14:1 Now receive one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes
14:2 One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats
14:3 Don't let him who eats despise him who doesn't eat.
Don't let him who doesn't eat judge him who eats, for God has
14:4 Who are you who judge another's servant? To his own lord he
Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him
14:5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems
Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.
14:6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;
and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not
He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks.
He who doesn't eat, to the Lord he doesn't eat, and gives God
14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to
14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to
If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord's.
14:9 For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother?
Or you again, why do you despise your brother?
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
14:11 For it is written,
"'As I live,' says the Lord, 'to me every knee
bow. Every tongue will confess to God.'" (Is 45:23)
14:12 So then each one of us will give account of himself to God.
14:13 Therefore let's not judge one another any more
Tolerate the Convictions of Others in Disputable Matters
but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his
way, or an occasion for falling.
14:14 I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is
except that to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it
14:15 Yet if because of food your brother is grieved, you walk no
Don't destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
14:16 Then don't let your good be slandered,
14:17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
14:18 For he who serves Christ in these things
is acceptable to God and approved by men.
14:19 So then, let us follow after things which make for peace,
and things by which we may build one another up.
14:20 Don't overthrow God's work for food's sake.
All things indeed are clean, however it is evil for that man who
a stumbling block by eating.
14:21 It is good to not eat meat, drink wine,
nor do anything by which your brother stumbles, is offended, or is
14:22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.
Happy is he who doesn't judge himself in that which he approves.
14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because it isn't
and whatever is not of faith is sin.
What determines whether a matter is disputable?
Consider a disputable matter that you know some struggle over. In
ways is it similar to the situation Paul was dealing with
to eat meat or not?
What about going to church on Sunday?
Or considering Sunday a "Holy day"? Is that disputable?
Paul says that we should keep disputable matters between
God, but what if others demand that we live contrary to our
How can we "not allow what we consider good to be spoken of as
if we are silent?
How might this discourage us from meddling in other people's
Should we try to "enlighten" people who seem to us held captive to
own convictions concerning disputable matters?
What if they or you are not "fully convinced in your own mind"
a disputable matter?
Is it sinful if we act contrary to our conscience, even if that
is not contrary to someone else's conscience? If we always do what
is right, does that mean that it always is right? How is this
Tolerate the Scruples of Others
Rom 14:1-3Accept him whose faith is weak,
passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him
eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only
vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him
does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn
man who does, for God has accepted him.
By "weak faith" he is not talking about saving faith, but rather
matters of scruples. The pagans would sacrifice animals to their
and sell the meat on the open market. Some Christians were so
at the idea of unintentionally eating meats sacrificed to idols that
gave up eating meat altogether. Other Christians viewed themselves
having freedom to eat such meats, for
Paul elaborates on this issue in 1Cor 8 saying, "Some people are still so accustomed to
idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been
sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is
defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse
do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the
exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the
For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this
eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has
sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died,
destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in
way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ."1Cor 8:7-12
However notice the conflicted between these two passages. For in
he advises the Christians to conform to those of the weakest
in the matter, while here in Rom 14 he is not advising a certain
behavior but rather an attitude, namely that whether weak or strong
should not judge other Christians in matters of which the Lord has
given us freedom. Furthermore in applying the 1Cor 8 passage, how
you know if you're offending a weaker brother if the weaker brother
not allowed to speak of his scruples in the matter? Consequently I
would not categories a person sharing his convictions in such
as the same as judging those who don't hold his convictions.
Perhaps some of these paradoxical verses may be resolved in 1Cor 10
where Paul speaks of keeping one's scruples a private matter if one
has knowledge that one's behavior is offensive to others in such
matters as the Lord has allowed freedom, so as to not intentionally
offend the conscience of another. That being the case, a degree of
privacy is necessary in the Christian life for the sake of unity of
Rom 14:4-6 Who are you to judge someone else’s
servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand,
the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more
sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each
should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day
special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord,
he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord
gives thanks to God.
Just as with regards to food, it's a matter of personal preference
regarding one day as more holy than another. If one regards all days
alike, that's fine as well. The obvious implication is that the
law does not apply to Christians. In fact few Christians view the
Sabbath as holy, being the seventh day of the week, namely Friday
evening till Saturday evening according to the Law and the gospels,
even though many Christian in fact rest on the Sabbath, ceasing from
their labors. In its place most Christians view the first day of the
week, which is the Lord's day, as holy in commemoration of the
resurrection from the dead on the morning of the first day of the
and so have agreed to assemble together on that day. Let not the one
who reckons Saturday holy judge him who reckons Sunday holy. And let
neither judge him who regards all days equally.
And "do not let anyone judge
by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival,
Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the
that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."Col 2:16,17 Much as those
themselves institutionally elite, as did the chief priests,
and elders who had Christ crucified, tend to obsess over
matters of ceremony, for such is the only way they can parade their
personal significance, yet debates over such issues are not much
than a matter of shadow boxing. In fact it was over ceremonial
which upset Paul so much in his letter to the Galatians, even to the
extent of having to rebuke the apostle Peter, who himself the Lord
tried to instruct on the insignificance of ceremony in Acts chapter
Rom 14:7-9For none of us lives to himself
and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the
and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we
belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned
life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
To become a Christian a person pledges allegiance to Jesus as Lord.
(Rom 10:9) And not in vain.
said, "Why do you call me,
Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46 For "he died for all, that those who
should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them
was raised again."2Cor
The Christian therefore takes on an attitude of servitude, being
subordinate to his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who defines his
purpose in life. The flip side of this is that we are the Lord's
possessions and as such await glory in serving Him, having a much
significant role than others in the world, and can have a profound
impact in the securing the eternal destiny of the lost through the
ministry of the gospel the Lord has imparted to us, being also
along these lines as the Holy Spirit has granted according to His
Paul writes, "I eagerly expect
and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have
courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death." Php
1:20 Our fruitfulness is not a function of circumstances,
rather a function of abiding in Christ.
Rom 14:10-12 You, then, why do you judge your
brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all
before God’s judgment seat. It is written: "’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to
God.’" (Is 45:23)So then, each
of us will give an
account of himself to God.
In 1Cor 5 Paul commands
judge fellow Christians, "I am
writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls
brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a
a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What
business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you
to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the
man from among you.'" 1Cor
5:11-13 But when he speaks of judging one's brother here in
Romans 14 he is not talking about the indisputable issues as he as
talking about in 1Cor 5, things like sexually immorality, greed,
slander, and drunkenness. But rather here in Romans 14 he's
to disputable matters - ceremonial matters, "holy days", what you
and the like.
More generally what is implied here is that the Lord has called us
diversity of ministries the particulars of which are often a matter
personal preference in accordance with the freedom and giftedness
Lord has granted each one of us. In contrast are many an immature
Christian who judges other Christians on the basis that these others
aren't doing the same ministry as they are, or aren't doing it in
same way as they do it.
Whatever our giftedness or ministry calling "we make it our goal to please him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must
appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may
what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether
bad." 2Cor 5:9,10
Rom 14:13,14Therefore let us stop passing
on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any
block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord
Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But
anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.
Again he's referring to judging with regards to disputable matters.
Matters of which we have freedom in the Lord. But as he said in 1Cor
concerning disputable matters,
"Everything is permissible— but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible— but not everything is constructive.
should seek his own good, but the good of others."1Cor 10:23,24 While there are
options in the Christian life, we need to avoid cause others from
stumbling over issues of which we ourselves may have a clear
"Food does not bring us near to
God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be
careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not
stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience
you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he
emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak
brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.
sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak
you sin against Christ."1Cor
However one of the difficulties is when one's convictions concerning
ceremonial matters becomes a matter of legalism, as was the case
the cult of the circumcision, which Paul had to deal with. And what
Peter who was reluctant to obey the Lord's command to kill and eat
animals which were unlawful under the Law of Moses and said to the
Lord, "Surely not, Lord!
have never eaten anything impure or unclean." Acts 10:14 What of his
Seems that matter of conscience themselves take second place the
of the ministry. Yet even in this case it seems the Lord led Peter
from ministry to the Gentiles and gave it to the apostle Paul
as Peter also agreed. Beware, scruples can limit your usefulness.
Not a Matter of Ceremony
Rom 14:15-18 If your brother is distressed
of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your
eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow
consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is
matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy
the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is
pleasing to God and approved by men.
By "destroy" he's speaking hyperbolically. More literally what
Paul describes in 1Cor 8. "When
sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak
conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat
brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I
not cause him to fall."
8:9-13 Consider how your lifestyle may provoke other
This is not talking about a brother being distressed because he
you'll lose your salvation over some ceremonial matter. Paul had no
sympathy for the legalists who demanded that righteousness was a
matter of eating, drinking, observing holy days and the like. But
rather there are those who reckon some things sin for themselves, of
which the Lord has not said to be sinful of itself. Yet again this
challenging with respect to the Lord's command to Peter to "kill and
eat" that which Peter reckoned unclean. To what degree should we
conform to the scruples of those with the most sensitive conscience
when should we put our foot down and tell them to get over scruples
which are merely a matter of eating and drinking.
If the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, then
should one be concerned about what one eats or drinks? To the
Paul writes, "Formerly, when
did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not
But now that you know God— or rather are known by God— how is it
you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do
wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing
days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that
have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become
me, for I became like you."Gal
4:8-12a So here Paul is instructing them to give up their
obsession over ceremonial matter and conform to his attitude with
regards to such things, and likewise with regards to the Colossians
I mentioned previously (Col 2:16-17)
So while we need to be polite to those with scruples different than
ours, be aware that the type of legalism Paul spoke of in Galatians
Colossians may also be disguised as scruples. And much as there are
some ceremonies associated with the Kingdom of God, namely water
baptism and communion, yet again the ceremonies themselves are not
essential to the Kingdom of God, but are merely shadows. Sacramental
theology as found in Catholicism and various Protestant sects makes
Kingdom of God a matter of ceremony and as such is much like the
version of the legalistic heresies which Paul had to deal with. Ask
yourself whether your particular religious affiliation makes the
Kingdom of God out to be a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in
the Holy Spirit, or a matter of ceremony.
Rom 14:19Let us therefore make every effort
do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Paul writes, "Make every
to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph 4:3 and goes on to speak of
spiritual gifts which EVERYONE INDIVIDUALLY needs to exercise to the
mutual benefit of the Christian community. "Speaking the truth in love, we will in
all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From
the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting
grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Eph 4:15,16 So the effort to be
by each is the exercise of their spiritual gifts in cooperation with
the body as a whole. And "try
excel in gifts that build up the church."1Cor 14:12
Likewise with regards to those outside the Church, "Make every effort to live in
with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the
Lord."Heb 12:14 Live in peace
compromising your holiness. "If
is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all
But the main application from this chapter is to not unnecessarily offend
Rom 14:20-23Do not destroy the work of God for
sake of food. All food
is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes
else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to
else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe
about these things keep between
yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn
what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he
his eating is not from faith; and everything that
not come from
faith is sin.
"keep between yourself and God." In
this, Paul discourages meddling and encourages a certain amount of
in a believer's devotion to God. Spiritual leaders should not be
Whatever we do, God wants us to do it confidently, free from doubts.
Our faith should be a confident faith. "We have come to share in Christ if we
hold firmly till
the end the confidence we had at first."Heb 3:14 We should be confident
prayer. "In him and through
in him we may approach God with
freedom and confidence."
3:12 Consequently"if any of you lacks wisdom, he
ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it
be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt,
because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed
the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything ." Jam 1:5-8 We should be
of God's provision. So we say
confidence, "The Lord is my
I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"Heb 13:6 And consequently we
have confidence that God will make us competent in ministry. "Such confidence as this is ours
through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves
claim anything for
ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2Cor 3:4,5 Confidence also
communicates your convictions. "So
away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." Heb 10:35