Verse 23. "And he that doubteth" - This verse is a necessary part of the preceding, and should be read thus: But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith. The meaning is sufficiently plain. He that feeds on any kind of meats prohibited by the Mosaic law, with the persuasion in his mind that he may be wrong in so doing, is condemned by his conscience for doing that which he has reason to think God has forbidden.
"For whatsoever is not of faith is sin." - Whatever he does, without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, (see ver. 22) is to him sin; for he does it under a conviction that he may be wrong in so doing. Therefore, if he makes a distinction in his own conscience between different kinds of meats, and yet eats of all indifferently, he is a sinner before God; because he eats either through false shame, base compliance, or an unbridled appetite; and any of these is in itself a sin against the sincerity, ingenuousness, and self-denying principles of the Gospel of Christ.
Some think that these words have a more extensive signification, and that they apply to all who have not true religion, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; every work of such persons being sinful in the sight of a holy God, because it does not proceed from a pure motive. On this ground our Church says, Art. xiii, "Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they are not of faith in Jesus Christ; yes, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin." To this we may add, that without faith it is impossible to please God; every thing is wrong where this principle is wanting.
There are few readers who have not remarked that the last three verses of this epistle (chap. xvi. 25-27) appear to stand in their present place without any obvious connection; and apparently after the epistle is concluded. And it is well known to critics, that two MSS. in uncial letters, the Cod. A and I, with upwards of 100 others, together with the Slavonic, the later Syriac and Arabic, add those verses at the end of the fourteenth chapter. The transposition is acknowledged by Cyril, Chrysostom, Theodouret, OEcumenius, Theophylact, Theodulus, Damascenus, and Tertullian; see Wetstein. Griesbach inserts them at the end of this chapter as their proper place; and most learned men approve of this transposition.
It may be necessary to repeat the words here that the reader may see with what propriety they connect with the subject which terminates the fourteenth chapter as it now stands.
ver. 23: And he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
chap. xvi. 25: Now, to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, (according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, chap. xvi. x16: But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith;) chap. xvi. x17: To God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.
chap. xv. 1: We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, &c.
These words certainly connect better with the close of the fourteenth chapter and the beginning of the fifteenth than they do with the conclusion of the sixteenth, where they are now generally found; but I shall defer my observations upon them till I come to that place, with only this remark, that the stablishing mentioned chap. xvi. 25, corresponds well with the doubting, Romans xiv. 23, and indeed the whole matter of these verses agrees so well with the subject so largely handled in the preceding chapter, that there can be very little doubt of their being in their proper place if joined to the end of this chapter, as they are in the preceding MSS. and versions.