Differences of Opinion.
SUMMARY.--Differences Concerning Food and Holy Days. We May not Condemn One Another for Things Indifferent. Let Us not Judge One Another. Let Us be Charitable to Each Other. The Kingdom Higher than Meats, Drinks, or Days. Do Nothing Doubtful in your Mind.
1-4. Him that is weak in the faith. Not firmly established; "not rooted and grounded in the faith;" not fully instructed in Christian knowledge. Receive ye, etc. Take him into your fellowship, but not to discuss and pass judgments on any doubts he may entertain. "Literally, not acting so as to make distinctions about disputatious reasonings."--Conybeare and Howson. The idea is that disputes over doubtful questions must not be in the way of Christian fellowship. 2. For one believeth, etc. The apostle now names one of those differences of opinion that had made trouble. Differences had risen over food. The flesh of animals offered in idol sacrifices was offered in the markets, and one buying could not always be sure that he did not get it. Others, Jewish Christians, or of Judaizing tendencies, believed it wrong to eat any food forbidden by the law. Perhaps others believed, like the Essenes, that the regenerate man should eat only vegetables, like the primitive race in Eden. Hence, for one or all of these causes, some thought meat ought to be abstained from entirely. Disputes arose over the difference. 3. Let not him that eateth despise, etc. Look with contempt on what he considers the weakness of the other. Let not him that eateth not judge, etc. Condemn as guilty of sinful practices. For God hath received him. God hath taken him into his church without making conditions concerning meats. Hence, you have no right to reject him. 4. Who art thou that judgest 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. This conduct shall not cut him off from the grace of God in which we all stand.
5-9. One man esteemeth one day above another. A second difference of opinion is now cited. Some, Jewish converts or Gentiles who did not understand that the old covenant was ended, believed that the Jewish Sabbaths and new moons should be kept sacred. Compare Col. 2:16 and Gal. 4:10 . 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, let him not observe them. 6. He that regardeth the day, etc. It is regarded unto the Lord if he keeps it, because he thinks it is the Lord's will. If another refuses to keep it, because he believes it is the Lord's will that he should not, his non-keeping is to the Lord. He that eateth. Meats. See verse 2 . He who obeys what he regards the Lord's will in this, either eating or abstaining, does it with reference to the Lord. 7. For none of us liveth to himself. No Christian lives to please himself, but with the conscious aim of pleasing the Lord. 8. We are the Lord's. While living, the aim must be to do the Lord's will, and even when we die we will be fully resigned to his will. We are not at our own disposal. 9. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, etc. The life of the Christian is a new life that springs out of Christ's death ( Rom. 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 be living or dead.
10-13. Why dost thou judge thy brother? Christ, the Lord of all, is his Lord. He shall judge him and us alike. We are not the judges, for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. 11. For it is written. In Isaiah 45:23 . The passage quoted declares that the whole world will yet make humble acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Jehovah. 12. So then every one of us shall give account. God's universal sovereignty gives him the right to call every mortal to account. Hence, we should leave judgment to God. 13. Let us not therefore judge one another. Since God is to judge us all, brethren should not condemn each other for differences of opinion over some untaught question. But judge this rather. Rather condemn severely throwing a stumbling-block in a brother's way. A stumbling-block is anything which might cause a brother to fall.
14, 15. I know . . . in the Lord Jesus. The conviction is that of a mind in communion with Christ, enlightened by his Spirit. That nothing. No kind of food. Is unclean of itself. Is by its own nature such that it is a sin to partake of it. The legal distinction between clean and unclean animals is abolished. But to him. If one, uninstructed, considers anything unclean, to his conscience it is so. It is wrong for him to eat it. 15. If thy brother is grieved with thy meat. If his feelings are hurt because you eat food that he thinks it is sinful to eat, it would be charitable for you to abstain from it for his sake. Destroy not him. His grief, and the effect upon him of seeing you do what he regards as sinful, may be to destroy him. It is kinder to give up the meat than to risk his destruction. If Christ died for him, you surely can do that much.
16-18. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. You have greater knowledge than these weak brethren, and know that "nothing is unclean." That is "good." But if you sternly insist on your right to do what the weak regard as sinful, your "good" will be evil spoken of. 17. For the kingdom of God. Christ's dominion; the church visibly; personally, his sway over your soul. This does not depend on meat and drink. It rises higher than food questions. Personally, its essence is not in external things. It consists of righteousness. Justification; the forgiveness of sins. Peace. Reconciliation to God, and peace of soul as the result. Joy in the Holy Ghost. The rejoicing of those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Seek these rather than to eat and drink what you will.
19-23. Let us therefore follow . . . peace. Hence, charitably yield what grieves a brother. May edify. Build up and make strong. Compare 1 Thess. 5:11 . 20. For meat destroy not. A rigid insistence on eating the meat so offensive to some of the brethren may rend the church. All things indeed are pure. All kinds of food are morally clean. See verse 14 . But it is evil. It is morally unclean to him who eateth with hurt to his conscience. 21. It is good neither to eat flesh, etc. If eating any kind of food, or drinking wine, is the way of your brother's peace and security, it is better to abstain from both. Deny yourself rather than offend a brother. Compare 1 Cor. 8:13 . This maxim applies to all things indifferent. It applies to wine-drinking at our time. No Christian ought ever to set an example that may destroy another. 22. Hast thou faith? Art thou strong in the faith, and possessed of knowledge that the weaker brethren have not? Let God take not of it, but do not parade it before the weak. Happy is he that condemneth not himself, etc. If one "allowed" that he had the right to eat all kinds of meats, etc., and did it to the injury of his brother, he would condemn himself, because he trampled on the law of love. 23. He that doubteth is damned if he eat. He is contrasted with him "who has faith" ( verse 22 ). He has not faith, or does not believe that it is right to eat these meats. Hence he is condemned ("damned") by his own conscience. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The context shows that Paul means that whenever actions are done by a Christian which he does not believe are right, he sins in doing them. If he is doubtful whether they are right, he must not do them.