ROMANS CHAPTER 14
I) [Ro 14:1]:
(v. 1) "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters."
[KJV: "But him that is weak in faith receive ye, yet not for decision of (his) scruples (for him) " =
[William R. Newell states, 'Romans Verse-by-Verse', Kregel Classics, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1994, pp. 501-502]:
"[The weaker brother in Christ] ...is to be received - but not to decide for him his conscientious scruples. No one's conscience but his own can direct him. He may be taught the Word, however, and God [not fellow believers] will bring him along. He must not be forced..."
Believers do not all have the same spiritual maturity level; nor are they directed to walk with the Lord in the same way. Furthermore, God has not given any believer the right to impose his will or his viewpoint upon a fellow believer - thus invading his private priesthood between that believer and God Himself.
[John A. Witmer states, 'Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, Walvoord & Zuck Eds, Victor Books, USA, 1988, p. 492]:
"Christians are at different levels of spiritual maturity, they also have diverse backgrounds that color their attitudes and practices. The first lesson to learn in living harmoniously with other Christians, therefore is to stop judging others...
The focus in these verses [vv. 1-4] is on 'him whose faith is weak'... Paul commanded believers to 'accept' such a person, 'without passing judgment on disputable matters'... A believer with certain scruples, [i.e., conscience which prohibits certain actions such as dietary, fasting, how to witness to others, etc.] is not to be welcomed into the fellowship with the intent of changing his views or opinions by quarreling with him about them.
One area of differing scruples pertains to food, in particular the eating of meat.... The reason for a believer's scruple is not the point, however; its existence alongside a differing opinion was Paul's concern.
In such a situation neither believer should judge the other. 'Look down on' [v. 3] (exotheneitO... should be translated 'despise' or 'reject with contempt'... The reason a strong Christian (cf. Rom 15:1) should not despise a weak one, and the reason that a weak Christian should not condemn the strong one is that God has accepted both of them [into His family as His born again children, (Jn 1:12-13; Jn 3:1-18)]. As a believer, he is a servant of God and he is accountable to God, his Judge"]
II) [Ro 14:2]:
"One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables."
[Paul gives a practical example of accepting fellow believers no matter what their walk with the Lord relative to diet. If a believer eats a vegetarian diet for the purpose of living a holy life, i. e., avoiding meats, he is considered to be weak in his faith for all foods are acceptable before the Lord to eat. Thus what one eats is not what makes one holy.
[Newman, op. cit., p. 503]:
"The 'vegetarian,' if so by conscience [before God - not by choice of diet] is a 'weak' brother. There even are those today who [falsely] esteem themselves particularly 'strong [in the faith],' in abstaining from eating flesh, although God says:
A) [Compare 1 Tim 4:3-5]:
(v. 3) "They [those who have abandoned the faith, (vv. 1-2)] forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
(v. 4) For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
(v. 5) because it is consecrated by the Word of God and prayer."
III) [Ro 14:3]:
"The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him."
A) [Compare Mk 7:15]:
'''[Jesus said, (v. 14)] ''Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him, Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean' " ''
IV) [Ro 14:4]:
"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."
[John A. Witmer, op. cit., p. 492]:
"Any Christian tempted to judge another believer must face Paul's question, 'Who are you to judge' (lit., 'the one judging') someone else's servant?' [OiketEn = 'domestic servant']...
The present participle, 'the one judging,' suggests that Paul sensed some judging of others was occurring among the Christians at Rome. But such criticizing is wrong because a domestic servant should be evaluated by 'his...Master', not by fellow believers. Therefore, Paul concluded, 'And he will stand' (lit., 'he shall be made to stand'), for the Lord is able to make him stand.' Even if a believer despises the scruples [i.e., conscience] of another Christian, God can defend the second person."
A) [Compare Ro 15:1-6]:
(v. 1) "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves
(v. 2) Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
[And not tear one another down with criticism and personal judgmentalism]
(v. 3) For even Christ did not please Himself but, as it is written: 'The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me.'
(v. 4) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(v. 5) May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
(v. 6) so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
[Everett F. Harrison states, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol 10; Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1976, pp. 144-145]
" 'Eat' is the recurring word that characterizes this section. Diet practices differ and the differences are bound to be observed; they become a topic of conversation and a basis of disagreement. Paul's designation for the overscrupulous believer is 'weak in faith,' meaning that this man's faith is not strong enough to enable him to perceive the full liberty he has in Christ to partake. He is not troubled by questions of doctrine but is plagued by doubt as to whether it is right for him to eat some foods (cf. v. 23). The injunction to those who do not share this weakness is to 'accept him' (v. 1). that this word (proslambanO) is capable of conveying the sense of warm wholeheartedness is shown by its use in Acts 18:26; 28:2. Such acceptance is impossible as long as there is any disposition to pass judgment on disputable matters. 'the weak man should be accepted as the Christian brother he claims to be. One should not judge the thoughts which underlie his conduct. This is for God alone to do' (F. Buchsel in TDNT, 3:950). The weak brother must not be made to feel inferior or unwanted of 'odd.'
The specialized use of 'faith' becomes clearer when Paul gives it a definite context (v. 2). One man, obviously strong in faith, feels he can 'eat everything'... Paul would concur that the believer has this freedom (1 Tim 4:3, 4). Another, weak in his faith, confines his diet to vegetables. No reason is advanced for this self-limitation.... the motive is a personal matter, and for that reason Paul does not make it an issue. He is solely concerned with specific practice and the reaction of the strong to this practice. The omnivorous man is apt to 'look down' on the weak brother, an attitude that is not conducive to full fellowship. The weak brother may retaliate by condemning the one who has no inhibitions about his food. If so, the latter needs to reflect on the fact that god has accepted (same word as in v. 1) this man (v. 3). and why should he himself not do so?
To enforce the rebuke, Paul cites the relationship of a servant to his master (v. 4). In ordinary life, it would be unseemly for anyone to attempt to interfere in a case involving the servant's actions. One might go so far as to inform the master of what the servant was doing, but even that could be regarded as an unjustified intrusion. Perhaps the analogy might be pushed to this extent: though reporting to the master might be inappropriate, one might conceivably pray to the Master in heaven about the conduct of the strong brother, asking the Master to deal with the case, while refraining from criticism directed at the brother himself. But the closing statement discourages such a line of thought. Paul affirms that the strong does not necessarily stand on slippery ground when enjoying his freedom in Christ. This assurance is grounded not so much on the discretion of the strong as on the power of Christ to sustain him."
So believers are commanded to respect the walk, i.e., the private priesthood of fellow believers. They are to keep a distance from and neither judge nor condemn fellow believers' walk with the Lord in all areas of their lives for all believers are servants of God Whom will be their judge]:
V) [Ro 14:5-8]:
(v. 5) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
(v. 6) He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
(v. 7) For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
(v. 8) If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."
A) [Compare Col 2:9-22]:
(v. 9) "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
(v. 10) and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
(v. 11) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,
(v. 12) having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
(v. 13) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
(v. 14) having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
(v. 15) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
(v. 16) Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
(v. 17) These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
(v. 18) Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.
(v. 19) He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
(v. 20) Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:
(v. 21) 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'?
(v. 22) These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
(v. 23) Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."
[Witmer, op. cit., pp. 492-493]:
"A second area of differing opinions was the significance of special days. 'One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike' (cf. Col 2:16). Which position a person held meant nothing to the apostle. His concern was that 'each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.' (cf Rom 14:14, 22), examining his heart to be sure he is doing what he feels the Lord would have him do. And he should hold his opinion 'to the Lord.' This is true for any issue where an honest difference of opinion among Christians exists, whether in keeping or not keeping, 'special' days or eating or abstaining from 'meat,' or in other matters not prohibited by Scripture. All belongs 'to the Lord' and is sanctioned by Him (1 Cor 10:25-27; 1 Tim 4:3-5). A believer's individual accountability to the Lord in every area and experience of life is paramount. Each Christian in both life and death is seen by the Lord, and is accountable to Him, not to other Christians, 'So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.' "
[Harrison, op. cit., pp. 145-146]:
"Here the recurring phrase is 'to the Lord,' indicating that whether one be thought of as 'weak' or 'strong,' the important thing is that he conduct his life in the consciousness of God's presence, because God's approval is more significant than the approval or disapproval of fellow Christians.... More important still is the certitude of the individual involved that his motivation is his desire to honor the Lord in what he is doing. It is possible for the observant and the nonobservant to do this, as illustrated by the giving of thanks at mealtime (cf. 1 Tim 4:5). The one partaking can give thanks for the meat before him, while the one abstaining from meat can give God thanks for his vegetables. The latter should be able to do this without resentment toward his brother who enjoys richer fare."
VI) [Ro 14:9-12]:
(v. 9) For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
(v. 10) You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.
(v. 11) It is written:
'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God' [Isa 49:18; 45:23]
(v. 12) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
[Witmer, op. cit., pp. 492-493]:
"In these verses Paul stated the theological basis for his exhortation for Christians to desist from and to resist judging one another. One of the reasons for the Lord Jesus' redemptive death and resurrection is to be 'the Lord of both the dead and the living.' Since Jesus is the Lord, Christians should not 'judge (krineis) or .............. look down on' (exouthenisa = 'despise' or 'reject with contempt'; cf. v. 3) one another, their brothers, in such matters. One Christian is not above another as his judge; all are equally under Christ, the Judge.
As Lord, Jesus will one day review and evaluate the ministry of His servants at His 'judgment seat' (bema)"  ...
VII) [Ro 14:13-14]:
(v. 13) Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
(v. 14) As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."
[Notice that lifestyle decisions are a private matter of the believer/priest between himself and God; and they are to be respected by fellow believers, neither judged nor condemned, whether biblical or unbiblical.
[Witmer, op. cit., p. 493-4]:
"Paul's warning against judging relates to Christians' attitudes and actions toward the convictions of other believers (vv. 1-12). The other side of the coin is evaluating the impact of one's own convictions and actions on other Christians. In this section [vv. 13-23] Paul warned against causing other Christians to stumble (hindering their spiritual growth) by asserting that one is free to live in accord with convictions not shared by other believers.
Paul's opening sentence is both the final charge on the previous subject and the introduction to the new one: 'Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another'. 'Instead' a Christian should judge himself and his actions so that he does not place a 'stumbling block or obstacle in' his 'brother's way'.
Returning to the subject of food (14:2-3, 6), Paul expressed his own conviction (cf. v. 5) as a Christian 'that no food (lit., 'nothing') is unclean (koinon, 'common') in itself' (cf. Acts 10:15; Rom 14:20; 1 Cor 8:8). The problem, however, is that not all Christians - especially some from a Jewish heritage - shared Paul's conviction. Therefore Paul properly concluded, 'But if anyone regards (lit., 'but to the one reckoning') something as unclean ('common'), then for him it is unclean' (cf. Titus 1:15)."
[Everett, op. cit., pp. 147-149]:
"The opening statement [in verse 13] gives the gist of what of what has been already said. Both parties have been guilty of passing judgment on one another. Then by a neat use of language, Paul employs the same verb 'judge' (krinO) in a somewhat different sense ('make up your mind'). He is calling for a determination to adopt a course of action that will not hurt another brother, a decision once for all to avoid whatever might impede his progress in the faith or cause him to fall. Though Paul does not single out the strong brother, it appears that he must have him in mind in this admonition against putting a stumbling block in a brother's way. A stumbling block (proskomma) is literally something against which one may strike his foot, causing him to stumble or even fall. The second term (scandalon, rendered 'obstacle' here) presents a different picture, that of a trap designed to ensnare a victim. It is used of something that constitutes a temptation to sin. Jesus applied this word to Peter when that disciple sought to deter him from going to the cross (Matt 16:23). In v. 13 it could be taken as a stern warning against deliverately enticing a brother to do what for him would be sinful (cf. v. 23). Even if such an act were motivated by the desire to get the brother out of the 'weak' caegory, it would still be wrong....
We find it in Mark 7:15-23, where the Master declares that one is not rendered unclean by what goes into him but rather by what comes ouf of him, from his inner life. Mark adds the comment that in this pronouncement Jesus declared all foods 'clean.' But not everyone has been enlightened on this issue, and if one is convinced in his heart that some foods are unclean (e.g., in terms of the Levitical food laws), for him such foods remain unclean. Until he is convinced otherwise, it would violate his conscience to partake of them. Even the apostle Peter, who had been with Jesus and had heard His teaching, was in bondage on this point until some time after Pentecost (Acts 10:9-15)."
[Furthermore, if the strong brother deliberately exercises personal beliefs instead of conforming to the weaker brother's scruples and in full view of the weaker brother, he is not acting in Christian love and concern for his fellow believer and runs the risk of causing him to stumble. The weaker brother may be so distressed at his brother's callousness or the weaker brother may even violate his personal convictions before the Lord or any number of negative results causing sin and broken fellowship within the body of Christ unnecessarily]
And if someone persisted in imposing their convictions on others, he could bring harm to others]:
VIII) [Ro 14:15-18]:
(v. 15) If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
(v. 16) Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
[Everett, op. cit. pp. 148-149]:
" 'Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.' (v. 16. = The good is naturally understood as the liberty to eat, since all foods are regarded as clean. This liberty, however, is resented because it has been flaunted in the face of the weak, can be regarded as a evil thing on account of its unloving misuse."
(v. 17) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
(v. 18) because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men."
[Witmer, op. cit., p. 493]:
"How should a Christian whose convictions allow him to eat everything respond to one with scruples against certain foods? In Christian love he ought to forgo his liberty in Christ to avoid being a spiritual hindrance to his spiritual 'brother'. If he persists in exercising his liberty so that his brother 'is distressed, Paul concluded, then the Christian exercising his liberty is 'no longer acting (lit. 'walking') in love.' Such persistence could cause the spiritual destruction of a 'brother for whom Christ died.' "
This is not to say that believers may not practice their priesthood according to their own convictions in private - out of the observing range of fellow believers who might have a problem with their actions. Nor is a believer to violate clear prohibitions in Scripture for anyone's sake. The issue is relative to 'disputable matters' as it says in v.1 and not matters which are clearly stipulated in Scripture as prohibitions.
IX) [Ro 14:19-21]:
(v. 19) Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
(v. 20) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.
(v. 21) It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall."
[Witmer, op. cit., p. 4094]:
"Continuing his emphasis on not hindering another Christian's spiritual life, Paul urged his readers, 'Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.' To Paul [using the example of] food and one's personal convictions about it were not so important as the spiritual health of a fellow Christian and the work of God. Therefore it is wrong to insist on one's personal freedom in Christ concerning food ('all food is clean'' cf. Ro 14:14... and drink if it causes someone else to stumble.'... Meat or drink or anything else should be put aside if it causes a brother to fall... At times one's Christian liberty must be relinquished for the sake of others."
A) [Compare 1 Cor 10:23-33]:
(v. 23) " 'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible' - but not everything is constructive.
(v. 24) Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
(v. 25) Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,
(v. 26) for, 'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.
(v. 27) If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
(v. 28) But if anyone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake -
(v. 29) the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?
(v. 30) If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
(v. 31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(v. 32) Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God -
(v. 33) even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
[Everett, op. cit., p. 149]:
"The entire church is urged to pursue peace... which alone can provide the atmosphere in which 'mutual edification' can take place.... The 'better' course is to do without meat under the circumstances and to refrain from drinking wine if partaking would be a stumbling block to anyone. Paul extends the principle to include anything that might have this effect [provided scripture is not violated, i.e., 'disputable matters' are in view within which believers have flexibility]"
X) [Ro 14:22-15:7]:
(v. 22) So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.
[Notice that the believer's private priesthood is to be maintained between God and the believer - it is not to be invaded nor made to influence another believer's walk with God]:
Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
(v. 23) But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
(v. 15:1) We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
(v. 15:2) Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
(v. 15:3) For even Christ did not please Himself but, as it is written:
'The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me.'
(v. 15:4) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope
(v. 15:5) May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
(v. 15:6) so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(v. 15:7) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
[Witmer, op. cit., p. 494]:
"Concerning personal convictions in areas where different views exist, Paul concluded, 'So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.' A Christian must not insist on influencing a believer with tighter scruples to change his ways. It should be something 'in his own mind' (v. 5), for he lives 'to the Lord' (v. 8). Paul considered a Christian like himself who had a clear conscience on such matters blessed. On the other hand, a Christian 'who has doubts is condemned if he eats.' If a Christian eats food or does anything when he has doubts in his own mind as to whether it is right or wrong before God (one who is 'weak' in faith, vv. 1-2), his action does not spring from his faith or trust in God and is therefore wrong. As Paul generalized, 'Everything that does not come from faith is sin.' The principle is, 'When in doubt, don't.' The 'strong' Christian (15:1) is wrong if he causes a weak brother to sin (by doing something while doubting, 14:20), and a weak brother (vv. 1-2) who goes against what he doubts also sins (v. 23)."