Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                                                April 8, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                NO. 11


 A Study Of Romans 14


Preaching the gospel for fifty-three years, I have heard many perversions of Romans Chapter 14. It is a serious thing to pervert any part of the gospel of Christ. Some in the churches of Galatia were perverting the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7). Paul warned of the serious consequences of preaching another gospel, other than the one which he preached (Gal. 1:8, 9). We need be careful lest we be accursed for preaching another gospel, other than the one Paul preached in Romans 14.

A Serious Examination Of What He Taught

We are taught to receive the weak brother (Rom. 14:1). This does not mean we are to receive every weak brother. Some weak brethren are to be rejected (Tit. 1:9-14; Tit. 3:10, 11). Others are to be “marked” and “avoided” (Rom. 16:17). The weak brother we are to receive is not a false teacher. He just simply does not understand that we may eat meat (Rom. 14:2). He does not understand that there are some days that may be regarded to the Lord, without sinning; while at the same time it it not necessary to regard these days to the Lord  (Rom. 14:5, 6). These are matters of indifference! God does not care one way, or the other. It does not matter with God whether you eat meat or not. God does not care if you want to be a vegetarian, and reject meat altogether. Neither does God care if you want to eat a pork chop, ham, bacon, catfish, or rabbit (I Tim. 4:4, 5). It was wrong under the law of Moses to eat certain meats (Lev. 11). But under the law of Christ, it does not matter. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).

We are not to receive the weak brother to “doubtful disputations” (Rom. 14:1). This would mean we are to receive him without disputing with him about things he has doubt about, which doesn’t matter one way or another. If he doubts that he should eat meat, we are not to dispute with him, trying to persuade him to eat meat. There is no need to convert him to our way of thinking, because God doesn’t care whether he eats meat or not. This does not mean we should not dispute with him about things which matter with God, even though he is weak, and has doubts about things. The strong brother, who can eat meat, should not despise the weak brother, who cannot eat meat with a clear conscience (Rom. 14:3). The weak brother, who cannot eat meat with a clear conscience, should not judge (condemn) the strong brother, who can eat meat (Rom. 14:3).  He should not condemn him, because “God hath received him” (Rom. 14:3). This principle will apply to any incidental matter. It will apply to any situation where God does not care one way or the other. If God receives and endorses what someone does, I have no right to judge (condemn) that person. I have no right to condemn another person’s servant if his master, or employer, receives him, and does not condemn what he is doing (Rom. 14:4). Therefore, I have no right to condemn a fellow Christian, if God accepts him. However, if God refuses to accept what he is doing, I have not only the right, but the responsibility to condemn him. Paul judged and called upon the Corinthians to judge the brother who had his father’s wife (I Cor. 5:1-5). God receives a man who eats meat, therefore you have no right to judge him. God rejects fornicators, therefore you have a right, and the responsibility  to judge them.

We are not to judge and set at nought our brother (Rom. 14:10), because we are all going to stand before the judgement seat of Christ. This statement is to be understood in light of the context in which it is found. This statement applies only to matters that are incidental, where God doesn’t care one way or the other. A man is not to judge, or set at nought a brother for eating meat, or regarding days that God does not care whether you regard or not. However, we should judge a brother for fornication (I Cor. 5), because God cares about whether you commit fornication or not. In verse 13 where Paul says, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way”, he is talking about incidental matters. He is talking about things where God does not care one way or the other. God does not care whether I eat pork or not. Therefore, I should not condemn those who eat pork. Those who eat pork should not despise me for not eating pork. Those who eat pork should not influence the weak brother, who cannot eat pork with a clear conscience, to eat pork, and thus violate his conscience. This would be putting a stumbling block in the weak brother’s way. The weak brother would not be eating with faith, but with doubt (Rom. 14:23), and he that doubts is damned if he eat.

Paul says, “there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14).  He also says, “all things are pure” (Rom. 14:20). The context shows he is talking about meat. He is certainly not saying all things are morally pure and clean. Fornication and homosexuality are not pure and clean, no matter how much a person may esteem them to be. During the Old Testament period certain meats were unclean (Lev. 11). Now, all meats are clean (I Tim. 4:4). However, if you consider certain meats to be unclean, to you they are unclean (Rom. 14:14). If you should eat them, esteeming them to be unclean, you would sin (Rom. 14:23).

The Problem Of Eating Meat In Paul’s Day

The church at Rome was made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish brethren had been taught, all their life, the law of Moses which forbad the eating of certain meats (Lev. 11). It was difficult for them to eat what they considered unclean meats with a clear conscience. The Apostle Peter fell into a trance and saw a vessel let down from heaven with all kinds of unclean creatures in it. There was a voice that came to him, saying “Rise Peter, kill and eat”. Peter responded to this voice by saying, “Not so Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:10-14). The purpose of this vision was to show Peter that he was to preach to the Gentiles, and that he should not call any man common, or unclean (Acts 10:28). However, God had cleansed meats, and we should not consider any meat unclean (I Tim. 4:3-5). God did not show Peter the vision to convince him to eat meat, because God didn’t care whether Peter ate the unclean animals or not. In fact it would have been wrong for Peter to eat them, because he could not eat them in faith (Rom. 14:23). God was not trying to convince Peter to eat them, and Paul did not dispute with Peter about something Peter had doubt about; trying to convince Peter to eat meats he considered to be unclean.  Paul received Peter, but not to doubtful disputation (Rom. 14:1).  This is what Romans 14 is about.

(Editor's Note: Part 2 of this article by Wendell Wiser will be in next week's bulletin.)

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