Romans 14To doubtful disputations; referring to such subjects as those discussed in the verses which follow.
There was a difficulty in the minds of many Jews, in respect to eating animal food, lest they might sometimes eat the flesh of animals which had been offered in sacrifice to idols, and thus, as they supposed, be sharers in the sin of idolatry, or in other respects violate the Mosaic requirements in regard to ceremonial uncleanness. (See v. 14.) This subject is treated fully in 1 Cor. 8. There was also a disposition, manifested quite early in the history of the church, to imagine that voluntary penances and privations, and especially a rigid self-denial in the use of food, was either the mark that indicated, or the means to acquire, peculiar sanctity. Which of these two ideas is the one referred to by the apostle here has been considered uncertain. It would seem altogether probable that it was the former, for it is treated as the harmless prejudice of a weak-minded man, which the former was; while the latter is the seed and germ of the most dangerous fanaticism.—Herbs; vegetables.
Despise him, &c.; regard him with contempt, as weak and narrow minded.—Judge him, &c.; condemn him as guilty of idolatry.
The days here referred to were probably the various fasts and feasts of the Jewish law.—Let every man, &c.; that is, let every one do what he thinks right, without molestation from others.
The meaning is, since each one, in regard to these outward observances, goes forward in what he deems his duty, under the influence of an honest desire to please and obey God, he ought not to be condemned.
Whether we live,—whether we die; that is, in all the circumstances and avocations of life.
Every knee shall bow to me; to me only, meaning that Christians, in such cases as this, are responsible to God, and not to one another.
That no man put a stumbling-block, &c.; wound the feelings or the conscience of a brother.
To him it is unclean; that is, he ought to act in such cases according to his own convictions of duty.
Thy meat; thy food.
Is not meat and drink. Piety does not consist in these outward and ceremonial observances.
Serveth Christ; takes such a course as he supposes will be acceptable to Christ, whatsoever it may be.
Edify another; encourage and aid him in his Christian progress.
All things indeed are pure; that is, there is really no moral contamination to be contracted from food.—With offence; under such circumstances as to occasion offence; that is, to distress or wound a Christian brother.
Hast thou faith; enlightened and confident belief on these subjects.
Is damned; is condemned; that is, he is in the wrong. The meaning is, that, if he does what is really innocent, when he supposes it not to be go, he incurs guilt and condemnation.
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