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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Romans 14

 

 

Other Authors
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. 12f. 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, Philippians 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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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 14:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-14.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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