Romans Chapter 14

Romans 14:1  “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

“Doubtful disputations,” are arguments about different opinions that are not essential for salvation. As a theologian once write “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity1.”

Welcome all brethren, including those whose faith is weak. But do not welcome him just because you disagree with his beliefs and you want to criticize him. That will do one of two things. It will either confuse him, or more than likely it will further weaken his faith.

What is weak faith? One day Jesus’ disciples were crossing the Galilee and a strong storm blew up. They were quite worried. Then they saw Jesus walking along upon the water toward them. Peter then got out of the boat and began to walk toward Jesus. But along the way he looked down at the water and began to sink. He carried out for Jesus to save him. Jesus responded: “Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” That is weak faith. But that faith is far stronger than our own. Who among us would be able to have faith enough to walk on the water?

Another example is the man whose son was troubled by a demon. He asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” The man’s answer was “I believe; help my unbelief.” That was weak faith, but probably stronger than most have.

A person who has just become saved, that is, truly saved, has had just enough faith to believe in Jesus, but he is probably on shaky ground when it comes to knowledge of how to lead a Christian life. We would refer to that as a weaker brother. He has saving faith, but he needs to grow and mature into a Christian who walks daily with Christ. We would not bring him in and browbeat him for not knowing how to fully live the Christian life. Likewise, if a saved person enters our fellowship and has certain beliefs that are less mature than ours or not as mature as ours, we should treat him the same. Paul gives a few examples.

Romans 14:2-3  “For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. {3} 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.”

Remember that context determines meaning. Context includes the passage verses and its surrounding verses, the book of the Bible and the Bible as a whole. Context also includes the historical setting of the author, the grammar used, and the style of writing used (prose, poetry, history, narrative, psalm, doxology, etc.). The historical context id of great importance in understanding these verses.

The historical context here is that Paul is speaking to both Gentile and Jewish Converts. Paul discusses newer converts that are weaker, that is, less knowledgeable in the doctrines of faith. He keys specifically on a Jewish convert, who might still hold to the traditions he or she grew up with. Such a convert might still trust that only correct way to please and glorify God it to retain some of the Jewish religious customs he or she grew up with such as observing the Sabbath and the food laws. Yet he is not singling out Jewish converts for new Gentile converts are also less knowledgeable in the doctrines of faith.

Paul specifically addresses all foods versus only vegetables. In context, this could be compared to clean and unclean foods for the Jewish converts, and meat sacrificed to idols for the Gentile coverts. Those foods and many more are in view here as well. The idea is we should not argue with less weaker brethren over these sorts of things.

Paul is saying that we should not criticize a weaker brother for what he believes about eating certain foods, in this case, eating all edible things or eating only vegetables. If a newer convert believes he or she should eat only vegetables or believes he or she may eat anything edible, we should not quibble over such beliefs in either case.

Likewise, if a brother believes that he is to eat only foods that the Law declares clean, then we are not to argue with him over his belief, even if we believe it is acceptable to eat the flesh of any animal.

The same can be said of meat sacrificed to idols. We know from the scripture that it is not a sin to eat foods sacrificed to idols, even though that was unacceptable in Old Testament times. But there may be someone whose faith is less mature that our own who believes it is sinful to eat such foods. Paul said not to offend him by eating food sacrificed to idols in his presence.

Let us modernize this a bit. Today there are some that believe that eating meat of any sort is bad for your health and some believe it is wrong to slaughter animals for food (a belief that I wholeheartedly disagree with). We should never criticize what a brother or sister eats. Even if that person who is a vegetarian is less mature than we are, we should not remonstrate him. In fact, if it offends him, we should not eat meat before him in order not to offend him. If he is a brother in Christ, God has accepted him just like he is and so should we.

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.”

In context, this is not written about judging others in a righteous or unrighteous manner (Mat 7:1; Luk 5:37; John 7:24). This is specifically applied to arguing with a weaker brother or sister over “doubtful disputations,” or arguments about different opinions that are not essential for salvation.

God is our master and we are His Servants. In other words, the weaker convert is a believer in Christ and is also a servant of God. If the convert is not displeasing God in his beliefs in this current context, which is types of food he or she eats, then we have no right to judge these things.


Romans 14:5  “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

This is speaking of the Sabbath and the Holy days—the feast days. Some worship on Saturday, some on Sunday. Some practice many of the holy convocations of the Old Testament. Some do not. It is up to the individual. It is OK to worship on Sunday, in fact, any day is Ok for worship services. But some prefer Saturdays, some Sundays. Either is acceptable. We are not to criticize another brother or sister for this.

John Gill makes several good points on this subject and I quote him here:


“believing it is the will of the Lord, that all distinction of days should cease; and that the law of commandments contained in ordinances, respecting such Jewish days, is abolished by the Lord Jesus Christ; and that it is to the honour the Lord not to observe them: for to regard the days of the feast of tabernacles, is tacitly to say, that the Word has not tabernacled among us; and to observe he days of the passover, is virtually to deny that our passover is sacrificed for us; and to keep the day of Pentecost, is all one as to affirm, that the firstfruits of the Spirit have not been given; and to regard a new moon, is in effect to say, that the church has not received evangelical light from Christ, the sun of righteousness; and to keep a seventh day sabbath, is a strong insinuation, as if Christ the true sabbath, in whom we have our spiritual and eternal rest, is not come; however, it is to the Lord that the stronger brother and more confirmed believer disregards any of those days; and it is to his own master he stands or falls, nor is he to be judged of man’s judgment: and the same is the case of the eater, or non-eater of meats forbidden by the law2

Romans 14:6  “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”

This is the summation. If a person has special days for worshiping the Lord and is trying to honor him; he is doing a good thing. Similarly, a person who worships the Lord but does not deem any day special for that worship, and is trying to honor the Lord, is also doing a good thing. Thus, those who worship on the Saturday Sabbath and those who worship on Sunday are doing right if they are trying to please God.


Those who insist that Christians must worship on the Saturday Sabbath or else they are committing sin, are disregarding the plain teaching of Scripture written here in this chapter of Romans. According to these verses and those in other places as well it is acceptable to set aside the Saturday Sabbath, or Sunday, or any other day of the week for worship.


As an aside here, Sabbatarians claim we who worship on Sunday are worshipping the sun god because we worship on a day named after the sun god. If that is the case, then, using the same logic, the Sabbatarians are worshiping the Roman god Saturn, for Saturday is named after Saturn.


The person who eats meat that has been offered to idols; if he is thankful to the Lord for it; he is doing right. And the person who will not touch such meat at all is also anxious to please the Lord and is thankful is also doing right. If they are Christians and they are trying to please the God in these things, it is acceptable to the God. Do not criticize them. They are not sinning. If they are committing sins and trying to please the God by doing so—stop them. That is not acceptable. But eating, not eating, or worshipping on Saturday or Sunday, those are not sins, but preferences. Paul sets some limits of those preferences in the last few verses in this Chapter.


Romans 14:8  “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.


We belong to Yahweh God and our lives are His to do with as He pleases in life or in death. Christ died for us and when we become His, we die unto ourselves and live unto Him. Everything that happens to us as Christians saved by the blood of Christ is overseen by God. Either in life or in death, we belong to God and He will see us through all things.

I have learned that nothing happens by accident to a child of God, that is, a believer in Christ. Earlier in this epistle, Paul wrote, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). Therefore, there is nothing anyone or anything, in this life or in eternity can do to us, for us, or against us that God has not allowed or forbidden. There are no accidents with God. He does not second guess. He knows the beginning from the end, and nothing is a surprise to Him.

This does not mean that we lose our free will. God allows us to make decisions and some of the decisions we make are bad decisions. He allows us to sin and provides away to have our sins forgiven (1 John 10:9). If we did not have free will, then we would be robots, and our love for God would not be real. It would be unnatural and forced by God’s power. He does not want to force us to love Him; He wants us to love Him freely of our own will. For any type of love is not freely given is not real love.

He is with us in life and in death. There is no place we can go to be out of His presence. He is with us in Heaven; He is with us in the grave (sheol); He is with us in the remotest parts and in the depths of the sea; He is with us in the darkness; He is with us in the light. We are truly forever in God’s presence and under His protection. (Psalm 139:7-12)

Romans 14:9  “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.”

Some manuscripts have Christ “rose again,” “rose and revived, “rose and lived again,” etc.  Other manuscripts leave out “rose” and simply have Christ “lived.” Some theologians may make a big deal out this difference, but is it really a problem? It is not, for we recognize that both variations give us the same understanding, which is that Christ died and rose from the dead.

The KJV says, “Christ both died, and rose, and revived.” The NASB, from an older manuscript says, “Christ died and lived again.” The difference is slight. Both confer the correct understanding that Christ lived, died, and now is alive. In other words, he arose from the dead.

Christ accomplished that in order that we might belong to Yahweh God. In life we live as God’s children; in death we are still his children and as Christ arose from the dead, so will we upon our death. It was to that end that Christ came. We belong to God in this life and we belong to God in life eternal as well. Christ did that for us because of the grace of God.

Romans 14:10  “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Again, if we are seeing sin or unrighteousness and we know it is sin, then we may judge the actions of that one sinning. But we may not judge the heart—only God does that. It is written that we will be judged by the same measure we use to judge others (Mat 7:1 & 2). This means not to judge unrighteously. In other words, do not judge the bad conduct of others if your conduct is the same.

It is also written that we are to judge with righteous judgment (Joh 7:24). What does that entail? In another passage, Jesus tells that we will know good and evil people by their fruits. Good people will have good fruit and evil people will have bad fruit (Mat 7:15-20). As my pastor says, we are fruit inspectors. So, what is good fruit and what is evil? Paul tells us.

Good Fruit: Gal 5:22-23 NKJV, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Bad Fruit: Gal 5:19-21 NKJV, Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Thus, we may judge whether the fruit of others is good or evil by the above standards. Thus, the question, “Who am I to judge?” when used to allow all things, evil, good, or indifferent to stand, regardless whether they are evil or good, is without merit. Unfortunately, our current Western culture has taken the Biblical statement “judge not” out of context to say we cannot judge anyone for anything and so anything goes. That is how our modern society has become so sinful.

Rom 14:11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23 here, (see also Php 2:10). There is coming a time, the time of the end of this age, that all will confess that God exists, and that He is sovereign. That includes all Christians, all atheists, all agnostics, all God-haters, all indifferent people, all faiths and all religions, etc.

They will not only have to admit that He is God; they will be so awed by His fearsome Presence, Power, and Brightness, that they will have not choice but to fall on their faces before him and call Him Lord. By then calling Him Lord will be too late for the salvation of the unsaved.

The unsaved will have to admit He is Lord, but that will not make them accept it. They will still hate Him and will figuratively shake their fists in His face (Rev 9:20-21; 16:9; 11).  

All of us who are Saved by the Blood of Christ will account for our works since salvation. We will be rewarded or suffer loss at the Judgment Seat (Greek βῆμα, bema) of Christ. If our works withstand the fire, we will be rewarded, but if they burn up in the fire, we will suffer loss. We will be saved and enter Heaven, but we will receive no rewards (2 Cor 5:10, 1 Cor 3:12-15).

Rom 14:12  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

There is coming a day when all will bow down to God. “All” means everyone that ever lived, without exception. God will make Himself known to all and all will have to confess Him Lord. Those of saved by the blood of Christ will give an account of our work since salvation at Christ’s judgment seat. The remainder will appear before the Great White Throne to give their account before being cast into the lake of fire.

Romans 14:13  “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

Beginning with this verse, Paul begins a new subject. Here we are enjoined to be careful not cause a brother or sister to stumble.

A stumbling block is an obstacle in one’s pathway that will case one to stumble over it and fall if that person does not see it. Figuratively it is anything physical, mental, or spiritual that causes people to miss the truth. The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, is commanding to do nothing that will make a weaker brother fall—even if it is not sinful. For example, even though drinking wine is no sin, if we drink wine and a weaker brother sees us and gets drunk, we have caused him to fall. Let us be careful what we do in all things we do so as not to make another Christian brother or sister to fall.

Rom 14:14  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

This means that, according to our Lord Jesus Christ, anything edible is clean to eat. That includes liquids, plants, and animals. All foods and drinks are clean. The food laws given by Moses are no longer in effect (Jer 31:31; Acts 10:9-13; Col 2:16; 1Tim 4:4; Tit 1:15, etc.).

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

We are still speaking of a weaker Christian brother of sister. For a description of a weaker Christians see the notes on verses 1-2 of this chapter. We should not eat food in the presence of a weaker brother in Christ that deems such food as unclean, and therefore sinful.

If our eating causes that brother to eat what we eat even though he believes it to be sinful, that has caused him to fall into sin in his own eyes. We have therefore not acted in love and we have grieved that brother. We must not allow our freedom to consume anything edible ruin a weaker brother’s or sister’s salvation or walk with Christ.

Rom 14:16-17  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:  (17)  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Even though we are free to consume anything edible, we must not allow what we consider to be good, to be regarded by others as evil. The world it always watching Christians to see if we hold up to our convictions. Just because we have the liberty to do so, that does not allow us to besmirch the Kingdom of God, of whom we are a part. If righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost are of the Kingdom of God and heavenly, and food and drink are earthy, then the earthy things should not defame the heavenly things. Why?

Rom 14:18-19  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  (19)  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

God accepts righteousness, and people approve of righteousness. Thus, if we serve Christ with the knowledge that we are pleasing God, others will see that in us, and approve of our actions. That way we will be examples that will perhaps lead others into believing in Christ imitating our good works. The result will be harmony in the church and we will be able to edify, or build one another up.

Rom 14:20-21  For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.  (21)  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

We must not allow what we eat or drink to damage the righteousness, peace, and joy that we enjoy as members of the Body of Christ. That is the work of God in our lives as we seek harmony in the body of Christ. Just because all things are pure for Christians, that does not mean we can act without considering how others will perceive our works. If our eating any food or drinking any beverage causes another to stumble, then we have made that person weaker in the faith, and our actions have become evil.

Rom 14:22  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

If we know, in faith, that all things are acceptable; to eat and drink, we should not do so in the front of brothers and sisters in the faith that are less knowledgeable in the things of faith than we are. We will be much happier if we simply keep those things to our self and if we are going to eat things that may cause other to stumble, we should not do so in their presence. Don’t allow yourself to be condemned for something you know is not sinful by acting in the presence of someone that perceives it as wrong.

Rom 14:23  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

If someone sees you eat or drink something that the person thinks is sinful to eat or drink, and that person eats or drinks what you are consuming, it is sin. The person that has doubts about whether an action is sinful, then acts against his or her beliefs anyway, has committed sin., That is because if you act against your own beliefs, that is sin. If I believe that eating a food or drink is sinful and consume it anyway, I am sinning.

Paul has written specifically about food, but the same concept also applies to any action we are involved in. Let us take speeding for example. If I know and believe that speeding is wrong and I speed anyway, I have sinned. If a new Christian observes me regularly exceeding the speed limit and he or she follows my example, we have both sinned. I have sinned twice; once for exceeding the limit, and once for causing another to stumble.

A better example might be watching a specific TV program. We may have TV programs we watch that to us are not sinful to watch. Another brother or sister may believe that watching that TV program is sinful. If that person sees us watching that program and the watches the program even though he or she believes is a sin, we have both sinned. The other person sins for watching a program that he or she believe to be wrong, and I have sinned for causing another to stumble.

The bottom line here is that others are watching us. Therefore we must strive to let our walk match our talk, that is, what we do should match what we say.


  1. Attributed to Augustine, but was actually written by Rupertus Meldenius, a Seventeenth Century German theologian.
  2. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771), Notes on Romans Chapter 14, Verse 5.
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