We now look at Romans 14:1-12
We should not condemn those who are fellow believers, or those who are outside the body of believers. Our desire should be that all people might receive the truth and be welcomed into the Kingdom of G-d. In this chapter Paul is NOT dealing with Kashrut or the kosher laws (dietary laws in the Old Testament regarding food). He is dealing with an entirely different matter – the issue of whether it is permissible to eat meat or not. In this chapter Paul also deals with the observance of certain (extrabiblical/traditional) days. Neither of these issues should lead to us condemning or judging the stance that other people take on these issues.
v1: Doubtful (disputable) things: We are not called to argue or dispute things that are “grey” areas in the Bible. We do need to deal with disputable things, but not for the purpose of condemning others or banishing them from the local congregation.
v2: Eat all things: Noone disputed that fruit and vegetables were acceptable. The debate was specifically about meat. Based on the Word of G-d, eating meat is permissible (Gen 9:3-4).
- Only vegetables: This would include fruit.
v3: Let not him: Written in the form of a command. There was an argument between these two different groups of people. Both groups were basing their view upon Scripture, but the one group’s interpretation or conclusion (according to Paul) was incorrect. Nevertheless, Paul instructed both groups not to despise or condemn each other.
- G-d has received him: Both of these groups of people have received the gospel by faith. One group happens to be weaker in the faith than the other group, but G-d (because of their faith and not according to what they eat or don’t eat) has received both groups of people.
v4: Another’s servant: Both of the groups mentioned above are servants of Messiah. He is the only one who can judge if His servant is doing the right or the wrong thing.
- Stands or falls: It is the master of the servant that renders judgment on his servant. Fellow servants do not have the permission or authority to make this call.
- G-d is able to make him stand: Although some people are weak in the faith, G-d is able to uphold them and establish them. He is able to grow and mature people. He is able to complete the work that He has started in the lives of people (Phil 1:6)
v5: Note: Paul begins to talk about another issue in this verse. This is not a verse dealing with the Sabbath Day or the Biblical festivals but is related to extrabiblical dates that were set, traditional days etc (eg: Christmas etc)
- Esteems one day above another: This person observes a specific day differently to another day. They place more importance on certain days than on other days. Paul is exploring the thought of whether or not it is permissible to celebrate or acknowledge these extrabiblical or traditional/cultural days.
- Fully convinced in his own mind: Paul is saying that this is a matter of conscience. If we are led, based upon our own consciences, that a day is different and should be celebrated etc then there is no harm in celebrating this day.
v6: Observes: Literally the word for ‘thinks’.
Note: In both situations – whether in eating or in observing traditional days – these groups of people make their decisions based on their faith (whether strong or weak) or their commitment to G-d. Both groups of people have a desire to honour G-d in how they behave. The objective of both sets of people is to give thanks to G-d. These kinds of disputes should not cause division in the body of believers.
v7: None of us lives to himself: This is a foundational principle. We do not live unto ourselves, but we should all be living unto the L-rd. Because we are committed to the L-rd, we should also be concerned about other individuals.
- No one dies to himself: Whether we live or whether we die everything of ours should be offered up to G-d. We are called to live sacrificially.
v8: For if we live, we live to the L-rd…: This is the objective of those who have faith. Everything that we have belongs to the L-rd and we should give thanks to Him for it all.
- We are the L-rds: We belong to Him. This speaks about the eternal hope that we have.
v9: This: Paul is speaking about a primary thing/thought here.
- Messiah died and rose (was resurrected) and lived again: Messiah did this all for us. Everything that He did was for the betterment, the salvation, of humanity. He did things based upon our well-being from the standards and will of G-d.
- Be the L-rd: Rule over. This is the mindset that we need to have – Yeshua is our L-rd (He is the One we need to submit to) and He rules over us. Every decision we make should be based on what is pleasing and correct before G-d.
v10: Brother: A fellow believer
- Why do you show contempt for (despise) your brother: When we have a judgmental or a condemning attitude towards fellow believers Paul is revealing to us that we in fact are despising them. This is not what we should be doing, as this is not the position of faith. When we have faith, we are called to love our brothers – not despise them.
- Judgment seat of Messiah: As believers the judgement we will receive, when we stand before Messiah, will be a judgment of rewards. These disputed things, these matters of conscience, are not for us to judge or condemn. Ultimately Messiah is the One who is going to make a declaration of judgment regarding them – as to whether they were appropriate views to hold or not. We will suffer a loss of reward for those things which we did inappropriately, but for those things that we did that are considered appropriate we will be blessed.
v11: It is written: Isaiah 45:23
- Every tongue shall confess: Everyone is going to have to make a confession – not to one another, but to G-d.
- To G-d: This is another important verse that reveals to us the divinity of Messiah. All judgment has been given to Messiah (John 5:27)
v12: Each of us: Every believer
- An account: Every one of us is going to have to give an account of what we have thought, said, and did. The good news is this: Based upon the gospel, that judgment does not determine where we are going to spend eternity – heaven or hell. Although we may suffer a loss of rewards (1 Cor 3:15) our eternal future remains secure.