Romans 14:4
Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
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(4) Who art thou?—This is addressed to the weak. The Apostle indignantly challenges his right to judge. That right belongs to another tribunal, before which the conduct of the stronger Christian will not be condemned but approved and upheld.

He standeth or falleth.—It seems most in accordance with what precedes to take this of judicial condemnation or approval from the Master whom he serves—i.e., Christ.

Holden up.—The same word as that in the clause following, and similar to that in the clause preceding—“Made to stand.”

God is able to make him stand.—The true reading here is “the Lord”—i.e., Christ; the word is the same as “his Master” above. “Make him stand” seems to be still judicial. “Secure his acquittal,” but with reference to his previous course of conduct on which that acquittal is grounded. The trial is not necessarily reserved for the last day, but is rather the judgment which Christ may be supposed at any moment to pass upon His servants. If they can sustain this judgment, it is only because His grace has enabled them so to act as not to be condemned by it.

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.Who art thou ... - That is, who gave you this right to sit in judgment on others; compare Luke 12:14. There is reference here particularly to the "Jew," who on account of his ancient privileges, and because he had the Law of God, would assume the prerogative of "judging" in the case, and insist on conformity to his own views; see Acts 15. The doctrine of this Epistle is uniformly, that the Jew had no such privilege, but that in regard to salvation he was on the same level with the Gentile.

That judgest ... - compare James 4:12. This is a principle of common sense and common propriety. It is not ours to sit in judgment on the servant of another man. He has the control over him; and if "he" chooses to forbid his doing anything, or to allow him to do anything, it pertains to "his" affairs not ours. To attempt to control him, is to intermeddle improperly, and to become a "busy-body in other men's matters;" 1 Peter 4:15. Thus, Christians are the servants of God; they are answerable to him; and "we" have no right to usurp "his" place, and to act as if we were "lords over his heritage;" 1 Peter 5:3.

To his own master - The servant is responsible to his master only. So it is with the Christian in regard to God.

He standeth or falleth - He shall be approved or condemned. If his conduct is such as pleases his master, he shall be approved; if not, he will be condemned.

Yea, he shall be holden up - This is spoken of the Christian only. In relation to the servant, he might stand or fall; he might be approved or condemned. The master had no power to keep him in a way of obedience, except by the hope of reward, or the fear of punishment. But it was not so in regard to the Christian. The Jew who was disposed to "condemn" the Gentile might say, that he admitted the general principle which the apostle had stated about the servant; that it was just what he was saying, that he might "fall," and be condemned. But no, says the apostle, this does not follow, in relation to the Christian He shall not fall. God has power to make him stand; to hold him; to keep him from error, and from condemnation, and "he shall be holden up." He shall not be suffered to fall into condemnation, for it is the "purpose" of God to keep him; compare Psalm 1:5. This is one of the incidental but striking evidences that the apostle believed that all Christians should be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Is able - See John 10:29. Though a master cannot exert such an influence over a servant as to "secure" his obedience, yet "God" has this power over his people, and will preserve them in a path of obedience.

4. Who art thou that judges another man's—rather, "another's"

servant?—that is, Christ's, as the whole context shows, especially Ro 14:8, 9.

Yea, &c.—"But he shall be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand"; that is, to make good his standing, not at the day of judgment, of which the apostle treats in Ro 14:10, but in the true fellowship of the Church here, in spite of thy censures.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth: a sharp reprehension of the forementioned evil. You have the like: Jam 4:12. q.d. This phrase is repugnant not only to the law of God, but to the very law of nature, which tells us, that one man must not condemn the servant of another, over whom he hath no right or power; much less may any man condemn him that is the Lord’s servant. Every Christian hath Christ alone for his own or his proper Master; and it is his judgment by which he must abide; it is to him that he standeth or falleth, that he doth well or ill.

Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand: q.d. If (as thou thinkest) he be fallen or falling, he shall be upheld and supported;

for God is able, & c. But how doth this follow, because God can make him stand, therefore he shall be holden up?

Answer. It is a rule in divinity, that in all God’s promises, his power is joined with his will; so that where the latter is once revealed, there is no question of the former: now of the word of God in this matter, there was no doubt; for he had said, Romans 14:3, that God had received him. You had the like way of arguing, Romans 11:23, where the apostle proves the calling of the Jews by an argument taken from the power of God, because he is able to graft them in again: see Romans 4:21 Hebrews 10:23.

Who art thou that judgest another man's servant,.... This is another reason, dissuading from censoriousness and rash judgment, taken from civil things; one man has nothing to do with another man's servant; he has no power over him, nor any right to call him to an account for his actions; nor has he any business to censure or condemn him for them, or concern himself about them: so the believer supposed to be judged, does not belong to him that takes upon him to judge and condemn him; he is another's servant, he is the servant of God: he is chosen by God the Father for his service, as well as unto salvation; he is bought with the price of Christ's blood, and therefore not his own, nor another's, but Christ's, he is bought with his money; and he is also born in his house, the church; the Spirit of God in regeneration forms him for himself, for righteousness and holiness; under the influence of whose grace he voluntarily gives up himself to the service of God, and is assisted by him to keep his statutes and do them; and what has another to do with him? what power has he over him, or right to judge him?

to his own master he standeth or falleth, the meaning of which is, either if he "stands", that is, if he serves his Lord and master, of which "standing" is expressive; and continues in the service of him, whose servant he professes to be; this is to his master's advantage and profit, and not to another's: and if he "falls", that is, from his obedience to him, as such who profess to be the servants of God may; they may fall off from the doctrine of grace they have embraced; and that either totally and finally, as such do who never felt the power of it in their hearts; or partially, from some degree of steadfastness in the faith: and such also may fall from a lively exercise of the graces of faith, hope, and love, and into great sins, which is to their master's dishonour, and cause his ways and truths to be evil spoken of; and so it is to their own master they fail: or else the sense is, to their own master they are accountable, whether they stand or fall, serve or disobey him; and it is according to his judgment and not another's, that they "stand", or are and will be justified and acquitted, and will hear, well done, good and faithful servant; and according to the same they will "fall", or be condemned, and hear, take the slothful and unprofitable servant, and cast him into outer darkness: so the words "standing" and "failing" are used by the Jews in a forensic sense, for carrying or losing a cause, for justification or condemnation in a court of judicature, and particularly in the last judgment: and so they explain Psalm 1:5, "the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment": the Targum paraphrases it,

"the wicked shall not be justified in the great day;''

and Jarchi upon the place says, there shall be no , "standing of the foot" of the wicked, in the day of judgment; see Luke 21:36.

Yea, ye shall be holden up; which words seem to be a sort of correction of the apostle's, as if he should say, why do I talk of falling, one that is a true servant of the Lord's shall not fall, at least not totally and finally, nor in the last judgment; for he is holden by the right hand of God, by the right hand of his righteousness, and is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation:

for God is able to make him stand; and will make him stand: words of power oftentimes include willingness as well as ability; see Judges 5:24. God will make such to persevere to the end, because he has loved them with an everlasting love, chosen them in Christ, made a covenant with them in him, and has put them into his hands, and made them his care and charge; Christ has redeemed them by his blood, now intercedes, and is making preparations for them in heaven; they are united to him, and are built on him, the sure foundation; and the Spirit of God has begun that good work, which shall be performed. God will make such to stand in judgment with intrepidity, and without shame, being clothed with the righteousness of his Son; and shall therefore have the crown of righteousness given them, and an abundant entrance administered into his kingdom and glory: hence they ought not to be judged by man's judgment, nor need they regard it. The Alexandrian copy reads, "the Lord is able", &c.

{5} Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

(5) Another reason which depends upon the former: why the novice and more unlearned ought not to be condemned by the more experienced, as men without hope of salvation: because, says the apostle, he that is ignorant today, may be endued tomorrow with further knowledge, so that he may also stand sure: therefore it belongs to God, and not to man, to pronounce the sentence of condemnation.

Romans 14:4 then adds what a presumptuous intermeddling such a κρίνειν is. In this the emotion rises to an animated apostrophe, addressed to the weak in faith who passes judgment, not to both parties, as Reiche and Tholuck think; for κρίνων corresponds to the κρινέτω of Romans 14:3.

σὺ τίς εἶ] comp. Romans 9:20. It discloses the presumption, without however standing in the relation of apodosis to the preceding ὁ Θεὸς αὐτὸν προσελάβετο (Hofmann), which is nowise indicated and is forbidden by the fact that the following relation of domestic slave points to Christ as Master.

ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην] who is not in thy domestic service, but in that of another. This other is Christ (see Romans 14:6), not God, who is rather distinguished from the master by δυν. γὰρ κ.τ.λ.

τῷ ἰδίῳ κυρίῳ] to his own master. The dative denotes the relation of subordination to the interest of the ἴδιος κύριος (Bernhardy, p. 85). His own master, and no other, is interested therein; whence the incompetence of the κρίνειν is obvious.

The figurative standing and falling is either explained of standing firm (Psalm 1:4; Luke 21:36), and of being condemned (causa cadere) in the divine judgment (Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Estius, Wolf, and others, including Reiche, Köllner, Borger, Tholuck, Philippi), or, as in 1 Corinthians 10:12, of continuance and non-continuance in the state of true Christian faith and life. So in substance, Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, Toletus, Bengel, Semler, and others, including Flatt, de Wette, Fritzsche, Rückert, Maier, Baumgarten-Crusius, Umbreit, van Hengel, Hofmann. The use of πίπτειν would not tell against the former (Hofmann), for it would have its warrant as contrast to the σώζεσθαι in the divine judgment figuratively set forth by the standing (Soph. Trach. 84, and see Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 568); but the second explanation is to be preferred, partly because the unwarranted κρίνειν denied to the more free the possession of a right Christian frame of life, partly because of the following δυνατεῖ γὰρ κ.τ.λ. For to make to stand in the judgment, i.e. without figure, to acquit and pronounce righteous, is not the work of divine power, but of grace. But according to His power (against Reiche’s objection to this, see Ephesians 3:20) God effects an inner strengthening, so that the Christian stands in that which is good, and even he who thinks more freely does not succumb to the dangers to which the nature of his Christian faith and life is exposed by the very fact of his freer principles, but perseveres in the true Christian state. For this Paul looks to God’s power, and promises it. When Tholuck, on the ground of the reading ὁ κύριος, finds the thought, that the Judge will even find out sufficient reasons for exculpation, this is a pure importation into the text.

δυνατεῖ] See on 2 Corinthians 13:3. Comp. Clem. Hom. i. 6.

Romans 14:4. σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ κρίνων ἀλλότριον οἱκέτην; the sharpness of this rebuke (cf. Romans 9:20) shows that Paul, with all his love and consideration for the weak, was alive to the possibility of a tyranny of the weak, and repressed it in its beginnings. It is easy to lapse from scrupulousness about one’s own conduct into Pharisaism about that of others. οἰκέτης is rare in the N.T. Paul has no other example, and may have used it here for the suggestion (which δοῦλος has not) that the person referred to belonged to the house. τῷ ἰδίῳ κυρίῳ στήκει ἢ πίπτει: for the verbs in the moral sense see 1 Corinthians 10:12. The dative is dat[36] comm[37] It is his own Lord who is concerned—it is His interest which is involved and to Him (not to you) he must answer—as he stands or falls. σταθήσεται δέ: but he shall be made to stand, i.e., shall be preserved in the integrity of his Christian character. δυνατεῖ γὰρ ὁ Κύριος στῆσαι αὐτόν: for the Lord has power to keep him upright. Paul does not contemplate the strong man falling and being set up again by Christ; but in spite of the perils which liberty brings in its train—and the Apostle is as conscious of them as the most timid and scrupulous Christian could be—he is confident that Christian liberty, through the grace and power of Christ, will prove a triumphant moral success.

[36] dative case.

[37] commentary, commentator.

4. The question has been much debated whether the observance of the Sabbath was one of the tenets of the “weak brethren,” and so whether it is here ruled by St Paul to be not of permanent moral obligation. (Cp. Colossians 2:16.) If by “the Sabbath” is meant the last day of the week strictly, the answer to both questions must be yes. But as to the observance of a divinely-consecrated Weekly Rest, it is evident (from Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:8-11, and cp. such passages of prophetic doctrine as Isaiah 58:13-14,) that the institution stands on a very different level from that of the monthly and yearly Mosaic festivals. It is antecedent to all Jewish law, and in the Decalogue of Exodus it is based on strictly universal grounds, and placed among the great elements of moral duty. No doubt it is impossible to trace the whole process of transition from the observance of the Seventh day to that of the First; but the plain fact remains that the sanctity of the primeval weekly worship-rest was of a kind most unlikely to be slightingly put aside by the Apostles; and thus in such places as this and Colossians 2:16 it is far more likely that the wrong opinion in question was that the whole Mosaic code of festivals was still binding in full detail; that therefore the Saturday was the only possible Sabbath; and that it was to be observed by the Rabbinic rules.

How to deal with those who might reject the Weekly Rest altogether might be a difficult question. But all we are here called on to enquire is whether it was likely that St Paul, with the O. T. before him, would treat the Sabbath (the Sabbath apart from its Rabbinic aspect) as a thing of the same quality as, for example, the new-moon feast.

4. Who art thou that judgest] The verb “judge” connects this with the “judgment” passed by the “eater of herbs” upon the Christianity of his “stronger” brother.—The word “judge” here (as in Matthew 7:1) manifestly does not forbid the entertainment, nor the right expression, of opinions, but the assumption of a tone of judicial opinion: the thinking of others from a level of isolated authority and sanctity.

standeth or falleth] In the sense of acceptance or non-acceptance.

Yea, he shall be holden up] Lit. But he shall he made to stand. The “but” points out that of the two alternatives just given (“standing,” “falling,”) the former, in this case, is certain.

Romans 14:4. Σὺ) thou, O weak man.—τὶς εἶ) who art thou, who takest so much upon thyself.—ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην, another man’s servant) He calls him in another respect thy brother, as it suits his purpose, Romans 14:10.—Κυρίῳ, [Master] Lord) Christ, Romans 14:6-7; Romans 14:9-10; Romans 14:14-15; Romans 14:18.—στήκει, he stands) although thou, O weak man, dost not think so.—σταθήσεται δὲ, yea, and he shall be holden up) if he shall fall; he will be upheld by sure knowledge.—δυνατὸς γὰρ, for He is able) In the works of Divine grace, the conclusion is often valid, when drawn from what is possible (posse) to what actually is (esse): against those especially, who judge otherwise; and in behalf of those who are weak.

Verse 4. - Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? (observe the emphatic position of σὺ) to his own lord he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand: for the Lord (better supported than God, as in the Textus Receptus) is able (or, has power) to make him stand. The standing or falling here spoken of may be taken to mean standing firm in, or falling from, a state of grace (cf. Romans 11:20, 22), rather than acceptance or rejection at the last judgment. "For God is able," etc., seems to require this meaning. The non-abstainer's freedom does not endanger his position; for God is powerful to sustain him, and to God alone he is accountable. Romans 14:4Who art thou? (σὺ τίς εἷ)

Thou, first in the Greek order and peculiarly emphatic. Addressing the weak brother, since judgest corresponds with judge in Romans 14:3.

Servant (οἰκέτην)

Strictly, household servant. See on 1 Peter 2:18. He is a servant in Christ's household. Hence not another man's, as A.V., but the servant of another, as Rev. Ἁλλότριον of another is an adjective.

He shall be holden up (σταθήσεται)

Rev., shall be made to stand; better, both because the rendering is more truthful, and because it corresponds with the kindred verb stand - he standeth, make him stand.

Is able (δυνατεῖ)

Stronger than δύναται can. The sense is, is mighty. Hence Rev., hath power.

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