Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
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(17) Meat and drink.—Strictly, eating and drinking.

Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.—By “righteousness and peace” is not here meant imputed righteousness, or justification and reconciliation with God, but rather the moral condition of righteousness in the Christian himself, and concord with his fellow-men. These are crowned in the confirmed Christian by that feeling of subdued and chastened exultation which is wrought in Him by the presence in his heart or constant influence of the Holy Spirit.

It is remarkable how, with all the wide difference in terminology between the writings of St. Paul and the Gospels, they yet come round to the very same point. The “kingdom of God,” as here described, is exactly what we should gather from the fuller and more detailed sayings of our Lord. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man;” “The kingdom of God is within you;” “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation;” “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light;” “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness;” “Blessed are the peacemakers;” “Rejoice and be exceeding glad.”

It has not been beyond the power of heathen or even Christian philosophers, such, e.g., as Marcus Aurelius, to arrive at the conception of righteousness and peaceableness as duties to be observed and striven after. The peculiarity of Christianity consists in the unity which it gives to these attributes as naturally flowing from a spring of deep religious emotion, and from the finish and perfection which it adds to them by the introduction of that third term, “joy in the Holy Ghost.” Many individuals have shown, and still show, with greater or less approximation, what the Christian type should be, but the great and only perfect Exemplar is Jesus Himself, and that less, perhaps, in the later portion of His career, when He was fulfilling that other side of His mission, to “bear the sins of many” as the Saviour of mankind, than in the earlier untroubled phase which finds expression in the Sermon on the Mount. This is in closest contact with the normal life of men.

Romans 14:17-18. For the kingdom of God — Into which we enter by believing in Christ, and becoming his subjects, or which thereby enters into us, and is set up in our hearts, namely, true religion; is not — Does not consist in; meat and drink — Or in any ceremonial observances whatever; but righteousness — The righteousness of faith, love, and obedience; or justification, sanctification, and a holy conduct; see notes on Romans 5:21; Romans 10:4; peace — With God, peace of conscience, and tranquillity of mind, the consequence of these three branches of righteousness; and joy in the Holy Ghost — Joy arising from a sense of the forgiveness of our sins; (Psalm 32:1;) and of the favour of God; (Psalm 4:6-7;) from a lively hope of the glory of God; (Romans 5:2;) from the testimony of a good conscience; (2 Corinthians 1:12;) and from communion with God, and an earnest of our future inheritance in our hearts; (Ephesians 1:14; Php 2:1.) He that in these things — In this righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; serveth Christ — Lives in obedience to his commands, and dedicates his soul and body, faculties and members, to serve his cause and interest in that line of life to which he believes God hath called him; is acceptable to God — Whether he abstains from the liberties in question, or allows himself in them; and approved of men — Namely, of truly wise and good men; how much soever the ignorant and wicked may censure such a man as an enthusiast, fanatic, or hypocrite, he will not want the approbation of those who are truly enlightened by the truth, and regenerated by the grace of God.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.For the kingdom of God - For an explanation of this phrase, see the note at Matthew 3:2. Here it means that the uniquenesses of the kingdom of God, or of the Church of Christ on earth, do not consist in observing the distinctions between meats and drinks, it was true that by these things the Jews had been particularly characterized, but the Christian church was to be distinguished in a different manner.

Is not - Does not consist in, or is not distinguished by.

Meat and drink - In observing distinctions between different kinds of food, or making such observances a matter of conscience as the Jews did. Moses did not prescribe any particular drink or prohibit any, but the Nazarites abstained from wine and all kinds of strong liquors; and it is not improbable that the Jews had invented some distinctions on this subject which they judged to be of importance. Hence, it is said in Colossians 2:16, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink;" compare 1 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Corinthians 4:20.

But righteousness - This word here means "virtue, integrity," a faithful discharge of all the duties which we owe to God or to our fellow-men. It means that the Christian must so live as to be appropriately denominated a righteous man, and not a man whose whole attention is absorbed by the mere ceremonies and outward forms of religion. To produce this, we are told, was the main design, and the principal teaching of the gospel; Titus 2:12; Compare Romans 8:13; 1 Peter 2:11. Thus, it is said 1 John 2:29, "Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of God;" 1 John 3:10, "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God;" compare 1 John 3:7; 1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 4:24. He that is a righteous man, whose characteristic it is to lead a holy life, is a Christian. If his great aim is to do the will of God, and if he seeks to discharge with fidelity all his duties to God and man, he is renewed. On that righteousness he will not "depend" for salvation Philippians 3:8-9, but he will regard this character and this disposition as evidence that he is a Christian, and that the Lord Jesus is made unto him" wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;" 1 Corinthians 1:30.

And peace - This word, in this place, does not refer to the internal "peace" and happiness which the Christian has in his own mind (compare the notes at Romans 5:1); but to peace or concord in opposition to "contention" among brethren. The tendency and design of the kingdom of God is to produce concord and love, and to put an end to alienation and strife. Even though, therefore, there might be ground for the opinions which some cherished in regard to rites, yet it was of more importance to maintain peace than obstinately to press those matters at the expense of strife and contention. That the tendency of the gospel is to promote peace, and to induce people to lay aside all causes of contention and bitter strife, is apparent from the following passages of the New Testament; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 3:18; Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:8; John 13:34-35; John 17:21-23. This is the second evidence of piety on which Christians should examine their hearts - a disposition to promote the peace of Jerusalem; Psalm 122:6; Psalm 37:11. A contentious, quarrelsome spirit; a disposition to magnify trifles; to make the Shibboleth of party an occasion of alienation, and heart-burning, and discord; to sow dissensions on account of unimportant points of doctrine or of discipline, is full proof that there is no attachment to Him who is the Prince of peace. Such a disposition does infinite dishonor to the cause of religion, and perhaps has done more to retard its progress than all other causes put together. Contentions commonly arise from some small matter in doctrine, in dress, in ceremonies; and often the smaller the matter the more fierce the controversy, until he spirit of religion disappears, and desolation comes over the face of Zion:

"The Spirit, like a peaceful dove,

Flies from the realms of noise and strife."

And joy - This refers, doubtless, to the "personal" happiness produced in the mind by the influence of the gospel; see the notes at Romans 5:1-5.

In the Holy Ghost - Produced "by" the Holy Spirit; Romans 5:5; compare Galatians 5:22-23.

17. For the kingdom of God—or, as we should say, Religion; that is, the proper business and blessedness for which Christians are formed into a community of renewed men in thorough subjection to God (compare 1Co 4:20).

is not meat and drink—"eating and drinking"

but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost—a beautiful and comprehensive division of living Christianity. The first—"righteousness"—has respect to God, denoting here "rectitude," in its widest sense (as in Mt 6:33); the second—"peace"—has respect to our neighbors, denoting "concord" among brethren (as is plain from Ro 14:19; compare Eph 4:3; Col 3:14, 15); the third—"joy in the Holy Ghost"—has respect to ourselves. This phrase, "joy in the Holy Ghost," represents Christians as so thinking and feeling under the workings of the Holy Ghost, that their joy may be viewed rather as that of the blessed Agent who inspires it than their own (compare 1Th 1:6).

This verse contains a new argument to persuade Christians not to strive about meats, or such like things; and that is, that the kingdom of God doth not consist in these, but in weightier matters. By the kingdom of God, you may understand the gospel, or true religion and godliness; that kingdom which God erects in the hearts of men, Luke 17:21 1 Corinthians 4:20. When he saith, the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, he means, that it doth not stand or consist therein.

Meat and drink are put by a synecdoche for all things of an indifferent or middle nature; such things as, the apostle elsewhere says, commend us not to God, 1 Corinthians 8:8: they are no part of his worship and service; the kingdom of God, or godliness, is not promoted, either by the use or the forbearance thereof: see Galatians 5:6 1 Timothy 4:8.

But righteousness, and peace, and joy: here he tells you positively wherein the kingdom of God consisteth; not in outward observations, but in inward graces and gracious dispositions. He doth not reckon up all, but contents himself with these three, righteousness, peace, and joy. By righteousness, some understand that which is imputed, of which you read, Romans 4:1-25: others, rather, that which is implanted and inherent; it is the same with holiness, both the habit of it in the heart, and the exercise of it in the life. By peace, some think, he means peace with God, or peace of conscience; others, that he rather means peace with men; or, if you will, peaceableness, or Christian concord and unity. This suits best with what follows, Romans 14:19, and it is often commended to us in Scripture. By joy may be understood that spiritual comfort. which ariseth from a present feeling of the favour of God, or from a well grounded hope of future salvation; as also, the comfort and delight which Chrisiians take in the good alld welfare of each other. He that loveth his brother, rejoiceth in his welfare, 1 Corinthians 13:6; and therefore will not offend, or occasion him to sin.

In the Holy Ghost; this is added, to show the efficient cause of these graces, which is the Spirit of God; and to distinguish this righteousness, peace, and joy, from that which is merely civil and carnal. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,.... Neither the kingdom of glory, nor the ultimate glory and happiness of the saints in the other world, is attained to by any such things; for neither eating and drinking, nor not eating and drinking, can recommend to the divine favour, or give a meetness for heaven, or a right unto it; see 1 Corinthians 8:8, nor does the kingdom of grace, the principle of grace, lie in such things, nor in anything that is external; nor does the Gospel, or Gospel church state, which frequently go under this name of the kingdom of God, consist of such things as the ceremonial and the legal dispensation did, but the Gospel and the dispensation of grace are opposed unto them; see Hebrews 9:10.

But righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The kingdom of glory, which is the kingdom of God, because of his preparing, giving, calling to, and putting into the possession of, is attained unto by righteousness; not the righteousness of men, but the righteousness of Christ imputed by God, and received by faith; and through peace made by the blood of Christ, and rejoicing in him, without having any confidence in the flesh, which is a branch of the Spirit's grace in regeneration. The kingdom of grace, or the governing principle of grace in the soul, and which is of God's implanting there, lies in righteousness and true holiness, in which the new man is created; in truth and uprightness in the inward parts, where the laws of God are put and written; and in peace of conscience, arising from the blood and righteousness of Christ; and in that spiritual joy and comfort the Holy Ghost produces, by leading to a sight of Christ, and an interest in him and his atonement. The Gospel, which gives an account both of the kingdom of grace and of glory, reveals the righteousness of Christ, and teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world: it is a publication of peace by the blood of Christ; it calls men to peace, to cultivate peace one among another, and to seek those things which make for it; and when it comes in power, is attended with joy in the Holy Ghost, and is the means of increasing it; and this is another reason, persuading to Christian forbearance, in the use of things indifferent.

{17} For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

(17) A general reason, and the foundation of the entire argument: the kingdom of heaven consists not in these outward things, but in the study of righteousness, and peace, and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17. Motive for complying with the μὴ βλασφημ. κ.τ.λ., with reference to the contents of the possible slander.

ἡ βασιλ. τ. Θεοῦ] is not anywhere (comp. on Matthew 3:2; Matthew 6:10; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:13), and so is not here, anything else than the Messiah’s kingdom, the erection of which begins with the Parousia, belonging not to the αἰὼν οὗτος, but to the αἰὼν μέλλων (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5); not therefore the (invisible) church, the regnum gratiae, or the earthly ethical kingdom of God (Reiche, de Wette, Philippi, Lipsius, following older expositors), res Christiana (Baumgarten-Crusius), and the like. “The Messianic kingdom is not eating and drinking;” i.e., the essential characteristic of this kingdom does not consist in the principle that a man, in order to become a member of it, should eat and drink this or that or everything without distinction, but in the principle that one should be upright, etc. Less accurate, and, although not missing the approximate sense, readily liable to be misunderstood (see Calovius), is the view of the Greek Fathers, Grotius, and many others: the kingdom of God is not obtained through, etc. Comp. on John 17:3.

βρῶσις, eating, i.e. actus edendi, different from βρῶμα, food, Romans 14:15 (comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 159), which distinction Paul always observes (in opposition to Fritzsche); see on Colossians 2:16.

δικαιοσύνη κ. εἰρήνη] can, according to the entire context (comp. esp. Romans 14:15), and specially according to Romans 14:18 (δουλεύων τῷ Χ.) and Romans 14:19 (τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης), be taken only in the moral sense, and therefore as ethical uprightness and peace (concord) with the brethren; not in the dogmatic sense: righteousness and peace (of reconciliation) with God (Calvin, Calovius, and many others, including Rückert, Tholuck, and Philippi; de Wette blends the two meanings). But that these virtues presuppose faith in Christ as the soil from which they sprang, and as the fundamental principium essendi of the kingdom, is self-evident from the whole connection.

χαρὰ ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγ.] forms one phrase. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:6. It is the holy joyfulness, the morally glad frame of heart which has its causal basis and subsistence in the Holy Spirit, who rules in the Christian; comp. Galatians 5:22, also Php 4:4. It is present even in tribulation, 2 Corinthians 6:10, and does not yield to death, Php 2:17. The transitive explanation of the joy which the Christian diffuses over others (Grotius, Koppe, Reiche, and others) is supported neither by the simple word nor by N. T. usage elsewhere.Romans 14:17. Insistence and strife on such matters are inconsistent with Christianity: οὐ γάρ ἐστιν κ.τ.λ. Usually in Paul ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ is transcendent; the kingdom is that which comes with the second advent, and is the inheritance of believers; it is essentially (as it is called in 2 Timothy 4:18) a βασ. ἐπουράνιον. See 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., 1 Corinthians 15:50, Galatians 5:21. This use of the expression, however, does not exclude another, which is more akin to what we find in the Gospels, and regards the Kingdom of God as in some sense also present: we have examples of this here, and in 1 Corinthians 4:20 : perhaps also in Acts 20:25. No doubt for Paul the transcendent associations would always cling to the name, so that we should lose a great deal of what it meant for him if we translated it by “the Christian religion” or any such form of words. It always included the reference to the glory to be revealed. βρῶσις κ. πόσις: eating and drinking—the acts, as opposed to βρῶμα, Romans 14:15, the thing eaten. ἀλλὰ δικαιοσύνη κ. εἰρήνη κ. χαρὰ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ: are these words ethical or religious? Does δικ. denote “justification,” the right relation of man to God? or “righteousness,” in the sense of just dealing? Is εἰρήνη peace with God, the result of justification (as in Romans 5:1), or peace among the members of the Church, the result of consideration for each other? The true answer must be that Paul did not thus distinguish ethical and religious: the words are religious primarily, but the ethical meaning is so far from being excluded by the religious that it is secured by it, and by it alone. That the religious import ought to be put in the forefront is shown by χαρὰ ἐν πν. ἁγ. which is a grace, not a virtue. In comparison with these great spiritual blessings, what Christian could trouble the Church about eating or drinking? For their sake, no self-denial is too great.17. the kingdom of God] This important phrase occurs elsewhere in St Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:18. In these passages (as generally in N. T.) the radical meaning of the phrase is always the same—the Reign of God over Redeemed Man, revealed and effectuated by the Gospel. This radical meaning branches into different references; and thus the Kingdom may mean (according to the varying contexts) (1) the state of grace in this life; (2) the state of glory in the life to come; (3) the revealed truths which are the laws and charter of the kingdom; (4) the dignity and privilege (here or hereafter) of the subjects of the kingdom. This latter is the special meaning here. Q. d., “What we gain as the subjects of the Kingdom of God is not freedom to eat what we please, but the possession of righteousness, peace, and joy.”

righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost] In view of the argument of the Epistle it is best to explain these sacred words by ch. Romans 5:1-5. “Righteousness” is the state of the justified in the eye of the Holy Law; “peace” is the reconciliation of God and believing man; “joy in the Holy Ghost” is the blissful realization of this state of peace and mercy, by the hearts in which “the love of God is poured out by the Holy Ghost given unto us.” These Divine gifts stand here in supreme contrast to the petty gains of temporal and bodily freedom of choice and pleasure.Romans 14:17. Ἡ βασιλεί τοῦ Θεοῦ, the kingdom of God) The kingdom of God is, when a man is under the power [influence] of God, so 1 Corinthians 4:20.—βρῶσις καὶ πόσις, eating and drinking [not meat and drink, which would be βρωμα, etc.]) It does not consist in the bold and careless use of liberty, for example in relation to meat and drink.—δικαιοσύνη, righteousness) in respect of God. The three points of this definition relate to the sum of the whole epistle in their order. The one peculiar characteristic of faith and life [in the Christian], independently of the article of the sinner’s justification [through faith] is righteousness.—εἰρήνη, peace) in respect of our neighbour; comp. ch. Romans 15:13.—χαρὰ, joy) in respect of ourselves: comp. ch. Romans 15:13.Verses 17, 18. - For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. The concluding clause here has reference to "let not your good," etc., preceding. It is the practical fruits of faith that commend it to men, as well as being the test of its genuineness before God. The kingdom of God

See on Luke 6:20, and compare Matthew 3:2. "The heavenly sphere of life in which God's word and Spirit govern, and whose organ on earth is the Church" (Lange). Not the future, messianic kingdom.

Meat and drink (βρῶσις καὶ πόσις)

Rev., eating and drinking. Both words, however, occur frequently in the sense of A.V. Meat (βρῶμα), that which is eaten, occurs in Romans 14:15. The corresponding word for that which is drunk (πῶμα) is not found in the New Testament, though πόμα drink occurs 1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 9:10, and both in classical and New-Testament Greek, πόσις the act of drinking is used also for that which is drunk. See John 6:55. A somewhat similar interchange of meaning appears in the popular expression, such a thing is good eating; also in the use of living for that by which one lives.

Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη)

On its practical, ethical side, as shown in moral rectitude toward men.

Peace (εἰρήνη)

Not peace with God, reconciliation, as Romans 5:1, but mutual concord among Christians.

Joy (χαρὰ)

Common joy, arising out of the prevalence of rectitude and concord in the Church. The whole chapter is concerned with the mutual relations of Christians, rather than with their relations to God

In the Holy Ghost

Most commentators construe this with joy only. Meyer says it forms one phrase. Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6 While this may be correct, I see no objection to construing the words with all these terms. So Godet: "It is this divine guest who, by His presence, produces them in the Church."

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