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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Romans 14

 

 

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Verse 1

Accept among you. Take into your circle of fellowship. Who is weak in the faith. The messianic community contains those who are "spiritual babies" as well as "spiritual adults." It takes time to get over the doubts and scruples of the past. Compare notes on Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-12. But do not argue with him. "Accept the spiritual baby in kindness and hospitality and let him share in the life of the church. But don't argue about his personal opinions and don't give him a place of authority until he has matured (Hebrews 5:12)." Arguing personal opinions does not create love nor build the church. Compare 1 Timothy 6:3-5.


Verse 2

To eat anything. Food was a "live issue" at Rome. One man understands he is free in Christ, and ignores all dietary restrictions (except those of Acts 15:20). See what Paul says in Colossians 2:16. Eats only vegetables. This man was "weak in the faith," and ate no meat because of religious scruples.


Verse 3

Is not to despise. The one who is fully aware of his freedom in Christ is not to feel contempt for the ignorance and immaturity of his brother in Christ. Is not to pass judgment. The man whose religious opinions force him to be a vegetarian is not to accuse his more mature brother of sinning because he eats everything.


Verse 4

Who are you? "You are not his master, and you have no authority over him." And he will succeed. While very aware of the dangers, Paul still sees Christian freedom as a moral victory. [The Pharisees are an example which shows it is very easy to be too conservative and reactionary.]


Verse 5

That a certain day. Both Jews and Gentiles found it difficult to give up traditions and superstitions. Compare Acts 21:20; Colossians 2:16; Galatians 4:10. [We honor Sunday as the Lord's Day, because He raised from death on that day. Yet Sunday is not the "Christian Sabbath." Christians have no Sabbath Day on this earth. It comes in Eternity (Psalm 23:6; Hebrews 4:8-10).] Should have his own mind. Each one should act as he thinks right. Compare Romans 14:23. If he wants to honor a certain day, let him do as his conscience requires. There is no intrinsic value to the day itself, only the honor which the Christian gives it.


Verse 6

Whoever. In each case, the Christian is doing or not doing because of his love and respect for God. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 8:8.


Verse 7

For himself only. Christians belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Whether in life or in death, we are his. [Some also see in this the thought that what we do affects others.]


Verse 8

We belong to the Lord. The totality of our earthly existence, our life and even our death, is a service for our God. See notes on Romans 12:1.


Verse 9

In order to be the Lord. This points back to God's act in Christ to set men free. In dying and rising to life, Christ became Lord of all (Philippians 2:8-11). Christians are sealed by Christ's death and share his new life (Romans 6:4).


Verse 10

You, then. Christ is the one Lord and Judge. What right do you have to pass judgment on your brother? Why do you despise? The hypercritical pharasaic attitude is always sin. All of us will stand. When we judge our brother, we put ourself in God's place. But we are not Judges, and all of us will stand before the Judge of all. As we remember this fact, we will avoid passing judgment on our brother and despising him. Compare Matthew 7:1-2 and notes.


Verse 11

For the scripture says. A paraphrase of Isaiah 45:23. Paul adds "As I live" to Isaiah's text to give it strong emphasis. The teachers of the Law said this spoke of Messiah's Kingdom. Compare Acts 15:16-18. But here Paul applies it to the "end of the world."


Verse 12

Will have to give an account. "This is the reason you should not judge each other." Only God has the authority to call us to account for our lives.


Verse 13

So then. If a Christian does what God tells him to do, he will have no time to do wrong. We must not waste time arguing personal opinions! Not to do anything. We are not to abuse our freedom in such a way that we destroy a weak brother. A Christian is responsible for the influence of his conduct. Paul seems to have in mind, the special case of eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols (which was sold at reduced prices).


Verse 14

Nothing is unclean of itself. The religious laws about food had been repealed. As a Christian, Paul has no scruples about food or drink or days. But it becomes unclean for him. Because his conscience is untrained, he has scruples, but he must be respected. Compare Romans 14:23.


Verse 15

If you hurt your brother. "Your freedom of action is not worth the price of hurting your brother in Christ. Love doesn't act this way!" Ruin is a strong word. Christian freedom must not be used in such a way that it might destroy the work of the gospel. [This is dealing with matters of opinion. In matters of faith, other factors must be considered.]


Verse 16

Do not let. "Do not let your freedom in Christ become so repulsive to your weak brother that it seems to be blasphemy to him." Compare 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 1 Corinthians 10:28-33.


Verse 17

For God's Kingdom. Eating and drinking are trivial matters, when compared with the great themes of righteousness, peace, and joy! That the holy Spirit gives. Compare Galatians 5:22-23; John 7:38-39.


Verse 18

And whoever serves Christ. No one can serve Christ if he cares nothing for the righteousness, peace, and joy that the Holy Spirit gives! An unselfish attitude pleases both God and man!


Verse 19

We must always aim. "In those matters that are morally indifferent [that make no difference, one way or the other ] I must ask how my action or lack of action will affect the peace and growth of the church."


Verse 20

Do not. In some cases it is right for one man to restrict his action on the basis of another man's conscience. All foods may be eaten, even those which have been sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 10:27-29). But it is wrong. It is a sin to cause someone to violate their conscience over trivial matters.


Verse 21

The right thing to do. Paul would not have written this chapter at all, if there had not been problems in the church at Rome over the use of meats and wine. Some had serious scruples about this, based on tradition and superstition. The strong brother must respect the conscience of the weak brother in such trivial matters of opinion. But the weak brother also has the duty to grow (Hebrews 5:11-14).


Verse 22

Keep what you believe. Freedom must be balanced by a sense of responsibility. We may hold many opinions, but we may not force them on others. Happy is the man. "Happy is the man with a clear conscience, who does not allow himself to do those things which he secretly believes to be wrong."


Verse 23

But if he has doubts. The last half of Romans 14:22 begins this thought. The man who does allow himself to do those things which he secretly believes to be wrong, sins, and God condemns him. Not based on faith is sin. The context shows that Paul is saying that whenever a Christian does things he believes to be wrong (even though they are not contrary to God's law), they are sin for him. See Romans 14:14. However, thinking a thing to be right does not make it right. Our faith must be based on God's Word!!! See Hebrews 5:14.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 14:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-14.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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