Romans 14:2
For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
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(2) Believeth that he may . . .—Rather, perhaps, hath confidence to eat all things. His faith is strong enough to prevent his conscience from becoming uneasy.

Romans 14:2-4. For one believeth that he may eat all things — A converted Gentile, who rightly understands his Christian liberty, is firmly persuaded that he may eat any kind of food indifferently, though forbidden by the ceremonial law, (blood excepted, of which see on Acts 15:20,) without sin. Another, who is weak — A believing Jew, not thoroughly informed of his Christian liberty; eateth herbs — Namely, for fear lest he should offend by eating any meat forbidden by the law, or which was not killed in a legal manner. See Leviticus 17:10-14; Daniel 1:8. Let not him that eateth — That makes use of his liberty to eat any thing that is wholesome indifferently; despise him — As over-scrupulous or superstitious; that eateth not — That forbears the use of such kind of food as is forbidden by the law. And let not him which eateth not — Who, from a scrupulous conscience, abstains from many kinds of food; judge him that eateth — Censure him as profane, or as taking undue liberties. For God hath received him — Acknowledges both the one and the other for his servant, on account of their common faith in Christ, and in the truths and promises of his gospel. This is a powerful argument for our conversing in a friendly manner, and holding communion with those who differ from us in opinion, on some points of lesser importance in religion. Who art thou — Whether weaker or stronger; that judgest another man’s servant — One over whom thou hast no power. To his own master he standeth or falleth — He must abide by Christ’s judgment only, to whom it belongs either to acquit or condemn him. Yea, he shall be holden up — If he offends in no greater points than these in debate among you, he shall be upheld in his Christian profession, and established to eternal salvation. For God is able to make him stand — And certainly will do it, if he continue to act conscientiously and uprightly.

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.For one believeth - This was the case with the Gentiles in general, who had none of the scruples of the Jew about the propriety of eating certain kinds of meat. Many of the converts who had been Jews might also have had the same view as the apostle Paul evidently had while the great mass of Jewish converts might have cherished these scruples.

May eat all things - That is, he will not be restrained by any scruples about the lawfulness of certain meats, etc.

Another who is weak - There is reference here, doubt less, to the Jewish convert. The apostle admits that he was "weak," that is, not fully established in the views of Christian liberty. The question with the Jew doubtless was, whether it was lawful to eat the meat which was offered in sacrifice to idols. In those sacrifices a part only of the animal was offered, and the remainder was eaten by the worshippers, or offered for sale in the market like other meat. It became an inquiry whether it was lawful to eat this meat; and the question in the mind of a Jew would arise from the express command of his Law; Exodus 34:15. This question the apostle discussed and settled in 1 Corinthians 10:20-32, which see. In that place the general principle is laid down, that it was lawful to partake of that meat as a man would of any other, "unless it was expressly pointed out to him as having been sacrificed to idols, and unless his partaking of it would be considered as countenancing the idolators in their worship;" Romans 14:28. But with this principle many Jewish converts might not have been acquainted; or what is quite as probable, they might not have been disposed to admit its propriety.

Eateth herbs - Herbs or "vegetables" only; does not partake of meat at all, for "fear" of eating that, inadvertently, which had been offered to idols. The Romans abounded in sacrifices to idols; and it would not be easy to be certain that meat which was offered in the market, or on the table of a friend, had not been offered in this manner. To avoid the possibility of partaking of it, even "ignorantly," they chose to eat no meat at all. The scruples of the Jews on the subject might have arisen in part from the fact that sins of "ignorance" among them subjected them to certain penalties; Leviticus 4:2-3, etc.; Leviticus 5:15; Numbers 15:24, Numbers 15:27-29. Josephus says (Life, Section 3) that in his time there were certain priests of his acquaintance who "supported themselves with figs and nuts." These priests had been sent to Rome to be tried on some charge before Caesar: and it is probable that they abstained from meat because it might have been offered to idols. It is expressly declared of Daniel when in Babylon, that he lived on pulse and water, that he might not "defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank;" Daniel 1:8-16.

2. one believeth that he may eat all things—See Ac 10:16.

another, who is weak, eateth herbs—restricting himself probably to a vegetable diet, for fear of eating what might have been offered to idols, and so would be unclean. (See 1Co 8:1-13).

One believeth that he may eat all things; i.e. one that is informed aright of his Christian liberty, is fully persuaded, and that upon good grounds, that he may eat any thing that is wholesome, though forbidden by the ceremonial law; that there is now no difference of clean and unclean meats: see Matthew 15:11 Acts 10:12-15.

Another, who is weak, eateth herbs; i.e. he that (as before) is weak in faith, and not so well informed, such a one, for fear of offending God by eating any thing that is forbidden, will rather content himself with the meanest diet. The meaning is not, as if any, in those times, thought it lawful only to eat herbs, and so abstained altogether from other meats; but they would rather satisfy themselves with herbs, and other fruits of the earth, in which the law of Moses made no difference, than eat meats that were forbidden, or not cleansed from blood, or offered to idols, &c.: see Daniel 1:8.

For one believeth that he may eat all things,.... He is fully persuaded in his mind, that there is nothing in itself common, or unclean; that the difference between clean and unclean meats, commanded to be observed by the law of Moses, is taken away; and that he may now lawfully eat any sort of food; every creature of God being good, and none to be refused, because of the ceremonial law which is abrogated, provided it, be received with thanksgiving, and used to the glory of God:

another who is weak eateth herbs; meaning not one that is sickly and unhealthful, and of a weak constitution, and therefore eats herbs for health's sake; but one that is weak in the faith, and who thinks that the laws concerning the observance of meats and drinks are still in force; and therefore, rather than break any of them, and that he may be sure he does not, will eat nothing but herbs, which are not any of them forbidden by the law: and this he did, either as choosing rather to live altogether on herbs, than to eat anything which the law forbids; or being of opinion with the Essenes among the Jews, and the Pythagoreans among the Gentiles, who thought they were to abstain from eating of all sorts of animals.

{2} For one {c} believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

(2) He propounds for an example the difference of meats, which some thought was necessarily to be observed as a thing prescribed by the law (not knowing that it was taken away) whereas on the other hand those who had profited in the knowledge of the gospel knew well that this position of the law as the schoolmaster was abolished.

(c) Knows by faith.

Romans 14:2. More particular discussion of the subject, and in the first place, exhibition of the first point of difference between the two parties.

ὃς μέν] without a corresponding ὃς δέ, instead of which there is at once put the definite ὁ δὲ ἀσθ.: the one (i.e. the strong) believes, etc.; but the weak, etc. Comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. ii. 3. 15; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 507.

πιστεύει φαγεῖν πάντα may mean: he is convinced that he may eat all things, so that the notion ἐξεῖναι is implied in the relation of the verbal notion to the infinitive (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 753 f.; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 235); so Tholuck, Borger, and older interpreters. But more agreeable to the τῇ πίστει, Romans 14:1, and to the contrast ὁ ἀσθεν., is the rendering: he has the confidence, the assurance of faith, to eat all things; Winer, p. 302 [E. T. 405]. Comp. Dem. 866. 1, and generally Krüger, § 61. 6. 8. To supply ὥστε (van Hengel) is in accordance with the sense, but unnecessary.

λάχανα] excludes, according to the connection, all use of flesh, not merely that of Levitically unclean animals, or of flesh sacrificed to idols, or on feast and fast days,—limitations of which nature are introduced by most interpreters (including Reiche, Köllner, Neander, Tholuck, Philippi). The weak in faith eats no flesh, but vegetables are his food. Comp. Wieseler in Herzog’s Encyklop. XX. p. 595.

Romans 14:2. ὃς μέν: cf. Romans 14:5, Romans 9:21. πιστεύει φαγεῖν πάντα: has confidence to eat all things. See Winer, p. 405. Gifford quotes Demosthenes, p. 88: προέσθαι δὲ τὴν προῖκʼ οὐκ ἐπίστευσεν: “he had not confidence, i.e., was too cautious, to give up the dowry”. This use of πιστεύειν shows that πίστις to Paul was essentially an ethical principle; the man who was strong in it had moral independence, courage, and originality. ὁ δὲ ἀσθενῶν λάχανα ἐσθίει: it is impossible to suppose that Paul here is “writing quite generally”; he must have had a motive for saying what he does, and it can only be found in the fact that he knew there were Christians in Rome who abstained from the use of flesh.

2. This difference may be explained by the different quality and aspect of the controversies. In Galatia the question was of primary principle; at Rome and Corinth it was, on the whole, of secondary practice. How to be justified before God was the Galatian problem. How the justified should live was, at least in the main, the problem at Rome and Corinth. For there is no proof that the “weak brethren” differed from the “strong” on the great principle of Justification by Faith. Their error was that the path of duty, laid before the justified, included a moral obligation on the obedient children of God to abstain from certain sorts of food and to keep the Mosaic feasts. All the Roman Christians agreed that the justified must not lie nor steal; but the “weak brethren” held that, in the same way, they must not taste “unclean” food, nor neglect the festivals. The error in Galatia affected the very principle of the work and grace of Christ; the error at Rome did not, at all necessarily, do so. St Paul was thus perfectly consistent in writing Galatians 1:6-9, and Romans 14:1-10.

2. believeth that he may eat] Lit. believeth to eat; i.e. has faith which leads him to see that sorts of food are no longer a matter of religious scruple.

who is weak] i.e. in his faith. See on Romans 14:1.

eateth herbs] This is given as an extreme case. Anxious scrupulosity would adopt vegetarianism as the simplest solution of the questions raised by the Mosaic precepts, complicated by the possible “defilement” of animal-food by idol-sacrifices.

Romans 14:2. Πιστεύει, believes) This word has a more direct sense in the predicate; the participle ἀσθενῶν conceals, as it were, the weakness of him who eats herbs.—λάχανα, herbs) vegetable food (in preference to meats, Romans 14:21), which we have the most undoubted liberty to eat, Genesis 9:3.

Verses 2, 3. - One believeth that he may eat all things (literally, believeth to - or, hath faith to - eat all things), but he that is weak eateth herbs. 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. "He that eateth" is the one that has faith to eat all things; and it is against contempt on his part of the weak in faith that the admonition is mainly directed throughout the chapter (cf. also Romans 15:1). But the weak require an admonition too. Their temptation was to judge those who indulged in freedom which to themselves appeared unlawful; and here, in ver. 5, the apostle gives such as did so a sharp reproof. There is a tone of indignation in his σὺ τίς εῖ ὁ κρίνων; reminding us of his tone towards the Judaists in Galatia, who would have crippled Christian liberty. "God hath received him" refers evidently, as appears from its position and from the following verse, to him that eateth. God hath received him to himself in Christ, whosoever may sit in judgment on him. We observe that the verb προσελάβετο is the same as in ver. 1 and in Romans 15:7. Romans 14:2Believeth that he may eat (πιστεύει φαγεῖν)

The A.V. conveys the sense of having an opinion, thinking. But the point is the strength or weakness of the man's faith (see Romans 14:1) as it affects his eating. Hence Rev., correctly, hath faith to eat.

Herbs (λάχανα)

From λαχαίνω to dig. Herbs grown on land cultivated by digging: garden-herbs, vegetables. See on Mark 4:32; see on Luke 12:42.

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