Romans 14:1
Him that is weak in the faith receive you, but not to doubtful disputations.
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(1) Weak in the faith . . .—The presence of a single strong master-motive is apt to silence petty scruples. Where the “eye is single”—where all the powers and faculties of the man are concentrated upon one object, and that object the highest that can engage human thought or affection—there will naturally be a certain largeness of view. The opposite of this is to be “weak in the faith.” There may be a sincere desire to lead a religious life, and yet the mind is taken up with petty details, each of which is painfully judged by itself, and not by reference to a central principle.

Receive ye.—Take to yourselves, stretch out the hand of friendship to him.

Doubtful disputations.—The marginal rendering is more exact, “to judge his doubtful thoughts,” or “to criticise his scruples.” The strong are to deal tenderly with the weak, and not engage them in casuistical discussions.

Romans 14:1. Him that is weak in the faith — Whose conscience is scrupulous, or whose mind is doubtful, unsatisfied in, or not well acquainted with the principles of Christianity; particularly that concerning Christian liberty and freedom from the ceremonial law. “The apostle means the Jewish Christian, who, through weakness of understanding, or through prejudice, was ignorant of the doctrine of the gospel concerning meats and days; or whose persuasion of that doctrine was so weak, that it did not influence his conduct. To such persons, though in error, the apostle showed great tenderness, when he represented them as only weak in faith.” Receive ye — With all love and courtesy, into Christian fellowship: but not to doubtful disputations — About questionable points. “The force of the apostle’s admirable reasoning, in favour of candour and mutual condescension, cannot be enervated by saying, as some have done, that here was no separation between Jewish and Gentile Christians. For had the things judged indifferent by the latter, and apprehended sinful by the former, been imposed, a separation of communion must have ensued, and the schism, on the apostle’s principles, would have been chargeable on the imposers.” — Doddridge.14:1-6 Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate followers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paul attempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, or conformity to outward observances without being convinced, would be hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absolute oneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let not Christian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It will be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain and blame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dare I disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty, despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let not the scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for God accepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. We usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view. The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Those who knew that all these things were done away by Christ's coming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it is not enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it is necessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heed of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make our own views the standard of truth, to deem things certain which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise or condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. A thankful regard to God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies, sanctifies and sweetens them.Him that is weak - The design here is to induce Christians to receive to their fellowship those who had scruples about the propriety of certain things, or that might have special prejudices and feelings as the result of education or former habits of belief. The apostle, therefore, begins by admitting that such an one may be "weak," that is, not fully established, or not with so clear and enlarged views about Christian liberty others might have.

In the faith - In believing. This does not refer to "saving faith" in Christ, for he might have that; but to belief in regard "to the things which the apostle specifies," or which would come into controversy. Young converts have often a special delicacy or sensitiveness about the lawfulness of many things in relation to which older Christians may be more fully established. To produce peace, there must be kindness, tenderness, and faithful teaching; not denunciation, or harshness, on one side or the other.

Receive ye - Admit to your society or fellowship: receive him kindly, not meet with a cold and harsh repulse; compare Romans 15:7.

Not to doubtful disputations - The plain meaning of this is, Do not admit him to your society for the purpose of debating the matter in an angry and harsh manner; of repelling him by denunciation; and thus, "by the natural reaction of such a course," confirming him in his doubts. Or, "do not deal with him in such a manner as shall have a tendency to increase his scruples about meats, days, etc." (Stuart.) The "leading" idea here - which all Christians should remember - is, that a harsh and angry denunciation of a man in relation to things not morally wrong, but where he may have honest scruples, will only tend to confirm him more and more in his doubts. To denounce and abuse him will be to confirm him. To receive him affectionately, to admit him to fellowship with us, to talk freely and kindly with him, to do him good, will have a far greater tendency to overcome his scruples. In questions which now occur about modes of "dress," about "measures" and means of promoting revivals, and about rites and ceremonies, this is by far the wisest course, if we wish to overcome the scruples of a brother, and to induce him to think as we do. Greek, "Unto doubts or fluctuations of opinions or reasonings." Various senses have been given to the words, but the above probably expresses the true meaning.


Ro 14:1-23. Same Subject Continued—Christian Forbearance.

The subject here, and on to Ro 15:13, is the consideration due from stronger Christians to their weaker brethren; which is but the great law of love (treated of in the thirteenth chapter) in one particular form.

1. Him that is weak in the faith—rather, "in faith"; that is, not "him that is weak in the truth believed" [Calvin, Beza, Alford, &c.], but (as most interpreters agree), "him whose faith wants that firmness and breadth which would raise him above small scruples." (See on [2259]Ro 14:22, 23).

receive ye—to cordial Christian fellowship.

but not to doubtful disputations—rather, perhaps, "not to the deciding of doubts," or "scruples;" that is, not for the purpose of arguing him out of them: which indeed usually does the reverse; whereas to receive him to full brotherly confidence and cordial interchange of Christian affection is the most effectual way of drawing them off. Two examples of such scruples are here specified, touching Jewish meats and days. "The strong," it will be observed, are those who knew these to be abolished under the Gospel; "the weak" are those who had scruples on this point.Romans 14:1-6 Directions to treat a weak brother kindly, and not to

despise or censure one another in matters of indifference.

Romans 14:6-9 Christ’s right to our best services, whether we live or die.

Romans 14:10-12 We must all be answerable for our respective conduct

at his judgment-seat.

Romans 14:13-23 We must be careful not to use our Christian liberty

to the hurt or offence of tender consciences.

In this chapter and part of the next, the apostle treats of some lesser matters of religion, about which there were great contentions in the church of Rome. Some of the Jews, though they embraced the gospel, did stiffly adhere still to the Mosaical ceremonies; and though a difference in meats and days should be conscientiously observed, yet they were ready to censure those that were contrary-minded, as profane persons, and contemners of the law of God. On the other side, the believing Gentiles, being better instructed about their Christiall liberty, when they saw the Jews insisting upon such things as these, that had never any real goodness in them, and were now abrogated by Christ, they were ready to despise them as ignorant and superstitious, and to deny communion with them. The apostle therefore doth seasonably endeavour to arbitrate this matter, and make peace amongst them.

Him that is weak in the faith; that is, wavering and unsettled in some lesser points of faith, particularly in the doctrine of Christian liberty, and freedom from the ceremonial law: he means, the scrupulous and erroneous Judaizer, though yet, in proportion, it may be applied to other scrupulous and doubting Christians.

Receive ye; or, receive him to you, take him into your bosoms, admit him to communion with you, bear with his weakness, better instruct him with the spirit of meekness: see Romans 15:1 Philippians 3:15,16. Bucer received all, though differing from him in some opinions, in whom he found, aliquid Christi, any thing of Christ.

But not to doubtful disputations: q.d. Do not entertain him with disputes and vain janglings, which will not edify, but perplex and prejudice him. Do not make him question sick, as it is in 1 Timothy 6:4. This passage may be expounded by Titus 3:9. The marginal reading would make this to be the sense, that a scrupulous Christian should be received unto communion; yet not so as to encourage him to judge and condemn the thoughts of those that differ from him.

Him that is weak in the faith,.... This address is made to the stronger and more knowing Christians among the Romans, how to behave towards those that were inferior in light and knowledge to them, with regard to things of a ritual and ceremonial kind: and by "him that is weak in the faith", is meant, either one that is weak in the exercise of the grace of faith, who has but a glimmering sight of Christ; who comes to him in a very feeble and trembling manner; who believes his ability to save him, but hesitates about his willingness; who casts himself with a peradventure on him; and who is attended with many misgivings of heart, faintings of spirit, and fluctuation of mind, about his interest in him: or one that is weak in the doctrine of faith; has but little light and knowledge in the truths of the Gospel; is a child in understanding; has more affection than judgment; very little able to distinguish truth from error; cannot digest the greater and more sublime doctrines of grace; stands in need of milk, and cannot bear strong meat; is very fluctuating and unsettled in his principles, and like children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine: or rather one that is weak in his knowledge of that branch of the doctrine of faith, which concerns Christian liberty; and that part of it particularly, which respects freedom from the ceremonial law: it designs one, and chiefly a Jew, who though a believer in Christ, and an embracer of the other truths of the Gospel, yet had but very little knowledge of Gospel liberty; but though that believers were to observe all the rituals of the Mosaic dispensation, not knowing that they were abolished by Christ. The phrase is Jewish; it is (m) said,

"what is the meaning of the phrase, in Rephidim, Exodus 17:1 it signifies such as are of weak hands; as if it had been said, because the Israelites were , "weak in their faith".''

The advice the apostle gives, in reference to such a person, is to

receive him; not only into their affections, and love him equally, being a believer in Christ, as one of the same sentiments with them, only in this matter, but also into church fellowship with them. The Syriac version reads it, , "give him the hand": in token of communion, a form used in admission of members. The Gentiles were apt to boast against, and look with some contempt upon the Jews, and were ready to object to their communion, because of their want of light and knowledge in these matters; but this was no bar of communion, nor ought a person to be rejected on account of his weakness, either in the grace, or in the doctrine of faith, when it appears he has the true grace of God; and much less on account of his weakness in that branch of it, concerning Christian liberty; for since Christ does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, nor despise the day of small things, churches should not: it may also intend a receiving of such into intimate conversation, at their private meetings and conferences; taking particular notice of them; giving them proper instructions; praying with them and for them; endeavouring to build them up in their most holy faith, and to bring them into the knowledge of those things they are weak in; bearing their weaknesses patiently, and bearing with them in great tenderness: thus such should be received,

but not to doubtful disputations; to vain jangling and perverse disputings, such as will rather perplex than inform them; and will leave their minds doubtful and in suspense, and do them more harm than good.

(m) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 77. 1.

Him {1} that is weak in the faith {a} receive ye, but not to {b} doubtful disputations.

(1) Now he shows how we ought to behave ourselves toward our brethren in matters and things indifferent, who offend in the use of them not from malice or damnable superstition, but for lack of knowledge of the benefit of Christ. And thus he teaches that they are to be instructed gently and patiently, and so that we apply ourselves to their ignorance in such matters according to the rule of charity.

(a) Do not for a matter or thing which is indifferent, and such a thing as you may do or not do, shun his company, but take him to you.

(b) To make him by your doubtful and uncertain disputations go away in more doubt than he came, or return back with a troubled conscience.

Romans 14:1. Δέ] passing over from the due limitation of care for the flesh (Romans 13:14) to those who, in the matter of this limitation, pursue not the right course, but one springing from weakness of faith.

τὸν ἀσθενοῦντα τῇ πίστει] That πίστις here also denotes faith in Christ, is self-evident; the infirmity, however, is not conceived of—according to the general πάντα δυνατὰ τῷ πιστεύοντι (Mark 9:23; 1 Corinthians 13:2)—in a general sense and without any more precise character, but, in conformity with the context (see Romans 14:2; Romans 14:14; Romans 14:22-23), as a want of that ethical strength of faith, in virtue of which one may and should have, along with his faith, the regulative principle of moral conviction and certainty corresponding to its nature and contents. In this more definite and precise sense those ascetics were weak in faith. Had they not been so, the discernment of conscience and assurance of conscience, analogous to faith, would have enabled them to be free from doubt and scruple in respect to that which, in the life of faith, was right or wrong, allowable or not allowable, and to act accordingly; and consequently, in particular, to raise themselves above the adiaphora as such, without prejudice and ethical narrowness. It is therefore evident that the ἀσθένεια τῇ πίστει carries with it defectiveness of moral γνῶσις, but this does not justify the explaining of πίστις as equivalent to γνῶσις (Grotius and others), or as equivalent to doctrine believed (Beza, Calvin).

προσλαμβάνεσθε] take to you, namely, to the intercourse of Christian brotherly fellowship. The opposite would be an ἐκκλεῖσαι θέλειν (comp. Galatians 4:17), whereby they, instead of being attracted, might be forced to separation. So in substance, Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, Semler, Reiche, Köllner, Fritzsche, Rückert, de Wette, Tholuck, Philippi, Hofmann, etc. But others take it as: interest yourselves in him, “of furthering, helpful support” (Olshausen, comp. Chrysostom), which, however, προσλαμβάνεσθαι τινα does not mean. Acts 28:2 is appealed to, where, however, προσλ. is to take to oneself,—a meaning which is here also required by προσελαβετο, Romans 14:3, as well as by Romans 15:7, comp. also Romans 11:15.

μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογ.] not to judgings of thoughts. διακρίσεις διαλογ. is a result, which in the case of the enjoined προσλαμβ. must not be come to, so that thus μὴ εἰς διακρ. διαλ. contains a negative more precise definition of προσλαμβάνεσθε, in the sense, namely: not in such a manner that the προσλαμβάνεσθαι, which you bestow on the weak, issues in judgments passed on the thoughts. Those persons formed their ideas under the influence of conscience; such scruples should be indulgently treated by the stronger, and criticisms passing judgments on them should not be instituted, whereby the προσλαμβάνεσθαι would be abused. Thus διάκρισις, dijudicatio, retains its usual signification (Hebrews 5:4; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Plato, Legg. vi. p. 765 A, xi. p. 937 B; Lucian, Herm. 69); and διαλογισμός likewise (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 9:46, et al.; Romans 1:21; 1 Corinthians 3:20). Nothing is to be supplied, but εἰς is simply to be taken in the sense of the result (as just previously εἰς ἐπιθ., Romans 13:14), not even as usque ad (Reiche). Substantially in agreement with this view of διακρίς. διαλογ. are Chrysostom, Grotius, and others, including Köllner, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Reithmayr, Fritzsche, Krehl, Tholuck, Hofmann, likewise Reiche, who, however, makes the prohibition apply to both parties, which is opposed to the text, since the exhorted subject is the church, in contradistinction to its weak members, while the weak alone are the object of the exhortation. Augustine aptly, Propos. 78: “non dijudicemus cogitationes infirmorum, quasi ferre audeamus sententiam de alieno corde, quod non videtur.” Others take διακρίσεις as doubts, which are not to be excited in the thoughts of the weak. So Luther, Bengel, Cramer, Ernesti, Morus, Böhme, Ammon, Flatt, Klee, Olshausen, Philippi, Umbreit. But διάκρισις never means doubt, and therefore is not to be explained with Ewald, who takes the words as an addition by way of exclamation: “may it not come from doubts to thoughts! may such an one not become uncertain in his conscience!” Following the Vulgate, Beza, Camerarius, Er. Schmid, Toletus, Estius, Glöckler, and others, διάκρ. has also been explained as dispute, which is not unfrequently its meaning in the classics (Plato, Legg. vi. p. 768 A; Polybius, xviii. 11. 3). But dispute concerning thoughts would be at least far from clearly expressed by the mere genitive (instead of περὶ διαλογ.); and the notion disceptatio [ζήτησις, συζήτησις] is nowhere denoted in the N. T. by ΔΙΆΚΡΙΣΙς. Rückert takes it as separation: “But be on your guard lest the consequence thereof may possibly be this, that thoughts and sentiments are severed, become more abruptly parted.” Διάκρισις may certainly bear this meaning (Job 37:16; Plato, Phil. p. 32 A); but in that case the article must have stood before διαλογ., and the climactic sense (more abruptly) would be gratuitously imported.

Romans 14:1-12. Summons to brotherliness towards the weak ones (Romans 14:1). First point of difference between the two parties, and encouragement in relation to it (Romans 14:2-4). Second point of difference, and encouragement in relation to it (Romans 14:5). The right point of view for both in their differences (Romans 14:6), and reason assigned for it (Romans 14:7-9); reproof and disallowance of the opposite conduct (Romans 14:10-12).Romans 14:1. τὸν δὲ ἀσθενοῦντα: as Godet points out, the part. as opposed to ἀσθενῆ, denotes one who is for the time feeble, but who may become strong. τῇ πίστει: in respect of faith, i.e.—in Paul’s sense of the word—in respect of his saving reliance on Christ and all that it involves: see above. One is weak in respect of faith who does not understand that salvation is of faith from first to last, and that faith is secured by its own entireness and intensity, not by a timorous scrupulosity of conscience. προσλαμβάνεσθαι is often used of God’s gracious acceptance of men, but also of men welcoming other men to their society and friendship, 2Ma 8:1; 2Ma 10:15. μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν: not with a view to deciding (or passing sentence on) his doubts. The διαλογισμοί are the movements of thought in the weak man, whose anxious mind will not be at peace; no censure of any kind is implied by the word. The strong, who welcome him to the fellowship of the Church, are to do so unreservedly, not with the purpose of judging and ruling his mind by their own. For διάκρισεις see 1 Corinthians 12:10, Hebrews 5:14.Ch. Romans 14:1-9. Christian practice: mutual toleration: each individual directly responsible to the Redeemer

1. Him that is weak, &c.] Lit. But him that is weak, &c. The “but” marks a slight contrast with the previous passage. Probably this is q. d., “I have just spoken of vigour and thoroughness in your spiritual life; but let this be such as to leave you gentle and sympathetic with imperfectly-enlightened converts. Be severe with self, gentle with others.”

in the faith] So lit.; but render in his faith. See notes on Romans 12:3; Romans 12:6. Here, as there, a subjective explanation of the word “faith” is better, in view of the usage of this Epistle.

receive you] The Gr. tense is the present, and perhaps indicates (what is otherwise probable) that St Paul means not only the first welcome of a new believer, but the continued welcome—a full recognition ever after of his standing as a Christian. Same word and tense as Romans 15:7.

but not to doubtful disputations] Lit. not to criticisms of (his) scruples. The word “but” is not in the Gr., and changes the exact point of the clause, which is q. d., “receive him, do not criticize him; let him in with a welcome, not with a call to discussion.”—The noun rendered “criticisms” (or its cognate verb) is used (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:14;) for detection of differences; and again (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:31, E. V. “judge ourselves,”) for judicial enquiry and sentence, literal or figurative. “Criticism” thus fairly represents it in a context like this, where needless keenness in balancing varying convictions, and the consequent sentence of private or public opinion, is in view.—“His scruples”:—same word as Romans 1:21, (E. V. “imaginations,”) where see note. Here it is the reasoning of the mind with itself; doubt and perplexity.

Some general remarks are offered on the subject and the teaching of this chapter.

1. Two passages of St Paul’s writings afford striking likenesses or equally striking contrasts to Romans 14; viz. 1 Corinthians 8, and the Epistle to the Galatians as a whole. In all these three places St Paul has in view differences of opinion within the visible Church. In 1 Corinthians 8, as here, he argues for mutual toleration; in Galatians he lays down, with unbending decision, the line between irreconcilables.Romans 14:1. Ἀσθενοῦντα) The participle is milder than the adjective ἀσθενῆ, weak.—πίστει, in faith) Even still the apostle refers all things to faith.—προσλαμβάνεσθε, receive ye) We have the same word, Romans 14:3, ch. Romans 11:15, Romans 15:7; Philemon 1:17. [Salvation has come to both Jews and Gentiles by faith; therefore neither party should impede the other, but both should afford mutual assistance.—V. g.]—μὴ εἰς, not into) He who urges another to do, what he himself is doing, appears to receive him, but then he receives him so, that his thoughts, διαλογισμοὶ, are driven into [to entertain] doubts, διακρίσεις, so that he cannot in his own feeling on the particular point, be borne along with full satisfaction, πληροφορεῖσθαι [be fully persuaded, Romans 14:5], the word ἀδιαφορεῖν is the antithesis to the word διακρίνειν. He calls them doubts in the thoughts, for those in doubt think more than they speak.Verses 1-23. - F. The duty of enlightened Christians towards weak brethren. From moral duties in general of Christians towards each other and towards all the apostle now passes to such as they owe peculiarly to each other as members of a religious community, united by a common faith. He has already (Romans 12:16) admonished his readers to be "of the same mind one toward another;" but, as was remarked under that verse, this did not imply agreement of view on all subjects, such as is impossible where there are many minds. In this chapter he recognizes the impossibility, having immediately before him what was then patent, the inability of some, through prejudice or slowness of conception, to enter into views of the meaning of the gospel which to himself and the more enlightened were apparent. He by no means departs from what he says elsewhere (cf. Galatians 1:6-10) about no denial of fundamental doctrine being allowable in the communion of the Church; but in matters not touching the foundation he does here inculcate a large and generous tolerance. In these, as in all other relations between men on the earth together, the all-inspiring principle of charity is to rule. Who the "weak brethren" were whose scruples he especially inculcates tolerance of in this chapter cannot be decided positively. It will he seen that they were persons who thought it their duty to abstain from animal food, and perhaps also from wine (vers. 2, 21); and there is allusion also to observance of certain days (ver. 5). The views that have been taken are as follows: -

(1) That they were the same class of Jewish Christians as are spoken of in 1 Corinthians 8. as over-scrupulous about eating of things that had been offered in sacrifice to idols.

(2) That they were such as were scrupulous in avoiding unclean meats, forbidden in the Mosaic Law. (Or, as Erasmus and others suggest, views (1) and (2) may be combined.)

(3) That they were ascetics. In favour of view

(1) is the fact that the drift and tone of the exhortation is exactly the same here as in 1 Corinthians 8, with similarity also of expressions, such as ὁ ἀσθενῶν, ὁ ἐσθίων βρῶσις, βρῶμα, ἀπολύειν πρόσκομμα, σκανδαλίζειν. Against it are the facts

(a) that in the chapter before us there is no allusion whatever to idol-meats, as there is throughout so markedly in 1 Corinthians 8; and

(b) that abstinence from all animal food whatever (and apparently from wine too) is spoken of in this chapter. Objection (a) has been met by saying that the ground of the scrupulosity referred to might be so well known that St. Paul did not think it necessary to mention it when he wrote to the Romans. To objection (b) it is replied that there might be some who, in order to guard against the risk of buying at the shambles, or partaking in general society of viands connected with heathen sacrifices, made a point of abstaining from meat altogether, and (it has been suggested) from wine too, which might have been used in libations. This is the view of Clement of Alexandria, Ambrosiastor, and Augustine, among the ancients. View (2) is that of Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Jerome, and others, among whom Chrysostom accounts for the total abstinence from meat as follows: "There were many of the Jews that believed, who, being still bound in conscience to the Law, even after believing still observed the ordinances about meats, not as yet venturing to depart from the Law; and then, in order not to be conspicuous in abstaining from swine's flesh only, they abstained from all flesh, and ate herbs only, that their practice might seem to be rather fasting, and not observance of the Law" (so also OEcumenius and Theophylact). But this seems to be a conjecture only, and hardly a likely one. And further, it fails to account for abstinence from wine, which seems to be implied; on the part of tome at least, in ver. 21. (It may be observed, however, that this is not of necessity implied. Abstinence from meat is all that has been spoken of before, and again in ver. 23; and St. Paul may possibly mean only to say, in ver. 21, that if by abstaining from wine also he could avoid offence to a weak brother, he would willingly so abstain. Still, the natural inference is that he would not have mentioned wine had there not been some who made it a point of conscience to abstain from it.) If the weak brethren were ascetics, according to view (3), it is most probable that they were Jewish Christians who had imbibed the principles of the Essenes. These were a Jewish sect, spoken of especially by josephus, who aimed at scrupulous observance of the Law of Moses, and strict personal purity. With this view they lived in communities under rule, partaking of the simplest fare, and some abstaining from marriage. It does not appear that they were strict vegetarians when living in community; but we are told that they might only eat such meat as had been prepared by their own members, so as to be secure against any pollution, and that, if excommunicated, they were consequently compelled to eat herbs. (For what is known of them, see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2; 8:2-5; 'Ant.,' 13:05. 9; 15:10. 4, 5; 18:1. 2, etc.; Philo, 'Quod Omnis Probus Liber,' see. 12, etc.; Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.,' 5:16, 17.) It is far from unlikely that some of these would be attracted to Christianity; and this especially as some of their principles, as described by Josephus, seem to have been endorsed by Christ himself (see art. on "Essenes," in 'Dict. of Christian Biog.,' vol. 2. p. 202); and, if so, they would be likely to carry their prejudices with them into the Church, and, when living outside their original communities, they might abstain entirely from flesh as well as wine. Or it might be that other Jews, Essenic in principle and feeling, had sought admission into the Church. Philo, in Eusebius, 'Praep. Evan.,' 8. fin., and Josephus, 'Vit.,' 2. 3, intimate that supra-legal asceticism, under the influence of Essenic principles, was not uncommon in Judaism in their time. The latter (c. 3) speaks of certain priests, his friends, who were so God-fearing that they subsisted on figs and nuts, and (c. 2) of one Banns, who had been his master, who ate no food but vegetables. What is still more to our purpose is that we find evidence of pious ascetics of the same type subsequently among Christians. Origen ('Contra Cels.,' 5:49) speaks of some as living in his time; and even the apostle St. Matthew, and James the Lord's brother, were afterwards credited with a corresponding mode of life. Clement of Alexandria ('Paedag.' 2:1) says of the former, "Matthew the apostle partook of seeds and acorns and herbs, without flesh." Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius (2:23), says of the latter that "he drank not wine or strong drinks, nor did he eat animal food; a razor came not upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil; he did not use the bath." It is to be observed that abstinence from ointments was one of the practices of the Essenes (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 8:2. 3). Augustine ('Ad Faust.,' 22:3) transmits the same tradition as to the abstinence of James from flesh and wine. Whatever foundation them might be for these traditions, they at any rate show that in the second century, when Hegesippus wrote, abstinence such as is intimated in this chapter was regarded as a mark of superior sanctity by some Christians. Farther, in the 'Apostolical Canons' (Canon 51.), Christians who abstained from marriage, or flesh, or wine, are allowed to be retained in the communion of the Church as long as they did so by way of religious restraint only. Against the above view of the weak brethren of the chapter before us having been ascetics of the Essenic type, is alleged the strong condemnation of persons supposed to have been of the same sort in Colossians 2:8, 16, seq., and 1 Timothy 4:1-5, which is said to be inconsistent with the tender tolerance recommended here. But the teachers referred to in the later Epistles, though inculcating practices similar to those of the "weak brethren," appear to have been heretical theosophists, the germ probably of later Gnosticism. Their tenets may indeed, in part at least, have been developed from Esseuism; but it was no longer mere conscientious scrupulosity, but principles subversive of the faith, that St. Paul set his face against in writing to the Colossians and to Timothy. Canon 51. in the 'Apostolical Canons' above referred to may be adduced as distinguishing between the principles on which asceticism might be practised allowably or otherwise; it being therein laid down that any who abstained from marriage, flesh, or' wine, not by way of religious restraint, but as abhorring them, forgetting that God made all things very good, and that he made man male and female, and blaspheming the work of creation, should be cast out of the Church. It remains to be observed that there was diffused among the Gentiles also, through the influence of the Neo-Pythagorean philosophy, an asceticism similar to the Essenic (see Senec., 'Ep.,' 108, and Porphyr., 'De Abstin.'), which Eichhoru supposes the "weak brethren" of this chapter to have been affected by, regarding them as mostly Gentile Christians. But Jewish influences are much more probable; the scruples referred to in 1 Corinthians 8. were certainly due to them; and observe ver. 5 in this chapter, which cannot but refer to Jewish observances. Further, Origen, in the treatise above referred to, expressly distinguishes between Christian and Pythagorean asceticism. His words are, "But see also the difference of the cause of the abstinence from creatures having life as practised by the Pythagoreans and by the ascetics among ourselves. For they abstain because of the fable concerning the transmigration of souls;... but we, though we may practise the like, do it when we keep under the flesh and bring it into subjection" ('Contra Cels.,' 4). Verse 1. - Him that is weak in the faith (rather, in faith, or in his faith). The article before πίστει does not denote the faith objectively. Cf. Romans 4:19, μὴ ἀσθενήσας τῆ πίστει. In 1 Corinthians 8:12 it is the conscience that is spoken of as weak, τὴν συνείδησιν ἀσθενοῦσαν. Persons are meant whose faith is not sufficiently strong and enlightened for entering fully into the true spirit of the gospel so as to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. Receive ye (i.e. take to yourselves with kindness - with reference, it may be, both to persons seeking admission into the Church and to those already in it who could not get rid of their scruples. The verb, which is προσλαμβάνεσθε, occurs in a like sense in Acts 28:2, and Philemon 1:12, 17. It may be regarded here as the opposite of ἐκκλεῖσαι θέλειν of Galatians 4:17), but not to doubtful disputations; rather, unto - i.e., so as to result in - judgments of thoughts. The Authorized Version has in margin, "to judge his doubtful thoughts," which is probably nearer the true meaning than the text. Διαρίσις means elsewhere dijudicartio (1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:14), not "disputation" or "doubt" (as has been supposed from the verb διακρίνεσθαι, meaning "to doubt"). "Non dijudicemus cogitationes infirmorum, quasi ferre audeamus sententiam de alieno corde, quod non videtur" (Augustin, 'Prepos.,' 78). Weak in the faith

Probably referring to a class of Jewish Christians with Essenic tendencies. Better, as Rev., in faith, the reference being to faith in Christ, not to christian doctrine. See on Acts 6:7.

Receive ye (προσλαμβάνεσθε)

Into fellowship. See on Matthew 16:22.

Doubtful disputations (διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν)

Lit., judgings of thoughts. The primary meaning of διαλογισμός is a thinking-through or over. Hence of those speculations or reasonings in one's mind which take the form of scruples. See on Mark 7:21. Διάκρισις has the same sense as in the other two passages where it occurs (1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:14); discerning with a view to forming a judgment. Hence the meaning is, "receive these weak brethren, but not for the purpose of passing judgment upon their scruples."

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