Romans 14:1-9

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Text: Romans 14:1-9

STRONG AND WEAK BROTHERS

INTRODUCTION:

What are you to do when you have two believers both of whom really love the Lord and one of them does something in order to the please the Lord and the other one refuses to do the same thing in order to please the Lord. Well, you check out what the Scripture has to say about the matter, and in checking you find out that the Bible is silent on the matter. It really does not say anything about the subject. What do you do then?

In Romans 14 Paul deals with this matter. He shows believers the appropriate course of action they should take when they have differing views on matters concerning which the Scriptures are silent. It is this chapter which we want to begin studying in this message.

Paul is illustrating the principle mentioned in Romans 13:8 , that believers are to love one another. How does love for each other work itself out in practice when sincere believers have differing views on matters concerning which the Scriptures are silent?

Love says that nothing whatsoever should be done which in any way might cause another to stumble.

Selfishness, however, insists on its own way without regard to the needs of others. What we will see is that believers must take steps to limit their liberties if necessary.

The problem with the treatments I hear of Romans 14 is that the stronger believer is always regarded as being in the wrong. As I see Romans 14 , however, both the stronger and the weaker believers are often wrong.

By the stronger believer, we mean someone who believes he may do something without committing sin, i.e. something about which the Scripture is silent. By the weaker believer, we mean someone who believes that he may not do something without committing sin, i.e. something about which the Scripture is silent. There is actually nothing wrong with either one of these believers. Both are fine, godly believers.

It is important to realize that we are only speaking here of something about which the Bible is silent. If the Bible addresses a subject either directly or indirectly, such as in principle, the Bible is clear. We have a responsibility to obey the Bible. However, we are speaking of things here which the Bible does not address.

Most of us like to think that we are among the group known as the stronger believers. It is important to recognize, however, that we are indeed the stronger believers on some things, but that we are also the weaker believers on other things. This usually has something to do with our backgrounds.

Let me illustrate for you. Will you shop on Sundays if it is not an absolute emergency?

I won't. It bothers me to do so, but I will go out to a restaurant; and it doesn't bother me. I will also travel on Sundays, and this may require purchasing gasoline, and this doesn't bother me. Yet, I would not go to the mall on Sundays. It would violate my conscience, even if I am in church services.

Each of us is, in some things, a stronger believer, and in other things, each of us a weaker believer. This has nothing to do with our being strong or godly or mature Christians. It has to do with whether our consciences will bother us if we do some things about which the Scripture makes no comment.

Will you engage in sporting activities on Sundays? I won't. We have even gone to church picnics on Sundays and I would not play softball. However, I have no problem with watching a football game or basketball game on Sunday afternoon (i.e. if I can stay awake). Aren't we being inconsistent. The answer is, Yes, we are.

Will you play card games such as Old Maid? I won't. It bothers me. I was brought up that cards were sin and believers were not to play cards. Others of you were brought up that it was all right to play cards, and it doesn't bother you at all.

What is your belief about ladies wearing slacks or, perhaps, shorts that might show two or three inches above the knee? This one probably depends on where you grew up or the church in which you grew up. If you lived two hundred years ago, the problem might be one where, if the lady's ankle showed, it might have been a problem.

What is your belief about boys and girls swimming together? This again will likely be decided by the church in which you grew up.

Churches have split over some of these things. If we insist that we alone are right, we will have nothing but one fight after another. If we follow the teaching of Romans 14 , there is no need for any fighting.

Will you play the game of dominoes? Yes, you probably will. However, believers in countries such as Thailand and China won't because it is big gambling business. Yet, we think of it as a harmless little game.

Another problem which comes out of this text is that people do not understand the meaning of the word offend in this passage, just like they don't understand what it means in Psalms 119:165 . It does not mean upset, irritate, make mad, etc. It means to cause to stumble and, thereby, fall into sin. Just because I don't like something does not make it sin.

Let's look at the text and see what Paul has to say.

Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye is a command.

Him that is weak is the one that is weak or the one who is powerless.

In the faith suggests in his Christian faith.

Receive ye suggests receive or accept into your society, home, or circle of acquaintances. It suggests receiving someone and making him welcome.

But not to doubtful disputations qualifies the reception of him that is weak in the faith.

To doubtful disputations is unto or for doubtful disputations and indicates for the purpose of doubtful disputations.

Doubtful disputations is quarrels of opinions, quarrels of thoughts, or quarrels about thoughts.

In other words, although believers should receive those who are weak in the faith; but they should not be receiving them just to argue with them.

Romans 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

Verse 2 explains why stronger believers should receive weaker ones but not just for the purpose of arguing.

For one . . . and another are to be connected and suggest this one . . . and the other one or this one . . . and that one.

One believes that he may eat all things. He is the strong believer in that there is no problem with his conscience regarding eating anything and everything.

Another person, however, has a problem. He is described as who is weak, and he eats only herbs.

Herbs here are edible garden herbs or vegetables.

What we have here is a situation that is not dealt with in the Scripture. There is not one side that is absolutely right and the other side absolutely wrong.

Romans 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Both the strong and weak believers are a potential problem to the other, and commandments are issued to each group.

Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not is a negative command. It is a third person imperative or command in the Greek text for which English has no equivalent.

He that eateth is the believer who is described as being strong in the faith.

The stronger believer must not be despising him that eateth not, i.e. the weaker believer. This suggests that an activity was already going on which needed to be stopped. The stronger believers were already despising the weaker ones over food, and they must stop doing so.

Despise is used in the sense of disdain, reject with contempt, regard as nothing, or make of no account. These stronger believers were already rejecting the weaker ones with contempt. Such a practice needed to be stopped. The same word is translated set at nought in verse 10.

The problem, however, was not one-sided. The weaker believers were also sinning against the stronger ones.

Let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth is another third person imperative. The one who is not eating is being commanded not to be judging the one who is eating. Those that were not eating were already judging those who were eating, and they needed to stop doing it.

Judge is used in an unfavorable sense of passing an unfavorable judgment upon someone, criticizing him, finding fault with him, or condemning him. They needed to stop criticizing this person.

The reason they needed to stop criticizing him is for God hath received him.

For is used in the sense of because.

God has received him or accepted him into His circle or into His society. This is the same word translated receive ye in verse 1. Now, if God has received, him, what right do other believers have to reject him?

Him actually refers to both the strong believer and the weak believer. God has received the strong believer. Therefore, the weak believer is to stop criticizing the strong believer. God has also received the weak brother. Therefore, the strong believer must stop treating the weak brother with contempt.

Keep this understanding in mind when you read verse 10. The one judging his brother for eating is the weak believer, and the one who is despising or setting his brother at nought for not eating is the stronger believer.

Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Verse 4 indicates that it is not one believer's business to judge another believer.

Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? indicates that the one finding fault ought not to be doing this. He has no business involving himself in judging someone else's servant, including one of Christ's servants.

Thou is emphatic.

That judgest is the same term used in verse 3 meaning to pass an unfavorable judgment upon, criticize, find fault with, or condemn. This believer that is being judged is a servant of God. It is up to God to judge him; it is not up to another believer. What this believer is being criticized for is not a matter of something that is right to do or wrong to do. It is a matter of someone's opinion.

Another man's servant is literally a member of someone else's household, and specifically someone else's household slave, someone else's domestic slave, or someone else's slave.

To his own master he standeth or falleth. A slave is not responsible to someone other than to his own master. Similarly, a believer is ultimately responsible only to the Lord. Why should other believers constantly criticize him when he has really not done any wrong? Remember that this is over some matter on which the Scripture is silent.

Yea is emphatic and means indeed or in fact.

He shall be holden up is he shall be made to stand, and the reason is indicated by for (i.e. because) God is able to make him stand.

Whether he stands or falls is up to God rather than to the person who is criticizing him. God is perfectly capable of making him stand.

Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

In verses 5-6 we see that some believers view days differently.

One man esteemeth one day above another. Another esteemeth every day alike.

One man and another is this one . . . and that one or this one . . . the other.

Esteemeth is the same word translated judge in verses 3 and 4, but it is used with a different meaning in this verse. Here it means to separate or distinguish and then to select or prefer. It can also mean to recognize, approve, or esteem. One man esteems one day higher than another. The other esteems every day. It is a matter of personal preference.

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind is third person command where every man is the subject. He must be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Every man is each one or every one and may refer to a male or to a female.

Be fully persuaded is be convinced fully, be assured, or be certain.

In his own mind tells where he is to be sure. It means simply that everyone must make up his own mind.

Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

The reason every man should make up his own mind is given in verse 6: he that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.

To regard is to set one's mind on, to be intent on, or to observe. The one who observes a particular day observes it to the Lord. The one who does not observe a particular day, to the Lord he does not observe it.

Similarly, he that eateth, eateth to the Lord. The reason this is clear is for he giveth God thanks.

At the same time he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. This is the one who will not eat all things, and it is because of his relationship to the Lord that he will not eat them. It is to bring honor to the Lord, and he gives thanks to God.

Both are thankful. Both are doing what they are doing for the Lord. Therefore, each one should not be criticizing the other.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

In verse 7 we see the reason one does one thing and does it for the Lord and someone else does its opposite and also does it for the Lord.

It is for none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

None and no man are the identical word in the Greek text and mean none, no one, or nobody. It is not the term for an adult male or the generic term for a human being. It may refer to a male or to a female.

Lives to himself is lives with reference to himself, and dies to himself is dies with reference to himself. We live and we die in accordance with the Lord's plan for our lives; and as we live, we seek to live for the Lord.

Romans 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Verse 8 is given to explain verse 7.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord.

Whether we live is if we live, and whether we die is if we die. Both conditions express uncertainty. We do not know whether we will continue living or whether we will die; but if we live, we live unto the Lord.

Our lives are devoted to the Lord, and we live for Him. By contrast, if we die, we die to the Lord. As believers our very lives are in His hands as is indicated by whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Once again, whether we live . . . or whether we die is if we live . . . or if we die.

We are the Lord's indicates that we belong to Him no matter what comes. Consequently, we live for Him while He gives us opportunity.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

For to this end is for for this purpose, for unto this purpose, or for for this reason.

Christ both died and rose and revived.

Died suggests what happened at the cross, and rose suggests the resurrection. Revived suggests lived again.

Christ's purpose in dying, rising, and living again was that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

That is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

He might be Lord means He might be master, He might rule, He might lord it over, or He might control.

He died and rose again in order that He might be Lord over both . . . the dead and . . . the living. It is the dead ones and the living ones. In other words it is that He might be Lord of all people because they are all either dead or alive.