Romans 14:15
But if your brother be grieved with your meat, now walk you not charitably. Destroy not him with your meat, for whom Christ died.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) But.—The true reading is undoubtedly For, the connection of which is somewhat difficult to trace. It appears to leap over Romans 14:14, and go back to Romans 14:13. We may suppose that the substance of this verse recurs to the Apostle’s mind after the parenthetical statement just inserted, and though he does not repeat it in words, he connects on to it the sequence of his thought. “The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. Not, indeed, that there is anything unclean in itself, but relatively to the person who so regards it. it is unclean. [Therefore the Christian should be careful as to what he does.] For to cause distress to another about a mere matter of food is to be uncharitable.”

Two stages are noted in the words “grieved” and “destroy.” When one man sees another do that which his own conscience condemns, it causes him pain, but when he is further led on from this to do himself what his conscience condemns, he is in danger of a worse fate; he is morally ruined and undone. The work of redemption that Christ has wrought for him is cancelled, and all that great and beneficent scheme is hindered of its operation by an act of thoughtlessness or want of consideration on the part of a fellow Christian.

With thy meat.—Rather, because of meat, on a mere question of meat.

14:14-18 Christ deals gently with those who have true grace, though they are weak in it. Consider the design of Christ's death: also that drawing a soul to sin, threatens the destruction of that soul. Did Christ deny himself for our brethren, so as to die for them, and shall not we deny ourselves for them, so as to keep from any indulgence? We cannot hinder ungoverned tongues from speaking evil; but we must not give them any occasion. We must deny ourselves in many cases what we may lawfully do, when our doing it may hurt our good name. Our good often comes to be evil spoken of, because we use lawful things in an uncharitable and selfish manner. As we value the reputation of the good we profess and practise, let us seek that it may not be evil-spoken of. Righteousness, peace, and joy, are words that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is to appear before him justified by Christ's death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, and love, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joy wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as their expected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone can make them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that are best pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and the opinion of others is not to be regarded.But if thy brother ... - This address is to the "Gentile" convert. In the previous verse, Paul admitted. that the prejudice of the Jew was not well-founded. But admitting that still the question was, "how" he should be treated while he had that prejudice. The apostle here shows the Gentile that "he" ought not so to act as unnecessarily to wound his feelings, or to grieve him.

Be grieved - Be pained; as a conscientious man always is, when he sees another, and especially a Christian brother, do anything which "he" esteems to be wrong. The "pain" would be real, though the "opinion" from which it arose might not be well founded.

With thy meat - Greek, On account of meat, or food; that is, because "you" eat what he regards as unclean.

Now walkest - To "walk," in the Sacred Scriptures, often denotes to act, or to do a thing; Mark 7:5; Acts 21:21; Romans 6:4; Romans 8:1, Romans 8:4. Here it means that if the Gentile convert persevered in the use of such food, notwithstanding the conscientious scruples of the Jew, he violated the law of love.

Charitably - Greek, According to charity, or love; that is, he would violate that law which required him to sacrifice his own comfort to promote the happiness of his brother; 1 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 10:24, 1 Corinthians 10:28-29; Philippians 2:4, Philippians 2:21.

Destroy not him - The word "destroy" here refers, doubtless, to the ruin of the soul in hell. It properly denotes ruin or destruction, and is applied to the ruin or "corruption" of various things, in the New Testament. To life Matthew 10:39; to a reward, in the sense of "losing" it Mark 10:41; Luke 15:4; to food John 6:27; to the Israelites represented as lost or wandering Matthew 10:6; to "wisdom" that is rendered "vain" 1 Corinthians 1:9; to "bottles," rendered "useless" Matthew 9:17, etc. But it is also frequently applied to destruction in hell, to the everlasting ruin of the soul; Matthew 10:28, "Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell;" Matthew 18:14; John 3:15; Romans 2:12. That "this" is its meaning here is apparent from the parallel place in 1 Corinthians 8:11, "And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish." If it be asked how the eating of meat by the Gentile convert could be connected with the perdition of the Jew, I reply, that the apostle supposes that in this way an occasion of stumbling would be afforded to him, and he would come into condemnation. He might be led by example to partake against his own conscience, or he might be excited to anger, disgust, and apostasy from the Christian faith. Though the apostle believed that all who were true Christians would be saved, Romans 8:30-39, yet he believed that it would be brought about by the use of means, and that nothing should be done that would tend to hinder or endanger their salvation; Hebrews 6:4-9; Hebrews 2:1. God does not bring his people to heaven without the use of "means adapted to the end," and one of those means is that employed here to warn professing Christians against such conduct as might jeopard the salvation of their brethren.

For whom Christ died - The apostle speaks here of the possibility of endangering the salvation of those for whom Christ died, just as he does respecting the salvation of those who are in fact Christians. By those for whom Christ died, he undoubtedly refers here to "true Christians," for the whole discussion relates to them, and them only; compare Romans 14:3-4, Romans 14:7-8. This passage should not be brought, therefore, to prove that Christ died for all people, or for any who shall finally perish. Such a doctrine is undoubtedly true (in this sense; that there is in the death of Christ a "sufficiency for all," and that the "offer" is to all.) (compare 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 John 2:2; 2 Peter 2:1), but it is not the truth which is taught here. The design is to show the criminality of a course that would tend to the ruin of a brother. For these weak brethren, Christ laid down his precious life. He loved them; and shall we, to gratify our appetites, pursue a course which will tend to defeat the work of Christ, and ruin the souls redeemed by his blood?

15. But if thy brother be grieved—has his weak conscience hurt

with thy meat—rather, "because of meat." The word "meat" is purposely selected as something contemptible in contrast with the tremendous risk run for its sake. Accordingly, in the next clause, that idea is brought out with great strength.

Destroy not him with—"by"

thy meat for whom Christ died—"The worth of even the poorest and weakest brother cannot be more emphatically expressed than by the words, 'for whom Christ died'" [Olshausen]. The same sentiment is expressed with equal sharpness in 1Co 8:11. Whatever tends to make anyone violate his conscience tends to the destruction of his soul; and he who helps, whether wittingly or no, to bring about the one is guilty of aiding to accomplish the other.

In this verse you have two reasons to induce the strong not to offend the weak: First, it is contrary to charity; to grieve a brother upon the score of meats, is to walk uncharitably; it is a violation of the royal law of love, which is against the grieving or offending others, 1 Corinthians 13:4. Two ways are weak Christians grieved, when others do unseasonably use their liberty.

1. They think such do offend God in eating that which he hath forbidden; and this is matter of grief to those that fear God, to see others transgress his laws.

2. They may be drawn by their example to do the like, against their own light and conscience; and this afterwards causeth grief and trouble; their consciences hereby are galled and wounded, 1 Corinthians 8:12.

Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died: this is the second reason why Christians should not use their liberty to the offence of others; it may occasion their ruin and destruction: q.d. Hereby, as much as in you lies, you take a course to destroy them for whom Christ died. You will alienate and estrange them from the Christian religion, or you will draw them into sin, and induce them (as before) to act against their consciences, and so hazard their salvation. See a parallel place, 1 Corinthians 8:11. Here a question may arise, whether any can perish for whom Christ died? The answer is, They cannot; and for this the Scripture is express, in John 10:28. See also Matthew 24:24 John 6:39 1 Peter 1:5. How then is this text to be understood? The apostle doth not speak of those for whom Christ indeed did die, but of such as, in the judgment of charity, are held to be of that number. We must account all those who confess the faith of Christ, for such as he hath redeemed by his death. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat,.... The apostle proceeds to give reasons why, though he was so fully persuaded that nothing was unclean of itself, and so he, and any other of the same persuasion, might lawfully eat anything; yet they should forbear, and not make use of this liberty; because if a brother should be grieved by it, that is, either should be concerned and troubled at it inwardly, both because the person that eats is thought by him to have transgressed a command of God, and because he himself is not only despised as a weak brother, but as if he was a "judaizing" Christian, and walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel; or else should be emboldened thereby to eat, and so wound and defile his weak conscience; or be so galled and offended at it, as to stumble and fall off from his profession of Christianity, and withdraw his communion, as judging there is nothing in it, no regard being had to the law of God:

now walkest thou not charitably; this is a breach of the rule of charity or brotherly love; such an one is a brother, and though a weak one, yet he is to be loved as a brother, and to be charitably walked with: true charity, or love, vaunts not itself over, nor is it puffed up against a weak brother; nor is it unconcerned for his peace, but bears with his weaknesses, and forbears the use of things grieving to him:

destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. This is to be understood, not of eternal destruction, that can never be thought to be either in the will or power of any man; such a degree of malice can never arise in the heart of any, to wish for, desire, or take any step towards the eternal damnation of another; and could any thing of this kind be among the men of the world, yet surely not among brethren of the same faith, and in the same church state; and were there any so wicked as to desire this, yet it is not in their power to compass it, for none can destroy eternally but God; see Matthew 10:28; besides, it is not reasonable to suppose, that eternal damnation should follow upon eating things indifferent, or be caused by an offence either given or taken through them; moreover, though such as only think themselves, or profess themselves, or are only thought by others to be such, for whom Christ died, may be eternally destroyed, yet none of those can, for whom Christ really died; for they are his special people, his peculiar friends, his own sheep, his body the church, which can never perish; and he, by dying, has procured such blessings for them, such as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, peace with God, and eternal life, which will for ever secure them from destruction: besides, should anyone of them be destroyed, the death of Christ would be so far in vain, nor would it appear to be a sufficient security from condemnation, nor a full satisfaction to the justice of God; or God must be unjust, to punish twice for the same fault: but this is to be understood of the destruction of such a man's peace and comfort, which is signified by grieving, stumbling, offending, and making him weak; and the words are a fresh reason, why they that are strong in the faith of Christian liberty, should nevertheless forbear the use of it, to preserve the peace of a weak brother; which is a matter of importance, and the rather to be attended to, since it is the peace of one that belongs to Christ, whom he has so loved as to die for, and therefore should be the object of the regard and affections of such as believe in Christ and love him.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. {14} Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom {15} Christ died.

(14) It is the part of a cruel mind to make more account of meat than of our brother's salvation. Which thing those do who eat with the intent of giving offence to any brother, and so give him occasion to turn back from the Gospel.

(15) Another argument: we must follow Christ's example: and Christ was so far from destroying the weak with meat that he gave his life for them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 14:15. Γάρ] According to this reading critically beyond doubt (see the critical notes),—which, however, Philippi, on account of the sense, regards as “absolutely untenable,”—the apostle specifies the reason, why he has expressly added the exception εἰ μὴ τῷ λογιζ. κ.τ.λ. The γάρ belonging to the principal sentence is, according to a very prevalent usage (see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 85), taken into the prefixed accessory sentence, so that the argumentative thought is: “not without good moral ground do I say: εἰ μὴκοινόν; for it indicates a want of love, if the stronger one has not regard to this relation towards the weaker.”

διὰ βρῶμα] on account of food, i.e. because of a kind of food, which he holds to be unclean and sees thee eat.

λυπεῖται] not: is injured, which would consist in the ἀπόλλυσθαι (Philippi, contrary to N. T. usage), but of moral affliction, i.e. vexation of conscience, which is occasioned by the giving of a σκάνδαλον (Romans 14:13). Analogous is Ephesians 4:30. To understand it of the making reproaches on account of narrow-mindedness (Grotius, Rosenmüller, Ewald), is gratuitously to import the substance of the thought, and does not correspond to the connection (Romans 14:13-14; Romans 14:20-21).

οὐκέτι κατὰ ἀγάπ. περιπατεῖς] i.e. in that case thou hast ceased to bear thyself conformably to love. This is the actual state of things which subsists, when what is expressed in the protasis occurs; the λυπεῖται, namely, is conceived as the fault of the subject addressed. On εἰοὐκέτι, comp. Romans 7:20, Romans 11:6; Galatians 3:18. To take the apodosis interrogatively (Hofmann), is—considering the definite character, quite in keeping with the context, of the λυπεῖται which is occasioned by the offence given—quite unwarranted, and does not suit the words.

The ἀπόλλυε is the possible result of the λυπεῖται: destroy him not, bring him not into destruction, namely, through his being seduced by thy example to disregard his conscience, and to fall out of the moral element of the life of faith into the sinful element of variance with conscience. That we are to explain it of the eternal ἀπώλεια, is clear from ὑπὲρ οὗ Χ. ἀπέθνε; for in order to redemption from this Christ offered up His life—therefore thou oughtest not to thrust back into ἀπώλεια thy (so dearly bought) brother through the loveless exercise of thy free principles. Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:11-12. “Ne pluris feceris tuum cibum, quam Christus vitam suam,” Bengel.Romans 14:15. Many expositors here supply something; e.g., “You must have respect therefore for his scruples, although you may not share them, for if,” etc. (Sanday and Headlam); but it seems simpler to connect the γὰρ with the leading idea in the writer’s mind, Put no stumbling-block before a brother, for, etc. διὰ βρῶμα is contemptuous: “for the sake of food” thy brother is grieved. βρῶμα is the food which the strong eats in spite of his brother’s scruples. λυπεῖται need not imply that the weak is induced, against his conscience, to eat also (though that is contemplated as following); it may quite well express the uneasiness and distress with which the weak sees the strong pursue a line of conduct which his conscience cannot approve. Even to cause such pain as this is a violation of the law of Christ. He who does it has ceased to walk κατὰ ἀγάπην, according to love, which is the supreme Christian rule. In the sense of this, and at the same time aware that the weak in these circumstances may easily be cajoled or overborne into doing what his conscience disapproves, the Apostle exclaims abruptly, μὴ τῷ βρώματί σου ἐκεῖνον ἀπόλλυε ὑπὲρ οὗ Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν. To tamper with conscience, it is here implied, is ruin: and the selfish man who so uses his Christian liberty as to lead a weak brother to tamper with his conscience is art and part in that ruin. The wanton contempt such liberty shows for the spirit and example of Christ is emphasised both here and in 1 Corinthians 8:11 f. Ne pluris feceris tuum cibum quam Christus vitam suam.15. But] Another reading is For. The documentary evidence is doubtful; and the evidence of connexion favours But. If For is adopted, it must be explained by treating Romans 14:14 as a parenthesis; and thus connecting Romans 14:13; Romans 14:15 : q. d., “resolve to lay no stumblingblock for others; for you do lay a stumblingblock, when you neglect their scruples about food.” Reading But, the connexion shews it to be a word not of contrast but of pursuance: q. d., “But, granting what I have just urged, it is the opposite of Christian love to neglect your brother’s scruples.”

grieved] put to pain; the pain of a conflict with conscience such as either to lead to its violation, or to harden prejudice.

with thy meat] Lit., and better, on account of thy food.—“Meat,” in the E. V., is never exclusively “flesh-meat.” The word is akin to French met; a thing put on the table. In market-language “green meat” still means vegetables; and so in some country districts “meat” alone still does. Here, of course, the word is inclusive of flesh.

not charitably] Lit. no longer according: to love: “Thou forsakest the rule of Christian love which hitherto thou hast followed.”

Destroy not him] The natural effect of neglect or contempt of the mistaken scruple would be to frighten, or embolden, the “weak brother” so as to become careless of his conscience in general; to “regard iniquity in his heart,” (Psalm 66:18,) and so to cease to “abide in Christ.” Cp. the language of 1 Corinthians 8:11.—Here the question what God would do for the protection or restoration of the “weak” Christian is manifestly out of sight, and out of place: not His covenant, but His servants’ duty and responsibility, is before us here. So again in Romans 14:20.—“Destroy” is the present imperative in the Gr., and indicates that a course of conduct, not an isolated and finished act, is intended.

thy meat] There is a subtle reproof in the word “thy;” a suggestion of the selfishness underlying the conduct in question.

for whom Christ died] The profoundest of all motives for a Christian’s tenderness and care.—Here, of course, the reference is to the Lord’s death for His Church, (Ephesians 5:25,) of which the “weak brother” is a member by faith.Romans 14:15. Δἐ, but) An antithesis. Not only faith, Romans 14:14, but also love ought to be present.—διὰ βρῶμα) μείωσις, [less is said than is intended]: comp. Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 12:16; Hebrews 13:9.—λυπε͂ται, is grieved) The antithesis to this is the joy in Romans 14:17.—οὐκ ἔτι, now no longer) He places before his mind some one who stands stedfast in love, and intimates that he ought never lose sight of love. Love and joy, not love and grief, are connected together.—κατὰ ἀγάπην, according to love, charitably) Hence the connection of the first verse with the preceding chapter, Romans 14:8, is manifest.—τῷ βρώματί σου, with thy food [meat]) Do not value thy food more than Christ valued His life.—μὴ ἀπόλλυε, do not destroy) 1 Corinthians 8:11. Even the true brother may perish, for whom Christ most lovingly died.Verse 15. - For (γὰρ here certainly, rather than δὲ as in the Textus Receptus. It introduces a reason for the general admonition beginning at ver. 13) if on account of meat (not here, thy meat, as in the Authorized Version) thy brother is grieved, thou no longer walkest charitably (literally, according to love, or charity; i.e. in continuing to set at naught his conscientious scruples). With thy meat destroy not him, for whom Christ died (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:11, Καὶ ἀπολεῖται ὁ ἀσθενῶν ἀδελφὸς... δἰ ο{ν Ξριστὸς ἀπέθανεν). "Destroy" seems to denote causing his moral and religious ruin by shaking his conscientiousness, and perhaps upsetting altogether the faith he has, which, though weak, is real. Be grieved (λυπεῖται)

The close connection with destroy indicates that the meaning falls short of be destroyed, but is stronger than made to feel pain. It is a hurt to conscience, which, while not necessarily fatal, may lead to violation or hardening of conscience, and finally to fall. Compare 1 Corinthians 8:9-12.

Meat (βρῶμα)

A general term for food.

Charitably (κατὰ ἀγάπην)

Lit., according to love. Rev. in love. See on 2 Peter 1:6.

Him (ἐκεῖνον)

The pronoun has a strongly defining force, explained by the following phrase.

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