Romans Chapter Fourteen
From the beginning of chapter 14 to the end of verse 7 in chapter 15 another point is taken up, to which the different positions of the Jew and Gentile gave rise. It was difficult for a Jew to rid himself of the sense of difference between days and between meats. A Gentile, having abandoned his whole religious system as idolatrous, held to nothing. Human nature is liable in this respect to sin on both sides-a want of conscience, an unbridled will, and a ceremonial conscience. Christianity recognises neither of these things. It delivers from the question of days and meats by making us heavenly with Christ. But it teaches us to bear with conscientious weakness, and to be conscientious ourselves. Conscience cannot-has not a right to-prescribe a new thing to us as a duty, but it may, through ignorance, hold to a traditional thing as obligatory. In reality we have entire liberty, but we ought to bear with weakness of faith in another, and not put a stumbling-block in his way. The apostle gives three directions in this respect: First, to receive the weak, but not for the discussion of questions that have to be settled; second, not to judge our brother, since he is Christ's servant, not ours; and every one must give account of himself to God; third, to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves; to walk in the spirit of love, and, if we are in a higher state, to shew it by receiving one another, as Christ has received us, to the glory of God, which eclipses man and his petty superiorities, and which kindles charity and makes it ardent, earnest in seeking the good of others-taking us so out of self, and beyond little things, that we are able to adapt ourselves to others, where the will of God and His glory are not in question.
Many important principles are brought forward in these exhortations. Every one shall give account of himself to God. Everyone, in these cases, should be fully persuaded in his own mind, and should not judge another. If any one has faith that delivers him from traditional observances, and he sees them to be absolutely nothing-as indeed they are-let him have his faith for God, and not cause his brother to stumble.
No one lives to himself, and no one dies to himself; we are the Lord's. The weak then regard the day for the Lord's sake; the others do not regard it because of the Lord. This is the reason therefore for not judging. He whom I judge is the Lord's. Therefore also I should seek to please my brother for his edification-he is the Lord's; and I should receive him, as I have been received, to share in the glory of God which has been conferred on him. We serve Christ in these things by thinking of the good of our brother. As to the energy of a man's faith, let him have it between himself and God. Love is the ruler for the use of his liberty, if it is liberty, and not the bondage of disregarding. For the converse of this principle, when these observances are used to destroy liberty in Christ, see Galatians 4, where the apostle shews that, if the observance is taught as a principle, it is really turning back to Paganism.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Romans》
The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and Gentile believers against despising one the other. (1-13) And the Gentiles exhorted to take heed of giving offence in their use of indifferent things. (14-23)
Commentary on Romans 14:1-6
(Read Romans 14:1-6)
Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate followers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paul attempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, or conformity to outward observances without being convinced, would be hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absolute oneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let not Christian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It will be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain and blame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dare I disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty, despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let not the scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for God accepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. We usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view. The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Those who knew that all these things were done away by Christ's coming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it is not enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it is necessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heed of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make our own views the standard of truth, to deem things certain which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise or condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. A thankful regard to God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies, sanctifies and sweetens them.
Commentary on Romans 14:7-13
(Read Romans 14:7-13)
Though some are weak, and others are strong, yet all must agree not to live to themselves. No one who has given up his name to Christ, is allowedly a self-seeker; that is against true Christianity. The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God. That is true Christianity, which makes Christ all in all. Though Christians are of different strength, capacities, and practices in lesser things, yet they are all the Lord's; all are looking and serving, and approving themselves to Christ. He is Lord of those that are living, to rule them; of those that are dead, to revive them, and raise them up. Christians should not judge or despise one another, because both the one and the other must shortly give an account. A believing regard to the judgment of the great day, would silence rash judgings. Let every man search his own heart and life; he that is strict in judging and humbling himself, will not be apt to judge and despise his brother. We must take heed of saying or doing things which may cause others to stumble or to fall. The one signifies a lesser, the other a greater degree of offence; that which may be an occasion of grief or of guilt to our brother.
Commentary on Romans 14:14-18
(Read Romans 14:14-18)
Christ deals gently with those who have true grace, though they are weak in it. Consider the design of Christ's death: also that drawing a soul to sin, threatens the destruction of that soul. Did Christ deny himself for our brethren, so as to die for them, and shall not we deny ourselves for them, so as to keep from any indulgence? We cannot hinder ungoverned tongues from speaking evil; but we must not give them any occasion. We must deny ourselves in many cases what we may lawfully do, when our doing it may hurt our good name. Our good often comes to be evil spoken of, because we use lawful things in an uncharitable and selfish manner. As we value the reputation of the good we profess and practise, let us seek that it may not be evil-spoken of. Righteousness, peace, and joy, are words that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is to appear before him justified by Christ's death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, and love, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joy wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as their expected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone can make them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that are best pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and the opinion of others is not to be regarded.
Commentary on Romans 14:19-23
(Read Romans 14:19-23)
Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do not follow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility, self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify one another, while quarrelling and contending. Many, for meat and drink, destroy the work of God in themselves; nothing more destroys the soul than pampering and pleasing the flesh, and fulfilling the lusts of it; so others are hurt, by wilful offence given. Lawful things may be done unlawfully, by giving offence to brethren. This takes in all indifferent things, whereby a brother is drawn into sin or trouble; or has his graces, his comforts, or his resolutions weakened. Hast thou faith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to our Christian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not trouble others by a wrong use of it. Nor may we act against a doubting conscience. How excellent are the blessings of Christ's kingdom, which consists not in outward rites and ceremonies, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How preferable is the service of God to all other services! and in serving him we are not called to live and die to ourselves, but unto Christ, whose we are, and whom we ought to serve.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Romans》
 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Him that is weak — Through needless scruples.
Receive — With all love and courtesy into Christian fellowship.
But not to doubtful disputations — About questionable points.
 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
All things — All sorts of food, though forbidden by the law.
 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Despise him that eateth not — As over-scrupulous or superstitious.
Judge him that eateth — As profane, or taking undue liberties.
For God hath received him — Into the number of his children, notwithstanding this.
 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
One day above another — As new moons, and other Jewish festivals.
Let every man be fully persuaded — That a thing is lawful, before he does it.
 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Regardeth it to the Lord — That is, out of a principle of conscience toward God.
To the Lord he doth not regard it — He also acts from a principle of conscience.
He that eateth not — Flesh.
Giveth God thanks — For his herbs.
 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
None of us — Christians, in the things we do.
Liveth to himself — Is at his own disposal; doeth his own will.
 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.
Or why dost thou despise thy brother — Hitherto the apostle as addressed the weak brother: now he speaks to the stronger.
 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
As I live — An oath proper to him, because he only possesseth life infinite and independent. It is Christ who is here termed both Lord and God; as it is he to whom we live, and to whom we die.
Every tongue shall confess to God — Shall own him as their rightful Lord; which shall then only be accomplished in its full extent. The Lord grant we may find mercy in that day; and may it also be imparted to those who have differed from us! yea, to those who have censured and condemned us for things which we have done from a desire to please him, or refused to do from a fear of offending him. Isaiah 45:23
 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
But judge this rather — Concerning ourselves.
Not to lay a stumblingblock — By moving him to do as thou doest, though against his conscience.
Or a scandal — Moving him to hate or judge thee.
 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
I am assured by the Lord Jesus — Perhaps by a particular revelation.
That there is nothing — Neither flesh nor herbs.
Unclean of itself — Unlawful under the gospel.
 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
If thy brother is grieved — That is, wounded, led into sin.
Destroy not him for whom Christ died — So we see, he for whom Christ died may be destroyed.
With thy meat — Do not value thy meat more than Christ valued his life.
 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Let not then your good and lawful liberty be evil spoken of - By being offensive to others.
 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
For the kingdom of God — That is, true religion, does not consist in external observances. But in righteousness - The image of God stamped on the heart; the love of God and man, accompanied with the peace that passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
In these — Righteousness, peace, and joy.
Men — Wise and good men.
 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Peace and edification are closely joined. Practical divinity tends equally to peace and to edification. Controversial divinity less directly tends to edification, although sometimes, as they of old, we cannot build without it, Nehemiah 4:17.
 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
The work of God — Which he builds in the soul by faith, and in the church by concord.
It is evil to that man who eateth with offence — So as to offend another thereby.
 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Thy brother stumbleth — By imitating thee against his conscience, contrary to righteousness.
Or is offended — At what thou doest to the loss of his peace.
Or made weak — Hesitating between imitation and abhorrence, to the loss of that joy in the Lord which was his strength.
 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Hast thou faith — That all things are pure? Have it to thyself before God - In circumstances like these, keep it to thyself, and do not offend others by it.
Happy is he that condemneth not himself — By an improper use of even innocent things! and happy he who is free from a doubting conscience! He that has this may allow the thing, yet condemn himself for it.
 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Because it is not of faith — He does not believe it lawful and, in all these cases, whatsoever is not of faith is sin - Whatever a man does without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, it is sin to him.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Romans》
Chapter 14. Carry Out Love
Love to the
Die to the Lord
I. Do not Judge One Another
II. Do Not Stumble One Another
III. Three Principles of the Kingdom of God
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Fourteen General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To learn how strong and weak brethren should deal with one another
2) To see the importance of being true to our conscience
In this chapter Paul discusses the relationship strong and weak
brethren are to have towards each other. He admonishes the strong to
be careful in their dealings with those whose faith and knowledge is
weak, and for the weak not to judge those who are doing what God allows
(1-4). In such matters, each brother should be true to their
conscience and do what they do as service rendered to the Lord (5-9).
There is no place for condemning or despising one another in these
matters, for Jesus will be the judge (10-12). Of primary concern is
not to put stumbling blocks in a brother's way (13).
The importance of being true to one's own conscience, and not
encouraging the weak brother to violate his own, is the emphasis of the
last half of the chapter. Things harmless within themselves can
destroy those whose consciences do not permit them, so those who
understand the true nature of the
will be willing to kingdomof God
forego personal liberties to maintain peace and build up their weaker
I. ADMONITIONS TO STRONG AND WEAK BRETHREN (1-13)
A. HOW TO TREAT EACH OTHER (1-4)
1. The strong are to receive and not despise the weak (1
2. The weak are not to judge those God approves (3b-4)
B. HOW TO BE TRUE TO THE LORD IN THESE MATTERS (5-9)
1. Be fully convinced in your own mind (5)
2. Do what you do as to the Lord (6-9)
C. DO NOT JUDGE ONE ANOTHER (10-13)
1. Christ is to be our judge (10
2. Our concern should be not to put stumbling blocks in a
brother's way (13b)
II. FURTHER ADMONITIONS TO STRONG BRETHREN (14-23)
A. DO NOT DESTROY A BROTHER FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED (14-18)
1. Food is harmless in itself, but we can misuse it to the
destruction of those who are weak (14-16)
is more important than food and drink kingdomof God
B. PURSUE THINGS WHICH MAKE FOR PEACE (19-23)
1. Build up your brother, don't destroy him over food (19-20)
2. Be willing to forego your liberties for the sake of your
3. Appreciate the importance of a clear conscience in your weak
WORDS TO PONDER
judge - setting oneself up as accuser, judge, and sentencer; it does
not mean we cannot make decisions about the right or wrong of
another's action (cf. Mt 7:1-6,15-20; Jn 7:24; 1 Co 5:9-13)
stumbling block - that which causes another to fall; it does not have
to be something wrong within itself
offended - made to stumble; the word does not mean the way we commonly
use it today, that is, to have one's feelings hurt or
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) List the main points of this chapter
- Admonitions To Strong And Weak Brethren (1-13)
- Further Admonitions To Strong Brethren (14-23)
2) How are strong and weak brethren to treat each other? (3)
- The strong are not to despise the weak
- The weak are not to judge the strong
3) What is important according to verse 5?
- "Let each be fully convinced in his own mind"
4) In all matters, whom is it we should try to please? (6-8)
- The Lord
5) Who will be the Judge in such matters? (10-12)
- The Lord
6) What is important according to verse 13?
- Not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's
7) What elements are crucial to the
? (17) kingdomof God
- Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit
8) How far should one be willing to go to avoid causing a brother to
- As far as giving up personal liberties in Christ
9) If we violate our conscience, what are we guilty of? (23)
Admonitions To The Strong And Weak (14:1-15:7)
1. An important part of the Christian life is getting along with
a. Jesus prayed for unity among believers - Jn 17:20-23
b. Paul condemned division among Christians - 1 Co 1:10-13
c. Jesus died to make Jew and Gentile one new man and one body - Ep
2. Unity did not come easily in the early church...
a. Jewish Christians were reluctant to accept Gentile Christians
- cf. Ac 15:1-5
b. Knowledgeable Christians were not always considerate - cf. 1 Co
3. Unity does not come easily in the church today...
a. People come into the kingdom from all sorts of religious
b. Their level of knowledge, their rate of spiritual growth, varies
[To ensure that brethren receive one another as they should, Paul wrote
a lengthy discourse in which he provides "Admonitions To The Strong And
Weak" (Ro 14:1-15:7). As we consider these admonitions, let's do so in
the form of answering some key questions...]
I. WHO IS A 'WEAK' BROTHER?
A. ONE WHO IS 'WEAK' IN THE FAITH...
1. Who has doubts about certain things - Ro 14:1
2. One who eats only vegetables - Ro 14:2
3. One who esteems one day above another - Ro 14:5-6
4. One who stumbles over meat and wine - Ro 14:21
-- E.g., a new Jewish Christian whose conscience had been trained
by the Law to abstain from certain foods, to observe certain
B. NOT ONE 'IGNORANT' IN THE FAITH...
1. The weak brother was certainly not ignorant after reading this
a. He is told that God accepts the other brother - Ro 14:3
b. He is told that God declares all foods clean - Ro 14:14,20;
cf. Mk 7:18,19; 1 Ti 4:4
2. But his conscience was not yet ready to accept what the Lord
a. There are still lingering doubts - Ro 14:1
b. He is not yet fully convinced - Ro 14:5b
c. He is grieved by certain foods - Ro 14:15
d. He cannot eat without offense - Ro 14:20
e. He is prone to stumble and become weaker - Ro 14:21
f. He cannot eat with faith (a strong conviction) - Ro 14:23
-- E.g., a Jew or Muslim who becomes a Christian, yet still
struggles with their newfound liberty in Christ
[The weak brother knows what is right, but his conscience has yet to be
sufficiently retrained to partake in that which for so long had been a
sin for him. On the other hand, consider...]
II. WHO IS A 'STRONG' BROTHER?
A. ONE WHO IS STRONG IN 'THE' FAITH...
1. He knows that God has received him - Ro 14:3
2. He knows what the Lord has revealed - Ro 14:14,20; cf. Mk
7:18,19; 1 Ti 4:4
-- I.e., a Christian who is well taught in the ways of the Lord
B. ONE WHO IS STRONG IN 'HIS' FAITH...
1. Who believes he may eat all things - Ro 14:2
2. One who observes every day alike - Ro 14:5-6
3. One who does not condemn himself in what he approves - Ro 14:22
-- I.e., a Christian who can enjoy God-given freedom without
qualms of conscience
[In any congregation, you are likely to find both strong and weak
brethren as described in this passage. What is expected of those who
III. ADMONITIONS TO THE WEAK
A. DO NOT JUDGE (CONDEMN) YOUR BROTHER...
1. For God has received him - Ro 14:3
a. God has revealed that what he does is acceptable - cf. Mk 7:
18,19; 1 Ti 4:4
b. The weak brother knows this; by reading this epistle, if not
before - Ro 14:14,20
2. He is Christ's servant, not yours - Ro 14:4
a. We cannot judge or condemn another servant whom God has
accepted - Ro 14:4
b. Such judgment belongs to Christ, before whom we will all
stand - Ro 14:10
-13a; cf. also Ja 4:11-12
-- The weak brother is not told to accept a brother whom he
believes to be in error; rather, he is not to condemn a brother
who is doing what God has revealed
B. DO NOT VIOLATE YOUR CONSCIENCE...
1. Do that which you are able to do with full conviction - Ro
2. Refrain from doing anything about which you have doubts - Ro
3. Serving the Lord with a clear conscience is important
a. Jesus shed His blood to cleanse our conscience - He 9:14;
b. The goal is to have a good conscience - 1 Ti 1:5,19; 2 Ti
c. The conscience can be rejected, seared, and defiled - 1 Ti
1:19; 4:1-2; Ti 1:15
-- Paul would not have the brother whose faith is weak to do
anything to weaken his conscience
[Paul's concern for the weak is evident elsewhere (cf. 2 Co 11:29), and
in our text by noting that the bulk of this passage is actually directed
toward the strong brother...]
IV. ADMONITIONS TO THE STRONG
A. RECEIVE YOUR WEAK BROTHER...
1. Not for the purpose of disputing over what he has doubts - Ro
2. Don't despise your brother - Ro 14:3
3. Don't show contempt for your brother - Ro 14:10
4. Bear with their scruples - Ro 15:1
-- A strong brother must be careful not to be arrogant, but
B. DON'T PUT UP STUMBLING BLOCKS...
1. Don't put up occasions for him to fall - Ro 14:13b
2. Don't grieve your brethren with your liberty - Ro 14:
3. Don't destroy your brother with your liberty - Ro 14:15b,
4. Don't let your good be spoken of as evil - Ro 14:16
-- A strong brother must be careful lest his abuse of liberty lead
to his own downfall
C. PURSUE PEACE AND EDIFICATION...
1. For the kingdom of God is not about food - Ro 14:17-18
a. It is about righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit
b. He who serves Christ in such things is acceptable to God,
approved by men
2. Strive for that which brings peace and edifies one another - Ro
a. Blessed are the peacemakers - cf. Mt 5:9; 2 Co 13:11; 1 Pe
b. Our goal should be one of building each other up - cf. Ro
-- A strong brother must care more for his brother than for
himself - Ro 15:1-3
1. What is the goal of such admonitions to the strong and weak...?
a. That brethren be like-minded toward one another - Ro 15:5
b. That brethren might glorify God with one mind and one mouth - Ro
c. That brethren might receive one another to the glory of God - Ro
-- Is this not sufficient motive to take Paul's admonitionsf
2. Thus we are to receive one another as Christ received us...
a. He received us in our weakness - Ro 5:6
b. His longsuffering works toward our salvation - 2 Pe 3:15
-- Should not we who are strong extend the same courtesy to our
Speaking of Christ having received us...have we received Him in faith
and baptism? - cf. Jn 1:12; Ga 3:26-27
Carry Out Love
Love to the Lord
Die to the Lord
I. Do Not Judge One Another
1. About Eating
2. About Keeping Special Days
3. Give Account to God
II.Do Not Stumble One Another
1. Block or Obstacle
2. Distressed by Eating
3. Destroy Others
III. Three Principles of the Kingdom of God
1. Not of Eating and Drinking
2. But of Righteousness and Peace
3. Joy in the Holy Spirit
－－ Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》