Romans 14:1-2 We are called to receive the weak brother. The word “receive” means to
welcome, accept, to embrace. It means to receive a weak person just as God graciously received us. This is one of the many New Covenant commands. A weak brother is to be received without criticism and argument over his weaknesses (Romans 15:1;1 Corinthians 9:22).
We are also called to acknowledge that there are differences between Believers as to how they should live and what is and is not allowed by God. For example, one Believer believes he can eat anything, while another believes he must be a vegetarian or kosher. This call is not limited to rules governing food.
The Scripture is applicable to all kinds of rules, conscience, taboos, and restrictions of behavior which some believers and churches say should regulate their lives. This passage is not dealing with the clear commandments of God; it is dealing with those behaviors where there are differences of opinions among men.
The commandments of God are to be obeyed. The person who is kosher or a vegetarian, who governs his life by strict rules, is called the “weak” brother. Why would the keeping of strict rules cause a believer to be called a “weak” Christian?
Paul was willing to become all things to all men when principle was not at stake, but when principle was at stake, he would concede nothing. For example, Paul had Timothy circumcised, conforming to the law of Moses; however, here in Romans he exhorts believers to ignore outward observances and to resist them completely.
In another instance, he would not allow Titus to be circumcised under any circumstance (Galatians 2:3-5); and he warned the Galatians that if they were circumcised, their faith in Messiah would profit them nothing. They would be renouncing their salvation. What is the difference?
When rules and observance are made the means of salvation, they become a heresy, and in the case of Titus and the Galatians this is what was happening. There is a great difference between coming to God by way of rules and by coming to God by means of Messiah. The first man believes he is saved by his works, that is, by the keeping rules; where the second man believes he is saved by Messiah and Messiah alone.
A weak brother is that he is just a little bit confused as to how day to day cleanliness comes. His conscience calls him to observe some rule in order to keep his life clean. He feels that he keeps the favor of God by doing extra works. He just has not matured to the point of understanding that even his day to day cleanliness comes from the righteousness of Christ. He is weak because he still believes in the necessity of works.
To some degree he is still trying to gain and to maintain a right relationship with God by his own works. He has not fully accepted the way of God’s grace and love. He has not yet understood, not fully, that he will always come short of God’s glory, unable to do any work or act perfectly. He has not come to understand the meaning of Christian liberty. He sees Christianity as a thing of rules and regulations, and he governs his life by these rules and observances. In some cases the thought of Christian liberty frightens him.
Romans 14:4 – Another reason why we should accept other Believers is that the Lord not only accepts them but sustains them as well. The fact of the matter is that whether we are “weak” or “strong” before Almighty God we are all weak and powerless. Paul confronts both groups with the stinging rhetorical question, Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? especially a fellow servant of The Lord? My assessment of another believer does not in the least affect their standing before the Lord consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5.
Romans 14:5-6 As Paul continues to address both strong and weak believers he notes that one man (the weak) regards one day above another, whereas another (the strong) regards every day alike. The Jewish community understood that the Sabbath referred not only to the seventh day but to all the Holy Days that were considered as a Sabbath or rest day, pagan religions also venerated certain days or seasons.
Paul touched on this in Colossians 2:16-17 reminding them that they were a shadow of what is to come. We are to be fully convinced in our own minds about observing or not observing the Sabbath or any other day. This includes the heart and conscience, our deepest convictions and motives. Before God, it is not a matter of observance or nonobservance but of intent.
If it is done for the Lord and not to impress or justify ourselves before men then we are free to do so. In matters that are not specifically commanded or forbidden in Scripture, it is always wrong to go against conscience, because our conscience represents what we actually believe to be right. To go against our conscience and do that which we believe is wrong even though in itself it may not be sinful, it is treated as sinful for those who are convinced in their own minds that it is wrong, and produces guilt.
It is also sinful, however, to try to impose our personal convictions on others, because, in doing so, we are tempting them to go against their own consciences. We then are told not to compromise our own conscience in order to satisfy the conscience of another believer and to not call another believer to compromise his conscience to conform to ours.
The greater responsibility is on the strong believer because he is more mature in his understanding. That is why the stronger believer is warned about using our liberty to become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Romans 14:7-9 – The reason is that we do not live for ourselves but rather for the Lord. What we do for other believers, we do not only for their sakes but for our Lord’s sake it is impossible to live an isolated life. Nothing we do affects only ourselves we have the power of making others happy or sad by our actions and even influencing others for good or bad. As we receive life we also pass it on.
We hand on to our children physical life and spiritual character. We are all links in a chain we leave something of ourselves in the world by leaving something of ourselves in others. Our sin would be a far less terrible thing if it only affected ourselves. This is why we must live and abide in Yeshua that our lives might have the affect He desires to have on men. His agenda must be ours not our His.
Romans 14:10-12– Still another reason why we should accept other believers is that the Lord alone will judge each believer. God is fully able and in fact will defend Himself and His truth, we are called to obey and follow Him not waste time in judgment of other Believers. We will all stand before the judgment seat of God (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). This was indeed a thought with which any Jew would agree.
There was a rabbinic saying: “Let not thine imagination assure thee that the grave is an asylum. We discussed earlier how none of lives in isolation, well there is one place where we shall be isolated and that will be when we stand before the judgment seat of God. There are times in this world that we can make use of the merits of someone else.
There have been many young men been spared some penalty for the sake of his parents; or a husband been given mercy for the sake of his wife or children; but in the judgment of God we will stand alone. That is not quite fully true for Yeshua will be standing there as well and there is some good in us because of His presence in our lives.
Romans 14:13-15 – Since God alone is qualified and has the authority to judge the minds and hearts of His people, we must not judge one another (Matthew 7:1-5). Wrongful judgments have been the major causes of disrespect, disharmony, and disunity in the church. The Greek word that is used here carries the idea of condemnation. Instead we are called to find ways to help other believers.
For example, although the New Testament does not forbid drinking alcohol, there are many good reasons for Believers to abstain. One of the most notable is the effect it can have on a former alcoholic. It is our calling to think of everything, not as it affects us only, but also as it affects others. Paul is not saying that we must always have our conduct dictated by the views of others; in matters that are more significant to us we need to do what we believe is right.
But there are many things that are neutral things that are neither in themselves good or bad in regard to those things we are called to yield. Life must be guided by the principle of love; and when it is, we will think, not so much of our rights but for our responsibilities to others. Furthermore we are not to grieve or as the NIV translates it distress our brother. The idea is that my actions should not hurt his spiritual growth.
This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 18:14, the context makes clear that “these little ones” are believers. Jesus was not concerned about their loss of salvation but about their loss of spiritual well-being. A fourth purpose for building up rather than injuring weaker believers is to avoid compromising our witness before the rest of the world.
Our Church fights give the world and the enemy of the Gospel an opportunity to denigrate the truth of the God and His Messiah. Our liberty in Messiah is not simply for our own benefit and for us to abuse. It is to be used to build up and serve others. It should never be used as an occasion to cause brothers to stumble, be grieved, or harmed in any way; and it should never give the watching world an excuse for it to be spoken of as evil.
In Acts 15 the council opposed the necessity of circumcision for Gentile Believers and calling them to submit to the Law of Moses. But it also was decided that they should be called not to offend the consciences either of Jewish or Gentile believers who were weak. The letter sent to the congregations dealt with 4 things three which had to do with religious law and ceremony and conscience.
Romans 14:16-19 Furthermore we are not to grieve or as the NIV translates it distress our brother. The idea is that my actions should not hurt his spiritual growth. This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 18:14, the context makes clear that “these little ones” are believers. Jesus was not concerned about their loss of salvation but about their loss of spiritual well-being.
A fourth purpose for building up rather than injuring weaker believers is to avoid compromising our witness before the rest of the world. Our Church fights give the world and the enemy of the Gospel an opportunity to denigrate the truth of the God and His Messiah. Our liberty in Messiah is not simply for our own benefit and for us to abuse. It is to be used to build up and serve others.
It should never be used as an occasion to cause brothers to stumble, be grieved, or harmed in any way; and it should never give the watching world an excuse for it to be spoken of as evil. In Acts 15 the council opposed the necessity of circumcision for Gentile Believers and calling them to submit to the Law of Moses.
But it also was decided that they should be called not to offend the consciences either of Jewish or Gentile believers who were weak. The letter sent to the congregations dealt with 4 things three which had to do with religious law and ceremony and conscience (Acts 15:29).
Fornication was a moral problem and was forbidden because it is outright sin. But the other three prohibitions had to do with religious law and ceremony, both Jewish and pagan. In discussing this issue Paul concluded in 1 Corinthians 6:12,10:23 that All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Paul’s was saying you have freedom and you should not compromise your conscience, but be willing to give up your rights if it causes an unbeliever to not come to faith or hurts as young believer (1 Corinthians 9:19).
(Romans 14:17) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are called to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:10-13). Those are the building blocks that make real peace and flowing from peace comes joy, these are the marks of the Kingdom of God.
This is the kind of life that is pleasing to men and approved by God. That’s why Paul calls us to pursue the things that bring the Kingdom to man, that is our role as Ambassadors. We are called to advance the Kingdom and if we pursue God’s agenda it will be pleasing to man.
Romans 14:20-21 – Continuing this argument further Paul appeals to believers to not cause the work of God done in a believers life to be hindered just for to have a good meal. For Jews it concerned the laws of Kashrut, for Gentiles, it related to eating meat sacrificed to an idol. A call not eat anything that would cause a weaker brother to be offended and spiritually harmed.
Such actions harm the work of God that is being done or has already been done in a younger believers life; It could be compared to defacing a work of art. This is not about sinful and unholy behavior but rather discretionary things that are from God and that we do have the freedom to partake of. So all things are clean and good in themselves as Romans 14:14,16 tell us but the danger is that, when we exercise our freedoms selfishly and carelessly these blessings can become sin if we do it in such a manner that hurts a brother.
Romans 14:22-23 What is right for one man may be the ruin of another. When we know that what we eat or drink make no difference in our standing before God, we have come to understand the principle of our freedom. But we must keep that that freedom between ourselves and God. We should not show off our freedom before a brother who has not yet reached it. We may come to believe that our Christian freedom gives us the right to make a reasonable use of alcohol; and, as far as we may be concerned, it may be a safe act which causes us no personal harm.
But it may be that a younger believer who is looking to us as models of Christian behavior is watching us and taking us as an example. And it may also be that this new believer is one of these people to whom alcohol is a fatal thing. We are our brother’s keeper, responsible, not only for ourselves, but for everyone who we come in contact with. Paul gives advice for the man who is weak in the faith, the man with a sensitive conscience.
This man may disobey or silence his conscience. He may sometimes do something because everyone else is doing it and he does not want to be different or be subject to taunting or unpopularity. Paul’s tells us that if a man defies his conscience he is guilty of sin. If a man believes a thing to be wrong and then does it, for him it is sin. No man is the keeper of another man’s conscience, and each man’s conscience, in things indifferent, must be the authority for him of what is right or wrong.