Romans 14 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Romans 14)
14:1 Him 1 that is weak in the faith a receive ye, [but] not to b doubtful disputations.

(1) Now he shows how we ought to behave ourselves toward our brethren in matters and things indifferent, who offend in the use of them not from malice or damnable superstition, but for lack of knowledge of the benefit of Christ. And thus he teaches that they are to be instructed gently and patiently, and so that we apply ourselves to their ignorance in such matters according to the rule of charity.
(a) Do not for a matter or thing which is indifferent, and such a thing as you may do or not do, shun his company, but take him to you.
(b) To make him by your doubtful and uncertain disputations go away in more doubt than he came, or return back with a troubled conscience.

14:2 2 For one c believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

(2) He propounds for an example the difference of meats, which some thought was necessarily to be observed as a thing prescribed by the law (not knowing that it was taken away) whereas on the other hand those who had profited in the knowledge of the gospel knew well that this position of the law as the schoolmaster was abolished.
(c) Knows by faith.

14:3 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for 4 God hath received him.

(3) In such a matter, says the apostle, let neither those who know their liberty proudly despise their weak brother, neither let the unlearned wickedly or perversely condemn that which they do not understand. (4) The first reason: because both he that eats and he that does not eat is nonetheless the member of Christ, neither he who does not eat can justly be condemned, neither he who eats be justly condemned: now the first proposition is declared in the sixth verse which follows (Romans 14:6).

14:4 5 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

(5) Another reason which depends upon the former: why the novice and more unlearned ought not to be condemned by the more experienced, as men without hope of salvation: because, says the apostle, he that is ignorant today, may be endued tomorrow with further knowledge, so that he may also stand sure: therefore it belongs to God, and not to man, to pronounce the sentence of condemnation.

14:5 6 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. 7 Let d every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

(6) Another example of the difference of days according to the law. (7) He sets against this contempt, and hasty or rash judgments, a continual desire to profit, that the strong may be certainly persuaded of their liberty, of what manner and sort it is, and how they ought to use it: and again the weak may profit daily, in order that they do not abuse the gift of God, or please themselves in their infirmity.
(d) That he may say in his conscience that he knows and is persuaded by Jesus Christ, that nothing is unclean of itself: and this persuasion must be grounded upon the word of God.

14:6 8 He that e regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the f Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that g eateth, eateth to the Lord, 9 for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth h not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

(8) A reason taken from the nature of indifferent things, which a man may do with good conscience, and omit: for seeing that the difference of days and meats was appointed by God, how could those who as yet did not understand the abrogation of the law, and yet otherwise acknowledge Christ as their Saviour, with good conscience neglect that which they knew was commanded by God? And on the other hand, those who knew the benefit of Christ in this behalf, did with good conscience neither observe days nor meats: therefore, says the apostle in verse ten, "Let not the strong condemn the weak for these things, seeing that the weak brethren are brethren nonetheless." (Romans 14:10) Now if any man would apply this doctrine to our times and ages, let him know that the apostle speaks of indifferent things, and that those who thought them not to be indifferent, had a basis in the law, and were deceived by simple ignorance, and not from malice (for to such the apostle does not yield, no not for a moment) nor superstition, but by a religious fear of God.
(e) Precisely observes.
(f) God will judge whether he does well or not: and therefore you should rather strive about this, how every one of you will be considered by God, than to think upon other men's doings.
(g) He that makes no difference between meats. (9) So the apostle shows that he speaks of the faithful, both strong and weak: but what if we have to deal with the unfaithful? Then we must take heed of two things, as also is declared in the epistle to the Corinthians. The first is that we do not consider their superstition as something indifferent, as they did who sat down to eat meat in idol's temples: the second is that then also when the matter is indifferent (as to buy a thing offered to idols, in the butcher's store, and to eat it at home or at a private meal) we do not wound the conscience of our weak brother.
(h) He that does not touch meats which he considers to be unclean by the law.

14:7 10 For none of us liveth to i himself, and no man dieth to himself.

(10) We must not rest, he says, in the meat itself, but in the use of the meat, so that he is justly to be reprehended that lives in such a way that he does not cast his eyes upon God, for both our life and our death is dedicated to him, and for this cause Christ has properly died, and not simply that we might eat this meat or that.
(i) Has respect to himself only, which the Hebrews say in this manner, "Do well to his own soul."

14:10 11 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

(11) The conclusion: we must leave to God his right, and therefore in matters which are either good or evil according to the conscience of the individual, the strong must not despise their weak brethren, much less condemn them. But this consequent cannot be taken of equal force in the contrary, that is, that the weak should not judge the strong, because the weak do not know that those who do not observe a day and eat, observe it not to the Lord, and eat to the Lord, as the strong men know that the weak who observe a day and do not eat, observe the day to the Lord, and eat not to the Lord.

14:11 For it is written, [As] I k live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall l confess to God.

(k) This is a form of an oath, proper to God alone, for he and none but he lives, and has his being of himself.
(l) Will acknowledge be to be from God.

14:13 12 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge m this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way.

(12) After he has concluded what is not to be done, he shows what is to be done: that is, we must take heed that we do not utterly abuse our liberty and cast down our brother who is not yet strong.
(m) He rebukes along the way these malicious judgers of others who occupy their heads about nothing, but to find fault with their brethren's life, whereas they should rather focus their minds upon this, that they do not with disdainfulness either cast their brethren completely down, or give them any offence.

14:14 13 I know, and am persuaded by the n Lord Jesus, that [there is] nothing unclean of o itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him [it is] unclean.

(13) The preventing of an objection: it is true that the right of the law to be schoolmaster is taken away by the benefit of Christ, to those who know it, but yet nonetheless we have to consider in the use of this liberty what is expedient, that we may have regard to our weak brother, seeing that our liberty is not lost in doing this.
(n) By the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, or by the Lord Jesus, who broke down the wall at his coming.
(o) By nature.

14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. 14 Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom 15 Christ died.

(14) It is the part of a cruel mind to make more account of meat than of our brother's salvation. Which thing those do who eat with the intent of giving offence to any brother, and so give him occasion to turn back from the Gospel.
(15) Another argument: we must follow Christ's example: and Christ was so far from destroying the weak with meat that he gave his life for them.

14:16 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

(16) Another argument: because by this means evil is spoken of the liberty of the gospel, as though it opens the way to attempt anything whatever, and gives us boldness to do all things.

14:17 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

(17) A general reason, and the foundation of the entire argument: the kingdom of heaven consists not in these outward things, but in the study of righteousness, and peace, and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

14:18 For he that in p these things serveth Christ [is] acceptable to God, and approved of men.

(p) He that lives peaceably, and does righteously, through the Holy Spirit.

14:19 18 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

(18) A general conclusion: the use of this liberty, indeed, and our whole life, ought to be concerned with the edifying of one another, insomuch that we consider that thing unlawful, by reason of the offence of our brother, which is of itself pure and lawful.

14:22 19 Hast thou q faith? have [it] to thyself before God. Happy [is] he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he r alloweth.

(19) He gives a double warning in these matters: one, which pertains to the strong, that he who has obtained a sure knowledge of this liberty, keep that treasure to the end that he may use it wisely and profitably, as has been said: the second, which respects the weak, that they do nothing rashly by other men's example with a wavering conscience, for it cannot be done without sin if we are not persuaded by the word of God that he likes and approves it.
(q) He showed before in (Romans 14:14) what he means by faith, that is, for a man to be certain and without doubt in matters and things indifferent.
(r) Embraces.

14:23 And he that s doubteth is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin.

(s) Reasons with himself.