦ, Romans 14:10, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Luther, Calvin, and many others, including Philippi, have found in τῷ θεῷ a proof for the divinity of Christ. There would rather be implied the idea, that it is God, whose judgment Christ is entrusted by the Father to hold; and this thought is contained also in the reading τ. β. τ. θεοῦ, Romans 14:10.

Verse 12

Romans 14:12. What follows from the preceding (from πάντες γὰρ … onward).

The emphasis is neither on περὶ ἑαυτοῦ (so usually) nor on τῷ θεῷ (Philippi), but on the ἕκαστος for that purpose prefixed, which corresponds to the emphatic πάντες, πᾶν, πᾶσα, Romans 14:10-11; hence it alone bears the stress, not sharing it with περὶ ἑαυτ. and τῷ θεῷ (Hofmann). Each of us, none excepted, will respecting himself, etc. How at variance with this, therefore, to judge or to despise, as though one were not included in the subjection to this our universal destiny of having to give a personal account to God!

δώσει] purely future in sense, like the preceding futures.

Verse 13

Romans 14:13. ΄ηκέτι (no more, as hitherto) ἀλλήλους κρίνωμεν is deduced ( οὖν) from ἕκαστος ἡμῶν κ. τ. λ.; but κρίνωμεν here refers, as ἀλλήλ. shows, to both parties.

κρίνατε] antanaclasis: the same word, in order to make the contrast striking (for to the κρίνειν which is against one’s duty that which is in accordance with duty is opposed), is repeated, but with the modification of reference and of sense, that it addresses the freer Christians (for it was they who gave the offence), and means in general: let this be your judgment, your moral maxim in this point. On the infinitive with the article after a preparatory demonstrative, comp. 2 Corinthians 2:1; Xen. de Rep. Lac. 9. 1, and see Haase in loc.; Breitenbach, ad Xen. Oec. 14. 10.

πρόσκομμα and σκάνδαλον: both quite synonymous in the metaphorical sense: moral stumbling-block, an occasion for acting contrary to conscience. But τιθέναι refers to the original proper sense of the two words. Comp. on Romans 9:32-33, Romans 11:9; LXX. Leviticus 19:14; Judith 5:1. The twofold designation is an earnest and exhaustive expression of the idea; hence to attempt a real distinction between the synonyms, which differ only figuratively (stone … trap), is arbitrary.

Verses 13-23

Romans 14:13-23. Christians ought not, therefore, mutually to condemn one another, but rather to have the principle of giving no offence, Romans 14:13. Further elucidation of this principle, and exhortations to compliance with it.

Verse 14

Romans 14:14. Discussion of the preceding injunction, giving information regarding it. Paul grants, namely, in principle, that the freer brethren are right, but immediately adds an exception which arises in practice, and, in assigning the reason for this addition, declares (Romans 14:15) the not attending to the exception a proof of want of love.

καὶ πέπεισμαι ἐν κυρ. .] More precise definition of the preceding οἶδα.

ἐν κυρ.] i.e. in my fellowship with the Lord; οὐκ ἄρα ἀνθρωπίνης διανοίας ψῆφος, Chrysostom.

κοινόν] corresponding to the βέβηλον of the Greeks: profane, ἀκάθαρτον (Chrysostom), Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8; Hebrews 10:29. Thus the eating of flesh was held to be unholy and unclean, and therefore a thing at variance with the holiness of a Christian’s position. Comp. Ezekiel 42:20; 1 Maccabees 1:47; 1 Maccabees 1:62.

διʼ αὐτοῦ] Since the reflexive αὑτοῦ (with the rough breathing) is generally doubtful in the N. T. (comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 97 f.), and here the personal αὐτοῦ (with the soft breathing) is quite sufficient and appropriate in sense, the latter is to be preferred (Bengel, Matthaei, Lachmann, Tischendorf, 7, Hofmann); not, however, to be referred to Christ (Theodoret, Bisping, Jatho, and others), but to be explained: through itself, i.e. through its nature. In διʼ αὐτοῦ is thus implied the objectively existing uncleanness, in contrast (see below) to that which subjectively accrues per accidens. On account of the laws relating to food of the O. T., Olshausen thinks that the thought of the apostle is intended to affirm that “through Christ and His sanctifying influence the creation has again become pure and holy.” This arbitrary importation of a meaning (followed by Bisping) is overthrown by the very circumstance that the abstinence of the Roman ascetics was by no means founded on the law—which did not in fact forbid the use of flesh generally—but was of a supra-legal Essenic character. Moreover, Paul was clear and certain, so far as concerns the O. T. laws of food, that they had outlived the time of obligatoriness appointed for them by God, and were abolished by God Himself, inasmuch as in Christ the end of the law had come, and the temporary divine institute had given place to the eternal one of the gospel as its fulfilment, Matthew 5:17. Comp. on Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:16 ff.; also on Acts 10:15-16.

εἰ μή] not equivalent to ἀλλά, but nisi, which, without taking διʼ αὐτοῦ also into account, applies merely to οὐδὲν κοινόν. Comp. on Matthew 12:4; Galatians 2:16.

ἐκείνῳ κοινόν] ἐκ. with emphasis, as in 2 Corinthians 10:18, Mark 7:15; Mark 7:20, and very frequently in John. The uncleanness is in such a case subjective, coming into existence and subsisting actually for the individual through the fettered condition of his own conscience.

Verse 15

Romans 14:15. γάρ] According to this reading critically beyond doubt (see the critical notes),—which, however, Philippi, on account of the sense, regards as “absolutely untenable,”—the apostle specifies the reason, why he has expressly added the exception εἰ μὴ τῷ λογιζ. κ. τ. λ. The γάρ belonging to the principal sentence is, according to a very prevalent usage (see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 85), taken into the prefixed accessory sentence, so that the argumentative thought is: “not without good moral ground do I say: εἰ μὴκοινόν; for it indicates a want of love, if the stronger one has not regard to this relation towards the weaker.”

διὰ βρῶμα] on account of food, i.e. because of a kind of food, which he holds to be unclean and sees thee eat.

λυπεῖται] not: is injured, which would consist in the ἀπόλλυσθαι (Philippi, contrary to N. T. usage), but of moral affliction, i.e. vexation of conscience, which is occasioned by the giving of a σκάνδαλον (Romans 14:13). Analogous is Ephesians 4:30. To understand it of the making reproaches on account of narrow-mindedness (Grotius, Rosenmüller, Ewald), is gratuitously to import the substance of the thought, and does not correspond to the connection (Romans 14:13-14; Romans 14:20-21).

οὐκέτι κατὰ ἀγάπ. περιπατεῖς] i.e. in that case thou hast ceased to bear thyself conformably to love. This is the actual state of things which subsists, when what is expressed in the protasis occurs; the λυπεῖται, namely, is conceived as the fault of the subject addressed. On εἰοὐκέτι, comp. Romans 7:20, Romans 11:6; Galatians 3:18. To take the apodosis interrogatively (Hofmann), is—considering the definite character, quite in keeping with the context, of the λυπεῖται which is occasioned by the offence given—quite unwarranted, and does not suit the words.

The ἀπόλλυε is the possible result of the λυπεῖται: destroy him not, bring him not into destruction, namely, through his being seduced by thy example to disregard his conscience, and to fall out of the moral element of the life of faith into the sinful element of variance with conscience. That we are to explain it of the eternal ἀπώλεια, is clear from ὑπὲρ οὗ χ. ἀπέθνε; for in order to redemption from this Christ offered up His life—therefore thou oughtest not to thrust back into ἀπώλεια thy (so dearly bought) brother through the loveless exercise of thy free principles. Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:11-12. “Ne pluris feceris tuum cibum, quam Christus vitam suam,” Bengel.

Verse 16

Romans 14:16. ΄ὴ βλασφημείσθω] namely (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:12), through your fault.

ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθόν] your good κατʼ ἑξοχήν, i.e. βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, Romans 14:17. So also Ewald and Umbreit. It is the sum of the μέλλοντα ἀγαθά, Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1. How easily it might come to pass that a schism, kept up by means of condemnation and contempt, on account of eating and drinking, might draw down on that jewel of Christians—the object of their whole endeavour, hope, and boast—calumnious judgments at the hands of unbelievers, as if maxims respecting eating and drinking formed that on which the Christian was dependent for attaining the blessing of the kingdom! In opposition to the context in Romans 14:17, following the Fathers (in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 14), de Wette holds that faith is meant; Luther, Calovius, and others, including Philippi: the gospel; Origen, Pelagius, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Bengel, and many others, including Flatt, Borger, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Nielsen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Reithmayr, Maier, Bisping, with irrelevant appeal to 1 Corinthians 10:30 : Christian freedom; van Hengel generally: quod in vobis Romanis bonum est; better Hofmann: that which, as their essential good, gives Christians the advantage over non-Christians,—a view, however, which leaves the precise definition of the notion unsettled. With ὑμῶν, Paul, after having previously addressed a single party in the singular, turns to all; hence we are not, with Fritzsche, to think in ὑμ. of the strong believers only (and in βλασφ. of the weak believers). Note, further, the emphasis of the prefixed ὑμῶν (comp. Philippians 3:20): the possession belonging to you, to you Christians, which you must therefore all the more guard against slander from without.

Verse 17

Romans 14:17. Motive for complying with the μὴ βλασφημ. κ. τ. λ., with reference to the contents of the possible slander.

βασιλ. τ. θεοῦ] is not anywhere (comp. on Matthew 3:2; Matthew 6:10; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:13), and so is not here, anything else than the Messiah’s kingdom, the erection of which begins with the Parousia, belonging not to the αἰὼν οὗτος, but to the αἰὼν μέλλων (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5); not therefore the (invisible) church, the regnum gratiae, or the earthly ethical kingdom of God (Reiche, de Wette, Philippi, Lipsius, following older expositors), res Christiana (Baumgarten-Crusius), and the like. “The Messianic kingdom is not eating and drinking;” i.e., the essential characteristic of this kingdom does not consist in the principle that a man, in order to become a member of it, should eat and drink this or that or everything without distinction, but in the principle that one should be upright, etc. Less accurate, and, although not missing the approximate sense, readily liable to be misunderstood (see Calovius), is the view of the Greek Fathers, Grotius, and many others: the kingdom of God is not obtained through, etc. Comp. on John 17:3.

βρῶσις, eating, i.e. actus edendi, different from βρῶμα, food, Romans 14:15 (comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 159), which distinction Paul always observes (in opposition to Fritzsche); see on Colossians 2:16.

δικαιοσύνη κ. εἰρήνη] can, according to the entire context (comp. esp. Romans 14:15), and specially according to Romans 14:18 ( δουλεύων τῷ χ.) and Romans 14:19 ( τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης), be taken only in the moral sense, and therefore as ethical uprightness and peace (concord) with the brethren; not in the dogmatic sense: righteousness and peace (of reconciliation) with God (Calvin, Calovius, and many others, including Rückert, Tholuck, and Philippi; de Wette blends the two meanings). But that these virtues presuppose faith in Christ as the soil from which they sprang, and as the fundamental principium essendi of the kingdom, is self-evident from the whole connection.

χαρὰ ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγ.] forms one phrase. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:6. It is the holy joyfulness, the morally glad frame of heart which has its causal basis and subsistence in the Holy Spirit, who rules in the Christian; comp. Galatians 5:22, also Philippians 4:4. It is present even in tribulation, 2 Corinthians 6:10, and does not yield to death, Philippians 2:17. The transitive explanation of the joy which the Christian diffuses over others (Grotius, Koppe, Reiche, and others) is supported neither by the simple word nor by N. T. usage elsewhere.

Verse 18

Romans 14:18. Not an explanation, why he has mentioned by name these three particulars, as those in which the kingdom consists (Hofmann), but a confirmation of the contents of Romans 14:17; and how greatly must this confirmation have conduced to the recommendation and support of the precept μὴ βλασφημ. κ. τ. λ. of Romans 14:16 as established by Romans 14:17!

ἐν τούτοις] (see the critical notes) refers to the just mentioned three great moral elements. He who in these (not therefore possibly in βρῶσις and πόσις, and the like unspiritual things) serves Christ, etc. On ἐν with δουλεύειν, denoting its moral life-sphere, comp. Romans 7:6.

εὐάρεστ. τ. θεῷ] “testimonium, quod expresse adfirmat bona opera renatorum placere Deo,” Melanchthon.

δόκιμος τοῖς ἀνθρ.] approved by men; such is the relation according to its moral nature,—a fact not annulled by abnormal manifestations, in which misapprehension, perversion of the moral judgment, and the like are at work. “Paulus hic de sincero judicio loquitur,” Calvin.

Verse 19

Romans 14:19. Exhortation, inferred from the doctrinal proposition, Romans 14:17; not a question (Buttmann).

τὰ τῆς εἰρ.] what belongs to peace, composes the substance of peace, not different in matter of fact from τὴν εἰρήνην. See Bernhardy, p. 325 f.; Kühner, II. 1, p. 230.

τῆς οἰκοδομῆς] figurative designation of perfecting (here active) in the Christian life. Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Corinthians 14:4. According to the context in each case, the individual, as here, or the church, or the whole Christian body, is a building of God (of which Christ is the foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20-21), on which the work of building is to proceed until the Parousia.

εἰς ἀλλήλ.] οἰκοδομεῖτε εἰς τὸν ἕνα, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Verse 20

Romans 14:20. Prohibition of the opposite of τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλήλ.

κατάλυε] pull down. Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:1; Galatians 2:18; Matthew 26:61.

τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ] here, according to the context, the building of God, by which, however, is represented not what is mentioned in Romans 14:17 (the δικαιοσύνη κ. τ. λ., so Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius); nor yet the faith of one’s fellow-Christian (Theodoret, Reiche), or his eternal salvation (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact); nor all blessings vouchsafed through Christ (Köllner, comp. Borger); but, according to Romans 14:15, the Christian as such, in so far as his Christian life, his Christian personality, is God’s work (Romans 8:29-30; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10). Aptly Estius says: “fratrem, quem Deus fecit fidelem.” Accordingly, what was expressed in Romans 14:15 by μὴ ἐκεῖνον ἀπόλλυε, ὑπὲρ οὗ χ. ἀπέθανε, is here expressed by μὴ κατάλυε τὸ ἔργον τ. θεοῦ; but it is differently conceived and presented, in such a way that the brother is thought of there in his relation of redemption to Christ, here in his relation of spiritual origin to God. The importance of the latter conception is rightly pointed out by Calovius: “non levis est culpa, sed horribilis θεομαχία, opus Dei destruere.”

πάντα μὲν καθαρὰ κ. τ. λ.] the same thought as in Romans 14:14, repeated in order to enter further into the μὴ ἕνεκεν βρώματος. “All (all food) indeed is clean (not immoral to enjoy in and by itself), but it is sinful for the man who eats amidst offence,” who nevertheless uses a food, although he experiences moral offence in the using it—so that he thus against his conscience imitates the freer Christian. Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:9-10. This reference of the ethical dative τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ διὰ προσκ. ἐσθ. to the weak in faith (Chrysostom, Luther, Beza, Carpzov, Semler, and others, including Rückert, Köllner, Philippi, Tholuck, Hofmann) is confirmed by the parallel in Romans 14:13-14, and admirably suits the connection, inasmuch as ἀλλὰ κ. τ. λ. unfolds the way and manner in which ἕνεκεν βρώματος destruction may befall the work of God. Hence we must reject the explanation (Pelagius, Grotius, Bengel, and others, including Reiche, de Wette, Nielsen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Fritzsche, Reithmayr, Krehl, Umbreit, van Hengel) of the strong in faith, who acts wrongly in eating under offence given, i.e. although to the offence of the weak. For in that case we should have here no reference at all relevant to the κατάλυσις of the ἔργον τ. θεοῦ, but only the vague remark that it is wrong to eat to the offence of others.

ἀλλὰ] after μέν; see Vigerus, ed. Herm. p. 536; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 403 f.; Baeumlein, p. 170.

κακόν] not hurtful (Rückert), nor yet bad in the sense of what is not good for him (Hofmann), but sinful, the ethical contrast of καθαρά. The subject (it) is to be understood of itself from what precedes, namely τὸ καθαρόν, the pure in itself. Others supply πᾶν (Reiche), τὸ βρῶμα (Grotius), τὸ ἐσθίειν (Rückert), τὸ πάντα φαγεῖν (Fritzsche, Philippi). Hofmann also renders incorrectly, as though it ran, κακὸν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τὸ διὰ προσκόμματος ἐσθίειν.

διά] as in Romans 2:27.

Verse 21

Romans 14:21. Maxim for the strong in faith, which results from the preceding ἀλλὰ κακόν κ. τ. λ.: “It is excellent, morally right and good, to eat no flesh, and to drink no wine, and (generally) to do nothing whereby thy brother takes offence,” etc. Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:13. On μὴ, as joined to the infinitive with the article, see Baeumlein, p. 296. The article belongs only to μὴ φαγ. κρ. With the second μηδέ, the general ποιεῖν is simply to be supplied (Winer, p. 542 [E. T. p. 729]; Buttmann, p. 336), and ἐν also refers back to the eating of flesh and drinking of wine. Rückert and Köllner (following Luther, Grotius, Flatt) are mistaken in holding that καλόν is to be taken comparatively, and that the comparison lies in ἐν κ. τ. λ.; in which case we should have very arbitrarily to assume that the apostle, instead of following it up with an κ. τ. λ. (see on Matthew 18:8), had been led away from the construction. According to Hofmann, we should read μηδὲ ἕν. But this would in fact denote, not, as Hofmann thinks, nor yet anything at all, but neque unum, or ne unum quidem (see on 1 Corinthians 6:5; John 1:3), which would be unsuitable here. Quite unfounded withal is the objection against the reading ἐν , that προσκόπτειν with ἐν is not elsewhere found; for προσκόπτει is to be taken by itself (absolutely), and ἐν means whereby, as ἐν is also to be understood in Sirach 30:13; see Fritzsche on Ecclus. p. 167. On the absolute προσκοπτ. comp. Sirach 34:17; Sirach 13:23, also John 11:9-10.

The following threefold designation of the same thing, namely, of the giving occasion for conduct opposed to conscience (comp. Romans 14:13), is explained by the urgency of the sorrowful thought.

ἀσθενεῖ] not: becomes weak, but, as it always denotes: is weak, i.e. morally powerless to withstand temptation and to follow his moral conviction,—not different in substance from the two preceding figurative designations already employed in Romans 14:13.

Further, that in Romans 14:21 not a merely problematic extension of abstinence is expressed, as those suppose who hold the abstinence on the part of the weak not to refer to all flesh, and to refer to wine either not at all, or only to the wine of libation (see introd. to the chapter, and on Romans 14:2), is evident from Romans 14:2, where abstinence from all flesh is expressed; and hence here, alongside of the μὴ φαγεῖν κρέα, the μηδὲ πιεῖν οἶνον admits of no other conclusion than that the weak in faith drank no wine, but held the use of it likewise (see Romans 14:14) to be defiling.

Verse 22-23

Romans 14:22-23. σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις] may be viewed either concessively (Luther, Beza, and many others, including Scholz, Tischendorf, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Hofmann) or interrogatively (Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and most moderns). Comp. on Romans 13:3. The latter (already in Oecumenius, and probably also Chrysostom) corresponds better to the increasing animation of the discourse. Paul hears, as it were, how the strong in faith opposes him with an ἐγὼ πίστιν ἔχω, and he replies thereto: Thou hast faith? Thou partakest of the confidence of faith grounded on Christ, respecting the allowableness of the eating and drinking (Romans 14:2; Romans 14:21), which is here in question?

Have it for thyself ( ἀρκείτω σου τὸ συνειδός, Chrysostom) before God, so that God is the witness of thy faith, and thou dost not make a parade of it before men to the offence of the weak. “Fundamentum verae prudentiae et dissimulationis,” Bengel.

ἔχε] not: thou mayest have it (Reiche), which deprives the imperative expression of its force.

κατὰ σεαυτόν] for thyself alone; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 414. Comp. Heliodorus, vii. 16 : κατὰ σαυτὸν ἔχε καὶ μηδενὶ φράζε, also the classical αὐτὸς ἔχε, keep it for thyself.

μακάριοςκατακέκριται forms a twofold consideration, which must influence the strong one not to abuse his strong faith to the prejudice of the weaker; namely, (1) he has in truth on his side the high advantage, which is expressed by μακάριοςδοκιμάζει; on the other hand, (2) the danger is great for the weak one, if he through the example of the strong one is tempted to a partaking contrary to his conscience ( δὲ διακρινόμενος κ. τ. λ.). How shouldest thou not content thyself with that privilege, and spare this peril to the weak! On the formal mutual relation of κρίν., διακρίν., and κατακρίν., comp. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, where, however, the definition of the sense is not as here.

μακάριος] for the Messianic blessedness, which has been acquired for him through Christ, does not become lost to him through conscientious doubts in the determining of his action.

κρίνων] not equivalent to κατακρίνων, as, since Chrysostom, most interpreters think; against which the climax κρίνων, διακρινόμενος, κατακέκριται is decisive. It means: he who does not hold judgment upon himself, i.e. he who is so certain of his conviction, that his decision for this or that course is liable to no self-judgment; he does not institute any such judgment, as the anxious and uncertain one does.

ἐν δοκιμάζει] in that which he approves, i.e. “agendum eligit” (Estius). Luther aptly renders: in that which he accepts. Comp. 2 Maccabees 4:3; Dem. 1381. 6; Plato, Legg. p. 579 C Diod. Sic. iv. 7.

Romans 14:23 : But he who wavers ( διακρίν., qui dubius haeret., see on Romans 4:20), as to whether, namely, the eating is really allowed or not, is, if he shall have eaten, condemned, eo ipso (comp. on Romans 13:8; John 3:18) liable to the divine penal judgment, the opposite of μακάριος; comp. ἀπόλλυε, Romans 14:15. The matter is apprehended from the point of view of morally ideal strictness. Actual self-condemnation (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Grotius, and others, including Hofmann) would have required a more precise designation.

ὅτι οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως] sc. ἔφαγε.

πᾶν δὲ κ. τ. λ.] may be still connected with ὅτι: because he ate not from faith, but all, that comes not from faith, is sin. If it is taken independently, however, the sense is more emphatic. In the conclusion, which proves the κατακέκριται, πᾶν δὲἁμαρτ. ἐστίν is the major, and οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως sc. ἔφαγε the minor premiss.

πίστις is here also none other than faith according to its moral quality (“conscientiam informans et confirmans,” Bengel), i.e. faith in Christ, so far as it brings with it the moral confidence as to what in general, and under given circumstances, is the right Christian mode of action. Respecting the conduct of the Christian, Paul lays down the axiom which regulates it generally, and more especially in adiaphora, that all which does not proceed from that confidence of faith as the moral spring of action is sin; to express a moral fundamental law beyond the Christian sphere of life, is foreign to his intention. Hence it was an alien proceeding to draw from the present expression, indirectly or directly,—in disregard of the natural law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15),—the inference that the works and even the virtues of unbelievers were all of them sins (Augustine, c. Julian. iv. 3, et al.; Luther; Form. Conc. p. 700; Calovius, and others). Very correctly Chrysostom: ταῦτα δὲ πάντα περὶ τῆς προκειμένης ὑποθέσεως εἴρηται τῷ παύλῳ, οὐ περὶ πάντων. But against the abuse of this passage, as though it made all accountability dependent only on subjective moral conviction, see Jul. Müller, von d. Sünde, I. p. 285, ed. 5; comp. also Delitzsch, Psychol. I. p. 139.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 14:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

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