Romans 14:22
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
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(22) Hast thou faith?—It is with some reluctance that in deference to the union of the four best MSS. we give up the Received text here, and substitute (by the insertion of the relative) “The faith which thou hast, have to thyself before God,” i.e., reserve the exhibition of it to the privacy of your own direct communion with God, and do not display it ostentatiously in public where it may do harm. “It is indeed”—the Apostle continues—“a happy thing to have no self-condemnatory scruples of conscience, but, on the other hand, it is fatal to have scruples and to disregard them.”

In that thing which he alloweth.—In the acts which he permits himself. He is a happy man who can eat what he pleases, and drink what he pleases, without any qualms of conscience to condemn him while he does so.

Romans 14:22-23. Hast thou faith — That these things are lawful? Have it to thyself, before God — In circumstances like these keep it to thyself, and do not offend others by it. Happy is he that condemneth not himself — For using his liberty in an undue manner, respecting those things which he practises, or judges lawful in themselves. Or, as others understand the apostle, that condemneth not himself by an improper use of even innocent things. And happy is he who is free from a doubting conscience, which he that hath may allow the action which he does, and yet condemn himself for it, and thereby make himself miserable. And he that doubteth — Namely, whether it be lawful for him to eat, (or do any other thing,) or not, is damned — Or condemned, contracts guilt and wounds his conscience; if he eat — That which he doubts of, or does that the lawfulness of which he questions; because he eateth not of faith — With a persuasion of its lawfulness. For whatsoever is not of faith is sin — Whatever a man does without a full persuasion that it is lawful, it is sin to him. The reader will observe that here, as in Romans 14:22, faith does not signify the believing in Christ, and in the truths and promises of his gospel, but a persuasion that what one doth is lawful. And thus understood, the apostle’s declaration is perfectly just in every case; because if a man acts without that persuasion, he acts without any principle of virtue, being guided merely by his own inclinations. And therefore, although what he doth may, in some instances, be materially right, it is sin in the sight of God, as being done without a sense of duty. From this it follows, that if a person acts contrary to his conscience in anything, he is exceedingly blameable.

14:19-23 Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do not follow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility, self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify one another, while quarrelling and contending. Many, for meat and drink, destroy the work of God in themselves; nothing more destroys the soul than pampering and pleasing the flesh, and fulfilling the lusts of it; so others are hurt, by wilful offence given. Lawful things may be done unlawfully, by giving offence to brethren. This takes in all indifferent things, whereby a brother is drawn into sin or trouble; or has his graces, his comforts, or his resolutions weakened. Hast thou faith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to our Christian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not trouble others by a wrong use of it. Nor may we act against a doubting conscience. How excellent are the blessings of Christ's kingdom, which consists not in outward rites and ceremonies, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How preferable is the service of God to all other services! and in serving him we are not called to live and die to ourselves, but unto Christ, whose we are, and whom we ought to serve.Hast thou faith? - The word "faith" here refers only to the subject under discussion - to the subject of meats, drinks, etc. Do you believe that it is right to eat all kinds of food, etc. The apostle had admitted that this was the true doctrine; but he maintains that it should be so held as not to give offence.

Have it to thyself - Do not obtrude your faith or opinion on others. Be satisfied with cherishing the opinion, and acting on it in private, without bringing it forward to produce disturbance in the church.

Before God - Where God only is the witness. God sees your sincerity, and will approve your opinion. That opinion cherish and act on, yet so as not to give offence, and to produce disturbance in the church. God sees your sincerity; he sees that you are right; and you will not offend him. Your brethren do "not" see that you are right, and they will be offended.

Happy is he ... - This state of mind, the apostle says, is one that is attended with peace and happiness; and this is a "further" reason why they should indulge their opinion in private, without obtruding it on others. They were conscious of doing right, and that consciousness was attended with peace. This fact he states in the form of a universal proposition, as applicable not only to "this" case, but to "all" cases; compare 1 John 3:21.

Condemneth not himself - Whose conscience does not reprove him.

In that which he alloweth - Which he "approves," or which he "does." Who has a clear conscience in his opinions and conduct. Many people indulge in practices which their consciences condemn, many in practices of which they are in doubt. But the way to be happy is to have a "clear conscience" in what we do; or in other words, if we have "doubts" about a course of conduct, it is not safe to indulge in that course, but it should be at once abandoned. Many people are engaged in "business" about which they have many doubts; many Christians are in doubt about certain courses of life. But they can have "no doubt" about the propriety of abstaining from them. They who are engaged in the slave-trade; or they who are engaged in the manufacture or sale of ardent spirits; or they who frequent the theater or the ball-room, or who run the round of fashionable amusements, if professing Christians, must often be troubled with "many" doubts about the propriety of their manner of life. But they can have no doubt about the propriety of an "opposite" course. Perhaps a single inquiry would settle all debate in regard to these things: "Did anyone ever become a slave-dealer, or a dealer in ardent spirits, or go to the theater, for engage in scenes of splendid amusements, with any belief that he was imitating the Lord Jesus Christ, or with any desire to honor him or his religion?" But one answer would be given to this question; and in view of it, how striking is the remark of Paul, "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in what he alloweth."

22. Hast thou faith—on such matters?

have it to thyself—within thine own breast

before God—a most important clause. It is not mere sincerity, or a private opinion, of which the apostle speaks; it is conviction as to what is the truth and will of God. If thou hast formed this conviction in the sight of God, keep thyself in this frame before Him. Of course, this is not to be over-pressed, as if it were wrong to discuss such points at all with our weaker brethren. All that is here condemned is such a zeal for small points as endangers Christian love.

Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth—allows himself to do nothing, about the lawfulness of which he has scruples; does only what he neither knows nor fears to be sinful.

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God: some read the first clause without an interrogation, thou hast faith; either way the sense is the same. The apostle here anticipates an objection. The stronger Christian might be ready to say, as it is in Romans 14:14:

I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself; I firmly believe, that now, under the gospel, all meats are lawful, and that I have liberty to use or eat what I please; and is it not fit that my practice should be agreeable to my belief, that I should act according to my judgment? To this he answereth, that if a man hath such a faith or persuasion, he should not unseasonably discover it to the offence of his brother, but rather conceal it. He doth not speak of faith in the fundamentals of religion, this must be professed and acknowledged, let who will be offended; but of faith in indifferent things (which are the subject matter he is treating of): our belief or persuasion therein is not to be unseasonably uttered or declared, so as to occasion scandal or contention.

Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth; an excellent aphorism respecting all, especially the stronger and more knowing Christian: the sense is: He is a happy man, that, when he knoweth a thing to be lawful, he doth so manage the practice of it, that he hath therein no reason to accuse or condemn himself: or else, that doth not inwardly condemn himself, for doing that against his conscience. which he openly alloweth or practiseth: such a one is happy in this respect, because he is free from those terrors that torment those who act against their consciences.

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God,.... Which is to be understood, not of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the doctrines of the Gospel; for a man that has such faith given him, ought not to keep it in his own breast, but to declare it to others; he ought to make a public visible profession of it, before many witnesses; it becomes him to tell the church of God what great things the Lord has done for him; and as he believes with the heart, so he ought to make confession with the mouth unto salvation; but this faith only designs a full persuasion in a man's own mind, about the free and lawful use of things indifferent, the subject the apostle is upon; see Romans 14:5; and his advice on this head is, to keep this faith and persuasion in a man's own breast, and not divulge it to others, where there is danger of scandal and offence: he does not advise such to alter their minds, change their sentiments, or cast away their faith, which was right and agreeable to his own, but to have it, hold and keep it, though, within themselves; he would not have them openly declare it, and publicly make use of it, since it might be grieving and distressing to weak minds; but in private, and where there was no danger of giving offence, they might both speak of it, and use it; and if they could not, should satisfy themselves that God, who sees in secret, knows they have this faith, and sees their use of it, though others do not, for from him they have it; so the Ethiopic version reads it, and "if thou hast faith with thyself, thou art secure before God, from whom thou hast obtained it"; and should be thankful to him for it, and use it in such a manner as makes most for his glory, and the peace of his church since to him they must give an account another day: some copies and versions read without an interrogation, thou hast faith; and others, "thou, the faith which thou hast, have it to thyself", &c. so the Alexandrian copy and the Syriac version.

Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth; or "approves of"; that is, it is well for that man who observes no difference of meats, if either he does not act contrary to his own conscience, and so condemns himself in what he allows himself in; or exposes himself to the censure, judgment, and condemnation of others, in doing that which he approves of as lawful, and is so, but unlawful when done to the offence of others: some understand this as spoken to the weak believer, signifying that he is in the right, who, through example, and the force of the sensual appetite, is not prevailed upon to allow himself to eat, contrary to his own conscience, and whereby he would be self-condemned; but as the strong believer is addressed in the beginning of the verse, I choose to think he is intended in this part of it; and the rather, because the weak believer is taken notice of in the next verse, with a peculiar view to this very thing.

{19} Hast thou {q} faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he {r} alloweth.

(19) He gives a double warning in these matters: one, which pertains to the strong, that he who has obtained a sure knowledge of this liberty, keep that treasure to the end that he may use it wisely and profitably, as has been said: the second, which respects the weak, that they do nothing rashly by other men's example with a wavering conscience, for it cannot be done without sin if we are not persuaded by the word of God that he likes and approves it.

(q) He showed before in Ro 14:14 what he means by faith, that is, for a man to be certain and without doubt in matters and things indifferent.

(r) Embraces.

Romans 14:22-23. Σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις] may be viewed either concessively (Luther, Beza, and many others, including Scholz, Tischendorf, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Hofmann) or interrogatively (Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, and most moderns). Comp. on Romans 13:3. The latter (already in Oecumenius, and probably also Chrysostom) corresponds better to the increasing animation of the discourse. Paul hears, as it were, how the strong in faith opposes him with an ἐγὼ πίστιν ἔχω, and he replies thereto: Thou hast faith? Thou partakest of the confidence of faith grounded on Christ, respecting the allowableness of the eating and drinking (Romans 14:2; Romans 14:21), which is here in question?

Have it for thyself (ἀρκείτω σου τὸ συνειδός, Chrysostom) before God, so that God is the witness of thy faith, and thou dost not make a parade of it before men to the offence of the weak. “Fundamentum verae prudentiae et dissimulationis,” Bengel.

ἔχε] not: thou mayest have it (Reiche), which deprives the imperative expression of its force.

κατὰ σεαυτόν] for thyself alone; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 414. Comp. Heliodorus, vii. 16 : κατὰ σαυτὸν ἔχε καὶ μηδενὶ φράζε, also the classical αὐτὸς ἔχε, keep it for thyself.

μακάριοςκατακέκριται forms a twofold consideration, which must influence the strong one not to abuse his strong faith to the prejudice of the weaker; namely, (1) he has in truth on his side the high advantage, which is expressed by μακάριοςδοκιμάζει; on the other hand, (2) the danger is great for the weak one, if he through the example of the strong one is tempted to a partaking contrary to his conscience (ὁ δὲ διακρινόμενος κ.τ.λ.). How shouldest thou not content thyself with that privilege, and spare this peril to the weak! On the formal mutual relation of κρίν., διακρίν., and κατακρίν., comp. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, where, however, the definition of the sense is not as here.

μακάριος] for the Messianic blessedness, which has been acquired for him through Christ, does not become lost to him through conscientious doubts in the determining of his action.

κρίνων] not equivalent to κατακρίνων, as, since Chrysostom, most interpreters think; against which the climax κρίνων, διακρινόμενος, κατακέκριται is decisive. It means: he who does not hold judgment upon himself, i.e. he who is so certain of his conviction, that his decision for this or that course is liable to no self-judgment; he does not institute any such judgment, as the anxious and uncertain one does.

ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει] in that which he approves, i.e. “agendum eligit” (Estius). Luther aptly renders: in that which he accepts. Comp. 2Ma 4:3; Dem. 1381. 6; Plato, Legg. p. 579 C; Diod. Sic. iv. 7.

Romans 14:23 : But he who wavers (διακρίν., qui dubius haeret., see on Romans 4:20), as to whether, namely, the eating is really allowed or not, is, if he shall have eaten, condemned, eo ipso (comp. on Romans 13:8; John 3:18) liable to the divine penal judgment, the opposite of μακάριος; comp. ἀπόλλυε, Romans 14:15. The matter is apprehended from the point of view of morally ideal strictness. Actual self-condemnation (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Grotius, and others, including Hofmann) would have required a more precise designation.

ὅτι οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως] sc. ἔφαγε.

πᾶν δὲ κ.τ.λ.] may be still connected with ὅτι: because he ate not from faith, but all, that comes not from faith, is sin. If it is taken independently, however, the sense is more emphatic. In the conclusion, which proves the κατακέκριται, πᾶν δὲἁμαρτ. ἐστίν is the major, and οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως sc. ἔφαγε the minor premiss.

πίστις is here also none other than faith according to its moral quality (“conscientiam informans et confirmans,” Bengel), i.e. faith in Christ, so far as it brings with it the moral confidence as to what in general, and under given circumstances, is the right Christian mode of action. Respecting the conduct of the Christian, Paul lays down the axiom which regulates it generally, and more especially in adiaphora, that all which does not proceed from that confidence of faith as the moral spring of action is sin; to express a moral fundamental law beyond the Christian sphere of life, is foreign to his intention. Hence it was an alien proceeding to draw from the present expression, indirectly or directly,—in disregard of the natural law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15),—the inference that the works and even the virtues of unbelievers were all of them sins (Augustine, c. Julian. iv. 3, et al.; Luther; Form. Conc. p. 700; Calovius, and others). Very correctly Chrysostom: ταῦτα δὲ πάντα περὶ τῆς προκειμένης ὑποθέσεως εἴρηται τῷ Παύλῳ, οὐ περὶ πάντων. But against the abuse of this passage, as though it made all accountability dependent only on subjective moral conviction, see Jul. Müller, von d. Sünde, I. p. 285, ed. 5; comp. also Delitzsch, Psychol. I. p. 139.

Romans 14:22. The true text is σὺ πίστιν ἣν ἔχεις: “the faith that thou hast, have thou to thyself in the sight of God”. The verse is still addressed to the strong. The faith he has is the enlightened faith which enables him to see that all things are clean; such faith does not lose its value though it is not flaunted in reckless action. On κατὰ σεαυτὸν Wetstein quotes Heliod. Romans 7:16 : κατὰ σεαυτὸν ἔχε καὶ μηδενὶ φράζε. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:28 (ἑαυτῷ δὲ λαλείτω καὶ τῷ θεῷ). ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ reminds the strong once more (Romans 14:10) that the fullest freedom must be balanced by the fullest sense of responsibility to God. In another sense than that of 1 Corinthians 9:21 the Christian made free by faith must feel himself (μὴ ἄνομος θεοῦ ἀλλʼ ἔννομος Χριστοῦ. μακάριος ὁ μὴ κρίνων ἑαυτὸν ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει: “a motive to charitable self-restraint addressed to the strong in faith” (Gifford). It is a rare felicity (this is always what μακάριος denotes) to have a conscience untroubled by scruples—in Paul’s words, not to judge oneself in the matter which one approves (sc., by his own practice); and he who has this felicity should ask no more. In particular, he should not run the risk of injuring a brother’s conscience, merely for the sake of exercising in a special way the spiritual freedom which he has the happiness to possess—whether he exercises it in that way or not.

22. Hast thou faith?] “Thou” is emphatic, and marks the contrast of the persons—the “strong” and the “weak.”—“Faith” here, as throughout the Epistle, is (in its radical idea) justifying faith; trustful acceptance of the Propitiation. But it has here a special reference to the results of that faith in regard of ceremonial restrictions—the “strong” Christian’s decided view that he is wholly above such restrictions, because “justified by faith.”

have it to thyself] i.e. keep it to thyself. The Gr. verb in this phrase can be rendered either “have” or “keep; and thus affords a slight “play” on the same word (“Hast thou faith?”) just before.—St Paul’s meaning is that faith, with its results, is not a matter for personal display—the use to which many Christians were tempted to put it.—Admirable is this plain warning in the very Epistle in which the preciousness and power of justifying faith have been the primary topic.

before God] In the calm, and heartsearching, secrecy of the soul’s intercourse with Him.

Happy is he, &c.] In this clause, and the next verse, we have a double warning; (1) of the “strong” Christian’s risk in the eager assertion of his liberty; (2) of the “weak” Christian’s sin, should he violate his conscience—the thought of which must check the conduct of the “strong” in dealing with him.—The present clause may be paraphrased, “Happy is the man who so understands his liberty as never to misapply it to sinful indulgence! For the risk is great; self-assertion may easily take the place of the assertion of free grace; and so you may persuade yourself to accept as an act of true freedom what is really a moral wrong, and thus bring yourself into judgment.”

condemneth] Lit. judgeth; but the connexion implies the guilt of the party on trial, and thus E. V. is practically right.

Romans 14:22. Πίστιν, faith) concerning the cleanness of meat [all meats alike].—σεαυτὸν,—Θεοῦ, thyself—of God) a double antithesis, in relation to our neighbour; as in ch. Romans 15:3.—ἔχε, have) The foundation of real prudence and judicious concealment [of our views on non-essentials, for the sake of our neighbour].—μακάριος, happy) These words down to the end of the chapter, contain the antithesis to ch. Romans 15:1, but.—κρίνων, judging [condemning]) [Condemning] judging and approving are the words in antithesis: by combining the two, the doubting conscience is exquisitely described, when a man approves a thing, and yet [condemns] judges his own action.

Verse 22. - Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Hast thou an enlightened faith, showing thee the unimportance of these observances? Do not parade it needlessly before men. Θέλεις μαι δεῖξαι ὄτι τέλειος εϊ καὶ ἀπηρτισμένος μὴ ἐμοὶ δείκνοε ἀλλ ἀρκείτω τὸ συνειδός (Chrysostom). Happy is he that judgeth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. Thy weak brother, if he abstains conscientiously, is thus happy; take care that thou art equally so in the exercise of thy freedom; for he that alloweth himself in anything that he is not fully convinced is lawful passes, ipso facto, judgment on himself. Romans 14:22Hast thou faith (σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις)

The best texts insert ἣν which. "The faith which thou hast have thou to thyself," etc. So Rev.

Condemneth not himself (κρίνων)

Rev., better, judgeth. Who, in settled conviction of the rightness of his action, subjects himself to no self-judgment after it.

Alloweth (δοκιμάζει)

Rev., approveth. See on 1 Peter 1:7. "Christian practice ought to be out of the sphere of morbid introspection."

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