Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (48) Consideration For A Brother Weak In The Faith.
Romans 14:1-13

 


Scripture

1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 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.
4 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 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 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.
7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 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.

 


Introduction

There is a connection with what has preceded. In the preceding chapters the need for mutual love has been stressed ([1]See 12:9, 10; [2]13:8–10). At the end of the preceding chapter attention has been drawn to the coming of the day of Christ. Accordingly the strong and the weak are to remember that all have to appear before the Judgment Seat. The apostle has been given injunctions against the indulgence of the flesh. This is now applied to the need of abstaining, on the one hand, from the abuse of liberty, and, on the other hand, from the indulgence of a critical and disapproving spirit, in things morally indifferent. The injunction to put on the Lord Jesus Christ—(Romans13:14), But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof—influences the new subject in a twofold way: firstly in the emphasis placed on the authority of Christ (14:6–9), secondly, in the presentation of Christ as the pattern for believers—(Romans 15:14), “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

There are three more points that Paul stresses in this passage, and he does it by, first, summarizing his teaching on Christian liberties, and second, he emphasizes the need for each one of us to be fully convinced in his own mind what the will of God is for him in areas where God’s will is not specific in His Word. In nonessentials, “gray areas” of Christian ethics, personal convictions are essential in being free from needless guilt and sin. He makes three points: (1) personal convictions are “personal”; (2) personal convictions are to be practiced; and (3) personal convictions must be developed.

Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate followers of Christ and their disciples. But St. Paul did not 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. Christian fellowship should not be disturbed with fighting or hurtful words. It will be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to show contempt and blame our brethren; doesn't God own them? And if he does, do I dare to disown them? Do not let the Christian who uses his liberty; despise his weak brother and call him ignorant and superstitious. Do not let the fussy believer find fault with his brother, for God accepted him, without regarding the Jewish dietary laws. We take the place of God, when we take upon us the job of judging the thoughts and intentions of others, for we cannot know those things. The case as to the observance of days (religious holidays) was much the same. Those who knew that all these things were done away with 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 what we do can be certified from the word of God. Beware of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make our own views the standard of truth, to regard things as if they were certain which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise or condemn each other, about uncertain matters of no importance. A thankful regard for God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies, sanctifies and sweetens them.


Commentary

Part 1: The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and gentile believers against despising the Jews. 14:1-6.
In this passage the apostle deals with the moral responsibilities of the strong brother toward the weak, and of the weak toward the strong. The strong are not to treat the weak with disrespect, and the weak are not to judge the strong. Their mutual relations are to be viewed in the light of the authority of Christ over each of them, and of His Judgment Seat.

1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye,

Romans 14:1–15:13 deals with important principles to guide God’s people in dealing with matters of secondary importance. These are the things that so often cause conflict among believers, but such conflict is quite unnecessary, as we shall see.
A weak Christian is one who has unsupported scruples about matters of secondary importance. Some believe the weak Christians in the Roman church were converted Jews who still had scruples about eating nonkosher foods or working on Saturday. However, there is really no way to know; therefore, it is not surprising when Scholars differ dramatically on the source of the weakness in the lives of these Roman believers. But, whatever their particular religious scruples were, the basic problem was that some of the believers had not grasped the great truths Paul has just expounded in his epistle. They did not understand that salvation is the free gift of God and that the believer faces no condemnation whatsoever, because of the atonement of Christ. Paul enjoyed his Christian liberty to the fullest and was totally emancipated from foolish superstitions and unbiblical taboos. Some of the Romans, however, were still clinging to these taboos for they did not fully accept the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In relation to this, Paul addresses both those living freely in Christ and those in Christ who are still bound by fleshly legalism. The strong who had adopted true Bible doctrine, were to receive the weak, which did not fully rest in the grace of God. But they were not to argue with them over secondary points of difference.

Him that is weak in the faith—by this the apostle must mean the converted Jew, who would indeed be weak in the faith, if he considered this distinction of meats and days essential to his salvation. It could be said that he is not firmly established; “not rooted and grounded in the faith;” not fully instructed in Christian knowledge.

Him that is weak in faith receive. Here Paul gives the order that weak and scrupulous brethren are to be accepted into the fellowship and treated kindly. But, to this, the so-called strong Christians objected, because they abstained from all flesh (verse 2) and refused to drink wine (verse 21) things not prohibited in the Law of Moses. But it is obvious that they held onto the belief in the continued authority of the Jewish law, which converts from among the heathen would not be likely to do.

Receive ye—Take him into your fellowship, but not to discuss and pass judgments on any doubts he may entertain. Associate with him; receive him into your religious fellowship; but when there, let all religious altercations be avoided—receive him into cordial Christian fellowship.

The idea is that disputes over doubtful questions must not be in the way of Christian fellowship. You have no right to reject him; Since God has already received him. God hath taken him into his church without making conditions concerning clean and unclean meats. What gives you the right to judge another man or another man's servant? Since God has received him, he is God's servant, and his accountability is not to you, but to God. God is able to make him stand. In spite of what some of you think is an error, he shall stand, for God is able to keep him. His conduct concerning that which is said to be of secondary importance. shall not cut him off from the grace of God in which we all stand.

Asceticism, as a form of self-righteousness and will-worship, was one of the earliest, most extensive and persistent heresies in the church. But there is nothing inconsistent with the assumption that the weak brethren here spoken of were conscientious Jewish Christians. Josephus says that some of the Jews at Rome lived on fruits exclusively, from fear of eating something unclean.

Faith here means a set of beliefs based in truth; a man may have a strong belief in certain truths, and a very weak belief in others. Some of the early Christians were, no doubt, fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, and yet felt great doubts whether the distinction between clean and unclean meats was entirely done away with. This was certainly wrong thinking that could lead to a great defect in Christian character. Since, however, this weakness was not incompatible with sincere devotion to Christ; such persons were to be received. The word rendered receive, has the general meaning, to take to oneself; and this is its meaning here: “Him that is weak in faith, take to yourselves as a Christian brother, and treat him kindly” (see [3]Acts 28:2; [4]Romans 15:7; [5]Philemon 1:15, 17).

but not to doubtful disputations.

The first principle is this: a weak Christian should be received into the local fellowship, but not with the idea of engaging him in heated discussions about his belief in certain nonessential principles. There is to be no setting up of oneself as a judge of the weak brother’s scruples. Christians can have happy fellowship without agreeing on nonessentials.

Doubtful in this clause means, uncertain or unsure. Doubt is often the cause of inward conflict; and that is how the word should be taken in this present clause. That is, not so as to give rise to disputes on doubtful matters, to avoid all arguments early on.

Disputations in this clause means argumentative or quarrelsome. We should not approach the weaker brother for the purpose of arguing him out of his principles or scruples, because, typically it usually does the reverse. Whereas to receive him with full brotherly confidence and cordial Christian affection is the most effective way of drawing him away from untrue beliefs. Two examples of such scruples have been mentioned, following Jewish dietary laws and observing days (holidays and festivals). "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 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

For one believeth that he may eat all things:

A believer who walks in full enjoyment of Christian liberty has faith, based on the teachings of the New Testament, that all foods are clean. They are sanctified by the word of God and prayer: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4, 5). Every creature (or creation) of God is good. Both foods and marriage are creations of God, and are not to be refused if ... received with thanksgiving. He instituted marriage for the propagation of human life (see [6]Gen. 1:28), and food for the sustaining of life—“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” (Gen. 9:3). The word of God sets apart both food and marriage for man’s use. Food is thus sanctified in Genesis 9:3; [7]Mark 7:19; [8]Acts 10:14, 15; and [9]1Corinthians 10:25, 26. Marriage is set apart in 1 Corinthians 7 and [10]Hebrews 13:4.

They are also sanctified through prayer. Before partaking of a meal, we should bow our heads and give thanks for the food (see [11]Matthew14:19; [12]Acts 27:35). By this act we are asking the Lord to sanctify the food to strengthen our bodies so that we might serve Him more acceptably. Before entering into marriage we should pray that God will bless the union for His glory, for the blessing of others, and for the good of the bride and groom.

It is a good testimony for Christians to give thanks for meals when in the presence of unsaved people. The blessing should not be showy or long, but neither should we try to conceal the fact that we are thanking God for our food.

What is the proper diet for the separated Christian? Some believers (whom Paul characterizes as the weak in faith), in order to avoid eating the flesh of animals that had been consecrated to pagan gods (see [13]Dan 1:8), refused to eat anything but vegetables. Converts from heathenism would be especially sensitive to the eating of such meat. Paul’s contention is that the meat itself is not destroyed of nutritional value because it was offered to idols. Since these idols have no validity before God, there is no reason not to partake of this meat. However, he counsels those who do eat, not to despise those who do not. Those who feel no compelling reason not to eat are to refrain from ridiculing those who have definite scruples against meat. The reason is God has received this brother who is weak in the faith and we must as well. With regard to eating meat it is his faith that enables him to eat anything without fear of defilement ([14]Mark 7:15).

another, who is weak, eateth herbs

Certain Jews, only recently converted to the Christian faith, and having only a little knowledge of its doctrines, believe the Mosaic Law relative to clean and unclean meats to be still in force; and therefore, when they are in a Gentile country, they avoid meat entirely and live on vegetables because they fear being defiled. And a Jew when in a heathen country may act the same way because he cannot tell whether the flesh which is sold in the market was from a clean or unclean beast; whether it may not have been offered to an idol; or whether the blood may have been taken properly from it.

A believer with a weak conscience may have qualms about eating pork, or any other meat, for that matter. He may become a vegetarian.

3 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.

The first principle is: A WEAK CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE RECEIVED INTO THE LOCAL FELLOWSHIP, but not with the idea of engaging him in heated discussions about his belief in certain nonessential principles.

And the second principle is that: THERE MUST BE MUTUAL [15]FORBEARANCE . The mature Christian must not despise his weak brother. Neither should the weak brother judge as a sinner someone who enjoys ham, shrimp, or lobster. God has received him into His family, a member in good standing.

Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not;

There is mutual restraint to be exercised in relation to this subject. The strong are not to despise the weak or treat them as superstitious and narrow-minded; nor the weak to condemn those who disregard their scruples. Points of indifference are not to be allowed to disturb the harmony of Christian fellowship.

and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth:

The Christian, who for religious reasons lived on a vegetarian diet, was not to adopt a disapproving attitude toward the one who ate meat, regarding him as unprincipled. The warnings given in each case are against the dangers of unbrotherliness, against the tendency to criticize one another about matters concerning regulations and precepts not given in the Word of God.

for God hath received him.

God received both the same; on the ground of faith and confession of Christ as Lord. Both being sincere and upright, and acting in the fear of God, are received as heirs of eternal life, without any difference on account of these religious scruples or prejudices. That the strong brother partakes of meat does not argue, then, against his acceptance with God.

 4 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.

The first principle is: A WEAK CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE RECEIVED INTO THE LOCAL FELLOWSHIP.
The second principle is: THERE MUST BE MUTUAL FORBEARANCE.
The third principle is: EACH BELIEVER IS A SERVANT OF THE LORD, AND WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO SIT IN JUDGMENT, AS IF WE WERE THE MASTER. It is before his own Master that each one stands approved or disapproved. One may look down on someone else with icy condescension; sure that he will make a shipwreck of the faith because of his views on these matters. But such an attitude is wrong. God will sustain those on both sides of the question. His power to do so is adequate.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?

This is the second reason for mutual forbearance with regard to such matters as divided the Jewish and Gentile converts. You can’t miss how differently the apostle speaks of the same things under different circumstances. He circumcised Timothy, who conformed in many ways to the Law of Moses, and to the Jews became a Jew. And here he exhorts Christians to be unconcerned with external observances, and to resist as much as is in their power to do so, when they are told that these things are important and necessary to acceptance by God. He would not allow Titus to be circumcised, and he refused to recognize false brethren, who had come in secretly to act as spies, [16]Galatians 2:3, 5. He warned the Galatians, that if they were circumcised, it would count for nothing with Christ; and if they sought acceptance on any terms other than faith in Jesus they could not be accepted as God’s faithful children. How liberal and how faithful was the apostle! He would concede everything, and become all things to all men, where principle was not at stake; but when it was, he would concede nothing, even for a moment

The word used here for “servant” is oiketēs, which signifies a household servant, in distinction from an ordinary slave; (Acts 10:7) “And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually.

He is Christ’s servant, as the whole context shows, especially [17]Romans 14:8, 9.

to his own master he standeth or falleth.

It is presumption to pass sentence upon one that has taken a liberty which God has not condemned. The terms “stand” or “fall” might be understood in two ways:
1. Acquittal or condemnation.
2.  Standing upright or falling into sin when expressing one’s liberty and that is to be judged by the Lord and not by the weak brother. This second meaning would seem to be the one intended.

Who art thou that judges another man’s servant? Essentially addressing the weak in faith, Paul draws upon a principle which is found many times in Scripture—(Matthew 7:1) “Judge not, that ye be not judged”; (Luke 6:37) “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”; (I Corinthians 4:3) “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.” 

Each Christian is the property of God and we are not in a position to see the inner motives of others. God’s jurisdiction over all believers is not to be infringed upon by either those who are weak or those who are strong. God is judge and we are not.

It is a question that Jesus might ask each of us; “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?”—“Who has ever given thee the right to condemn the servant of another man, in things pertaining to his own master?” To his own master he standeth or falleth. He is to judge him, not thou; thy meddling in this business is both rash and uncharitable.

Yea, he shall be holden up:

He is sincere and upright, and God, who is able to make him stand, will uphold him; and so teach him that he shall not essentially get it wrong. And it is the will of God that such upright though scrupulous persons should be continued members of his Church.

This clause seems designed to urge a further reason for forbearance and kindness towards those who differ from us on minor matters. However weak a man’s faith may be, if he is a Christian, he should be recognized and treated as such; for his weakness is not inconsistent with his acceptance by God, and therefore there is no ground or necessity for our proceeding against him with severity. The objects of discipline are the reformation of offenders and the purification of the church; but neither of these objects requires the condemnation of those brethren whom God has received. “God is able to make him stand;” he has not only the power, but the disposition and determination to do it. Compare Romans 11:23, “For God is able to graft them in again.” The interpretation given above, according to which standing and falling are sensibly understood, is the one commonly adopted. However, there are objectors, who say that justifying, causing to stand in judgment, is not an act of power but grace. On this ground, standing and falling are taken to refer to continuing or falling away from the Christian life. God is able, notwithstanding their weakness, to cause his feeble children to persevere. But this is against the context. The thing condemned is unrighteous judgments. The brethren are not responsible to each other, or the church, or their scruples. God is the Lord of the conscience. To him they must answer. Before him they stand or fall.

for God is able to make him stand.

The believer stands, not in his own strength, but in that which Christ imparts to him. What is in view here is, not that the strong man will fall and be restored, but that Christ is able to maintain him in spite of what his liberty may involve. He will be in good standing, not at the Day of Judgment, of which the apostle touches on in Romans 14:10, but here in the true fellowship of the Church in spite of the criticism and censures.

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

One man esteemeth one day above another:

Some Jewish Christians, who did not understand that the old covenant was ended, still thought of the Sabbath as a day where they were obligated to observe Jewish religious traditions. They had a conscience that rebelled against doing any work on Saturday. In that sense, they esteemed one day above another. It is the weak brother who regards the strict observance of these days—Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles, New Moons, Jubilee, etc.,  as necessary. The converted Jew still thought they had a moral obligation to celebrate these special days; the Gentile Christian not having grown-up in this way had no such preconceived notion. And as those who were the instruments of bringing him to the knowledge of God gave him no such injunctions, consequently he would not participate in the observance of these days.
The observance of days is mentioned in [18]Colossians 2:16 and [19]Galatians 4:10.

  • (Colossians 2:16) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days” We might summarize the foregoing as follows: The Colossians had died to all efforts to please God by the flesh. They had not only died, but they had been buried with Christ and had risen with Christ to a new kind of life. Therefore they should be done forever with the Judaizers and Gnostics, who were trying to draw them back to the very things to which the Colossians had died. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. All human religions place men under bondage to ordinances, rules, regulations, and a religious calendar. This calendar usually includes annual observances (holy days), monthly festivals (new moons), or weekly holidays (Sabbaths). The expression “Therefore let no one judge you” means that a Christian cannot be justly condemned by others if, for instance, he eats pork, or if he fails to observe religious festivals or holy days. Some religious denominations, such as Seventh Day Adventists, insist on their members abstaining from eating meat. For centuries Roman Catholics were not supposed to eat meat on Friday. Many churches require abstinence from certain foods during Lent. Others, like the Mormons, say that a person cannot be a member in good standing if he drinks tea or coffee. Still others, notably the Seventh Day Adventists, insist that a person must keep the Sabbath in order to please God. The Christian is not under such ordinance
  • (Galatians 4:10) “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” The Galatians were observing the Jewish calendar with its Sabbaths, its festivals, and seasons. Paul expresses fear for those who profess to be Christians, yet seek to find favor with God by legal observances. Even unregenerate people can observe days and months and years. It gives some people intense satisfaction to feel there is something they can do in their own strength to win God’s smile. But this implies that man has some strength, and hence, to that extent, he does not need the Savior. If Paul could write in this manner to the Galatians, what would he write to professing Christians today who are seeking to attain holiness by legal observances? Would he not condemn the traditions brought into Christianity from Judaism—a humanly ordained priesthood, distinctive vestments for the priest, Sabbath-keeping, holy places, candles, holy water, and so forth?

Those who, like Paul, understand the liberty we have in Christ Jesus, do not observe days but rather serve and worship Him consistently seven days a week. Paul clearly aligns himself with those who are seven-day-a-week Christians, those who view one hundred percent of their income as holy to the Lord, not just one-tenth. But he says that even though believers disagree with regard to this issue, they must respect the opinion of others for the motive of both the weak and the strong is to honor God with thanksgiving.
The veneration of these days was a weakness; but still it was not a vital matter, and therefore should not be allowed to disturb the harmony of Christian relationships, or the peace of the church. It is obvious from the context, and from such parallel passages as Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16 that Paul has reference to the Jewish festivals, and therefore his language cannot properly be applied to the Christian Sabbath. The sentiment of the passage is this, ‘One man observes the Jewish festivals, another man does not.’ Such we know was the fact in the apostolic church, even among those who agreed on the observance of the first day of the week.

another esteemeth every day alike.
Other believers did not share these Judaistic scruples. They looked on every day alike. They did not look upon six days as secular and one as sacred. To them all days were sacred. The veneration of these days was a weakness; but still it was not a vital matter, and therefore should not be allowed to disturb the harmony of Christian interaction, or the peace of the church. It is obvious from the context, and from such parallel passages as Galatians 4:10, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years,” and Colossians 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of Sabbath days,” that Paul has reference to the Jewish festivals, and therefore his language cannot properly be applied to the Christian Sabbath. The sentiment of the passage is this, ‘One man observes the Jewish festivals, another man does not.’ Such we know was the fact in the apostolic church, even among those who agreed in the observance of the first day of the week.

The veneration of these days was a weakness; but still it was not a vital matter, and therefore should not be allowed to disturb the harmony of Christian intercourse, or the peace of the church. It is obvious from the context, and from such parallel passages as Galatians 4:10, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years,” and Colossians 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of Sabbath days,” that Paul has reference to the Jewish festivals, and therefore his language cannot properly be applied to the Christian Sabbath. The sentiment of the passage is this, ‘One man observes the Jewish festivals, another man does not.’ Such we know was the fact in the apostolic church, even among those who agreed in the observance of the first day of the week.

Does the first day of the week have a special place in the lives of Christians? We see in the New Testament that it was the day of our Lord’s resurrection (Luke 24:1–9). On the next two Lord’s days, Christ met with His disciples; (John 20:19, 26) “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” The Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost, which was on the first day of the week; Pentecost occurred seven Sundays after the Feast of Firstfruits; (Acts 2:1) “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place”, which symbolizes Christ’s resurrection; (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept…But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. The disciples gathered to break bread on the first day of the week; (Acts 20:7) “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Paul instructed the Corinthians to take a collection on the first day of the week. So the Lord’s Day does stand out in the New Testament in a special way. But rather than being a day of obligation, like the Sabbath, it is a day of privilege. Released from our ordinary employment, we can set it apart in a special way for worshiping and serving our Lord.

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

One’s convictions are to be one’s own, through a personal understanding of his responsibility to the Lord and to His revealed will. The believer’s action should not be determined simply by another man’s opinion. The mind is the seat of moral consciousness, and this, when enlightened by the Spirit of God, enables the believer to do His will and prevents the demoralizing experience of doing something merely because others think it right.

Whatever view one holds on this subject, the principle is this: let each be fully convinced in his own mind. Now it should be clear that such a principle applies only to matters that are morally neutral. When it comes to fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, there is no room for individual opinions. But in this area where things are neither right nor wrong in themselves, there is room for differing views, but, they should not be allowed to become tests of fellowship.

The principle which the apostle enforces in reference to this case is that one man should not be forced to act according to another man’s conscience, but every one should be satisfied in his own mind, and be careful not to do what he thought wrong.The nitty-gritty of this verse is this: Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Let each act as he thinks right. If he thinks he ought to observe the days, let him do as his conscience demands. If he thinks otherwise, he should not observe them.

6 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.

Do not condemn the man for what is indifferent in itself: if he keeps these festivals and his purpose is to honor God by the religious observance of them, God will accept him and his celebration. On the other hand, he who finds that he cannot observe them in honor of God, believing that God has not confirmed them; he does not observe them at all. Each regards himself as doing what he believes to be the Lord's will.
Just as the weak brother, who regards one day more than others, may meet criticism by saying that he observes the day to honor the Lord, so may the brother who eats all things maintain that what he partakes of brings gratitude to God on his part; he could not give thanks for what he knew God had forbidden. Again, just as he who eats demonstrates his devotion to the Lord by giving thanks, so he who refrains demonstrates the same thing by his thankfulness for his simpler meal.

The one who observes the day, in this verse, is probably a Jewish believer who still has a bad conscience about doing any work on Saturday. It is not that he looks upon Sabbath-keeping as a means of obtaining or retaining salvation; it is simply a matter of doing what he thinks will please the Lord. Likewise, a person who does not observe the day does so to honor Christ, the substance, rather than the mere shadow of the faith ([18]Colossians 2:16, 17) is what’s important.

The Christian who disregards the Mosaic distinction between clean and unclean meats, and arbitrarily picks from the common articles of food, acts religiously in doing so, if he gives God thanks. He could not deliberately thank God for what he supposed God had forbidden him to use. In like manner, he that abstains from certain meats does it religiously, for he gives thanks to God; which implies that he regards himself as acting agreeably to the divine will. In like manner, he that eats any creature of God, which is wholesome and proper food, should give thanks to God as the author of all good.

Both parties are actuated by religious motives in what they do; they regulate their conduct by a regard for the will of God, and therefore, although some, from weakness or ignorance, may get it wrong as to their duty to God, they are not to be despised, cast out, or labeled evil. The strong should not condemn the weak, and the weak should not censure the strong.
One who has liberty to eat nonkosher foods bows his head and gives God thanks for them. So does the believer with the weak conscience, who eats only kosher foods. Both ask the blessing from God.

In both cases God is honored and thanked, so why should this be the cause of strife and conflict?

and giveth God thanks.

And he who cannot eat everything indiscriminately, but is regulated by the precepts in the Mosaic Law relative to clean and unclean meats, also gives God thanks. Both are sincere; both upright; both act according to their light; God accepts both; and they should bear with each other.

Part 2: The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and gentile believers against despising one the other. 14:7-13.

Though some are weak, and others are strong, yet all must agree not to live just for themselves. No one who has given himself to Christ is admittedly 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 our all in all. Though some Christians are stronger than others, and have greater capacities, especially in lesser things, yet they all belong to the Lord; all are following, and serving, and seeking to approve 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 all of them must shortly give an account. Believing in the judgment to come on the great day of the Lord should silence rash judgments. 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 beware of saying or doing things which may cause weaker brethren to stumble or to fall.

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

For none of us liveth to himself,

The subject passes from the particular cases of those who regard special days, and those who eat flesh and those who abstain, to the case of every believer and his relationship with Christ as Lord. The reference now is to the daily Christian experience. The significance of the statement “none of us liveth to himself,” is not a reference to how a believer’s conduct affects others, but rather to what is his attitude toward the Lord.

We are not to act according to our own judgment, following our own opinion. Christians must act according to the mind and will of God all the time and in all things, and not follow their own wills. The apostle seems to imply that in all the above cases each must endeavor to please God, for he is accountable to him alone for his conduct in these mediocre things. God is our master, we must live for him, as if we live under his scrutiny and by his gifts; and when we cease to live among men, we are still in his hand. Therefore, what we do, or what we leave undone, should be with eternity in mind, which is as close as our next breath

The principal being illustrated here is a true Christian principle—No Christian considers himself his own master, or at liberty to regulate his conduct according to his own will, or for his own ends; he is the servant of Christ, and therefore endeavors to live according to his will and for his glory. They, therefore, who act on this principle, are to be regarded and treated as true Christians, although they may differ as to what is the will of God, in particular cases.

and no man dieth to himself.

The lordship of Christ enters into every aspect of a believer’s life. We don’t live for ourselves but for the Lord. We don’t die to ourselves but to the Lord. Death as well as life must be left in the hands of God, to be directed by his will and for his glory. The sentiment is, “We are entirely his, having no authority over our life or death.” It is true that what we do and say affects others, but that is not the thought here. Paul is emphasizing that the Lord should be the goal and object of the lives of His people.
 
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

For Christ is here—in the most resounding terms—held up as the supreme Object of the Christian's life, and of his death too; and the one who is doing the talking is that man whose horror of creature worship was such, that when the poor Lycaonians would have worshipped him, he rushed forth to prevent the deed, directing them to "the living God," as the only legitimate Object of worship: “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:” (Acts 14:15).

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” Here the apostle appeals to 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 subscribe 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.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord;

Verse 7 contains the same sentiment as in the preceding verse, but here it is more fully and explicitly stated. In ver. 7, Paul had stated, negatively, that the Christian does not live according to his own will, or for his own pleasure; but here he states affirmatively that he does live according to the will of Christ, and for his glory. This being the case, he is a true Christian; he belongs to Christ, and should be recognized and treated as such. It is very obvious, especially from the following verse, which speaks of death and resurrection, that Christ is intended in the word Lord, in this verse. It is for Christ, and in subjection to his will, that every Christian endeavors to regulate his heart, his conscience, and his life. This is the profoundest homage the creature can render to his Creator; and as it is the service which the Scriptures require us to render to the Redeemer, it of necessity supposes that Christ is God. This is rendered still plainer by the interchange, throughout the passage (verses 6-9), of the terms Lord and God: ‘He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks. We live unto the Lord; we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose, that he might be the Lord,’ etc. It is clear that, to the apostle’s mind, the idea that Christ is God was entirely settled.

and whether we die, we die unto the Lord:

A believer’s death is not his own will; it is the Lord’s. Hence, when he dies, he chooses neither the time nor the manner of it, nor does death itself alter the relationship he has with the Lord. He still remains the Lord’s possession, and lives for Him. Time and circumstance are determined by the Lord’s will. Believers may differ in their opinions as to what the Lord requires of them individually in certain matters, but the deciding principle in every case and every condition is that Christ is Lord. Death, then, does not bring a cessation of service for Him; His authority as Lord continues over us in the spirit state.

whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

We are not our own, but Christ’s (see [19]1 Corinthians 6:19). This right of possession, and the consequent duty of devotion and obedience, is not founded on creation, but on redemption. We are Christ’s, because he has bought us with a price.

Everything we do in life is subject to Christ’s scrutiny and approval. Nothing that happens is ever a surprise to Him and He is always present with us and knows everything we do, say, and think. We test things by how they line-up with His Word. Even in death we aspire to glorify the Lord as we go to be with Him. Both in life and in death we belong to Him.

9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

The death and resurrection of Christ are the facts on which His possession of, and authority over, His people, are founded, both here and hereafter. That we are not our own, but are the Lord's both in life and death, is evident from this—that Christ lived, and died, and rose again, that he might be the Lord of the dead and the living; for his power extends equally over both worlds: separate, as well as embodied spirits, are under his authority; and he it is who is to raise even the dead to life: and thus “all” throughout eternity shall live under his dominion.

The dominion which Christ, as Mediator or Redeemer, exercises over his people, and which they gladly recognize, is therefore referred to his death and resurrection. By his death he purchased them for his own, and by his resurrection he attained to that exalted station which he now occupies as Lord over all, and received those gifts which enable him to exercise as Mediator this universal dominion. The exaltation and dominion of Christ are frequently represented in the Scriptures, as the reward of his sufferings: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” etc. (Philippians 2:8, 9). This authority of Christ over his people is not confined to this world, but extends beyond the grave. He is Lord both of the dead and the living.

One of the reasons for which Christ died and rose and lived again is that He might be our Lord, and that we might be His willing subjects, gladly rendering to Him the devotion of our grateful hearts. His lordship continues even in death, when our bodies lie in the grave and our spirits and souls are in His presence. The grand object of His death was to acquire this absolute Lordship over His redeemed, both in their living and in their dying, as is His right. It was to this end that Christ both died, and rose. The adage “no man is an island unto himself” is the modern outgrowth of these verses, but that is not the central truth taught here. The basic teaching is that each Christian must live his life in the full view of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do so as servant to Master and therefore our relationship to Him will affect our relationship to the brethren. We must interact with others in a method pleasing to the Lord and not in judging the strong or demeaning the weak. The ground of our actions toward one another is the absolute lordship of Christ Jesus as established in His death, burial, and resurrection. From His authority as resurrected Lord He bids we live in harmony with one another.

The life of the Christian is a new life that springs out of Christ's death ([20]Romans 6:4); we die with him; we rise with him; hence, since our life comes from him, and springs from his death and resurrection, these make him our Lord, whether we are living or dead.

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

But why dost thou judge thy brother?

In this and the following verses to the 13th, Paul applies his previous reasoning to the case in hand. If a man is our brother, if God has received him, if he acts from a sincere desire to do the divine will, he should not be condemned, though he may think certain things are right which we think are wrong; and he should not be despised if he entangles his conscience with unnecessary scruples.

Such judgment is born in a mind that has assumed the prerogative of Christ, and it is inconsistent with the relationship of believers to one another.

But why dost thou judge thy brother?  Paul addresses this question to the weak in faith; most likely a Christian Jew, who is observing the rites of the Mosaic Law—he passes judgment condemning his brother—a Christian Gentile, who does not think himself bound by the law.

This clause relates to conscientious Jewish Christians; the next to the Gentile converts.

or why dost thou set at naught thy brother?

It is a true saying of Mr. Heylin, on this verse: The superstitious (religious) are prone to judge, and those who are not superstitious (religious) are prone to despise. This is addressed to the strong brother, as the preceding clause was to the weak.

I would pose the question this way: Why have you—Christian Gentile brother, treated your Christian Jewish brother, as if he were nothing; unworthy of your respect, because he does not yet believe that the Gospel has set him free from the rites and ceremonies of the law?

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Because this is true, it is foolishness for an over zealous Jewish Christian to condemn the brother who doesn’t keep the Jewish calendar and who doesn’t limit himself to kosher foods. Likewise, it is wrong for the strong brother to show contempt to the weak brother. The fact is that every one of us is going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and that will be the only evaluation that really counts.

This judgment has to do with a believer’s service, not his sins ([21]1 Corinthians 3:11-15). It is a time of review and reward, and is not to be confused with the Judgment of the Gentile nations  ([22]Matthew 25:31–46) or the Judgment of the Great White Throne ([23]Revelation 20:11–15). The latter is the final judgment of all the wicked dead.

Each believer must live with the Judgment Seat of Christ in view. All that we do will be judged at that heavenly bēma or judgment seat—“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:10). On that day all meaningless differences between Christians will fade away and we will not be concerned about the validity of what others have done for every one of us shall give account of himself to God. The weaker brother does not have to defend the actions of the strong. The stronger brother will not have to answer for the actions of those weak in the faith. We must give an account of our life and activities for the Lord, individually, one-on-one, to the Lord of Glory. The Judgment Seat of Christ is also that of God. The bēma, or judgment seat, was originally a raised place or platform accessed by steps. Hence the word signifies the official seat of a judge: “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19); “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha” (John 19:13);And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat” (Acts 18:12, etc.). At the bēma, the Judgment Seat, of God and of Christ, believers are to be made manifest, so that they may each one “receive the things done in (or through) the body, according to what they have done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). At that Judgment Seat of our Lord Jesus the saints will receive rewards for their faithfulness to the Lord and will there see the effects of the service rendered to Him in accordance with the will of God as revealed in His Word: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming” (1 Thessalonians 2:19); “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints”  (1 Thessalonians 3:13); “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”  (1 Thessalonians 5:23); “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4); “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28). For all that has been contrary to His will they will suffer loss; they will themselves be saved, “yet so as through fire;” “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Since we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, why should we judge and condemn each other? We are accountable to God for our conduct and we will be judged at his bar; and let us consider that whatever measure we dish out, the same shall be measured unto us again. Again, we will all be judged alike. We are not the judges, for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord,

The portion of the verse that follows is a quotation is from Isaiah 45:23—“I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.” This is a free quotation from the Septuagint of Isaiah 45:23. Both the Hebrew and the Septuagint have “By Myself have I sworn;” a Divine oath also uttered in the case of Abraham—“And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son” (Genesis 22:16). The LORD swore by Himself because He couldn’t swear by anyone greater—“For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself” (Hebrew 6:13)

The apostle gives the equivalent expression “as I live”—“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD… Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you” (Numbers 14:21, 28); a form of oath expressive of Divine power and authority; and the correct meaning of the phrase is “I have sworn by myself.”

“For it is written,” declares at this point that the whole world will, at a time in the future, make the humble acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Jehovah.

every knee shall bow to me,

The certainty of our appearance before the bema of Christ is reinforced by this quotation from Isaiah 45:23, where Jehovah Himself makes a strong affirmation that every knee shall bow before Him in acknowledgement of His supreme authority. This passage is also quoted in Philippians 2:10, where he applies it to Christ—“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” The bowing of the knee is expressive of the recognition of, and subjection to, the Lord’s authority.

Under the lordship of Christ we must live with the convictions we have and not those of others. This responsibility naturally drives us to constantly take inventory of our religious scruples and convictions to make sure that they are based in the infallible Word and not in the tradition or whims of men.

and every tongue shall confess to God.

And since to swear by any being, is to recognize his power and authority over us. The expressions, “every tongue shall swear “(Isaiah 45:23), and “every tongue shall confess” (Romans 14:11), are of similar importance. Both indeed are parallel to the clause, every knee shall bow, and are simply different forms of expressing the general idea that every one shall submit to God, i.e. recognize his authority as God, the supreme ruler and judge. The apostle evidently considers the recognition of the authority of Christ as being tantamount to submission to God, and he applies without hesitation the declarations of the Old Testament in relation to the universal dominion of Jehovah, in proof of the Redeemer’s sovereignty. In Paul’s estimation, therefore, Jesus Christ was God. This is so obvious, that commentators of all classes recognize the force of the argument hence deduced for the divinity of Christ.

This verse may be considered as intended to confirm the truth of the declaration at the close of the one preceding verse: “We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; for it is written, To me every knee shall bow.” And this seems to be the natural relation of the passage. Calvin understands this verse, however, as designed to enforce humble submission to the judgment of Christ: ‘We should not judge others, since we are to be judged by Christ; and to his judgment we must humbly bow the knee.’ This is indeed clearly implied; but it is rather an accessory idea, than the special design of the passage.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

God's universal sovereignty gives him the right to call every mortal into account. Hence, we should leave judgment to God. So then it is clear that we will all give an account of ourselves, not of our brothers, to God. We shall not, at the bar of God, be obliged to account for the conduct of each other—each shall give account of himself: and let him take heed that he be prepared to give up his accounts with joy. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. As, therefore, God is the supreme judge, and we are to render our account to him, we should await his decision, and not presume to act the part of judge over our brethren. We judge one another too much, and without the proper authority or knowledge.

Now, if I have correctly divided the Word, it appears that all this is presented 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 agreeable to Christ.

13 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.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more:

Since God is to judge us all, brethren should not condemn each other for differences of opinion over some untaught issue. Let us abandon such rash conduct; it is dangerous, it is unkind: judgment belongs to the Lord, and he will condemn only those who should not be acquitted. This is addressed to the strong.

There is a slight change in the use of the word krinō, “judge,” amounting almost to a play on the word. It now signifies “let this be your decision,” or “determination.” Decisions made in this way, in the exercise of our judgment in our service here below, will determine the nature of our reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

but judge this rather, that no man put a [24]stumblingblock  or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Instead of sitting in judgment on our fellow Christians in these matters of moral indifference, we should resolve that we will never do anything to hinder a brother in his spiritual progress. None of these nonessential matters is important enough for us to cause a brother to stumble or to fall. Both the converted Jew and Gentile should labor to promote each other's spiritual interests, and not be a means of hindering each other in their Christian walk or of causing them to abandon the Gospel, on which, and not on questions of rites and ceremonies, the salvation of their soul depends.

___________________chapter 48 notes________________________
[1](Romans 12:9, 10) “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Next Paul lists some characteristics that every believer should develop in his dealings with other Christians and with the unconverted.

Love should be without hypocrisy. It should not wear a mask, but should be genuine, sincere, and unaffected.

We should abhor all forms of evil and cling to everything good. In this setting evil probably means all attitudes and acts of unlove, malice, and hatred. Good, by contrast, means every manifestation of supernatural love.

In our relations with those who are in the household of faith, we should demonstrate our love by tender affection, not by cool indifference or routine acceptance. We should prefer to see others honored rather than ourselves. 
[2](Romans 13:8-10)  “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Basically, the first part of this verse means “Pay your bills on time.” It is not a prohibition against any form of debt. Some kinds of debt are inevitable in our society: most of us face monthly bills for telephone, gas, light, water, etc. And it is impossible to manage a business without contracting some debts. The admonition here is not to get into arrears (overdue accounts).

But in addition there are certain principles which should guide us in this area. We should not contract debts for nonessentials. We should not go into debt when there is no hope of repaying. We should avoid buying on the installment plan, incurring exorbitant interest charges. We should avoid borrowing to buy a product that depreciates in value. In general, we should practice financial responsibility by living modestly and within our means, always remembering that the borrower is slave to the lender (see Prov. 22:7).

The one debt that is always outstanding is the obligation to love. The word used for love in Romans, with only one exception (12:10), is agapē, which signifies a deep, unselfish, superhuman affection which one person has for another. This otherworldly love is not activated by any virtue in the person loved; rather, it is completely undeserved. It is unlike any other love in that it goes out not only to the lovable but to one’s enemies as well.

This love manifests itself in giving, and generally in sacrificial giving. Thus, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.

It is primarily a matter of the will rather than the emotions. The fact that we are commanded to love indicates that it is something we can choose to do. If it were an uncontrollable emotion that swept over us at unexpected moments, we could scarcely be held accountable. This does not deny, however, that the emotions can be involved.

It is impossible for an unconverted person to manifest this divine love. In fact, it is impossible even for a believer to demonstrate it in his own strength. It can only be exhibited by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Love found its perfect expression on earth in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our love to God manifests itself in obedience to His commandments.

The man who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law, or at least that section of the law which teaches love for our fellowmen.

The apostle singles out those commandments which forbid acts of unlove against one’s neighbor. They are the commandments against adultery, murder, theft, perjury, and coveting. Love doesn’t exploit another person’s body; immorality does. Love doesn’t take another person’s life; murder does. Love doesn’t steal another person’s property; theft does. Love doesn’t deny justice to others; false witness does.  Love doesn’t even entertain wrong desires for another person’s possessions; coveting does.

And if there is any other commandment. Paul could have mentioned one other: “Honor your father and your mother.” They all boil down to the same command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Treat him with the same affection, consideration, and kindness that you treat yourself.

Love never seeks to harm another. Rather, it actively seeks the welfare and honor of all. Therefore the man who acts in love is really fulfilling the requirements of the second table of the law.
[3](Acts 28:2)
“And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”
[4](Romans 15:7) “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” One more principle emerges from all this. In spite of any differences that might exist concerning secondary matters, we should receive one another, just as Christ also received us. Here is the true basis for reception in the local assembly. We do not receive on the basis of denominational affiliation, spiritual maturity, or social status. We should receive those whom Christ has received, in order to promote the glory of God.
[5](Philemon 1:15, 17) “For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever…If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.” It is a mark of spiritual maturity to be able to look beyond the adverse circumstances of the moment and see God working all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). When Onesimus ran away, perhaps Philemon was filled with bitterness and a sense of financial loss. Would he ever see the slave again? Now Paul traces the rainbow through the dark clouds. Onesimus was lost to the family in Colosse for a while that they might have him back forever. This should be the comfort of Christians who lose believing relatives and friends in death. The separations are for a little while; the reunion will be eternal. The apostle’s request is startling both in its boldness and in its tenderness. He asks Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive the apostle himself. He says: “If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.” The words are reminiscent of the Savior’s statements: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matt. 10:40), and, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). They also remind us that God has accepted us in the Person of His Son, that we are as near and dear to God as Christ is.

If Philemon considered Paul as a partner, as one with whom he was in fellowship, then the apostle asks him to receive Onesimus on the same basis. This doesn’t require that Onesimus be treated as a perpetual guest in the family with no obligation to work. He would still be a servant in the home, but one who belonged to Christ and was therefore a brother in the faith. 
[6](Genesis 1:28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 
[7](Mark 7:19) “Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” The disciples had always considered that certain foods like pork, rabbit, and shrimp were unclean and would defile them. Jesus now plainly stated that man was not defiled by what went into him. In a sense, this signaled the end of the legal dispensation. 
[8](Acts 10:14, 15) But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
[9](1Corinthians 10:25, 26) “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” If a believer went to the meat market to buy some meat, he was not required to ask the merchant whether that meat had been previously offered to idols. The meat itself would not be affected in one way or another, and there would be no question of loyalty to Christ involved.

In explanation of this advice, Paul quotes from Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” The thought here is that the food that we eat has been graciously provided by the Lord for us and is specifically intended for our use.
[10](Hebrews 13:4) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 
[11](Matthew14:19) And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 
[12](Acts 27:35) “And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.” Jesus set the example for them by taking bread, giving thanks to God publicly for it, and eating. How often we shrink from praying in front of others! Yet how often such prayer speaks louder than our preaching.
[13](Daniel 1:8) But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
[14](Mark 7:15) There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
[15](forbearance) patience, tolerance, or self-control, especially in not responding to provocation.
[16](Galatians 2:3, 5) “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised...To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” The whole question of legalism was brought to a head in the case of Titus. Would the Jerusalem church receive this Gentile convert into fellowship, or would it insist that he first be circumcised? Paul and Barnabas opposed them vigorously. To settle the matter, Paul, Barnabas, and others went to Jerusalem to obtain an opinion from the apostles and elders there.
[17](Romans 14:8, 9) “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” What did Paul see in these verses? First of all, he noticed that David said nothing about works; forgiveness is a matter of God’s grace, not of man’s efforts. Second, he saw that if God doesn’t impute sin to a person, then that person must have a righteous standing before Him. Finally, he saw that God justifies the ungodly; David had been guilty of adultery and murder, yet in these verses he tastes the sweetness of full and free pardon.

But the idea may still lurk in some Jewish minds that the chosen people had a corner on God’s justification, that only those who were circumcised could be justified. The apostle turns again to the experience of Abraham to show that this is not so. He poses the question, “Is righteousness imputed to believing Jews only, or to believing Gentiles as well?” The fact that Abraham was used as an example might seem to suggest that it was only to Jews. 
[18]
(Colossians 2:16, 17) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” The Colossians had died to all efforts to please God by the flesh. They had not only died, but they had been buried with Christ and had risen with Christ to a new kind of life. Therefore they should be done forever with the Judaizers and Gnostics, who were trying to draw them back to the very things to which the Colossians had died. So let no one judge you by what you eat or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. All human religions place men under bondage to ordinances, rules, regulations, and a religious calendar. This calendar usually includes annual observances (holy days), monthly festivals (new moons), or weekly holidays (Sabbaths). The expression “Therefore let no one judge you” means that a Christian cannot be justly condemned by others if, for instance, he eats pork, or if he fails to observe religious festivals or holy days. Some false cults, such as Seventh Day Adventists, insist on their members abstaining from eating meats. For centuries Roman Catholics were not supposed to eat meat on Friday. Many churches require abstinence from certain foods during Lent. Others, like the Mormons, say that a person cannot be a member in good standing if he drinks tea or coffee. Still others, notably the Seventh Day Adventists, insist that a person must keep the Sabbath in order to please God. The Christian is not under such ordinances.

The Jewish religious observances were a shadow of things to come, but the substance (or body) is Christ’s. They were instituted in the Old Testament as a pre-picture. For instance, the Sabbath was given as a type of the rest which would belong to all who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that the Lord Jesus has come, why should men continue to be occupied with the shadows? It is the same as being occupied with a picture when the very person pictured is present. 
[19](1 Corinthians 6:19) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Again Paul reminds the Corinthians that theirs was a holy and dignified calling. Had they forgotten that their bodies were a temple of the Holy Spirit? That is the solemn truth of Scripture, that every believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God. How could we ever think of taking a body in which the Holy Spirit dwells and using it for vile purposes? Not only is our body the shrine of the Holy Spirit, but in addition, we are not our own. It is not for us to take our bodies and use them the way we desire. In the final analysis, they do not belong to us; they belong to the Lord. 
[20](Romans 6:4) “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Water baptism gives a visual demonstration of baptism into Christ. It pictures the believer being immersed in death’s dark waters (in the person of the Lord Jesus), and it pictures the new man in Christ rising to walk in newness of life. There is a sense in which a believer attends the funeral of his old self when he is baptized. As he goes under the water he is saying, “All that I was as a sinful son of Adam was put to death at the cross.” As he comes up out of the water he is saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (see Gal. 2:20).

The apostle moves on to state that the resurrection of Christ makes it possible for us to walk in newness of life. He states that Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. This simply means that all the divine perfections of God—His righteousness, love, justice, etc.—demanded that He raise the Lord. In view of the excellence of the Person of the Savior, it would not have been consistent with God’s character to leave the Savior in the tomb. God did raise Him, and because we are identified with Christ in His resurrection, we can and should walk in newness of life.
[21](1 Corinthians 3:11-15) “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Only one foundation is required for a building. Once it is laid, it never needs to be repeated. The Apostle Paul had laid the foundation of the church at Corinth. That foundation was Jesus Christ, His Person and Work. An interesting thought in connection with this verse is that the word of God is sometimes likened to fire (see Isa. 5:24 and Jer. 23:29). The same word of God which will test our service at the Judgment Seat of Christ is available to us now. If we are building in accordance with the teachings of the Bible, then our work will stand the test in that coming day.
[22](Matthew 25:31–46) When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
[23](Revelation 20:11–15) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. 
[24](stumblingblock) A stumbling-block is anything which might cause a brother to fall.

 

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