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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - ROMANS 14
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    CHAPTER 14

    Ro 14:1-23. SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED--CHRISTIAN FORBEARANCE.

    The subject here, and on to Ro 15:13, is the consideration due from stronger Christians to their weaker brethren; which is but the great law of love (treated of in the thirteenth chapter) in one particular form.

    1. Him that is weak in the faith--rather, "in faith"; that is, not "him that is weak in the truth believed" [CALVIN, BEZA, ALFORD, &c.], but (as most interpreters agree), "him whose faith wants that firmness and breadth which would raise him above small scruples." (See on Ro 14:22, 23).
    - receive ye--to cordial Christian fellowship.
    - but not to doubtful disputations--rather, perhaps, "not to the deciding of doubts," or "scruples;" that is, not for the purpose of arguing him out of them: which indeed usually does the reverse; whereas to receive him to full brotherly confidence and cordial interchange of Christian affection is the most effectual way of drawing them off. Two examples of such scruples are here specified, touching Jewish meats and days. "The strong," it will be observed, are those who knew these to be abolished under the Gospel; "the weak" are those who had scruples on this point.

    2. one believeth that he may eat all things--See Ac 10:16.
    - another, who is weak, eateth herbs--restricting himself probably to a vegetable diet, for fear of eating what might have been offered to idols, and so would be unclean. (See 1Co 8:1-13).

    3. Let not him that eateth despise--look down superciliously upon "him that eateth not."
    - and let not him that eateth not judge--sit in judgment censoriously upon "him that eateth."
    - for God hath received him--as one of His dear children, who in this matter acts not from laxity, but religious principle.

    4. Who art thou that judges another man's--rather, "another's"
    - servant?--that is, CHRIST'S, as the whole context shows, especially Ro 14:8, 9.
    - Yea, &c.--"But he shall be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand"; that is, to make good his standing, not at the day of judgment, of which the apostle treats in Ro 14:10, but in the true fellowship of the Church here, in spite of thy censures.

    5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day--The supplement "alike" should be omitted, as injuring the sense.
    - Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind--be guided in such matters by conscientious conviction.

    6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it to the Lord--the Lord CHRIST, as before.
    - and he . . . not, to the Lord he doth not--each doing what he believes to be the Lord's will.
    - He that earth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks--The one gave thanks to God for the flesh which the other scrupled to use; the other did the same for the herbs to which, for conscience' sake, he restricted himself. From this passage about the observance of days, ALFORD unhappily infers that such language could not have been used if the sabbath law had been in force under the Gospel in any form. Certainly it could not, if the sabbath were merely one of the Jewish festival days; but it will not do to take this for granted merely because it was observed under the Mosaic economy. And certainly, if the sabbath was more ancient than Judaism; if, even under Judaism, it was enshrined among the eternal sanctities of the Decalogue, uttered, as no other parts of Judaism were, amidst the terrors of Sinai; and if the Lawgiver Himself said of it when on earth, "The Son of man is LORD EVEN OF THE SABBATH DAY" (see Mr 2:28) --it will be hard to show that the apostle must have meant it to be ranked by his readers among those vanished Jewish festival days, which only "weakness" could imagine to be still in force--a weakness which those who had more light ought, out of love, merely to bear with.

    7, 8. For none of us--Christians
    - liveth to himself--(See 2Co 5:14, 15), to dispose of himself or shape his conduct after his own ideas and inclinations.
    - and no man--"and none" of us Christians "dieth to himself."

    8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord--the Lord CHRIST; see Ro 14:9.
    - and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's--Nothing but the most vivid explanation of these remarkable words could make them endurable to any Christian ear, if Christ were a mere creature. For Christ is here--in the most emphatic terms, and yet in the most unimpassioned tone--held up as the supreme Object of the Christian's life, and of his death too; and that by the man whose horror of creature worship was such, that when the poor Lycaonians would have worshipped him, he rushed forth to arrest the deed, directing them to "the living God," as the only legitimate Object of worship (Ac 14:15). Nor does Paul teach this here, but rather appeals to it as a known and recognized fact, of which he had only to remind his readers. And since the apostle, when he wrote these words, had never been at Rome, he could only know that the Roman Christians would assent to this view of Christ, because it was the common teaching of all the accredited preachers of Christianity, and the common faith of all Christians.

    9. For to this end Christ both, &c.--The true reading here is, To this end Christ died and lived ("again").
    - that he might be Lord both of the dead and--"and of the"
    - living--The grand object of His death was to acquire this absolute Lordship over His redeemed, both in their living and in their dying, as His of right.

    10. But why, &c.--The original is more lively:--"But thou (the weaker believer), why judgest thou thy brother? And thou again (the stronger), why despisest thou thy brother?"
    - for we shall all--the strong and the weak together.
    - stand before the judgment-seat of Christ--All the most ancient and best manuscripts read here, "the judgment-seat of God." The present reading doubtless crept in from 2Co 5:10, where "the judgment-seat of Christ" occurs. But here "the judgment-seat of God" seems to have been used, with reference to the quotation and the inference in Ro 14:11, 12.

    11, 12. For it is written-- (Isa 45:23).
    - As I live, saith the Lord--Hebrew, JEHOVAH.
    - every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God--consequently, shall bow to the award of God upon their character and actions.

    12. So then--infers the apostle.
    - every one of us shall give account of himself to God--Now, if it be remembered that all this is adduced quite incidentally, to show that CHRIST is the absolute Master of all Christians, to rule their judgments and feelings towards each other while "living," and to dispose of them "dying," the testimony which it bears to the absolute Divinity of Christ will appear remarkable. On any other view, the quotation to show that we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God would be a strange proof that Christians are all amenable to Christ.

    13. Let us not therefore judge--"assume the office of judge over"
    - one another; but judge this rather, &c.--a beautiful sort of play upon the word "judge," meaning, "But let this be your judgment, not to put a stumbling-block," &c.

    14, 15. I know, and am persuaded by--or rather, "in"
    - the Lord Jesus--as "having the mind of Christ" (1Co 2:16).
    - that there is nothing unclean of itself--Hence it is that he calls those "the strong" who believed in the abolition of all ritual distinctions under the Gospel. (See Ac 10:15).
    - but--"save that"
    - to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean--"and therefore, though you can eat of it with out sin, he cannot."

    15. But if thy brother be grieved--has his weak conscience hurt
    - with thy meat--rather, "because of meat." The word "meat" is purposely selected as something contemptible in contrast with the tremendous risk run for its sake. Accordingly, in the next clause, that idea is brought out with great strength.
    - Destroy not him with--"by"
    - thy meat for whom Christ died--"The worth of even the poorest and weakest brother cannot be more emphatically expressed than by the words, 'for whom Christ died'" [OLSHAUSEN]. The same sentiment is expressed with equal sharpness in 1Co 8:11. Whatever tends to make anyone violate his conscience tends to the destruction of his soul; and he who helps, whether wittingly or no, to bring about the one is guilty of aiding to accomplish the other.

    16, 17. Let not then your good--that is, this liberty of yours as to Jewish meats and days, well founded though it be.
    - be evil spoken of--for the evil it does to others.

    17. For the kingdom of God--or, as we should say, Religion; that is, the proper business and blessedness for which Christians are formed into a community of renewed men in thorough subjection to God (compare 1Co 4:20).
    - is not meat and drink--"eating and drinking"
    - but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost--a beautiful and comprehensive division of living Christianity. The first--"righteousness"--has respect to God, denoting here "rectitude," in its widest sense (as in Mt 6:33); the second--"peace"--has respect to our neighbors, denoting "concord" among brethren (as is plain from Ro 14:19; compare Eph 4:3; Col 3:14, 15); the third--"joy in the Holy Ghost"--has respect to ourselves. This phrase, "joy in the Holy Ghost," represents Christians as so thinking and feeling under the workings of the Holy Ghost, that their joy may be viewed rather as that of the blessed Agent who inspires it than their own (compare 1Th 1:6).

    18. For he that in these things--"in this," meaning this threefold life.
    - serveth Christ--Here again observe how, though we do these three things as a "kingdom of God," yet it is "Christ" that we serve in so doing; the apostle passing here from God to Christ as naturally as before from Christ to God--in a way to us inconceivable, if Christ had been viewed as a mere creature (compare 2Co 8:21).
    - is acceptable to God, and approved of men--these being the things which God delights in, and men are constrained to approve. (Compare Pr 3:4; Lu 2:52; Ac 2:47; 19:20).

    19. the things, &c.--more simply, "the things of peace, and the things of mutual edification."

    20. For--"For the sake of"
    - meat destroy not the work of God--(See on Ro 14:15). The apostle sees in whatever tends to violate a brother's conscience the incipient destruction of God's work (for every converted man is such)--on the same principle as "he that hateth his brother is a murderer" (1Jo 3:15).
    - All things indeed are pure--"clean"; the ritual distinctions being at an end.
    - but it is evil to that man--there is criminality in the man
    - who eateth with offence--that is, so as to stumble a weak brother.

    21. It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing--"nor to do any thing"
    - whereby--"wherein"
    - thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak--rather, "is weak." These three words, it has been remarked, are each intentionally weaker than the other:--"Which may cause a brother to stumble, or even be obstructed in his Christian course, nay--though neither of these may follow--wherein he continues weak; unable wholly to disregard the example, and yet unprepared to follow it." But this injunction to abstain from flesh, from wine, and from whatsoever may hurt the conscience of a brother, must be properly understood. Manifestly, the apostle is treating of the regulation of the Christian's conduct with reference simply to the prejudices of the weak in faith; and his directions are to be considered not as prescriptions for one's entire lifetime, even to promote the good of men on a large scale, but simply as cautions against the too free use of Christian liberty in matters where other Christians, through weakness, are not persuaded that such liberty is divinely allowed. How far the princi

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