Romans 14:13-15 Commentary

 

 

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Romans 14:13-15 Commentary
Commentary Updated August 1, 2014

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this --not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Meketi oun allelous krinomen (1PPAS): alla touto krinate (2PAAM) mallon, to me tithenai (PAN) proskomma to adelpho e skandalon.
Amplified
: Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Let us therefore stop turning critical eyes on one another. If we must be critical, let us be critical of our own conduct and see that we do nothing to make a brother stumble or fall.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Therefore, no longer let us be judging one another. But be judging this rather, not to place a stumbling block before your brother, or a snare in which he may be entrapped.
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: no longer, therefore, may we judge one another, but this judge ye rather, not to put a stumbling-stone before the brother, or an offence.

REFERENCES
Resources Updated August 1, 2014

Henry Alford
Paul Apple
Jack Arnold
Albert Barnes
Wayne Barber
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William Barclay
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Adam Clarke
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Tom Constable
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
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W A Criswell
J N Darby
Bob Deffinbaugh
Bob Deffinbaugh
James Denney
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
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John Dummelow
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Romans 14 Commentary
Romans Notes in Outline Form
Romans 13 Commentary - go to Page 346
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-6 Responsibilities Under Grace 13
Romans 14:7-12 Responsibilities Under Grace 14

Romans 14:13-21 Responsibilities Under Grace 15
Romans 14:22-15:3 Responsibilities Under Grace 16
Romans 14 Commentary (Daily Study Bible)

Romans 14:1-13 Shades of Gray: Gray is Not Black or White
Romans 14:14-23 Walking Life's Gray Tightrope
Romans 14 Commentary

Romans 14 Commentary
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Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
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Romans 14:1-8 Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable

Romans 14:9-12 Overcoming a Judgmental Spirit 
Romans 14 Accept One Another

Romans 14:13-18 Dealing with Diversity

Romans 14:19-23 Building Others Up

Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-12 Would Never Do That
Romans 14:13-23 Free To Help, Not To Hinder
Romans 12:1-16:27 Commentary
Romans 14:1-2 ; Romans 14:3-6 ; Romans 4:7-12
Romans 14:13-14 ; Romans 14:15-18 ;
Romans 14:19-23
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 13 Commentary - scroll down
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-4: Getting Along in Spite of Our Differences

Romans 14:5-12: Why We Should Not Judge Others

Romans 14:13-16: Love Trumps Liberty

Romans 14:17-18: Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Romans 14:19-23: One More Time

Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-23 The Law of Life
Romans 14:8 Life At Its Best
Romans 14:5-6 Christian Day of Worship
Romans 14:5-6 Christian Day of Worship - 2
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Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 The Strong and the Weak
Romans 14:1-23 Love and Liberty: Liberties Love Won’t Take
Romans 14 Commentary (Expositors Greek Testament)
Romans 14:1-12 A Warning Against Judging Brothers

Romans 14:1-12 A Warning Against Judging Brothers -2

Romans 14:13-23 On Christian Freedom

Romans 14:13-23 On Christian Freedom - 2
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-12 Consider Others
Romans 14:13-23 Guard Your Actions
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Romans 14:1-15:13 Directions Regarding a Difference of View
Romans 14:1-12 When to Accept Others

Romans 14:10-18 Instructions for the Strong

Romans 14:19-15:6 Helping Each Other Grow
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Romans 14 What is Unity Worth?

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Romans 14:1-12 Our Duty To Those Who Disagree.
Romans 14:7-9 Eternally the Lord's

Romans 14:12 Our Accountability

Romans 14:17 A Definition of the Kingdom
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Romans 12:1-15:33 The Gospel and its Responsibilities
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Romans 14:1-12 Sermon

Romans 14:13-23 Sermon
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Romans 14:10 The Judgment Seat of Christ
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Romans 14 Exposition: Liberty and Conscience
Romans 8 - 16 - Commentary
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Making Decisions on Non-Moral Issues
Romans 14:1 Receiving One Another with Understanding, Part 1 
Romans 14:1-15:13 Receiving One Another with Understanding 1-Study Guide (menu)

Romans 14:1-12 Receiving One Another with Understanding, Part 2 
Romans 14:1-15:13 Receiving One Another with Understanding-2-Study Guide (menu)

Romans 14:13-15 Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1 
Romans 14:1-15:13 Building Up One Another Without Offending-1-Study Guide (menu)

Romans 14:16-23 Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 2 

Romans 14:1-15:13 Building Up One Another Without Offending-2-Study Guide (menu)

Romans 14 Commentary
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Romans 14:12-23 The Limits of Liberty
Romans 14: Liberty and Conscience - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
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Romans 14:1-23 Christian Duty: Mutual Tenderness and Tolerance
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Romans 14:17 Joy in the Holy Spirit
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Romans 14 Apostolic Admonitions
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What Happens When We Die?
Romans 14:1-9 Each One Should Be Fully Convinced in His Own Mind

Romans 14:1-6 How to Welcome a Weak Brother

Romans 14:1-9 Is There a “Lord’s Day”?
Romans14:1-13 Relationship Between Diversified Domestic Ministries...

Romans 14:1-9  Jesus Is Precious Because Through Him We Become Authentic

Romans 14:14-23 Do Not Destroy the Work of God - Desiring God

Romans 14:10-13 We Will All Stand Before the Judgment of God

Romans 14:16-19 Kingdom of God is Righteousness & Peace & Joy in the Holy Spirit

Romans 14:23 Whatever Is Not from Faith Is Sin - Desiring God

Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14 Commentary

Romans 14:1-12: How to Kill a New Christian

Romans 14:1-12: How to Kill a New Christian - II

Romans 14:1-12 Overcoming a Judgmental Spirit
Romans 14:13-23 A Warning to Wine-Drinkers

Romans 14-15 Why We Don't Have to Win Every Argument

Romans 14 Commentary

Romans 14 Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 14:1-2 Five Types of Believers
Romans 4:10-12 Accountability
Romans 14:10-12 Faith for the Future: Judgment Seat of Christ
Romans 14:19 Edify One Another

Romans 14:1-12 Diversity or Division
Romans 14:13-15:12 Pursue Edification
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Romans 14:7-9 The Extent and Grounds of Christian Obedience
Romans 14:10-12 The Future Judgment
Romans 14:17-19 Practical Christianity Illustrated
Romans 14:22 Regard to Conscience Recommended

Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:10-12 The Judgment Seat of God
Romans 14 Exposition

Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-23: About Doubtful Things
Romans 14:1-12 Trying To Change Others
Romans 14:1-12 Love's Acceptance
Romans 14:13-23 Offenses and Stumbling
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Romans 14:1 The Strong and the Weak

Romans 14:13-23 The Unity of Strong and Weak Believers

Romans 14:1-2 Accept Him Whose Faith is Weak

Romans 14:1-15:13 Covenant Fidelity: Among Weak and Strong

Romans 14:13-15:4 Our freedom

Romans 14:15 Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died

Romans 14:16-17 Exercising our freedom

Romans 14:18 Approved by men

Romans 14:19-21 Promoting peace and mutual edification

Romans 14:2 Eats only vegetables

Romans 14:22-23 Liberty of conscience in God's presence

Romans 14:3-4 Look down ... condemn

Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another

Romans 14:6-8 He who regards one day as special

Romans 14:9-14 The seriousness of judging another
Romans 14:1&2 Judging Disputable Matters

Romans 14:1-6 The duties of the strong

Romans 14:7-8 Dying and living to the Lord

Romans 14:9 Christ died and rose again

Romans 14:10-12 The day of judgment

Romans 14:13-16 Acting in love to your Brother

Romans 14:17-18 What is the kingdom of God

Romans 14:19-20 The Christians three great goals

Romans 14:20-23 Filled with joy and peace as you trust in God

Romans 14 Commentary

Romans 14 Cross References - expanded edition
Romans 14 Commentary

Romans 14:10 The Judgment Seat of Christ (Thesis)
Romans 14 Word Studies in the New Testament
Romans 14 Commentary
Romans 14:1-12 Each Of us Will Give An Account Of Himself To God 
Romans 14:13-23 What Are Christian Liberties & How Do We Practice?
Romans 14:1-8 Dealing with Diversity

Romans 14:20-23 Lives Built by Christ
Romans 12-16: Inductive Bible Studies
Romans 14:1-13
Romans 14:1-13 Resolve To Resolve
Romans 14:10-12

Romans 14:13

Romans 14:13
Romans 14:17

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
SERVICE
OF
SALVATION
God's Holiness
In
Condemning
Sin
God's Grace
In
Justifying
Sinners
God's Power
In
Sanctifying
Believers
God's Sovereignty
In
Saving
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
The
Object of
Service
Deadliness
of Sin
Design
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Righteousness
Needed
Righteousness
Credited
Righteousness
Demonstrated
Righteousness
Restored to Israel
Righteousness
Applied
God's Righteousness
IN LAW
God's Righteousness
IMPUTED
God's Righteousness
OBEYED
God's Righteousness
IN ELECTION
God's Righteousness
DISPLAYED
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"

 

THEREFORE: oun

 

Therefore refers back to [Ro 14:10-12] in which Paul reminds his readers that God alone is qualified and has the authority to judge the minds and hearts of His people, who will all stand before His judgment seat (Ro 14:10) and give account of themselves to Him (v12 cf. 2Co 5:10). Judgment is God’s exclusive prerogative (cp Ro 12:19-note).

 

John MacArthur - The word "therefore" takes us back to the first twelve verses of Romans 14. Since the Lord receives every Christian‑‑whether weak or strong‑‑since He is able to hold up both strong and weak, since He is sovereign over each, and since the Lord is the final judge, we are not to judge one another. The weak are not to judge the strong because they think they are abusing their freedom, nor are the strong to condemn the weak for their lack of faith and small‑ mindedness. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

 

James Denney explains that in Ro 14:13-23 "The Apostle now proceeds to argue the question of Christian conduct in things indifferent from another point of view—that of the influence which our conduct may have on others, and of the consideration which is due to them,  thus much follows from what has been said already, and judge (not) therefore forbids both the censorious and the contemptuous estimate of others. (Romans 14 Commentary - Expositors Greek Testament)

 

John Murray (introducing Ro 14:13-23) - This section is directed largely to the strong and enjoins upon them the action which love for the weak requires. In this part of the epistle it has been already noted how much emphasis falls upon love (cf. 12:9; 13:8–10). The necessity of walking according to love (vs. 15) is in this section applied to the behaviour which consideration for the well-being of weaker brethren must constrain on the part of the strong. (Epistle to the Romans - NICNT)

 

Middletown Bible - The Law of Love (Romans 14:1-15:3) - For further help in understanding how to live so as to not cause a brother to stumble, see our paper entitled, "Guidance: 67 Biblical Tests to Use in Deciding Upon a Course of Action."

 

LET US NOT JUDGE ONE ANOTHER ANYMORE: Meketi oun allelous krinomen (1PPAS): [Mt 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 James 2:4, 4:11]

 

Let us no longer have the habit of criticizing one another.

 

This statement summarizes what we have covered so far: we are not to judge one another which is in harmony with what the Jesus instructed [Mt 7:1-note] It is the unloving attitude of contemptuous superiority by strong believers and the equally unloving attitude of self righteousness by weak believers (Ro 14:3-note) by which they judge one another. From Paul’s day to ours, those wrongful judgments have been major causes of disrespect, disharmony, and disunity in the church.

 

Let us not judge (krino) - Note that this phrase is a present imperative with a negative which means to stop an act (judging) that has begun.

 

A T Robertson writes "“Let us no longer have the habit of criticizing one another.” A wonderfully fine text for modern Christians and in harmony with what the Master said (Matt. 7:1)." (Word Pictures of the New Testament)

 

Bengel adds that this is "A beautiful Mimesis (repetition of words in order to refute them) in relation to what precedes, let us no longer judge (This matter requires careful attention. V. G.)

 

Vine - This is addressed to the strong. There is a slight change in the use of the word krinō, “judge,” amounting almost to a play on the word. It now signifies “let this be your decision,” or “determination.” Decisions thus made, in the exercise of our judgment in our service here below, will determine the nature of our reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Collected writings of W. E. Vine)

One another  (240) (allelon) means each other and speaks of a mutuality or sharing of sentiments between two persons or groups of persons. Allelon is a reciprocal pronoun which most often is used in the context of encouragement and edification which is mutually beneficial. In the present context the reciprocal activity (passing judgment) is mutually detrimental, divisive or even destructive.

One another is a common NT phrase (especially in Paul's letters) with most uses relating to the building up of the body of Christ. As such the "one anothers" in the NT would make an excellent Sunday School study (or topical sermon series), taking time to meditate on each occurrence, asking whether it is being practiced (in the Spirit-note) in your local church and seeking to excel still more (cp Php 1:9, 10, 11 -notes; 1Th 3:12-note, 1Th 4:1-note), 1Th 4:10-note). Below is a list  of the NT uses of one another (be sure to check the context for the most accurate interpretation).

Ro 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16; 1Co 6:7; 7:5; 11:33; 12:25; 16:20; 2Co 13:12; Ga 5:13, 15, 26; Ep 4:2, 25, 32; 5:19, 21; Php 2:3; Col 3:9, 13, 16; 1Th 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 13, 15; 2 Th 1:3; Heb 3:13; 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1Pe 1:22; 4:8, 9, 10; 5:5, 14; 1Jn 1:7; 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2Jn 1:5

><>><>><>

 

Unfairly Judged - We sometimes criticize others unfairly. We don’t know all their circumstances, nor their motives. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously.

John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him. After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one.

 

“Christ has made me an honest man,” he said, “and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.”

 

Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness.
 

BUT RATHER DETERMINE (judge, decide) THIS: alla touto krinate (2PAAM) mallon:
           
But (alla)  is a strong contrast (see
term of contrast)

 

Rather (mallon) is a comparative adverb referring to what is better (as compared to what is merely "good"). Mallon then implies prioritizing or ranking which elevates the better over the good, i.e. the higher priority (the more important = "determine not to put an obstacle") over the less-important ("let us not judge").

 

Determine (2919) (krino) (see 14 uses in Romans) is used twice in this verse, but with a slightly different connotation. In the first use of "krino" "let us not judge one another" the verb carries the idea of condemnation, as it does in (Ro 14:3, Ro 14:4, Ro 14:10). But in the present phrase, krino is translated determine, which refers to making a decision.

 

Aorist imperative conveys the sense of taking a definite action ("Do it now! Just do it!"), even a sense of "urgency": The idea is "Do this & do it now! Do it effectively!" Check yourself out first -- Are you pushing your Christian liberty so hard, are you insisting on your rights in certain areas, and your freedom to indulge in something, that you are upsetting others and forcing them to act beyond their own conscience (stumbled or snared)? That is what you ought to judge. What is the effect upon others of your attitudes about some of these things?

 

 

We should determine (judge) that we will never do anything to hinder a brother in his spiritual progress. None of these nonessential matters is important enough for us to cause a brother to stumble or to fall.

 

“Being judgmental” carries the negative idea of denunciation, whereas “using your best judgment” refers to making a careful decision, with no negative connotation. Paul’s play on words demands that we should never be judgmental of fellow believers but instead should use our best judgment to help them.    

 

MacArthur - Paul tells us we do have a decision to make. And he puts it in the form of an aorist imperative, which calls for action. Our decision should be not only to stop judging one another, but also to stop putting stumbling blocks in the way of others. That has to be the preoccupation of our lives. Picture a brother or sister walking along the path of the Christian life, then someone puts something in their path to cause them to fall. We don't want to stop a fellow believer in their spiritual progress by causing them to fall into sin. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

 

NOT TO PUT AN OBSTACLE: to me tithenai (PAN) proskomma:

 

Obstacle (4348) (proskomma [word study] from prós = to, against + kópto = cut, strike) means to cut toward or against, to strike against and is used of those who strike against a stone or other obstacle in the path. It can describe literal or figurative stumbling (figurative of course in this context). It is something a person trips over. Thus proskomma can describe that over which a soul "stumbles," i.e. by which is caused to sin or backslide or even apostatize. It is also used  figuratively, to describe a cause of falling or an occasion of sinning (Ro 14:13, 20; 1 Cor. 8:9; Sept.: Ex. 23:33; 34:12)

 

Proskomma - 6x in 6v in NAS - Ro 9:32, 33; 14:13, 20; 1Cor 8:9; 1Pet 2:8. NAS = obstacle(1), offense(1), stumbling(3), stumbling block(1).

 

James Denney explains that proskomma "does not occur in the Gospels, but it is a remarkable fact that in most of our Lord’s express teaching about sin, it is sin in the character of skandalon, a snare or stumbling-block to others, with which He deals. (Romans 14 Commentary - Expositors Greek Testament)

Barclay writes that "proskomma, means 'a barrier', 'a hindrance', 'a road-block'. It is the word that would be used for a tree that has been felled and laid across a road to block it. We must never do or allow anything which would be a road-block on the way to goodness. (William Barclay. New Testament Words)

In this verse proskomma speaks of the spiritual hindrance to another caused by a selfish use of liberty or alternatively our tendency to set up a list of do's and don'ts. Either way could cause the other person to stub his spiritual toe!. Paul says do not do this.

 

Robertson McQuilkin has a note regarding the importance of context as a guide to accurate interpretation (see also Keep Context King) in his excellent work Understanding and Applying the Bible...

 

Romans 14:13-15:1: The Strong and the Weak - We might think that a strong person is one who is strong in his opinions, his convictions, his character, or his spirituality. One who is weak is weak in one or more of those areas. That view is legitimate. But is that what Paul was contrasting in Romans 14 when he spoke of the strong and the weak? The context must determine. He was speaking of being strong in faith and weak in faith. The one who is strong in faith has confidence that he may eat anything. The one who is weak in faith lacks that confidence. In Paul's case, he was the strong person and biblical in his convictions. However, it is quite possible to be strong and wrong. Such a person could be weak in character or weak spiritually and still be "strong" in the sense in which Paul used the term here.

It is important for the interpretation of the entire passage to learn from the context what the meaning is. That is, incidentally, another good example of how the context extends beyond chapter divisions. In Romans 15:1 we have additional exhortation and contrast between the strong and the weak: "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves." Paul then gives Christ as a model to show how that difficult injunction can be obeyed—all in another chapter but part of the same thought. (Moody Pub. 1983, 1992)

 

OR A STUMBLING BLOCK IN A BROTHER'S WAY: to me tithenai (PAN) proskomma to adelpho e skandalon:

 

James Denney - (Stumbling block) does not occur in the Gospels, but it is a remarkable fact that in most of our Lord’s express teaching about sin, it is sin in the character of skandalon, a snare or stumbling-block to others, with which He deals. Paul develops his ideas quite freely from his conception of faith, but in all probability he was familiar with what Jesus taught (Matthew 18). (Romans 14 Commentary - Expositors Greek Testament)

A Stumbling Block (4625) (skandalon from a root meaning jump up, snap shut) was originally the piece of wood that kept open a trap for animals. Outside the Bible it is not used metaphorically, though its derivative skandalethron (e.g. a trap set through questions) is so used. The English word scandal is derived from the noun via the Lat. scandalum.

Thus skandalon was literally, that movable part of a trap on which the bait was laid, and when touched caused the trap to close on its prey. Skandalon thus came to mean any entanglement of the foot. Figuratively, as used most often in Scripture, skandalon refers to any person or thing by which one is drawn into error or sin. (but see more detailed notes below)

The use of alcohol is an example of a stronger brother who in the process of using his liberty regarding alcohol intake potentially sets a stumbling block in his weaker brother's way. One must never underestimate the potentially detrimental effect this can have on a former alcoholic. Our drinking, even in moderation, could easily place a stumbling block in that brother’s way and cause him to fall back into his former addiction.

Skandalon - 15x in 13v in the NAS - Mt 13:41; 16:23; 18:7; Luke 17:1; Rom 9:33; 11:9; 14:13; 16:17; 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11; 1 Pet 2:8; 1 John 2:10; Rev 2:14. NAS = cause for stumbling(1), hindrances(1), offense(2), stumbling block(7), stumbling blocks(4).

Trench explains "stumbling block" or skandalon as "literally, that part of a trap on which the bait was laid, when touched caused the trap to close on its prey came to mean any entanglement of the foot."

When the bait touches trap it is triggered and closes shut on its victim. That's a "great" picture of sin which is deceptive (Heb 3:13-note) and virtually always looks alluring (and in fact does have a transitory "pleasure" - Heb 11:25-note), but when "touched" (whether in thought, word, or deed), it captures its unsuspecting prey (cp "cords of sin" in Pr 5:22 - see exposition ; Jesus' warning in Jn 8:34 where commit is in the present tense = one's habitual practice!)

Vine has a helpful discussion: Skandalon  originally was the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself, (in the picture of the trap note the centrally located "pitchfork" shaped trigger where bait is to be placed & which when stepped on releases the two side bars which entrap the victim in a vise like grip -- keep this picture in mind as you meditate on the uses of this word in Ro 14:13 & in the other NT passages) as in Ro 11:9, ‘stumbling block,’ quoted from Ps 69:22, and in Re 2:14, for Balaam’s device was rather a trap for Israel than a stumblingblock to them, and in Mt 16:23, for in Peter’s words the Lord perceived a snare laid for Him by Satan. “In NT Skandalon is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way. Sometimes the hindrance is in itself good, and those stumbled by it are the wicked.”* Thus it is used (a) of Christ in Ro 9:33, “(a rock) of offense”; so 1Pe 2:8; 1Co 1:23 (kjv and rv, “stumbling block”), and of His cross, Ga 5:11; of the “table” provided by God for Israel, Ro 11:9; (b) of that which is evil, eg, Mt 13:41, rv, “things that cause stumbling” (kjv, “things that offend”), lit., “all stumbling blocks”; Mt 18:7, rv, “occasions of stumbling” and “occasion”; Lu 17:1; Ro 14:13, rv, “an occasion of falling” (kjv, “an occasion to fall”), said of such a use of Christian liberty as proves a hindrance to another; Ro 16:17, rv, “occasions of stumbling,” said of the teaching of things contrary to sound doctrine; 1Jn 2:10, “occasion of stumbling,” of the absence of this in the case of one who loves his brother and thereby abides in the light. Love, then, is the best safeguard against the woes pronounced by the Lord upon those who cause others to stumble. Cf.. In Ho 4:17, the Septuagint is translated: “Ephraim partaking with idols hath laid stumbling blocks in his own path.” (metochos eidolon Ephraim etheken (3SAAI) heauto skandala) (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Steven Cole - In a sermon on our text, Pastor Ligon Duncan commented that someone needs to write a book, Romans 14 for Dummies, and he would be the first to buy it, because this is a difficult text to understand and apply in its context. I’d buy one, too! We’re not concerned in our day about the spiritual implications of eating or not eating meat, which is the main issue Paul was addressing. He also mentions keeping certain days as holy (Ro 14:5) and drinking wine (Ro 14:21), which may be a bit more relevant. But even so, it’s difficult to apply these verses in a way that is true to the text.

For example, I’ve heard of older believers who wrongly use this text to lay unbiblical rules on younger believers. They tell them, “As a Christian, you can’t dress or look like worldly young people do. You need to dress and look as I do. If you don’t, you’re causing me to stumble.” In some strict Christian circles, women are not allowed to wear any makeup. Sometimes men are not allowed to grow beards, but in other groups, all the men must grow beards. And so it goes!

One of the most ridiculous church splits that I’ve ever heard of happened years ago when a preacher was trying to make a point with a strong gesture and his hand got caught in his necktie. Of course this distracted the congregation from his point, so he tore off his necktie and declared that ties are from the devil. Others disagreed, and so they split into the non-tie church and the tie-wearing church. My sentiments are definitely with the non-tie brothers (I think that ties are strangulation devices), but obviously this is not a biblical reason for splitting a church!

In Romans 14:1-12, Paul’s main point is that we are to accept one another and not judge or look with contempt on those who differ with us over non-essential matters. He was talking both to weaker and stronger believers. The weaker believers were not weak in the sense of not being able to resist temptation. That kind of weakness is sin. Rather, they were weak in that they were hung up with scruples about things that the Bible does not command or with stipulations of the Jewish law that were fulfilled in Christ and thus no longer in effect. They tended to judge the Gentile believers who were not bound by these scruples. The stronger brothers (Paul classed himself with them, Ro 15:1) realized that we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, and so they didn’t have a problem eating non-kosher meat. They realized (1Cor. 8:8), “But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” But their tendency was to look with contempt on their Jewish brothers, belittling them for their petty rules.

Now (Ro 14:13-23), after an introductory summary that goes out to both sides (not to judge one another), Paul turns mostly to the stronger believers. He was concerned that they would flaunt their liberty in Christ to the detriment of weaker believers, who may be influenced to violate their consciences. Paul tells the stronger believers that love for their brothers should trump their use of liberty. As he states (Ro 14:15), “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love.” So the principle is: Love for others should govern our exercise of liberty in Christ when our liberty would cause a weaker brother to stumble. Our main focus should not be on our liberty or our rights, but on loving our brother. Love gladly yields its rights when it is necessary to keep a weaker brother from stumbling. But while the overall principle is fairly clear, the difficulty is in the details. Love does not judge others on non-essential matters, but determines not to put obstacles or stumbling blocks in a brother’s way (14:13).

Romans 14:13: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Paul uses a play on words here: the word translated “determine” is the same word translated “judge” earlier in the sentence. We might paraphrase, “Don’t judge your brother; rather, judge yourself so that you don’t put an obstacle or stumbling block in your brother’s way.” Keep in mind that in this chapter, Paul is talking about non-moral matters where the Bible does not give clear commands. He is not talking about judging your brother regarding sin or serious doctrinal error (which we need to do), but rather on non-moral or secondary matters.

Not judging your brother means that you do not condemn him or question his salvation over matters of doctrine where the Bible is not clear or behavior where it gives no direct commands. You can have your own convictions before God by working through the issue biblically (Ro 14:5, 22), but let your brother work out his convictions. You aren’t his judge; God is his judge and your judge, too!

The words “obstacle” and “stumbling block” are basically synonymous. “Obstacle” refers to anything that would trip up your brother. “Stumbling block” originally referred to a trap. Here it refers to any cause of spiritual downfall or ruin. Paul (Ro 9:32-33) uses both words of Jesus, who is the “stone of stumbling” and “rock of offense” for those who try to be justified by their works. The cross of Christ offends the self-righteous because it tells them that their works can never commend them to the holy God.

To put an obstacle or stumbling block in your brother’s way would be to do something in front of a weaker brother that for you is a matter of liberty in Christ, but it’s not something that he feels free to do. When he sees you doing it, he joins you in doing it, but it violates his conscience. Perhaps he goes along with you because he wants your approval, but he gets his eyes off of living to please the Lord. He sins because he is not acting in faith (14:23). He is disobeying the Lord.

It’s difficult to come up with modern examples, but perhaps one example would be having a glass of wine or beer. The Bible does not prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages, as long as you do not get drunk and you’re not depending on the alcohol to escape from your problems. But perhaps you’re with a new believer who had a problem with alcohol before he got saved. Because of the devastating effects alcohol had on his life, he now believes that it’s wrong to have even one drink. You’re out to dinner with him and you order a beer or a glass of wine with your meal. Your brother sees this and wants to fit in, so he orders a drink with his food, but in so doing, he violates his conscience. His guilt causes him to fall away from the Lord. Perhaps he begins drinking to excess again. You have put a stumbling block in your brother’s way.

Does this mean that you must become a teetotaler? Well, there may be good reasons to do that, but not necessarily. The entire church is not limited by the conscience of the weakest believers in its midst. But you should not flaunt your liberty in front of a weaker believer when you know that it’s an issue for him (see 1Cor. 10:23-30). Out of love for him, limit your liberty in his presence. As the Lord gives opportunity, you may teach him about true liberty in Christ. But don’t do anything that would cause him to violate his conscience by following your example. That’s the next point, which Paul explains in verse 14: (Love Trumps Liberty (Romans 14-13-16) - Bible.org)

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Living With Others in View -To become a Christian is easy — for it is just receiving God's grace through faith in the Savior. To live the sanctified life, however, is extremely difficult, especially since the pathway to Glory is narrow, and our instructions for travel include such admonitions as: "pray without ceasing," "be ye perfect," and "love thy neighbor as thyself." In fact, we are told to curb even legiti­mate desires, if they tend to offend a weaker brother (Rom. 14: 19-21). Paul warns in our text that we must be doubly careful not to put a "stumbling block or an occasion to fall" in the way of a fellow believer.

I am told that tourists in the Alps are cautioned at certain points by the guides not to speak or sing or even to whisper, as the faintest breath might start reverberations in the air which could loosen a delicately poised avalanche from its place on the mountain, and bring it crashing down upon the villages and fields in the valley below. J. R. Miller, in commenting on this, wisely points out, "There are men and women who are walking under such a stress of burdens, cares, responsibilities, sorrows and temp­tations, that one whisper of censure, criticism, complaint or un­kindness may cause them to fall under their load. Let us beware, therefore, how we conduct ourselves, for it is a crime thus to imperil another soul."

Recognizing the seriousness of life, every Christian who is con­secrated at all must guard against being an offense to others. Let us walk carefully and prayerfully today lest some thoughtless word or deed impede the spiritual progress of a fellow believer! Have your feet on errands of love been bent,

Or on selfish deeds has your strength been spent? Has someone seen Christ in you today; Or has your life led a soul astray? — V. B. Hopkins. (Romans Illustrations - Part 2)

Live for thy neighbor, if thou wouldst live for God!
—Seneca (An Unbeliever!)

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Unfairly Judged - We sometimes criticize others unfairly. We don’t know all their circumstances, nor their motives. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously.

John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him.

After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. “Christ has made me an honest man,” he said, “and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.” 

Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness. (Romans Illustrations - Part 1)

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Resolve to Resolve - I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions since 1975. I haven’t needed any new ones—I’m still working on old ones like these: write at least a short note in my journal every day; make a strong effort to read my Bible and pray each day; organize my time; try to keep my room clean (this was before I had a whole house to keep clean).

This year, however, I am adding a new resolution that I found in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (14:13). Although this resolution is old (about 2,000 years), it is one that we should renew annually. Like believers in Rome centuries ago, believers today sometimes make up rules for others to follow and insist on adherence to certain behaviors and beliefs that the Bible says little or nothing about. These “stumbling blocks” make it difficult for followers of Jesus to continue in the way of faith that He came to show us—that salvation is by grace not works (Gal. 2:16). It requires only that we trust in His death and resurrection for forgiveness.

We can celebrate this good news of Christ in the coming year by resolving not to set up hurdles that cause people to stumble. -- Julie Ackerman Link (Resolve To Resolve - Our Daily Bread)

Thank You, Lord, that You sent the Holy Spirit
to do the work of convincing and convicting.
May I be content with my own assignment:
to do what leads to peace and edification.

Faith is the hand that receives God’s gift,
then faith is the feet that walk with God.

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An Obstacle Inventory - Fault-finding is a popular pastime, and unfortunately a lot of us find it’s easy to join the fun. Concentrating on the warts of others is a great way to feel better about ourselves. And that’s just the problem. Avoiding the faults that need to be fixed in our own lives not only stunts our spiritual growth but also obstructs God’s work through us. God’s effectiveness through our lives is enhanced or hindered by the way we live.

It’s no wonder, then, that Paul made a concerted effort to “put no obstacle in anyone’s way” (2 Cor. 6:3 ESV). For him there was nothing more important than his usefulness for Christ in the lives of others. Anything that got in the way of that was dispensable.

If you want to be authentic and useful for God, take an obstacle inventory. Sometimes obstacles are things that in and of themselves may be legitimate, yet in certain contexts may be inappropriate. But sin is clearly obstructive to others. Gossip, slander, boasting, bitterness, greed, abuse, anger, selfishness, and revenge all close the hearts of those around us to the message of God through us.

So, replace your faults with the winsome ways of Jesus. That will enable others to see your “no-fault” Savior more clearly. (Our Daily Bread)

Wherever I am, whatever I do,
O God, please help me to live
In a way that makes me credible
As your representative.
—Egner

Followers of Jesus are most effective
when attitudes and actions are aligned with His
.

                    

Romans 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: oida (1SRAI) kai pepeismai (1SRPI) en kurio Iesou hoti ouden koinon di heautou, ei me to logizomeno (PMPMSD) ti koinon einai (PAN) ekeino koinon.
Amplified
: I know and am convinced (persuaded) as one in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is [forbidden as] essentially unclean (defiled and unholy in itself). But [none the less] it is unclean (defiled and unholy) to anyone who thinks it is unclean.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
GWT: "The Lord Jesus has given me the knowledge and conviction that no food is unacceptable in and of itself"
 (GWT)
NLT: I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  I am convinced, and I say this as in the presence of Christ himself, that nothing is intrinsically unholy. But none the less it is unholy to the man who thinks it is.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for I know with an absolute knowledge and stand persuaded in the Lord Jesus that not even one thing is unhallowed in itself except it be to the one who reasons it out to be unhallowed.
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: I have known, and am persuaded, in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself, except to him who is reckoning anything to be unclean -- to that one it is unclean

I KNOW AND AM CONVINCED IN THE LORD JESUS THAT NOTHING IS UNCLEAN IN ITSELF: oida (1SRAI) kai pepeismai (1SRPI) en kurio Iesou hoti ouden koinon di heautou: (1Ti 4:4, 5)

 

I know and am convinced - Bengel says of the words, “I know and am persuaded,”

Know  (1492)(eido  - only in the perfect tense = oida) properly means to see with one's physical eyes but here speaks of "mental seeing" (like the phrase "I see what you mean.") Eido then in general means to know by perception, but speaks of a fullness of knowledge or an absolute knowledge (that which is without a doubt), rather than a progress in knowledge (cp ginosko). Eido/oida is not so much that which is known by experience as an intuitive insight that is drilled into our heart. Eido/oida is a perception, a being aware of, an understanding, an intuitive knowledge which in the case of believers can only be given by the Holy Spirit.  In short, Paul's spiritual seeing (knowing), through faith, was (and is always) a work of God's (and the same is true for all believers).

Marvin Vincent explains eido type of knowing - "The things of God's Kingdom are not apparent to the natural vision alone. A new power of sight is required, which attaches only to the new man. Compare 1Cor 2:14. For the believer, seeing (eido) transforms into knowing (understanding) through God's inbirthings of faith ("inner persuasion").

Am convinced (persuaded) (3982)(peitho) fundamentally refers to inner persuasion and means to  be persuaded of what is trustworthy. The basic idea in the active sense is to cause one to come to accept a particular point of view or course of action.

A T Robertson - "He knows it and stands persuaded (perfect passive indicative of peitho, to persuade), but in the sphere of the Lord Jesus (cf. Ro 9:1), not by mere rational processes." (Word Pictures of the New Testament)

Wuest adds this note regarding the perfect tense - Paul’s reasoning had gone on through a process to a point where it was complete, with the result that he had come to a finished persuasion that was permanent. He stands persuaded. He could not be budged from his conviction, so sure was he of the truth of the matter. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)

MacArthur on in the Lord - Paul states emphatically that he didn't receive his teaching by hearsay; he received it directly from his personal, intimate communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the unique privilege of writers of Scripture. Paul is telling believers not to go to the other extremes and give up their liberty entirely. He wants them to understand and enjoy their liberty. After all, the strong are right: sin does not reside in food, drink, film, electronics, games, recreation, or cigarettes. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

Unclean (2839)(koinos probably from sun/syn = with) is an adjective which means primarily common.

More generally, and usually in a negative sense, koinos means defiled (corrupted in regard to its purity or perfection), unclean (because it is treated as common and thus  considered morally or spiritually impure) or profane (not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled).

Webster (1828) definition of common - Not distinguished or exceptional; inconspicuous; ordinary; plebeian; - often in a depreciatory sense.  Belonging or relating equally, or similarly, to more than one; as, you and I have a common interest in the property. Belonging to or shared by, affecting or serving, all the members of a class, considered together; general; public; as, properties common to all plants; the common schools; the Book of Common Prayer.

Koinos describes spiritual desecration which occurs when one treats that which is considered sacred or holy (set apart to God) as ordinary ("not special").

Wuest gives us insights into koinos in his comments on the derivative verb koinoo, (Mk 7:15) - "The word koinos refers to that which is common to everybody. In later Greek it came to mean what is profane as in Mark 7:15 (verb form koinoo is used) contrasted to the hallowed or sacred. “Profane” is used in the sense of secular, non-religious. When our Lord spoke of that which enters a man in Mk 7:15, He was speaking of food. That does not make a man ceremonially unclean, (does not defile - koinoo) even though he eat it with ceremonially unwashed hands. When He spoke of that which comes out of a man which defiles him, He was referring to the extra-biblical teachings of the Pharisees which defiled them in the sense that these teachers were, by their teachings which were in direct opposition to God’s Word, constituted false teachers, thus, not hallowed or set apart for God.... (In another note Wuest says) Koinos means “common” in the sense of that which is general, which stands in connection with everything which does not distinguish or separate itself from anything else. It denotes that which is opposed to the divine (Cremer). It means in this connection, “unhallowed.” The thing described as unhallowed would be something not connected with the worship and service of God, and in that sense unclean. It is used in the Levitical sense of that which is unholy or impure in a ritualistic, ceremonial fashion. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader)

Koinos can also describe that which belongs equally to several and thus that which was treated as in common (communal = shared or used in common by members of the community) (Acts 2:44, 4:32).

Koinos describes that which is unconsecrated and thus is common or ordinary and the opposite of that which is holy (Rev 21:27).

Koinos describes that which is defiled and thus is ceremonially unacceptable, which is the opposite fo that which is clean or pure (katharos). (Acts 10:14).

Koinos describes unclean...hands (Mk 7:2), meats (Acts 10:14, 28, 11:8, Ro 14:14), the blood of the covenant (Heb 10:29).

Vine says koinos means "common and from the idea of coming into contact with everything, “defiled,” is used in the ceremonial sense in Mark 7:2, 5. Koinos denotes (a) common, belonging to several” (Lat., communis), said of things had in common, Acts 2:44; 4:32; of faith, Titus 1:4; of salvation, Jude 3; it stands in contrast to idios, “one’s own”; (b)ordinary, belonging to the generality, as distinct from what is peculiar to the few”, hence the application to religious practices of Gentiles in contrast with those of Jews; or of the ordinary people in contrast with those of the Pharisees; hence the meaning “unhallowed, profane,” Levitically unclean (Lat., profanus), said of hands, Mk 7:2 (KJV = “defiled,”) rv marg., “common”; of animals, ceremonially unclean, Acts 10:14; 11:8; of a man, Acts 10:28; of meats, Ro. 14:14, “unclean”; of the blood of the covenant, as viewed by an apostate, Heb. 10:29, “unholy” (rv, marg., “common”); of everything unfit for the holy city, Rev. 21:27, rv, “unclean” (marg., “common”). (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Enhanced Strong's (with definitions of English words added) -  (1) Common (of or relating to a community at large), i.e. belonging to generality. (2) by the Jews describes that which is opposed to holy (hagios); hence unhallowed (unsanctioned by or showing lack of reverence for religion) or profane (not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled) and thus Levitically unclean (Mk 7:2, 5, Ro 14:14).

Marvin Vincent - Koinos is literally, common. In the Levitical sense, as opposed to holy or pure. Compare Mark 7:2, “With defiled (common), that is to say, with unwashed hands.” See Acts 10:14 (unholy). (Romans 14 - Vincent's Word Studies)

Classic Greek use of koinos - Koinos means “common”—in the sense of common ownership—in classical Greek. For instance, “common property” is property whose ownership is held by more than one person. The term is also used in reference to “public” affairs, such as elections. From this idea of commonality koinos grew to have a slightly negative connotation. Something “common” was “ordinary,” hence inferior; thus “common things” came to be contrasted with “holy things,” which resulted in koinos meaning “unclean, profane.” (Complete Biblical Library)

Wayne Detzler - In English the word "common" has two basic meanings. First, it describes those things which are shared by a group of people, what is held by a "community." Second, it refers to things which are unimportant because of their "commonness," as common as an "old shoe." Both of these meanings are embraced by the Greek word koinos. Plato projected a day when the common good would dominate all decisions. Guardians and soldiers would be fed communally from a vast storehouse. Their wives and children would likewise form a "commune." Aristotle even advocated a common ownership of wealth. In the New Testament the word koine takes on further significance, because it speaks of the common interest of all Christians (Jude 1:3). Like many other words, the word koinos has other connections. A companion is called a koinonos, and the fellowship of believers is koinonia. A partner in business is called sugkoinonos (combining sun/syn, "together," with koinonos, "companion"). Incidentally, the Greek language of the New Testament is called Koine Greek. This was the "common" language spoken on the streets of the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit "put the Bible on the lower shelf," so many people could read it...."Common" also means something which is ordinary, low-class, or vulgar. Could the explanation be that some things are owned by so many people that they lose their value and become ordinary? This might explain the second meaning of common, a meaning which is also found in Greek. Peter referred to ceremonially unclean meat as being "common or profane" (Acts 10:14, marg.). Then the Lord taught him that no meat is "common or profane" (Acts 11:9). This was an object lesson the Lord used to compel Peter to evangelize the Roman Centurion Cornelius. Here too is a wonderful lesson: no one is ordinary in God's eyes. A second reference to this meaning of "common" is found in Paul's writings. Here too the teaching is tremendous, that no food is unclean in God's eyes (Ro 14:14). In Hebrews we learn of people who pervert the Cross of Christ and thus make it common or ordinary. They do this by sinning willfully against the Lord after hearing the Gospel (Heb. 10:29). This elicits from the inspired writer a warning of judgment which will be swift and severe (Heb 10:30-31). There is nothing "common" about the Cross of Christ. Though God rejected the Pharisees' views of things which are ceremonially clean or unclean, the Revelation warns that certain people are unclean, and they will never be tolerated in heaven. What makes them unclean? They have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, and their names are not in the Lamb's Book of Life. These are unclean in God's eyes (Rev. 21:27). Thus the two meanings of koinos come together. Christians are people who hold all things in common, and they meet one another's needs. They also share a "common" salvation and hope. Nothing is ceremonially "common" or unclean, except those who treat the Cross of Christ as common or unclean, and they will never enter heaven. (New Testament words in today's language- Wayne A Detzler - highly recommended resource)

ISBE - Common = koinós , in the classics, and primarily in the New Testament, means what is public, general, universal, as contrasted with ı́dios , what is peculiar, individual, not shared with others. Thus, "common faith" (Titus 1:4), "common salvation" (Jude 1:3), refer to that in which the experience of all Christians unites and is identical: "common," because there is but one faith and one salvation (Eph 4:4-6). From this comes the derived meaning of what is ordinary and, therefore, to be disesteemed, as contrasted with what pertains to a class, and to be prized, because rare. This naturally coincides with OT exclusivism, particularity and separation. Its religion was that of a separated people, with a separated class as its ministers, and with minute directions as to distinctions of meat, drink, times, places, rites, vessels, etc. Whatever was common or ordinary, it avoided. The NT on the other hand, with its universalism of scope, and its spirituality of sphere, rose above all such externals. The salvation which it brought was directed to the redemption of Nature, as well as of man, sanctifying the creature, and pervading all parts of man's being and all relations of life. The antithesis is forcibly illustrated in Acts 10:14, 28, where Peter says: "I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean," and the reply is: "What God hath cleansed, make not thou common." (Common - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Hastings - ‘Common’ (koinos, communis) is an honourable word in classical Greek = ‘shared by the people.’ In Hellenistic Greek, it has sometimes this same meaning (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32 , Titus 1:4 , Judges 1:3 ), but sometimes a less honourable one (= Lat. vulgaris). This depreciation arose out of the transcendence of religion to the Eastern mind. What was ‘shared by the people’ had become profaned for the god (cf. the English word ‘worldly,’ meaning first secular, then unspiritual). We see the process with koinos in Hebrews 10:29 -‘counted the blood of the covenant a common [ i.e. secular] thing.’ In Revelation 21:27 we go a step further, and ‘anything common’ means the worldly, the unspiritual (cf. Jos. Ant . xii. ii.14, xiii.i. 1). Elsewhere ‘common’ corresponds to positive, active uncleanness (Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8 , Ro 14:14 , 1 Maccabees 1:47; 1 Maccabees 1:62 , Jos. Ant . XI. viii. 7; the verb (koinoo) is found in Acts 21:28, Hebrews 9:13). The distinction, ‘clean’ (katharos ) and ‘unclean’ (akathartos), refers in the OT and primitive religions to definite departments of life, such as food, sanitation, contact with the dead, and marriage (Leviticus 11-15). In the OT it is mainly a common-sense distinction, made, however, from religious motives, and becoming part of the ritual of the Hebrews. It was thus a practical differentiation between them and surrounding peoples. It arose out of a good idea, but when separated from this idea grew into a proud national badge. Such national and religious customs, so long held, seem stronger than they are. One push of a new movement will often destroy, almost in a moment, the habits of centuries. We find this process to-day in the East. In the NT it may be seen in the case of Simon Peter; he combined Christian beliefs and Jewish distinctions without at first being willing to perceive their variance. His vision (Acts 10) woke him, and, though he relapsed for an instant (Galatians 2:9), the work was done; and when that generation passed away, the religious nature of these distinctions had gone from Christianity; cleanliness, instead of being godliness, was next to godliness. These details of conduct were left to the reason and the conscience. The transition stage, where some cling to the old laws and others obey the new spirit, with its problems of faith and charity, is treated in Romans 14. (Clean, Unclean, Common - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament)

Gary Hill - Rabbinical (Jewish) laws often erred by imposing many regulations about what supposedly made certain types of cups, plates, etc., "defiled" (koinos). This bred much unwarranted legalism with the terrible result of calling all Gentiles "unclean" whom the Lord was calling to Himself. Because of this, the Jews missed out on their duty to evangelize. Example: If a Jewish person even touched an "unclean vessel," they could be barred from entering the Temple or synagogue. Much needless care was taken to keep all vessels "ceremonially clean" to meet rabbinical (man-made) standards about religious purity. Any contact (no matter how indirect) with something "unclean" required elaborate rituals of sacrifice (purification). Accordingly, the Pharisees meticulously followed religious formulas to clean vessels, strain wine, etc., in order to rid themselves of supposed defilement.  The Jews become preoccupied with minors and missed the "majors" – like living in faith, hope, love (cf. Mt 23:23 with 1Cor 13:13). Their greatest error in this regard was avoiding Gentiles supposedly to escape "defilement." The Bible itself never prohibited nor discouraged them from having contact with Gentiles (non-Jewish people)! Indeed, this was needed for the outreach God desired the OT saints to extend to all people! See (athémitos =  properly, not acceptable to the prevailing custom or ordinary practice (used only in Acts 10:28; 1Pet 4:3).). The OT never prohibited Jews from eating with Gentiles, or coming in contact with them! This twisted idea, of "ceremonial defilement," (unfortunately) came from misguided rabbis....The Pharisees in NT times were infamous for their distorted ideas about "ceremonial uncleanness," i.e. what was really "defiled" (koinos). Indeed, they often defined something as koinós ("defiled") which was morally neutral, or not "defiled" at all. They failed here by overly focusing on the physical, even petty things that supposedly made someone spiritually unacceptable to the Lord. Examples - The rabbis and Pharisees said touching a "defiled" plate made someone "unclean" if it had a rim. But touching a flat plate could not spiritually defile a Jew. So too, a person was supposedly defiled by touching an "unclean" object made of wood and metal – but the metal part could "not become unclean" or pass on impurity (Wm Barclay). Worse, they believed a person became "unclean" by standing in the shadow of an "unclean object" – another "holiness standard" defined by the rabbis (not the Bible!). (See excellent resource The Discovery Bible to enable deeper Word Studies  = http://www.helpsbible.org - see reviews of "The Discovery Bible")

Related Resources:

Clean and Unclean - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible (in depth article)

Common - Holman Bible Dictionary

Common - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Common - Webster's Dictionary - Bible Dictionary

Common - King James Dictionary

Clean, Unclean - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Unclean - Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Uncleanness - Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Unclean and Clean - Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Koinos - 14x in 12v - NAS Usage: common(3), common property(1), impure(2), unclean(5), unholy(5).


Mark 7:2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.

 

Wuest - Defiled” is koinos; the word refers to that which is common to everybody. In later Greek it came to mean what it means here, the profane as contrasted to the hallowed or the sacred. It was therefore applied to that which was ceremonially unclean. The washing of the hands here was not for purposes of cleanliness, but for ceremonial reasons. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)


Mark 7:5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"

 

Comment: Why were their hands "impure?" Mk 7:4 explains that "when they come from the market place (agora from ageiro = to collect or gather), they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves." The Agora was a public forum where people gathered and because of the mixing of public resulted in inevitable ceremonial defilement. Meyer explains that the statement of the Pharisees comes from the fact that "before eating, they wash the hands always. When they come from market (agora) they take a bath before eating."  Jewish ordinances required these "vessels" to be immersed. (Edersheim).

 

William Barclay - The Greek word in Mark 7:5 is koinos. Ordinarily, koinos means common; then it comes to describe something which is ordinary in the sense that it is not sacred, something that is profane as opposed to sacred things; and finally it describes something, as it does here, which is ceremonially unclean and unfit for the service and worship of God.

 

There were definite and rigid rules for the washing of hands. Note that this hand-washing was not in the interests of hygienic purity; it was ceremonial cleanness which was at stake. Before every meal, and between each of the courses, the hands had to be washed, and they had to be washed in a certain way. The hands, to begin with, had to be free of any coating of sand or mortar or gravel or any such substance. The water for washing had to be kept in special large stone jars, so that it itself was clean in the ceremonial sense and so that it might be certain that it had been used for no other purpose, and that nothing had fallen into it or had been mixed with it. First, the hands were held with finger tips pointing upwards; water was poured over them and had to run at least down to the wrist; the minimum amount of water was one quarter of a log, which is equal to one and a half egg-shells full of water. While the hands were still wet each hand had to be cleansed with the fist of the other. That is what the phrase about using the fist means; the fist of one hand was rubbed into the palm and against the surface of the other. This meant that at this stage the hands were wet with water; but that water was now unclean because it had touched unclean hands. So, next, the hands had to be held with finger tips pointing downwards and water had to be poured over them in such a way that it began at the wrists and ran off at the finger tips. After all that had been done the hands were clean.


To fail to do this was in Jewish eyes, not to be guilty of bad manners, not to be dirty in the health sense, but to be unclean in the sight of God. The man who ate with unclean hands was subject to the attacks of a demon called Shibta. To omit so to wash the hands was to become liable to poverty and destruction. Bread eaten with unclean hands was not better than excrement. A Rabbi who once omitted the ceremony was buried in excommunication. Another Rabbi, imprisoned by the Romans, used the water given to him for hand washing rather than for drinking and in the end nearly perished of thirst, because he was determined to observe the rules of cleanliness rather than satisfy his thirst.


That to the Pharisaic and Scribal Jew was religion. It was ritual, ceremonial, and regulations like that which they considered to be essence of the service of God. Ethical religion was buried under a mass of tabus and rules.


The last verses of the passage deal further with this conception of uncleanness. A thing might in the ordinary sense be completely clean and yet in the legal sense be unclean. There is something about this conception of uncleanness in Leviticus chapters 11 to 15, and in Numbers 19. Nowadays we would talk rather of things being tabu than of being unclean. Certain animals were unclean (Leviticus 11). A woman after child-birth was unclean; a leper was unclean; anyone who touched a dead body was unclean. And anyone who had so become unclean made unclean anything he in turn touched. A Gentile was unclean; food touched by a Gentile was unclean; any vessel touched by a Gentile was unclean. So, then, when a strict Jew returned from the market place he immersed his whole body in clean water to take away the taint he might have acquired.


Obviously vessels could easily become unclean; they might be touched by an unclean person or by unclean food. This is what our passage means by the washings of cups and pitchers and vessels of bronze. In the Mishnah there are no fewer than twelve treatises on this kind of uncleanness. If we take some actual examples we will see how far this went. A hollow vessel made of pottery could contract uncleanness inside but not outside; that is to say, it did not matter who or what touched it outside, but it did matter what touched it inside. If it became unclean it must be broken; and no unbroken piece must remain which was big enough to hold enough oil to anoint the little toe. A flat plate without a rim could not become unclean at all; but a plate with a rim could. If vessels made with leather, bone or glass were flat they could not contract uncleanness at all; if they were hollow they could become unclean outside and inside. If they were unclean they must be broken; and the break must be a hole at least big enough for a medium-sized pomegranate to pass through. To cure uncleanness earthen vessels must be broken; other vessels must be immersed, boiled, purged with fire—in the case of metal vessels—and polished. A three-legged table could contract uncleanness; if it lost one or two legs it could not; if it lost three legs it could, for then it could be used as a board and a board could become unclean. Things made of metal could become unclean, except a door, a bolt, a lock, a hinge, a knocker and a gutter. Wood used in metal utensils could become unclean; but metal used in wood utensils could not. Thus a wooden key with metal teeth could become unclean; but a metal key with wooden teeth could not.


We have taken some time over these scribal laws, this tradition of the elders, because that is what Jesus was up against. To the scribes and Pharisees these rules and regulations were the essence of religion. To observe them was to please God; to break them was to sin. This was their idea of goodness and of the service of God. In the religious sense Jesus and these people spoke different languages. It was precisely because he had no use for all these regulations that they considered him a bad man. There is a fundamental cleavage here—the cleavage between the man who sees religion as ritual, ceremonial, rules and regulations, and the man who sees in religion loving God and loving his fellow-men.


The next passage will develop this; but it is clear that Jesus’ idea of religion and that of the scribes and Pharisees had nothing in common at all. (Mark 7 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)


Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;

 

Comment:  The Lord challenged His disciples to share their possessions and thus build up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20; Luke 12:33; 14:33). Jesus was sustained by the generosity of women, who contributed to support Him and His disciples (8:1-3). Jesus taught, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), a statement not recorded in the Gospels. (Detzler)


Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.


Acts 10:14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy (koinos) or unclean (
akathartos)."
 

Acts 10:28 And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy (koinos) or unclean (akathartos).


Acts 11:8 "But I said, 'By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'


Romans 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.


Titus 1:4-
note To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

 

Comment: Common faith" (Ro 1:12; 2Cor 4:13; 2Pet 1:1; Jude 1:3) in the sense of belonging to several, thus “held in common”, open to all. Koinos means that which belongs to several, and thus is said of things had in common. Peter helps us understand this quality of faith, writing "to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours". (2Pe 1:1) This faith is the possession of all of God’s people and not just a selected few. A T Robertson explains this faith as "common to a Gentile (a Greek) like Titus as well as to a Jew like Paul and so common to all races and classes". It is a faith of the same nature, kind, object, operation, and effect. All who share in this common saving faith also share in a "common (koinos) salvation..." (Jude 1:3)

 

John Phillips -  Titus had been saved the same way anyone is-"after the common faith." The word translated "common" here is koinos, which indicates that the faith was one shared with others. We are all saved the same way: "By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
 

Hebrews 10:29-note How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

 

Comment: Koinos refers to "defilement that results from disregarding what is set apart to God" in this case the blood of Jesus, the blood of the New Covenant.

 

Wuest - The word “unholy” (Unclean in NAS - Heb 10:29) is the translation of koinos, the fundamental idea of which is “shared by all, public.” From this comes the idea of “not sacred” that is, “not set apart for God’s use.” The idea here is that the apostate regarded Messiah’s blood as common, having no more sacred character or specific worth than the blood of any ordinary person. (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)

 

Jude 1:3-note Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

 

Comment: Here koinos refers to the gift of salvation shared in common by all true believers.

 

Revelation 21:27-note and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Koinos occurs 21 times in the Septuagint (Lxx) (Ed: But only 6 in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Esther 5:1; Pr 1:14; 15:23; 21:9; 25:24). The dominant sense is “common, shared,” for example, of common finances (Proverbs 1:14) or a shared house (Proverbs 21:9). Only in the apocryphal literature does koinos mean “unclean” (ritually; e.g., 1 Maccabees 1:47,62). (Complete Biblical Library)

Detzler gives several illustrations of koinos - Because early Christians had things in common and shared their possessions, many have mistakenly concluded that Communism is correct. They ignore three basic facts about this early Christian phenomenon. It was temporary, voluntary, and Christian. Communism in the Soviet sense is permanent, enforced, and atheistic. True sharing is seen best in marriage. The old wedding ceremony included this as part of the vows. As the couple exchanged rings they said: "With this ring I thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow." Now that quaint saying is seldom used, but the community of property is still a legal (and loving) fact of life. The same care for others is seen in the Christian church. One church on the west coast of America was known for the loving care which Christians exhibited toward each other. At one stage the pastor said: "When the offering plate is passed, if you wish to give, do so. If you have a need of $10 or less, please feel free to take from the offering plate." Because of abuse, this had to be suspended, but the idea was good. On the subject of giving, Richard Braunstein said: "It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving." Peter Marshall, a late chaplain of the United States Senate, said: "Let us give according to our incomes, lest God make our incomes match our gifts." One evening a church member telephoned me in Bristol, England. "Pastor, what do you think of tithing?" he asked. Amazed by his question, I hastened to affirm that this was both a good idea and God's plan for our giving. A few weeks later the eager Christian told me that he and his family learned an age-old lesson: the Lord can make 90 percent go farther than we could ever make 100 percent go. You cannot out-give the Lord! (Ibid)

Spurgeon - We must not violate our conscience. We may not do what we believe to be wrong because we see others do it. We must neither judge them nor excuse ourselves.

In the Lord - That is, it finds its source in the Lord, not merely in his reason.  (Wuest)

 

James Denney -  In principle, the Apostle sides with the strong. He has no scruples about meats or drinks or days ("nothing is unclean in itself"). (The phrase) In the Lord Jesus (means) it is as a Christian, not as a libertine, that Paul has this conviction; in Christ Jesus he is sure that there is nothing in the world essentially unclean; all things can be consecrated and Christianised by Christian use. (Romans 14 - Expositor's Greek Testament)


When Paul says here that there is nothing unclean of itself, we must realize that he is speaking only of these indifferent (neutral or morally neutral) matters. There are many things in life that are unclean, such as pornography, suggestive jokes, PG and higher rated movies, etc. Paul’s statement must be understood in the light of the context. Paul's point is that Christians do not contact ceremonial defilement by eating foods which the Law of Moses branded unclean.


Having been a
Pharisee, a member of those well known for majoring on the minors, Paul doubtless had been extremely careful about what he ate and did not eat. But he now understood with absolute certainty the truth which the Lord declared to Peter three times in a vision: “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15). That divine cleansing referred directly to the multitude of animals Peter was commanded to eat that were ceremonially unclean ac- cording to Mosaic law (Acts 10:12, 13). Indirectly, and in an even more important way, it referred to God’s full and impartial acceptance of believing Gentiles into the church (Acts 10:28, 34).Jesus declared that “there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him” (Mk 7:15). The strong Christian is therefore entirely right in his conviction that he is at liberty to enjoy anything the Lord does not declare to be sinful. The weak Christian, on the other hand, is wrong in his understanding about some of those things. But he is not wrong in the sense of being heretical or immoral. He is wrong in the sense of not having complete and mature understanding, which causes his conscience to be unnecessarily sensitive.
           
Morris -
 To the believer, saved by grace through faith in Christ and His provision of full forgiveness and justification, all things are legal. Note such assurances as [Titus 1:15 1Co 10:23 Ga 5:1,4]. Nevertheless, since he should now desire to live and die as unto the Lord (Ro 14:8), this should clearly affect all his behavior and make him very different from those yet unsaved." (Defenders Study Bible Notes)


Stedman
adds that "As one who is in the Lord Jesus," that is, as one speaking as a Christian. What Paul really says is, "As one who has been taught by the Lord Jesus, no food is unclean in itself." The Lord Jesus did say that. It was he who said, "No food is unclean." He does not mean that all foods are good for you; some foods are not; some things you can eat are highly poisonous. Jesus does not mean that everything is all right to take in; he means that there is no moral question about food. It is never wrong, morally, to eat what your body may enjoy. Jesus taught that himself, and Paul says, "That is enough for me. That sets me free." But that is not the only problem involved. The conscience needs to be trained by this new insight into liberty. One person's conscience may move much slower than another's, therefore, we are to adjust to one another's needs along this line.  (Read his full sermon -
The Right to Yield)

 

Wiersbe - What something does to a person determines its quality. One man may be able to read certain books and not be bothered by them, while a weaker Christian reading the same books might be tempted to sin. But the issue is not, “How does it affect me?” so much as, “If I do this, how will it affect my brother?” Will it make him stumble? Will it grieve him or even destroy him by encouraging him to sin? Is it really worth it to harm a brother just so I can enjoy some food? No!" (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor )

 

BUT TO HIM WHO THINKS ANYTHING TO BE UNCLEAN, TO HIM IT IS UNCLEAN: di heautou, ei me to logizomeno (PMPMSD) ti koinon einai (PAN) ekeino koinon:

But - term of contrast. What is Paul contrasting?

If someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. Paul is saying essentially "Don't violate your conscience." If a weak brother thinks it is wrong for him to eat pork, for example, then it is wrong. To eat it would be to violate his God-given conscience.

MacArthur - Not everyone can handle what is right. In 1 Corinthians 8:7 Paul says, "There is not in every man that knowledge [that an idol is nothing]; for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience being weak, is defiled." A godly person who understands his liberty in Christ should not be dissuaded from exercising it, but those who are ignorant of their liberties shouldn't be shown a pattern of behavior that will cause them to stumble. They shouldn't be encouraged to violate their conscience; they need an example of love that meets them on their own ground. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)
           
Thinks (3049) (logizomai
from lógos = reason, word, account) means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh.  Logizomai refers to a process of careful study or reasoning which results in the arriving at a conclusion. Logizomai conveys the idea of calculating or estimating.

Logizomai is related to our English term logic (which deals with the methods of valid thinking, reveals how to draw proper conclusions from premises and is a prerequisite of all thought).

Logizomai means to think about something in a detailed and logical manner and to draw conclusions through the use of reason. This was a common secular term used in bookkeeping to describe an entry in an accounting ledger. The purpose of the entry was to make a permanent record that could be consulted whenever needed. In sum logizomai means to draw a logical conclusion from a given set of facts, as in Romans 6:11 (see notes) where one is commanded to continually (present imperative) draw the conclusion (based on the truths "enumerated" in Ro 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-see notes) that we are "dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus". In the present context it pictures a weaker brother looking at the issues involved and arriving at the conclusion that the issues are "unclean". It is easy to see how this brother could become very judgmental of the stronger brother who considers the same facts but concludes they are not permissible to indulge in.
           
Unclean (
2839) (
koinos) means common, defiled, unclean, unholy, profane.  Koinos was a technical term to express those customs and habits which, although "common" to he world, were forbidden to the pious Jew (see similar meaning in Mk 7:2, Mk 7:5, Acts 10:14, Acts 10:15, 10:28, 11:8, 11:9, Re 21:27).

Denney - Koinos is the opposite of hagion (holy), and signifies that which is not and cannot be brought into relation to God. Who thinks anything to be unclean - Though there is nothing which in itself has this character, some things may have it subjectively, i.e., in the judgment of a particular person who cannot help (from some imperfection of conscience) regarding them so; to him (ekeino = emphatic) they are what his conscience makes them; and his conscience (unenlightened as it is) is entitled to respect. (Romans 14 - The Expositor's Greek Testament)

For various reasons, there are certain things that we all know are not sinful but that we do not feel comfortable in doing or even being near. And as long as we feel discomfort about any such thing, we should avoid doing it—even if it would not cause offense to other believers. If we ourselves consider anything to be unclean, then to us it is unclean.
           
Stedman -  "I liken this to crossing a swinging bridge over a mountain stream. There are people who can run across a bridge like that, even though it does not have any handrails. They are not alarmed by it, they can keep their balance well. They are not concerned about the swaying of the bridge, or the danger of falling into the torrent below. That is fine; some people can do that. But others cannot. You watch them go out on a bridge like that, and they are very uncertain. They shake and tremble; they inch along. They may even get down on their hands and knees and crawl across. But they will make it if you just give them time, if you let them set their own speed. After a few crossings, they begin to pick up courage, and eventually they are able to run right across. It is like that with these moral questions. Some people just cannot see themselves moving in a certain area that they have been brought up to think is wrong; they have difficulty doing so. As in the case of the swinging bridge, it would be cruel for someone who had the freedom to cross boldly to take the arm of someone who was timid and drag them across, to force them to run across. They might even lose their balance and fall off the bridge and suffer injury. This is what Paul is warning about in [Ro 14:15]. (Read his full sermon -
The Right to Yield)

MacArthur - I don't believe Paul is teaching that sin is subjective‑‑ that it is only what you think it is. Sin is explicitly defined in Scripture. But Paul is not talking about those things that are inherently sinful. If a person believes it is a sin to do something that isn't inherently sinful, yet does it, he will have a guilty conscience. One weakness I have is on how I spend my time. It's hard for me to relax. There are some days when I decide to do nothing for a couple of hours, but I can hardly get through those hours because I have such a guilty conscience. People around me will say, "Why do you feel guilty? Everyone is entitled to a few hours of breathing without being encumbered with some task." But that weakness in me shows me what the weaker brother's conscience is like. I overheard someone say, "I never miss a morning without having my personal devotions in the Word of God." Another individual replied, "You need to stop doing that so you can prove you're not a legalist. Skip a few days." And if I remember correctly, the person took that advice and suffered tremendously from a guilty conscience. Is it a sin not to have your morning devotions? Surely it isn't addressed as such in the Bible. But if your conscience tells you it is wrong not to have it, and you don't have it, then you will suffer with a guilty conscience....The Lord wants a clean conscience. You should never train yourself to violate or ignore your conscience. That would be training yourself to ignore the instrument through which the Spirit of God subjectively leads you. Desire to have a conscience void of offense toward God (Acts 24:16). When a stronger brother tempts a weaker brother to violate his conscience, the weaker brother will have painful, bitter sorrow in his heart. Instead of helping him grow in his spiritual life, the stronger brother has caused him to be even more afraid of his liberty. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

Steven Cole - Love does not cause a weaker brother to violate his conscience (Ro 14:14). Romans 14:14: “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” “Nothing” here is limited by the context. Paul is not saying that you can do anything you feel like doing! The Bible gives clear, absolute, binding moral commandments. To violate these commands is to disobey God and defile yourself. Paul is talking about non-moral matters, where Scripture is silent. He is especially talking here about the matter of eating or not eating certain foods. He is saying (and this was radical for a former Pharisee like Paul!) that the Old Testament laws for clean and unclean foods were no longer in effect.

Paul underlines what he says with strong conviction: “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus.” This could mean that the Lord had revealed these things directly to Paul, perhaps during his time in Arabia shortly after his conversion. Or, perhaps he knew what Jesus said (Mark 7:18-23), that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his heart that defiles him. Mark (7:19) adds his own editorial comment, “(Thus He declared all foods clean.)” God showed Peter the same truth through a vision before he went to preach the gospel at the house of the Gentile centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10:15), “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Paul mentions the same thing in relation to food (1Ti 4:4-5), “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” (See also 1Cor. 8:4-8.)

Okay, if Paul is so convinced that we’re free to eat anything, then what’s the big deal? Just eat what you want and don’t worry about it! No, because Paul adds, “but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” In other words, it is wrong to violate your conscience, even if your conscience is not completely in line with Scripture. God gave the conscience as an inner “faults alarm.” It goes off when you think you’re at fault. As Paul said (Ro 2:15), even the Gentiles who do not have the law of God have a conscience that either accuses or defends them. They will be guilty before God someday because when they violated their conscience, in their heart they were disobeying God.

Again, it’s important to keep in mind here that the weaker brother is not a legalist who would never be tempted to do what he sees you doing as you exercise your liberty in Christ. To use the drinking illustration, the weaker brother is not the teetotaler who would never touch a drop of alcohol even if he was dying of thirst. Rather, it’s the brother for whom to drink a beer would violate his conscience. He does not have the liberty in Christ to do what you are free to do. But he sees you drinking and it tempts him to join in, even though he thinks that he shouldn’t. So out of love don’t flaunt your liberty in front of him and cause him to sin.

But you may be thinking, “Don’t I have a right to drink a beer or a glass of wine? Why should I have to limit my freedom because of the weaker brother’s hang-ups? Why doesn’t he just grow up?” (Love Trumps Liberty Romans 14:13-16)

                                              

Romans 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ei gar dia broma o adelphos sou lupeitai (3SPPI) ouketi kata agapen peripateis (2SPAI): me to bromati sou ekeinon apollue (2SPAM) huper ou Christos apethanen (3SAAI)
Amplified:But if your brother is being pained or his feelings hurt or if he is being injured by what you eat, [then] you are no longer walking in love. [You have ceased to be living and conducting yourself by the standard of love toward him.] Do not let what you eat hurt or cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died! (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV:  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
NLT: And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  If your habit of unrestricted diet seriously upsets your brother, you are no longer living in love towards him. And surely you wouldn't let food mean ruin to a man for whom Christ died.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For, if because of food your brother is made to grieve, no longer are you conducting yourself according to love. Stop ruining by your food that one on behalf of whom Christ died.
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: and if through victuals thy brother is grieved, no more dost thou walk according to love; do not with thy victuals destroy that one for whom Christ died.

FOR IF BECAUSE OF FOOD YOUR BROTHER IS HURT : ei gar dia broma o adelphos sou lupeitai (3SPPI): (cp 1Co 8:9 10 11)

 

For (gar) - As always it is a good habit to pause and ponder this term of explanation, asking at least what is the author explaining?

 

Henry Alford - Of food, barely put, to make the contrast greater between the slight occasion, and the great mischief done. The mere hurt of your brother, is an offence against love: how much greater an offence then, if this hurt end in ruining (causing to act against his conscience, and so to commit sin and be in danger of quenching God’s Spirit within him) by a meal of thine, a brother, for whom Christ died! “Do not make more of thy food than Christ did of Hi life” Bengel. See an exact parallel in 1Co 8:10, 11. (Romans 14 Commentary)

Spurgeon - You have liberty to do as you please, but do not use that liberty if it would be mischievous to your brother in Christ. If your action, though right in itself, would have a tendency to destroy his soul, deny yourself for love's sake.

Hodge - The sense obviously is, ‘Though the thing is tight in itself, yet if indulgence in it be injurious to our Christian brethren, that indulgence is a violation of the law of love.' This is the first consideration which the apostle urges, to enforce the exhortation not to put a stumbling block in our brother's way. (Romans 14 - Hodge's Commentary on Romans)

Hurt - "The contrast to this is joy in Ro 14:17" (Bengel)

Hodge on hurt -  It is a moral grievance of which the apostle speaks, a wounding of the conscience. (Ibid)

Vincent -  The close connection with destroy indicates that the meaning falls short of be destroyed, but is stronger than made to feel pain. It is a hurt to conscience, which, while not necessarily fatal, may lead to violation or hardening of conscience, and finally to fall. Compare 1 Cor. 8:9–12. (Romans 14 Word Studies in the New Testament)

Hurt (3076) (lupeo from lupe = sorrow) signifies pain, of body or mind and means to cause one to experience severe mental or emotional distress or physical pain which may be accompanied by sadness, sorrow or grief.

 

The King James' translation of lupeo as grieved parallels our colloquial sayings like -- "It weighs heavy on my soul" or "My soul is weighed down with affliction." or "My soul is so burdened."

 

Lupeo has the basic meaning of causing pain, distress, or grief and is used by John to describe Peter’s reaction when Jesus asked Peter "the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep."  (Jn 21:17).

 

Lupeo is used of the Holy Spirit, Who is grieved when we sin "and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ep 4:30-note).       

 

Lupeo - 26 uses in the NT - Mt. 14:9; 17:23; 18:31; 19:22; 26:22, 37; Mk. 10:22; 14:19; Jn. 16:20; 21:17; Ro 14:15; 2Co. 2:2, 4, 5; 6:10; 7:8, 9, 11; Eph. 4:30; 1Th 4:13; 1Pet. 1:6
           
It is wrong to hurt our brother over such trivial matters. It is not loving to force people to move at your pace. To refuse to indulge a freedom that you have for the sake of someone else, to adjust to their pace, is surely one of the clearest and truest exercises of Christian love. Is there some non-essential ("food") I need to give up for the higher interest of my brother (that's what agape love does)?

 

MacArthur - How would a weak brother be grieved? Simply by seeing a strong Christian do what he felt was wrong. If you are strongly convinced that something is wrong, and you see a strong believer do it, you will be grieved over his seeming abuse of liberty. But in the context of Romans 14, I think Paul is saying that the weaker brother is grieved not just because of that, but because he thinks he must follow suit. But by following the instruction or example of the strong believer, he does what he believes is wrong and has to live with the remorse and guilt of his conscience. He forfeits the peace and joy of his Christian walk. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)
           
William MacDonald - "When I sit down to eat with a weak brother, should I insist on my legitimate right to eat Crab Louis or Lobster Thermidor, even if I know he thinks it is wrong? If I do, I am not acting in love, because love thinks of others, not of self. Love foregoes its legitimate rights in order to promote the welfare of a brother. A dish of food isn’t as important as the spiritual well-being of one for whom Christ died. And yet if I selfishly parade my rights in these matters, I can do irreparable damage in the life of a weak brother. It isn’t worth it when you remember that his soul was redeemed at such a towering cost—the precious blood of the Lamb."
(MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson )

 

YOU ARE NO LONGER WALKING ACCORDING TO LOVE: ouketi kata agapen peripateis (2SPAI):

 

What is walking in love? Not all believers are mature, and love demands that the mature members of the family defer to the immature. Love (agape) protects people and gives them a chance to grow up. People may be (will be!) difficult, but we are to accept them in love for the Lord’s sake.

 

MacArthur - You need to set your life on a path that will not grieve others‑‑that will not make them follow you into something their conscience tells them not to. That means you have to get close enough to each other to know where you stand on those issues. You have to know the hearts of the people around you so you can be sure to have an unselfish love for them. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

 

Walking (4043)(peripateo from peri = about, around + pateo = walk, tread) means literally to walk around, to go here and there in walking, to tread all around and figuratively refers to living or passing one’s life, signifying the whole round of the activities of the individual life, whether of the unregenerate, (Ep 4:17) or of the believer (1Co 7:17; Col 2:6).  The  39 uses of peripateo in the Gospels always refer to literal, physical walking. Seven of the 8 uses in Acts are also in the literal sense (except Acts 21:21). (See Spurgeon's comments on what it means to walk)

Paul uses peripateo only in the metaphorical sense (32 times in his Epistles -Ro 6:4; 8:4; 13:13; 14:15; 1Co 3:3; 7:17; 2Co 4:2; 5:7; 10:2, 3; 12:18; Ga 5:16; Ep 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15; Php 3:17, 18; Col 1:10; 2:6; 3:7; 4:5; 1Th 2:12; 4:1, 12; 2Th 3:6, 11) meaning to conduct one's life, to order one's behavior, to behave,  to make one's way, to make due use of opportunities, to live or pass one’s life (with a connotation of spending some time in a place).

Some lexicons state that Paul used peripateo in the Hebraic sense of living, regulating one's life or conducting one's self.

NIDNTT - peripateo (Aristophanes onwards) is found in classic Greek only with the literal meaning of strolling, stopping, (e.g. while one walks here and there in the market, Dem., Orationes 54, 7); the figurative meaning of walking, with reference to conduct, is lacking. Only in Philodemus (1st cent. B.C.) does one find the meaning to live (De Libertate 23, 3)... In the LXX peripateo is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature...  Only occasionally does peripateo denote in the figurative sense way of life (2Ki 20:3; Eccl 11:9). (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan

Ray Stedman comments on walk writing - That (Ed: In context Pastor Stedman is referring to the truth in Col 3:1, 2, 3, 4) is the true basis for living a Christian life. Scripture calls it "walking with the Lord." I like that figure because a walk, of course, merely consists of two simple steps, repeated over and over again. It is not a complicated thing. In the same way, the Christian life is a matter of taking two steps, one step after another. Then you are beginning to walk. Those two steps follow in this passage. Paul describes them as, "Put off the old man" (Col 3:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 see note) and "put on the new." (see specific attitudes and actions in Col 3:12-4:6) Then repeat them. That is all. Keep walking through every day like that. That is how Scripture exhorts us to live." (Click for Pastor Stedman's message on True Human Potential)

In the figurative sense, peripateo refers to one's manner of life, to one's habitual way or bent of life, to one's life-style. For example, Luke describes Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, as being "righteous in the sight of God, walking (living, conducting himself) blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." (Luke 1:6).

In contrast, Paul counseled the Ephesian believers to "walk no longer just as the Gentiles (in context a description of all the unsaved) also walk, in the futility of their mind” (Eph 4:17-note).

In Romans Paul explains how it is possible to no long walk as the Gentiles writing (speaking of our spiritual baptism into Christ)

we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk (peripateo - Paul's first use in the NT canon) in newness (a brand new kind of life never possible before) of life.  (Ro 6:4-note)

(God condemned sin in the flesh of His Son) in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk (peripateo) according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Ro 8:4-note)

Let us behave (peripateo) properly (fitting or becoming in a manner of behavior) as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (Ro 13:13-note)

Some uses of peripateo in Corinthians...

For (explaining why they still need milk and cannot take solid food) you (babes in Christ) are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1Cor 3:3)

for we walk by faith, not by sight (2Cor 5:7)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (2Cor 10:3-see note)

I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps? (2Cor 12:18)

Paul charges believers to "walk (present imperative = command to make this one's lifestyle) by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Gal 5:16-note)

Paul's classic description of unbelievers in Ephesians "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:1-2-See notes Ep 2:1; 2:2)

Paul's contrasting description of believers "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (See note Ep 2:10)

After describing the wealth (in Christ Jesus, in the heavenly places) of believers in the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul proceeds to exhort us to walk accordingly (note the concentration of peripateo in the second half of Ephesians)...

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, (See note Ephesians 4:1)

and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (See note Ephesians 5:2)

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk (present imperative = command to make this one's lifestyle) as children of light (See note Ephesians 5:8)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of (redeeming, buying up every second) your time, because the days are evil. (See note Ep 5:15; 5:16)

Here are a few of Paul's uses of peripateo in other epistles...

Brethren, join (present imperative = command to make this one's lifestyle)  in following my example, and observe (present imperative = command to make this one's lifestyle pay attention to, implying mental concentration regarding) those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. (See note Php 3:17) 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, (See note Php 3:18)

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. (See note 1Th 4:1)

John uses peripateo in the figurative sense affirming that, "if we walk in the light as [God] Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1Jn 1:7)

J Vernon McGee adds the practical comment that - Walking is not a balloon ascension. A great many people think the Christian life is some great, overwhelming experience and you take off like a rocket going out into space. That’s not where you live the Christian life. Rather, it is in your home, in your office, in the schoolroom, on the street. The way you get around in this life is to walk. You are to walk in Christ. God grant that you and I might be joined to Him in our daily walk. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary:  Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Strong believers (Ro 15:1) must not insist on their liberty in the presence of those whose consciences would be offended. if a "weaker" Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Stott says, “Love never disregards weak consciences”. To the one who loves, a weak brother’s spiritual well-being is always more important than indulging the right to eat whatever one likes.

A weak Christian (Ro 14:1, 2, 3) can be hurt or distressed from watching another Christian say or do something he considers sinful. The hurt is deeper if the offending believer is admired and respected by the weaker one. A weak Christian also can be hurt when, by word or example, he is led by a stronger brother to go against the convictions of his own conscience. That is by far the greater offense. Being upset over what another Christian does can certainly hurt, but that hurt is not nearly so severe and damaging as the hurt of a believer’s conscience over what he himself has done. He suffers feelings of guilt, and forfeits much of his peace of mind, his joy, his witness, and perhaps even his assurance of salvation. A Christian whose careless use of his liberty causes such hurt to other believers is no longer walking according to love.

 

Love (26)  (agape) is unconditional, sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God by His Spirit enables His children to bear (see note on fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22- note).

 

It is not surprising that Greek literature throws little light on its distinctive NT meaning. Biblical agape love is the love of choice, the love of serving with humility, the highest kind of love, the noblest kind of devotion, the love of the will (intentional, a conscious choice) and not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. Agape is not based on  pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation. 

 

Agape is volitional
Phileo
is emotional

 

Agape love does not depend on the world’s criteria for love, such as attractiveness, emotions, or sentimentality. Believers can easily fall into the trap of blindly following the world’s demand that a lover feel positive toward the beloved. This is not agape love, but is a love based on impulse. Impulsive love characterizes the spouse who announces to the other spouse that they are planning to divorce their mate. Why? They reason “I can’t help it. I fell in love with another person!” Christians must understand that this type of impulsive love is completely contrary to God’s decisive love, which is decisive because He is in control and has a purpose in mind. There are many reasons a proper understanding of the truth of God's word (and of the world's lie) is critical and one of the foremost is Jesus' declaration that

 

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another." (John 13:35).

 

F B Meyer has the following description of agape love...

 

Wherever there is true love, there must be giving, and giving to the point of sacrifice. Love is not satisfied with giving trinkets; it must give at the cost of sacrifice: it must give blood, life, all. And it was so with the love of God. "He so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son." "Christ also loved and gave Himself up, an offering and a sacrifice to God." (Ep 5:2-note)

 

We are to imitate God's love in Christ. The love that gives, that counts no cost too great, and, in sacrificing itself for others, offers all to God, and does all for His sake. Such was the love of Jesus--sweet to God, as the scent of fields of new-mown grass in June; and this must be our model.

Not to those who love us, but who hate; not to those who are pleasant and agreeable, but who repel; not because our natural feelings are excited, but because we will to minister, even to the point of the cross, must our love go out. And every time we thus sacrifice ourselves to another for the sake of the love of God, we enter into some of the meaning of the sacrifice of Calvary, and there is wafted up to God the odour of a sweet smell.  (
Devotional Commentary on Ephesians)

 

DO NOT DESTROY WITH YOUR FOOD HIM FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED: me to bromati sou ekeinon apollue (2SPAM) huper ou Christos apethanen (3SAAI):  

 

For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined (apollumi), the brother for whose sake Christ died (1Co 8:11)

Jamieson - Whatever tends to make anyone violate his conscience tends to the destruction of his soul; and he who helps, whether wittingly or no, to bring about the one is guilty of aiding to accomplish the other. (Romans 14 - Bible Commentary)

Do not destroy - The Greek combination of a negative ("me" = not) plus the present imperative (command) can be translated "stop destroying" (indicating that this  was already being practiced by believers in Rome) your brother over these non-essential issues of what you eat, etc. To act this way is to practice love with hypocrisy (Ro 12:9-note).

This is NOT being "devoted to one another in brotherly love" and is NOT giving "preference to one another in honor" (Ro 12:10-note).

It is NOT owing "nothing to anyone except to love one another" for clearly "Love does no wrong to a neighbor" (Ro 13:10-note).

In sum, this type of behavior is NOT walking according to love. If we are to live a life of consideration for our neighbor then we must learn that even though there are things we feel we biblically may do, many of those same things, for the sake of the body of Christ, we should not do. Agape love lays down its rights, seeking the highest good of the other person.
          
McGee - Since Christ was willing to die for that weak brother (Ro 5:8, Jn15:13, Isa 53:6, 1 Pet 3:18, 1 Jn 3:16, 4:9,10), certainly we ought to be willing to refrain from eating something or doing something that would hurt him in his Christian walk.

MacArthur - Food was emblematic of their liberty. Paul was talking to a liberated Jew who would flaunt a pork chop in the face of a newly converted Jew, or a liberated Gentile who would eat meat offered to idols in front of a newly converted pagan who just came out of an idolatrous system. Why let something as unimportant as food do something as awful as causing spiritual loss for a weaker brother or sister?

To destroy (622) (apollumi is derived from apo = away from + olethros =state of utter ruin) pertains to destruction but not annihilation and basically has to do with that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose. It does not refer to the loss of being, but loss of well-being.

The KJV sometimes translates it damnation but in the context of Ro 14 apollumi does not mean that one brother can cause the damnation of another brother to the lake of fire, but it does indicate that one can seriously derail and ruin the offended brother's spiritual growth "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18, 1Cor8:11, Ro14:20).

Apollumi means to destroy utterly but not to annihilate. It can also mean to perish (as in Mt 8:25) 

Apollumi means to ruin so that the thing ruined can no longer serve the use for which it was designed. The gospel promises everlasting life for him who believes. The failure to possess this life will involve the utter ruin of those that perish. Apollumi then has to do with that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose.

Apollumi is the term Jesus used to speak of those who are thrown into hell (Mt 10:28). As He makes clear elsewhere, hell is not a place or state of nothingness or unconscious existence, as is the Hindu Nirvana but is the place of everlasting torment, the place of eternal death, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 13:42, 50).

Apollumi is used some 265 times in the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT (Septuagint - LXX). In Psalm 1 we read that

the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Lxx - apollumi) (Ps 1:6-note)

Jesus used apollumi to remind His disciples what happened when men "put new wine into old wineskins" for they knew that this would make "the wineskins burst...and the wineskins are ruined (apollumi)". (Mt 9:17). The point is that these wineskins did not cease to exist but they did cease to fulfill the function for which they were created. In short they were rendered useless. In a similar way, the noun form, apoleia, is used to describe the reaction of the disciples when they saw the woman anointing Jesus' head with "costly perfume" (Mt 26:8). They became "indignant when they saw this and said "Why this waste (noun form = apoleia)" In essence they were asking Jesus why are You letting the precious oil perish and be rendered useless? The ointment did not go out of existence, but was used for what they judged to be a useless purpose (were they ever wrong!). In a similar way all men and women are created by God for fellowship with Him and for His glory (cf Isa 43:7), but when they individually refuse to come to Him for salvation they lose their opportunity for redemption and for becoming what God originally created them for. Their lives are wasted and useless (eternally)! They are fit only for everlasting condemnation and destruction away from the presence and the glory of the Father. This is the awful picture of what it means to "perish". This is not the desire of God for as Peter writes

Jesus used apollumi with a meaning similar to Paul here in Romans 14. In Mt 18:14 Jesus referred to nonpermanent ruin or loss. When Jesus said, “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish [apollumi]” (Mt18:14), the context makes clear that “these little ones” are believers. They have been “converted and become like children” (Mt18:3) and “believe in Me” (Mt 18:6). Jesus was not concerned about their loss of salvation but about their loss of spiritual well being, which, although not an eternal loss, is a injury the Lord considers to be extremely grave.

A brother's "ruin" is a serious consequence that I fear most believer's (including myself) do not fully comprehend.

Paul does not want the church to underestimate the significance of the non-essentials in the overall spiritual vitality of the body of Christ, for "if one member suffers, all the members suffer" (1Co 12:26) and on a given day yet future we will ALL (each one individually) give an accounting of how we dealt with our brethren regarding  the "externals" (Ro 14:10,12, 2Cor 5:10, Mt 12:36; 16:27; 1Pet 4:5). (Don't misunderstand - Jesus paid for our sins as believers - our judgment will be in relation to rewards as Paul described in 1Co 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

John gives us sage advice - "And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming....We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1Jn 2:28, 3:2,3)

John MacArthur on "for whom Christ died" - Paul concludes by telling the strong not to plunge the weak, "for whom Christ died," into spiritual devastation (Ro 14:15). That's a virtual repetition of 1 Corinthians 8:11. How could a strong believer treat in a loveless way someone for whom Christ died in an act of supreme love? What a contrast! Since Christ, the perfect Son of God, loved that weaker brother enough to die for him, shouldn't the strong believer, who is to emulate Christ, love his brother enough not to devastate his spirituality by insisting on his own liberty regardless of the circumstances?Paul calls us to build one another up by not causing each other to stumble, to grieve, or to suffer spiritual loss....When we read Romans 14:15 and realize that the weak believer is devastated by our exercise of liberty and our failure to love him, we are reminded that he was one for whom Christ died. We are to build up our brother in love by not causing him to stumble, grieve, or be devastated by falling into sin. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

Beware - Be aware (beware, be wary) that some commentators interpret this verse to mean that a person can lose their salvation. Even the generally conservative College Press NIV Commentary has a note on the Romans section written by Jack Cottrell (Ph.D. Cincinnati Bible Seminary) with which I strongly disagree. Cottrell seems to imply in his comment that a believer can lose his salvation. Cottrell writes "I must conclude, though, that this strong warning does imply that the careless and unloving exercise of Christian liberty can lead to actual loss of salvation for a weak brother. Apollumi is frequently used in the sense of eternal destruction in hell (Mt 10:28; Lu 13:3, Jn 3:16, Ro 2:12)." (College Press NIV Commentary) We must be Bereans! (Acts 17:11 - see note;)

MacArthur on Pondering the Principles - Pondering the Principles 1. Are you in danger of abusing your liberty to the point of hurting yourself? Review the section on abusing Christian liberty (see pp. 2- 4). Be honest in your evaluation as you answer the following questions: Are you using your freedom to cloak any evil you might be practicing? Are you participating in any activity that is either potentially harmful to your health or to your ministry? Are you involved in anything to the point that you have become a slave to it? Are you doing anything that might result in your being torn down spiritually? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are abusing your liberty in Christ. Stop your involvement in those things. Limit your liberty for your own sake. 2. Are there people in your fellowship you may have hurt by exercising some of your freedoms in Christ? Have you caused a brother to stumble, to grieve, or to suffer spiritual loss? If so, then you need to show him your love by limiting your liberty. What kinds of things can you do to reach down to him at his level of maturity? Only when you see things from his level can you begin to encourage him through Scripture to release some of his inhibitions in exercising his freedoms in Christ. But be cautious. Don't encourage him beyond what he is able to handle. Better you should love him where he is at than force him beyond his secure position. (Building Up One Another Without Offending, Part 1)

Steven Cole - Love does not insist on its rights to the point of damaging a weaker brother’s walk with God (14:15). Romans 14:15: “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.” The argument here is, “If Christ loved this brother enough to die for him on the cross, then don’t you think that you should love him enough to be willing to give up your ham sandwich (or glass of wine) so that you don’t lead him into sin?” In other words, get some perspective: Your sacrifice of some liberty is nothing compared to Christ’s sacrifice of His very life! Since Jesus called us to love one another as He loved us, the least you can do is to give up your right to certain liberties for the sake of your weaker brother.

But what does Paul mean when he talks about destroying your brother? He uses the same Greek word (translated “ruined”) in 1Cor. 8:11: “For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.” It’s a very strong word, used most often to refer to eternal damnation. Paul uses it this way in Romans 2:12, “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law ….” It’s also translated “perish” to refer to damnation in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Because of this, a number of scholars who believe in the eternal security of believers nonetheless argue that Paul is saying that if you cause a weaker brother to sin by violating his conscience, you could cause his damnation. They explain this by saying that if the weaker brother falls away so as to perish, then he was a “brother” in name only, not in actual fact. Also, since Jesus will not lose any of His sheep for whom He laid down His life (John 10:28-29; 17:2, 12), they have to say that Christ didn’t actually die as a substitute for this so-called brother. It only appeared for a while that this weaker brother was one of God’s elect. But his falling away proves that he was not.

Also, they explain that God uses severe warnings in Scripture to cause the elect to persevere. For example, Paul says that Christ has reconciled you and will present you holy and blameless before God (Col. 1:23), “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel ….” The warning passages in Hebrews sound as if true believers could perish, but the severity of the warnings causes true believers to turn from sin and continue in the faith.

One example of this use of means to accomplish God’s promises is when Paul was on the boat about to be shipwrecked. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and promised that none on the ship would perish. But a short time later when the sailors tried to escape on the ship’s small boat, Paul told the centurion that unless these men remained on board the ship, the centurion and his men would not be saved (Acts 27:22-24, 31). Paul’s warning was heeded, the sailors stayed on board, and all were saved.

While I greatly respect these scholars who say that the word destroy here means eternal destruction and I agree with some of the arguments that they put forth in other contexts, it seems to me that the context here overrides the usual meaning of the word and that here Paul means that flaunting your liberty will damage your brother’s walk with God, not that you will cause a professing believer to go to eternal damnation. It’s still a serious matter—we shouldn’t minimize how bad it is to hurt a brother’s walk with God. But I think that it goes too far here to insist on the usual meaning of destroy. Here are some reasons why I think as I do:

First as John Stott says, (pp. 365-366, cited by Sam Storms- Liberty, Legalism, and Love (4)), “Are we really to believe that a Christian brother’s single act against his own conscience—which in any case is not his fault but the fault of the strong who have misled him, and which is therefore an unintentional mistake, not a deliberate disobedience—merits eternal condemnation? No, hell is reserved only for the stubborn, the impenitent, those who willfully persist in wrongdoing.” Granted, perhaps this act of violating his conscience could lead to further violations, until finally he makes shipwreck of his faith (1Ti 1:19). So if we’ve caused a brother to stumble, we need to do all that we can to restore him. But our one sin that resulted in our brother’s sin does not cause him to perish.

Also (as Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues, Romans: Liberty and Conscience [Banner of Truth], p. 191 - Ed: see also Romans- An Exposition of Chapter 14-1-17, Liberty and Conscience By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones), the ultimate destiny of another soul is never in our hands. If we could cause anyone to be eternally lost, then our power would be greater than God’s, who alone is able both to save and to keep us for eternity (Rom. 8:31-39). Also (Lloyd-Jones, p. 192), if sinning against our conscience results in perishing, we all would perish, because we’ve all sinned in this manner. But the Lord promises that those to whom He gives eternal life can never perish (John 10:28).

The practical application is that we should be very sensitive about not doing anything that might cause a weaker believer to violate his conscience. If we have sinned in this way, we should do all that we can to help get him back on track with the Lord. Love does not insist on its rights if doing so would damage a weaker brother’s walk with God.

Thus love does not judge others on non-essential matters, but rather determines not to put a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Love does not cause a weaker brother to violate his conscience. Love does not insist on its rights to the point of destroying a weaker brother’s walk with God. (Love Trumps Liberty Romans 14:13-16)

           

 


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Last Updated July, 2013

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