RPM, Volume 18, Number 18, April 24 to April 30, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 52

By Albert Barnes

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 1

ROMANS - Chapter 13

Verse 1. Let every soul. Every person. In the first seven verses of this chapter, the apostle discusses the subject of the duty which Christians owe to civil government; a subject which is extremely important, and at the same time exceedingly difficult. There is no doubt that he had express reference to the peculiar situation of the Christians at Rome; but the subject was of so much importance that he gives it a general bearing, and states the great principles on which all Christians are to act. The circumstances which made this discussion proper and important were the following:

(1.) The Christian religion was designed to extend throughout the world. Yet it contemplated the rearing of a kingdom amid other kingdoms, an empire amid other empires. Christians professed supreme allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ; he was their Lawgiver, their Sovereign, their Judge. It became, therefore, a question of great importance and difficulty, what kind of allegiance they were to render to earthly magistrates.

(2.) The kingdoms of the world were then pagan Kingdoms. The laws were made by pagans, and were adapted to the prevalence of heathenism. Those kingdoms had been generally founded in conquest, and blood, and oppression. Many Of the monarchs were blood-stained warriors; were unprincipled men; and were polluted in their private, and oppressive in their public character. Whether Christians were to acknowledge the laws of such kingdoms, and of such men, was a serious question, and one which could not but occur very early. It would occur also very soon, in circumstances that would be very affecting and trying. Soon the hands of these magistrates were to be raised against Christians in the fiery scenes of persecution; and the duty and extent of submission to them became a matter of very serious inquiry.

(3.) Many of the early Christians were composed of Jewish converts. Yet the Jews had long been under Roman oppression, and had borne the foreign yoke with great uneasiness. The whole heathen magistracy they regarded as founded in a system of idolatry; as opposed to God and his kingdom; and as abomination in his sight. With these feelings they had become christians; and it was natural that their former sentiments should exert an influence on them after their conversion. How far they should submit, if at all, to heathen magistrates, was a question of deep interest; and there was danger that the Jewish converts might prove to be disorderly and rebellious citizens of the empire.

(4.) Nor was the case much different with the Gentile converts. They would naturally look with abhorrence on the system of idolatry which they had just forsaken. They would regard all as opposed to God. They would denounce the religion of the pagans as abomination; and as that religion was interwoven with the civil institutions, there was danger also that they might denounce the government altogether, and be regarded as opposed to the laws of the land.

(5.) There were cases where it was right to resist the laws. This the Christian religion clearly taught; and, in cases like these, it was indispensable for Christians to take a stand. When the laws interfered with the rights of conscience; when they commanded the worship of idols, or any moral wrong, then it was their duty to refuse submission. Yet, in what cases this was to be done, where the line was to be drawn, was a question of deep importance, and one which was not easily settled. It is quite probable, however, that the main danger was, that the early Christians would err in refusing submission, even when it was proper, rather than in undue conformity to idolatrous rites and ceremonies.

(6.) In the changes which were to occur in human governments, it would be an inquiry of deep interest, what part Christians should take, and what submission they should yield to the various laws which might spring up among the nations. The principles on which Christians should act are settled in this chapter. Be subject. Submit. The word denotes that kind of submission which soldiers render to their officers. It implies subordination; a willingness to occupy our proper place, to yield to the authority of those over us. The word used here does not designate the extent of the submission, but merely enjoins it in general. The general principle will be seen to be, that we are to obey in all things which are not contrary to the law of God.

The higher powers. The magistracy; the supreme government. It undoubtedly here refers to the Roman magistracy, and has relation not so much to the rulers as to the supreme authority which was established as the constitution of government. Comp. Mt 10:1; Mt 28:18.

For. The apostle gives a reason why Christians should be subject; and that reason is, that magistrates have received their appointment from God. As Christians, therefore, are to be subject to God, so they are to honour God by honouring the arrangement which he has instituted for the government of mankind. Doubtless, he here intends also to repress the vain curiosity and agitation with which men are prone to inquire into the titles of their rulers; to guard them from the agitations and conflicts of party, and of contentions to establish a favourite on the throne. It might be, that those in power had not a proper title to their office; that they had secured it, not according to justice, but by oppression; but into that question Christians were not to enter. The government was established, and they were not to seek to overturn it.

No power. No office; no magistracy; no civil rule.

But of God. By God's permission, or appointment; by the arrangements of his providence, by which those in office had obtained their power. God often claims and asserts that He sets up one, and puts down another, Ps 75:7; Da 2:21; 4:17,26,34,35.

The powers that be. That is, all the civil magistracies that exist; those who have the rule over nations, by whatever means they may have obtained it. This is equally true at all times, that the powers that exist, exist by the permission and providence of God.

Are ordained of God. This word ordained denotes the ordering or arrangement which subsists in a military company or army. God sets them in order, assigns them their location, changes and directs them as he pleases. This does not mean that he originates or causes the evil dispositions of rulers, but that he directs and controls their appointment. By this we are not to infer,

(1.) that he approves their conduct; nor,

(2,) that what they do is always right; nor,

(3.) that it is our duty always to submit to them. Their requirements may be opposed to the law of God, and then we are to obey God rather than man, Ac 4:19; 5:29. But it is meant that the power is entrusted to them by God; and that he has the authority to remove them when he pleases. If they abuse their power, however, they do it at their peril; and when so abused, the obligation to obey them ceases. That this is the case is apparent, further, from the nature of the question which would be likely to arise among the early Christians. It could not be and never was a question, whether they should obey a magistrate when he commanded a thing that was plainly contrary to the law of God. But the question was, whether they should obey a heathen magistrate at all. This question the apostle answers in the affirmative, because God had made government necessary, and because it was arranged and ordered by his providence. Probably, also, the apostle had another object in view. At the time in which he wrote this epistle, the Roman empire was agitated with civil dissensions. One emperor followed another in rapid succession. The throne was often seized, not by right, but by crime. Different claimants would rise, and their claims would excite controversy. The object of the apostle was to prevent Christians from entering into those disputes, and from taking an active part in a political controversy. Besides, the throne had been usurped by the reigning emperors, and there was a prevalent disposition to rebel against a tyrannical government. Claudius had been put to death by poison; Caligula in a violent manner; Nero was a tyrant; and, amidst these agitations, and crimes, and revolutions, the apostle wished to guard Christians from taking an active part in political affairs.

{v} "For there is no power" Da 2:21

{1} "Ordained" or, "ordered"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth, etc. That is, they who rise up against government itself; who seek anarchy and confusion; and who oppose the regular execution of the laws. It is implied, however, that those laws shah not be such as to violate the rights of conscience, or oppose the laws of God.

Resisteth the ordinance of God. What God has ordained, or appointed. This means, clearly, that we are to regard government as instituted by God, and as agreeable to his will. When established, we are not to be agitated about the titles of the rulers; not to enter into angry contentions, or to refuse to submit to them, because we are apprehensive of a defect in their title, or because they may have obtained it by oppression. If the government is established, and if its decisions are not a manifest violation of the laws of God, we are to submit to them.

Shall receive to themselves damnation. The word damnation we apply now exclusively to the punishment of hell; to future torments. But this is not necessarily the meaning of the word which is here used, (krima). It often simply denotes punishment, Ro 3:8; 1 Co 11:29; Ga 5:10. In this place the word implies guilt or criminality in resisting the ordinance of God, and affirms that the man that does it shall be punished. Whether the apostle means that he shall be punished by God, or by the magistrate, is not quite clear. Probably the latter, however, is intended. Comp. Ro 13:4. It is also true, that such resistance shall be attended with the displeasure of God, and be punished by him.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 3

Verse 3. For rulers. The apostle here speaks of rulers in general. It may not be universally true that they are not a terror to good works, for many of them have persecuted the good; but it is generally true that they who are virtuous have nothing to fear from the laws. It is universally true, that the design of their appointment by God was not to injure and oppress the good, but to detect and punish the evil. Magistrates, as such, are not a terror to good works.

Are not a terror, etc. Are not appointed to punish the good. Their appointment is not to inspire terror in those who are virtuous and peaceable citizens. Comp. 1 Ti 1:9.

But to the evil. Appointed to detect and punish evil-doers; and therefore an object of terror to them. The design of the apostle here is, evidently, to reconcile Christians to submission to the government, from its utility. It is appointed to protect the good against the evil; to restrain oppression, injustice, and fraud; to bring offenders to justice, and thus promote the peace and harmony of the community. As it is designed to promote order and happiness, it should be submitted to; and so long as this object is pursued, and obtained, government should receive the countenance and support of Christians. But if it departs from this principle, and becomes the protector of the evil and the oppressor of the good, the case is reversed, and the obligation to its support must cease.

Wilt thou not, etc. If you do evil by resisting the laws, and in any other manner, will you not fear the power of the government? Fear is one of the means by which men are restrained from crime in a community. On many minds it operates with much more power than any other motive. And it is one which a magistrate must make use of to restrain men from evil.

Do that which is good. Be a virtuous and peaceable citizen; abstain from crime, and yield obedience to all the just laws of the land.

And thou shalt have praise of the same. Comp. 1 Pe 2:14,15. You shall be unmolested and uninjured, and shall receive the commendation of being peaceable and upright citizens. The prospect of that protection, and even of that reputation, is not an unworthy motive to yield obedience to the laws. Every Christian should desire the reputation of being a man seeking the welfare of his country, and the just execution of the laws.

{w} "do that which is good" 1 Pe 2:14

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 4

Verse 4. The minister of God. The servant of God. He is appointed by God to do his will, and to execute his purposes.

To thee. For your benefit.

For good. That is, to protect you in your rights; to vindicate your name, person, or property; and to guard your liberty, and secure to you the rewards of your industry. The magistrate is not appointed directly to reward men, but they practically furnish a reward by protecting and defending them, and securing to them the interests of justice.

If thou do that, etc. That is, if any citizen should do evil. Be afraid. Fear the just vengeance of the laws.

For he beareth not the sword in vain. The sword is an instrument of punishment, as well as an emblem of war. Princes were accustomed to wear a sword as an emblem of their authority; and the sword was often used for the purpose of beheading, or otherwise punishing the guilty. The meaning of the apostle is, that he does not wear this badge of authority as an unmeaning show, but that it will be used to execute the lairs. As this is the design of the power entrusted to him, and as he will exercise his authority, men should be influenced by fear to keep the law, even if there were no better motive.

A revenger, etc. In Ro 12:19, vengeance is said to belong to God. Yet he executes his vengeance by means of subordinate agents. It belongs to him to take vengeance by direct judgments, by the plague, famine, sickness, or earthquakes; by the appointment of magistrates; or by letting loose the passions of men to prey upon each other. When a magistrate inflicts punishment on the guilty, it is to be regarded as the act of God taking vengeance by him; and on this principle only is it right for a judge to condemn a man to death. It is not because one man has by nature any right over the life of another, or because society has any right collectively which it has not as individuals; but because God gave life, and because he has chosen to take it away when crime is committed, by the appointment of magistrates, and not by coming forth himself visibly to execute the laws. Where human laws fail, however, he often takes vengeance into his own hands; and by the plague, or some signal judgments, sweeps the guilty into eternity.

To execute wrath. For an explanation of the word wrath, See Barnes "Ro 1:18".

It denotes here punishment, or the just execution of the laws. It may be remarked that this verse is an incidental proof of the propriety of capital punishment. The sword was undoubtedly an instrument for this purpose, and the apostle mentions its use without any remark of disapprobation. He enjoins subjection to those who wear the sword, that is, to those who execute the laws by that; and evidently intends to speak of the magistrate with the sword, or in inflicting capital punishment, as having received the appointment of God. The tendency of society now is not to too sanguinary laws. It is rather to forget that God has doomed the murderer to death; and though humanity should be consulted in the execution of the laws, yet there is no humanity in suffering the murderer to live to infest society, and endanger many lives, in the place of his own, which was forfeited to justice. Far better that one murderer should die, than that he should be suffered to live, to imbrue his hands perhaps in the blood of many who are innocent. But the authority of God has settled this question, (Ge 9:5,6) and it is neither right nor safe for a community to disregard his solemn decisions. See Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. iv. p. 8, [9.]

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Wherefore, (dio). The reasons why we should be subject, which the apostle had given, were two:

(1.) That government was appointed by God.

(2.) That violation of the laws would necessarily expose to punishment.

Ye must needs be. It is necessary (anagkh) to be. This is a word stronger than that which implies mere fitness or propriety. It means, that it is a matter of high obligation and of necessity to be subject to the civil ruler.

Not only for wrath. Not only on account of the fear of punishment; or the fact that wrath will be executed on evil doers.

For conscience' sake. As a matter of conscience, or because he has appointed it, and made it necessary and proper. A good citizen yields obedience because it is the will of God; and a Christian makes it a part of his religion to maintain and obey the just laws of the land. See Mt 22:21. Comp. Ec 8:2, "I counsel them to keep the king's commandments, and that in regard of the oath of God."

{y} "ye must needs be subject" Ex 8:2

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 6

Verse 6. For this cause. Because they are appointed by God; for the sake of conscience, and in order to secure the execution of the laws. As they are appointed by God, the tribute which is needful for their support becomes an act of homage to God, an act performed in obedience to his will, and acceptable to him.

Tribute also. Not only be subject, (Ro 12:5,) but pay what may be necessary to support the government. Tribute properly denotes the tax, or annual compensation, which was paid by one province or nation to a superior, as the price of protection, or as an acknowledgment of subjection. The Romans made all conquered provinces pay this tribute; and it would become a question whether it was right to acknowledge this claim, and submit to it. Especially would this question be agitated by the Jews and by Jewish Christians. But on the principle which the apostle had laid down, Ro 12:1,20 it was right to do it, and was demanded by the very purposes of government. In a larger sense, the word tribute means any tax paid on land or personal estate for the support of the government.

For they are God's ministers. His servants; or they are appointed by him. As the government is his appointment, we should contribute to its support as a matter of conscience, because we thus do honour to the arrangement of God. It may be observed here, also, that the fact that civil rulers are the ministers of God, invests their character with great sacredness, and should impress upon them the duty of seeking to do his will, as well as on others the duty of submitting to them.

Attending continually. As they attend to this, and devote their time and talents to it, it is proper that they should receive a suitable support. It becomes, then, a duty for the people to contribute cheerfully to the necessary expenses of the government. If those taxes should be unjust and oppressive, yet, like other evils, they are to be submitted to, until a remedy can be found in a proper way.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Render therefore, etc. This injunction is often repeated in the Bible. See Barnes "Mt 22:21".

See also Mt 17:25-27; 1 Pe 2:13-17; Pr 24:21. It is one of the most lovely and obvious of the duties of religion. Christianity is not designed to break in upon the proper order of society, but rather to establish and confirm that order. It does not rudely assail existing institutions; but it comes to put them on a proper footing, to diffuse a mild and pure influence over all, and to secure such an influence in all the relations of life as shall tend best to promote the happiness of man and the welfare of the community.

Is due. To whom it properly belongs by the law of the land, and according to the ordinance of God. It is represented here as a matter of debt, as something which is due to the ruler; a fair compensation to him for the service which he renders us by devoting his time and talents to advance our interests, and the welfare of the community. As taxes are a debt, a matter of strict and just obligation, they should be paid as conscientiously and as cheerfully as any other just debts, however contracted.

Custom, (telov). The word rendered tribute means, as has been remarked, the tax which is paid by a tributary prince or dependent people; also the tax imposed on land or real estate. The word here translated custom means, properly, the revenue which is collected on merchandise, either imported or exported.

Fear. See Ro 13:4. We should stand in awe of those who wear the sword, and who are appointed to execute the laws of the land. As the execution of their office is fitted to excite fear, we should render to them that reverence which is appropriate to the execution of their office. It means, a solicitous anxiety lest we do anything to offend them.

Honour. The difference between this and fear is, that this rather denotes reverence, veneration, respect for their names, offices, rank, etc. The former is the fear which arises from the dread of punishment. Religion gives to men all their just titles, recognizes their rank and office, and seeks to promote due subordination in a community. It was no part of the work of our Saviour, or of his apostles, to quarrel with the mere titles of men, or to withhold from them the customary tribute of respect and homage. Comp. Ac 24:3; 26:25; Lu 1:3; 1 Pe 2:17.

In this verse there is summed up the duty which is owed to magistrates. It consists in rendering to them proper honour; contributing cheerfully and conscientiously to the necessary expenses of the government, and in yielding obedience to the laws. These are made a part of the duty which we owe to God, and should be considered as enjoined by our religion.

On the subject discussed in these seven verses, the following principles seem to be settled by the authority of the Bible, and are now understood:

(1.) That government is essential; and its necessity is recognized by God, and it is arranged by his Providence. God has never been the patron of anarchy and disorder.

(2.) Civil rulers are dependent on God. He has the entire control over them, and can set them up or put them down when he pleases.

(3.) The authority of God is superior to that of civil rulers. They have no right to make enactments which interfere with his authority.

(4.) It is not the business of civil rulers to regulate or control religion. That is a distinct department, with which they have no concern, except to protect it.

(5.) The rights of all men are to be preserved. Men are to be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to be protected in those rights, provided they do not violate the peace and order of the community

(6.) Civil rulers have no right to persecute Christians, or to attempt to secure conformity to their views by force. The conscience can not be compelled; and in the affairs of religion man must be free. In view of this subject we may remark,

[1.] that the doctrines respecting the rights of civil rulers, and the line which is to be drawn between their powers and the rights of conscience, have been slow to be understood. The struggle has been long; and a thousand persecutions have shown the anxiety of the magistrate to rule the conscience, and to control religion. In pagan countries it has been conceded that the civil ruler had a right to control the religion of the people: church and state there have been one. The same thing was attempted under Christianity. The magistrate still claimed this right, and attempted to enforce it. Christianity resisted the claim, and asserted the independent and original rights of conscience. A conflict ensued, of course, and the magistrate resorted to persecutions, to subdue by force the claims of the new religion, and the rights of conscience. Hence the ten fiery and bloody persecutions of the primitive church. The blood of the early Christians flowed like water; thousands and tens of thousands went to the stake, until Christianity triumphed, and the right of religion to a free exercise was acknowledged throughout the empire.

[2.] It is matter of devout thanksgiving that the subject is now settled, and the principle is now understood. In our own land there exists the happy and bright illustration of the true principle on this great subject. The rights of conscience are regarded, and the laws peacefully obeyed. The civil ruler understands his province; and Christians yield a cheerful and cordial obedience to the laws. The church and state move on in their own spheres, united only in the purpose to make men happy and good; and divided only as they relate to different departments; and contemplate, the one, the rights of civil society—the other, the interests of eternity. Here, every man worships God according to his own views of duty; and, at the same time, here is rendered the most cordial and peaceful obedience to the laws of the land. Thanks should be rendered without ceasing to the God of our fathers for the wondrous train of events by which this contest has been conducted to its issue; and for the clear and full understanding which we now have of the different departments pertaining to the church and the state.

{y} "all their dues" Mt 22:21

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Owe no man any thing. Be not in debt to any one. In the previous verse the apostle had been discoursing of the duty which we owe to magistrates, he had particularly enjoined on Christians to pay to them their just dues. From this command to discharge fully this obligation, the transition was natural to the subject of debts in general, and to an injunction not to be indebted to any one. This law is enjoined in this place,

(1.) because it is a part of our duty as good citizens; and

(2.) because it is a part of that law which teaches us to love our neighbour, and to do no injury to him, Ro 13:10. The interpretation of this command is to be taken with this limitation, that we are not to be indebted to him so as to injure him, or to work ill to him.

This rule, together with the other rules of Christianity, would propose a remedy for all the evils of bad debts in the following manner:

(1.) It would teach men to be industrious, and this would commonly prevent the necessity of contracting debts.

(2.) It would make them frugal, economical, and humble in their views and manner of life.

(3.) It would teach them to bring up their families in habits of industry. The Bible often enjoins that. See Barnes "Ro 12:11, comp. Php 4:8; Pr 24:30-34; 1 Th 4:11; 2 Th 3:10; Eph 4:28;

(4.) Religion would produce sober, chastened views of the end of life, of the great design of living; and would take off the affections from the splendour, gaiety, and extravagances which lead often to the contraction of debts, 1 Th 5:6,8; 1 Pe 1:13; 4:7; Tit 2:12; 1 Pe 3:3,5; 1 Ti 2:9.

(5.) Religion would put a period to the vices and unlawful desires which now prompt men to contract debts.

(6.) It would make them honest in paying them. It would make them conscientious, prompt, friends of truth, and disposed to keep their promises.

But to love one another. Love is a debt which can, never be discharged. We should feel that we owe this to all men; and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should feel that it can never be fully met while there is opportunity to do good.

For he that loveth, etc. In what way this is done is stated in Ro 13:10. The law in relation to our neighbour is there said to be simply that we do no ill to him. Love to him would prompt to no injury. It would seek to do him good, and would thus fulfil all the purposes of justice and truth which we owe to him. In order to illustrate this, the apostle, in the next verse, runs over the laws of the ten commandments in relation to our neighbour, and shows that all those laws proceed on the principle that we are to love him, and that love would prompt to them all.

{z} "for he that loveth" Jas 2:8

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 9

Verse 9. For this. This which follows is the sum of the laws. This is to regulate us in our conduct towards our neighbour. The word this here stands opposed to "that" in Ro 13:11. This law of love would prompt us to seek our neighbour's good; that fact, that our salvation is near, would prompt us to be active and faithful in the discharge of all the duties we owe to him.

Thou shalt not commit adultery. All the commands which follow are designed as an illustration of the duty of loving our neighbour. See these commands considered in the Notes on Mt 19:18,19. The apostle has not enumerated all the commands of the second table. He has shown generally what they required. The command to honour our parents he has omitted. The reason might have been, that it was not so immediately to his purpose when discoursing of love to a neighbor —a word which does not immediately suggest the idea of near relatives. The expression, "Thou shalt not bear false witness," is rejected by the best critics as of doubtful authority, but it does not materially affect the spirit of the passage. It is wanting in many Mss., and in the Syriac version.

If there be any other commandment. The law respecting parents; or if there be any duty which does not seem to be specified by these laws, it is implied in the command to love our neighbour as ourselves.

It is briefly comprehended. Greek, It may be reduced to this head; or it is summed up in this.

In this saying. This word, or command.

Thou shalt love, etc. This is found in Le 19:18. See Barnes "Mt 19:19".

If this command were fulfilled, it would prevent all fraud, injustice, oppression, falsehood, adultery, murder, theft, and covetousness. It is the same as our Saviour's golden rule. And if every man would do to others as he would wish them to do to him, all the design of the law would be at once fulfilled.

{a} "Thou shalt not commit adultery" Ex 20:13

{b} "Namely, Thou shalt love" Le 19:18; Mt 22:39,40

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Love worketh no ill, etc. Love would seek to do him good; of course it would prevent all dishonesty and crime towards others. It would prompt to justice, truth, and benevolence. If this law were engraven on every man's heart, and practised in his life, what a change would it immediately produce in society. If all men would at once abandon that which is fitted to work ill to others, what an influence would it have on the business and commercial affairs of men. How many plans of fraud and dishonesty would it at once arrest! How many schemes would it crush! It would silence the voice of the slanderer; it would stay the plans of the seducer and the adulterer; it would put an end to cheating, and fraud, and all schemes of dishonest gain. The gambler desires the property of his neighbour without any compensation, and thus works ill to him. The dealer in lotteries desires property for which he has never toiled, and which must be obtained at the expense and loss of others. And there are many employments all whose tendency is to work ill to a neighbour. This is pre-eminently true of the traffic in ardent spirits. It cannot do him good, and the almost uniform result is to deprive him of his property, health, reputation, peace, and domestic comfort. He that sells his neighbour liquid fire, knowing what must be the result of it, is not pursuing a business which works no ill to him; and love to that neighbour would prompt him to abandon the traffic. See Hab 2:15, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that putteth thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness."

Therefore, etc. Because love does no harm to another, it is therefore the fulfilling of the law: implying that all that the law requires is to love others.

Is the fulfilling. Is the completion, or meets the requirements of the law. The law of God on this head, or in regard to our duty to our neighbour, requires us to do justice towards him, to observe truth, etc. All this will be met by love; and if men truly loved others, all the demands of the law would be satisfied.

Of the law. Of the law of Moses, but particularly the ten commandments.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 11

Verse 11. And that. The word "that" in this place, is connected in signification with the word "this" in Ro 13:9. The meaning may be thus expressed: All the requirements of the law towards our neighbour may be met by two things: one is Ro 13:9,10 by love; the other is Ro 13:11-14 by remembering that we are near to eternity; keeping a deep sense of this truth before the mind. This will prompt to a life of honesty, truth, and peace, and contentment, Ro 13:13. The doctrine in these verses Ro 13:11-14 therefore is, that a deep conviction of the nearness of eternity will prompt to an upright life in the intercourse of man with man.

Knowing the time. Taking a proper estimate of the time. Taking just views of the shortness and the value of time; of the design for which it was given, and of the fact that it is, in regard to us, rapidly coming to a close. And still further considering, that the time in which you live is the time of the gospel, a period of light and truth, when you are particularly called on to lead holy lives, and thus to do justly to all. The previous time had been a period of ignorance and darkness, when oppression, and falsehood, and sin abounded. This, the time of the gospel, when God had made known to men his will that they should be pure.

High time. Greek, "the hour."

To awake, etc. This is a beautiful figure. The dawn of day, the approaching light of the morning, is the time to arouse from slumber. In the darkness of night men sleep. So says the apostle. The world has been sunk in the night of heathenism and sin. At that time it was to be expected that they would sleep the sleep of spiritual death. But now the morning light of the gospel dawns. The Sun of righteousness has arisen. It is time, therefore, for men to cast off the deeds of darkness, and rise to life, and purity, and action. Comp. Ac 17:30,31. The same idea is beautifully presented in 1 Th 5:5-8. The meaning is, "Hitherto we have walked in darkness and in sin. Now we walk in the light of the gospel. We know our duty. We are sure that the God of light is around us, and is a witness of all we do. We are going soon to meet him, and it becomes us to rouse, and to do those deeds, and those only, which will bear the bright shining of the light of truth, and the scrutiny of him who is 'light, and in whom is no darkness at all,'" 1 Jo 1:5.

Sleep. Inactivity; insensibility to the doctrines and duties of religion. Men, by nature, are active only in deeds of wickedness. In regard to religion they are insensible, and the slumbers of night are on their eyelids. Sleep is "the kinsman of death," and it is the emblem of the insensibility and stupidity of sinners. The deeper the ignorance and sin, the greater is this insensibility to spiritual things: and to the duties which we owe to God and man.

For now is our salvation, The word salvation has been here variously interpreted. Some suppose that by it the apostle refers to the personal reign of Christ on the earth. (Tholuck, and the Germans generally.) Others suppose it refers to deliverance from persecutions. Others, to increased light and knowledge of the gospel, so that they could more dearly discern their duty than when they became believers. (Rosenmuller.) It probably, however, has its usual meaning here, denoting that deliverance from sin and danger which awaits Christians in heaven; and is thus equivalent to the expression, "You are advancing nearer to heaven. You are hastening to the world of glory. Daily we are approaching the kingdom of light; and in prospect of that state, we ought to lay aside every sin, and live more and more in preparation for a world of light and glory."

Than when we believed. Than when we began to believe. Every day brings us nearer to a world of perfect light.

{c} "awake out of sleep" 1 Th 4:5-8

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 12

Verse 12. The night. The word night, in the New Testament, is used to denote night literally, (Mt 2:14, etc.;) the starry heavens, (Re 8:12;) and then it denotes a state of ignorance and crime, and is synonymous with the word darkness, as such deeds are committed commonly in the night, 1 Th 5:5. In this place it seems to denote our present imperfect and obscure condition in this world as contrasted with the pure light of heaven. The night, the time of comparative security and sin in which we live even under the gospel, is far gone in relation to us, and the pure splendours of heaven are at hand.

Is far spent. Literally, "is cut off." It is becoming short; it is hastening to a close.

The day. The full splendours and glory of redemption in heaven. Heaven is often thus represented as a place of pure and splendid day, Re 21:23,25; 22:5.

The times of the gospel are represented as times of light, (Isa 60:1,2,19,20, etc.;) but the reference here seems to be rather to the still brighter glory and splendour of heaven, as the place of pure, unclouded, and eternal day.

Is at hand. Is near; or is drawing near. This is true respecting all Christians. The day is near, or the time when they shall be admitted to heaven is not remote. This is the uniform representation of the New Testament, Heb 10:25; 1 Pe 4:7; Jas 5:8; Re 22:20; 1 Th 5:2-6; Php 4:5.

That the apostle did not mean, however, that the end of the world was near, or that the day of judgment would come soon, is clear from his own explanations. See 1 Th 5:2-6. Comp. 2 Th 2.

Let us therefore. As we are about to enter on the glories of that eternal day, we should be pure and holy. The expectation of it will teach us to seek purity; and a pure life alone will fit us to enter there, Heb 12:14.

Cast off. Lay aside, or put away.

The works of darkness. Dark, wicked deeds, such as are specified in the next verse. They are called works of darkness, because darkness in the Scriptures is an emblem of crime, as well as of ignorance, and because such deeds are commonly committed in the night. 1 Th 5:7, "They that be drunken, are drunken in the night." Comp. Joh 3:20; Eph 5:11-13.

Let us put on. Let us clothe ourselves with.

The armour of light. The word armour—(opla)—properly means arms, or instruments of war, including the helmet, sword, shield, etc., Eph 6:11-17. It is used in the New Testament to denote the aids which the Christian has, or the means of defence in his warfare, where he is represented as a soldier contending with his foes, and includes truth, righteousness, faith, hope, etc., as the instruments by which he is to gain his victories. In 2 Co 6:7, it is called "the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left." It is called armour of light, because it is not to accomplish any deeds of darkness or of crime; it is appropriate to one who is pure, and who is seeking a pure and noble object. Christians are represented as the children of light, 1 Th 5:5. Note, Lu 16:8. By the armour of light, therefore, the apostle means those graces which stand opposed to the deeds of darkness, (Ro 13:13;) those graces of faith, hope, humility, etc., which shall be appropriate to those who are the children of the day, and which shall be their defence in their struggles with their spiritual foes. See the description in full in Eph 6:11-17.

{d} "therefore cast off" Eph 5:11

{e} "put on the armour of light" Eph 6:13

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Let us walk. To walk is an expression denoting to live; let us live, or conduct, etc.

Honestly. The word here used means, rather, in a decent or becoming manner; in a manner appropriate to those who are the children of light.

As in the day. As if all our actions were seen and known. Men by day, or in open light, live decently; their foul and wicked deeds are done in the night. The apostle exhorts Christians to live as if all their conduct were seen, and they had nothing which they wished to conceal.

In rioting. Revelling; denoting the licentious conduct, the noisy and obstreperous mirth, the scenes of disorder and sensuality, which attend luxurious living.

Drunkenness. Rioting and drunkenness constitute the first class of sins from which he would keep them. It is scarcely necessary to add, that these were common crimes among the heathen.

In chambering. "Lewd, immodest behaviour." (Webster.) The Greek word includes illicit indulgences of all kinds, adultery, etc. The words chambering and wantonness constitute the second class of crimes from which the apostle exhorts Christians to abstain. That these were common crimes among the heathen it is not necessary to say. See Barnes on Romans chapter 1; also See Barnes "Eph 5:12".

It is not possible, nor would it be proper, to describe the scenes of licentious indulgence of which all pagans are guilty. As Christians were to be a peculiar people, therefore, the apostle enjoins on them purity and holiness of life.

Not in strife. Strife and envying are the third class of sins from which the apostle exhorts them. The word strife means contention, disputes, litigations. The exhortation is, that they should live in peace.

Envying. Greek, Zeal. It denotes any intense, vehement, fervid passion. It is not improperly rendered here by envying. These vices are properly introduced in connexion with the others. They usually accompany each other. Quarrels and contentions come out of scenes of drunkenness and debauchery. But for such scenes there would be little contention, and the world would be comparatively at peace.

{e} "walk honestly" or, "decently"

{f} "not in rioting" Php 4:8; 1 Pe 2:12

{g} "and drunkenness" 1 Pe 4:3

{h} "chambering and wantonness" 1 Co 6:9,10

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 13 - Verse 14

Verse 14. But put ye on. Comp. Ga 3:27. The word rendered "put ye on" is the same as used in Ro 13:12, and is commonly employed in references to clothing or apparel. The phrase to put on a person, which seems a harsh expression in our language, was one not unfrequently used by Greek writers; and means, to imbibe his principles, to imitate his example, to copy his spirit, to become like him. Thus in Dionysius Halicarnassus the expression occurs, "having put on or clothed themselves with Tarquin;" i.e. they imitated the example and morals of Tarquin. So Lucian says, "having put on Pythagoras;" having received him as a teacher and guide. So the Greek writers speak of putting on Plato, Socrates, etc., meaning to take them as instructers, to follow them as disciples. (See Schleusner.) Thus, to put on the Lord Jesus means, to take him as a pattern and guide, to imitate his example, to obey his precepts, to become like him, etc. In all respects the Lord Jesus was unlike what had been specified in the previous verse. He was temperate, chaste, pure, peaceable, and meek; and to put him on was to imitate him in these respects. Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pe 2:22; Isa 53:9; 1 Jo 3:5.

And make not provision. The word provision here is that which is used to denote provident care, or preparation for future wants. It means, that we should not make it an object to gratify our lusts, or study to do this by laying up anything beforehand with reference to this design.

For the flesh. The word flesh is used here evidently to denote the corrupt propensities of the body, or those which he had specified in Ro 13:13.

To fulfil the lusts thereof. With reference to its corrupt desires. The gratification of the flesh was the main object among the Romans. Living in luxury and licentiousness, they made it their great object of study to multiply and prolong the means of licentious indulgence. In respect to this, Christians were to be a separate people, and to show that they were influenced by a higher and purer desire than this grovelling propensity to minister to sensual gratification. It is right, it is a Christian duty, to labour to make provision for all the real wants of life. But the real wants are few; and, with a heart disposed to be pure and temperate, the necessary wants of life are easily satisfied, and the mind may be devoted to higher and purer purposes.

{i} "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" Ga 3:27

{k} "not provision for the flesh" Ga 5:16


THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 1

THE fourteenth chapter is designed to settle some difficult and delicate questions that could not but arise between the Jews and Gentiles respecting food and the observance of particular days, rites, etc. The occasions of these questions were these: The converts to Christianity were from both Jews and Gentiles. There were many Jews in Rome; and it is probable that no small part of the church was composed of them. The New Testament everywhere shows that they were disposed to bind the Gentile converts to their own customs, and to insist on the observance of the peculiar laws of Moses. See Ac 15:1,2, etc.; Ga 2:3,4. The subjects on which questions of this kind would be agitated, were circumcision, days of fasting, the distinction of meats, etc. A part of these only are discussed in this chapter. The views of the apostle in regard to circumcision had been stated in chapters 3 and 4. In this chapter he notices the disputes which would be likely to arise on the following subjects:

(1.) The use of meat—evidently referring to the question whether it was lawful to eat the meat that was offered in sacrifice to idols, Ro 14:2.

(2.) The distinctions and observances of the days of Jewish fastings, etc., Ro 14:5,6.

(3.) The laws observed by the Jews in relation to animals as clean or unclean, Ro 14:14. It is probable that these are mere specimens adduced by the apostle to settle principles of conduct in regard to the Gentiles, and to show to each party how they ought to act in all such questions.

The apostle's design here is to allay all these contentions by producing peace, kindness, charity. This he does by the following considerations, viz.:

(1.) That we have no right to judge another man in this case, for he is the servant of God, Ro 14:3,4.

(2.) That whatever course is taken in these questions, it is done conscientiously, and with a desire to glorify God. In such a case there should be kindness and charity, Ro 14:6, etc.

(3.) That we must stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and give an account there; and that we, therefore, should not usurp the office of judging, Ro 14:10-13.

(4.) That there is really nothing unclean of itself, Ro 14:14.

(5.) That religion consisted in more important matters than such questions, Ro 14:17,18.

(6.) That we should follow after the things of peace, etc., Ro 14:19-23. The principles of this chapter are applicable to all similar cases of difference of opinion about rites and ceremonies, and unessential doctrines of religion; and we shall see that if they were honestly applied, they would settle no small part of the controversies in the religious world.

Verse 1. Him that is weak. The design here is to induce Christians to receive to their fellowship those who had scruples about the propriety of certain things, or that might have peculiar prejudices and feelings as the result of education or former habits of belief. The apostle, therefore, begins by admitting that such an one may be weak, i.e., not fully established, or not with so clear and enlarged views about Christian liberty as others might have.

In the faith. In believing. This does not refer to saving faith in Christ, for he might have that; but to belief in regard to the things which the apostle specifies, or which would come into controversy. Young converts have often a peculiar delicacy or sensitiveness about the lawfulness of many things in relation to which older Christians may be more fully established. To produce peace, there must be kindness, tenderness, and faithful teaching; not denunciation, or harshness, on one side or the other.

Receive ye. Admit to your society or fellowship; receive him kindly, not meet with a cold and harsh repulse. Comp. Ro 15:7.

Not to doubtful disputations. The plain meaning of this is, "Do not admit him to your society for the purpose of debating the matter in an angry and harsh manner; of repelling him by denunciation; and thus, by the natural reaction of such a course, confirming him in his doubts." Or, "do not deal with him in such a manner as shall have a tendency to increase his scruples about meats, days, etc." (Stuart.) The leading idea here—which all Christians should remember—is, that a harsh and angry denunciation of a man in relation to things not morally wrong, but where he may have honest scruples, will only tend to confirm him more and more in his doubts. To denounce and abuse him will be to confirm him. To receive him affectionately, to admit him to fellowship with us, to talk freely and kindly with him, to do him good, will have a far greater tendency to overcome his scruples. In questions which now occur about modes of dress, about measures and means of promoting revivals, and about rites and ceremonies, this is by far the wisest course, if we wish to overcome the scruples of a brother, and to induce him to think as we do.—Greek, "Unto doubts or fluctuations of opinions or reasonings." Various senses have been given to the words, but the above probably expresses the true meaning.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 2

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

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

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

Eateth herbs. Herbs or vegetables only; does not partake of meat at all, for fear of eating that, inadvertently, which had been offered to idols. The Romans abounded in sacrifices to idols; and it would not be easy to be certain that meat which was offered in the market, or on the table of a friend, had not been offered in this manner. To avoid the possibility of partaking of it, even ignorantly, they chose to eat no meat at all. The scruples of the Jews on the subject might have arisen in part from the fact, that sins of ignorance among them subjected them to certain penalties, Le 4:2,3, etc.; Le 5:15; Nu 15:24,27-29.

Josephus says, (Life, % 3,) that in his time there were certain priests of his acquaintance who "supported themselves with figs and nuts." These priests had been sent to Rome to be tried on some charge before Caesar; and it is probable that they abstained from meat because it might have been offered to idols. It is expressly declared of Daniel when in Babylon, that he lived on pulse and water, that he might not "defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank," Da 1:8-16.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Let not him that eateth. That is, he who has no scruples about eating meat, etc., who is not restrained by the law of the Jews respecting the clean and unclean, or by the fact that meat may have been offered to idols.

Despise him. Hold him in contempt, as being unnecessarily scrupulous, etc. The word despise here is happily chosen. The Gentile would be very likely to despise the Jew as being restrained by foolish scruples and mere distinctions in matters of no importance.

Him that eateth not. Him that is restrained by scruples of conscience, and that will eat only vegetables, Ro 14:2. The reference here is doubtless to the Jew.

Judge him. To judge here has the force of condemn. This word also is very happily chosen. The Jew would not be so likely to despise the Gentile for what he did as to judge or condemn him. He would deem it too serious a matter for contempt. He would regard it as a violation of the law of God, and would be likely to assume the right of judging his brother, and pronouncing him guilty. The apostle here has happily met the whole case in all disputes about rites, and dress, and scruples in religious matters that are not essential. One party commonly despises the other as being needlessly and foolishly scrupulous; and the other makes it a matter of conscience, too serious for ridicule and contempt; and a matter, to neglect which is, in their view, deserving of condemnation. The true direction to be given in such a case is, to the one party, not to treat the scruples of the other with derision and contempt, but with tenderness and indulgence. Let him have his way in it. If he can be reasoned out of it, it is well; but to attempt to laugh him out of it is unkind, and will tend only to confirm him in his views. And to the other party it should be said, they have no right to judge or condemn another. If I cannot see that the Bible requires a particular cut to my coat, or makes it my duty to observe a particular festival, he has no right to judge me harshly, or to suppose that I am to be rejected and condemned for it. He has a right to his opinion; and while I do not despise him, he has no right to judge me. This is the foundation of true charity; and if this simple rule had been followed, how much strife, and even bloodshed, would it have spared in the church. Most of the contentions among Christians have been on subjects of this nature. Agreeing substantially in the doctrines of the Bible, they have been split up into sects on subjects just about as important as those which the apostle discusses in this chapter.

For God hath received him. This is the same word that is translated "receive" in Ro 14:1. It means here, that God hath received him kindly; or has acknowledged him as his own friend; or he is a true Christian. These scruples, on the one side or the other, are not inconsistent with true piety; and as God has acknowledged him as his, not-withstanding his opinions on these subjects, so we also ought to recognise him as a Christian brother. Other denominations, though they may differ from us on some subjects, may give evidence that they are recognised by God as his, and where there is this evidence, we should neither despise nor judge them.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Who art thou, etc. That is, who gave you this right to sit in judgment on others? Comp. Lu 12:14. There is reference here particularly to the Jew, who on account of his ancient privileges, and because he had the law of God, would assume the prerogative of judging in the case, and insist on conformity to his own views. See Ac 15. The doctrine of this epistle is, uniformly, that the Jew had no such privilege, but that in regard to Salvation he was on the same level with the Gentile.

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

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

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

Yea, he shall be holden up. This is spoken of the Christian only. In relation to the servant, he might stand or fall, he might be approved or condemned. The master had no power to keep him in a way of obedience, except by the hope of reward, or the fear of punishment. But it was not so in regard to the Christian. The Jew, who was disposed to condemn the Gentile, might say that he admitted the general principle which the apostle had stated about the servant; that it was just what he was saying, that he might fall, and be condemned. But no, says the apostle, this does not follow in relation to the Christian. He shall not fall. God has power to make him stand; to hold him; to keep him from error, and from condemnation, and he shall be holden up.

He shall not be suffered to fall into condemnation, for it is the purpose of God to keep him. Comp. Ps 1:3. This is one of the incidental but striking evidences that the apostle believed that all Christians should be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

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

{l} "Who art thou that" Jas 4:12

{m} "God is able" Isa 40:29

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 5

Verse 5. One man esteemeth. Gr., judgeth, (krinei). The word is here properly translated esteemeth. Comp. Ac 13:46; 16:15. The word originally has the idea of separating, and then discerning, in the act of judging. The expression means, that one would set a higher value on one day than on another, or would regard it as more sacred than others. This was the case with the Jews uniformly, who regarded the days of their festivals, and fasts, and Sabbaths as peculiarly sacred, and who would retain, to no inconsiderable degree, their former views, even after they became converted to Christianity.

Another esteemeth. That is, the Gentile Christian. Not having been brought up amidst the Jewish customs, and not having imbibed their opinions and prejudices, they would not regard these days as having any special sacredness. The appointment of those days had a special reference to the Jews. They were designed to keep them as a separate people, and to prepare the nation for the reality, of which their rites were but the shadow. When the Messiah came, the passover, the feast of tabernacles, and the other peculiar festivals of the Jews, of course vanished; and it is perfectly clear that the apostles never intended to inculcate their observance on the Gentile converts. See this subject discussed in the second chapter of the epistle to the Galatians.

Every day alike. The word "alike" is not in the original, and it may convey an idea which the apostle did not design. The passage means, that he regards every day as consecrated to the Lord, Ro 14:6. The question has been agitated, whether the apostle intends in this to include the Christian Sabbath. Does he mean to say that it is a matter of indifference whether this day be observed, or whether it be devoted to ordinary business or amusements? This is a very important question in regard to the Lord's day. That the apostle did not mean to say that it was a matter of indifference whether it should be kept as holy, or devoted to business or amusement, is plain from the following considerations:

(1.) The discussion had reference only to the peculiar customs of the Jews, to the rites and practices which they would attempt to impose on the Gentiles, and not to any questions which might arise among Christians as Christians. The inquiry pertained to meats, and festival observances among the Jews, and to their scruples about partaking of the food offered to idols, etc.; and there is no more propriety in supposing that the subject of the Lord's day is introduced here than that he advances principles respecting baptism and the Lord's Supper.

(2.) The Lord's day was doubtless observed by all Christians, whether converted from Jews or Gentiles. See 1 Co 16:2; Ac 20:7 Re 1:10. See Barnes "Joh 20:26".

The propriety of observing that day does not appear to have been a matter of controversy. The only inquiry was, whether it was proper to add to that the observance of the Jewish Sabbaths, and days of festivals and fasts.

(3.) It is expressly said, that those who did not regard the day regarded it as not to God, or to honour God, Ro 4:6. They did it as a matter of respect to him and his institutions, to promote his glory, and to advance his kingdom. Was this ever done by those who disregard the Christian Sabbath? Is their design ever to promote his honour, and to advance in the knowledge of him, by neglecting his holy day? Who knows not that the Christian Sabbath has never been neglected or profaned by any design to glorify the Lord Jesus, or to promote his kingdom? It is for purposes of business, gain, war, amusement, dissipation, visiting, crime. Let the heart be filled with a sincere desire to honour the Lord Jesus, and the Christian Sabbath will be reverenced, and devoted to the purposes of piety. And if any man is disposed to plead this passage as an excuse for violating the Sabbath, and devoting it to pleasure or gain, let him quote it, just as it is, i. e., let him neglect the from a conscientious desire to honour Jesus Christ. Unless this is his motive, the passage cannot avail him. But this motive never yet influenced a Sabbath-breaker.

Let every man, etc. That is, subjects of this kind are not to be pressed as matters of conscience. Every man is to examine them for himself, and act accordingly. This direction pertains to the subject under discussion, and not to any other. It does not refer to subjects that were morally wrong, but to ceremonial observances. If the Jew esteemed it wrong to eat meat, he was to abstain from it; if the Gentile esteemed it right, he was to act accordingly. The word "be fully persuaded" denotes the highest conviction—not a matter of opinion or prejudice, but a matter on which the mind is made up by examination. See Ro 4:21; 2 Ti 4:5. This is the general principle on which Christians are called to act in relation to festival days and fasts in the church. If some Christians deem them to be for edification, and suppose that their piety will be promoted by observing the days which commemorate the birth, and death, and temptations of the Lord Jesus, they are not to be reproached or opposed in their celebration. Nor are they to attempt to impose them on others as a matter of conscience, or to reproach others because they do not observe them.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 6

Verse 6. He that regardeth. Greek, Thinketh of; or pays attention to; that is, he that observes it as a festival, or as holy time.

The day. Any of the days under discussion; the days that the Jews kept as religious occasions.

Regardeth it unto the Lord. Regards it as holy, or as set apart to the service of God. He believes that he is required by God to keep it, i.e., that the laws of Moses in regard to such days are binding on him.

He that regardeth not the day. Or who does not observe such distinctions of days as are demanded in the laws of Moses.

To the Lord, etc. That is, he does not believe that God requires such an observance.

He that eateth. The Gentile Christian, who freely eats all kinds of meat, Ro 14:2.

Eateth to the Lord. Because he believes that God does not forbid it; and because he desires, in doing it, to glorify God, 1 Co 10:31. To eat to the Lord, in this case, is to do it believing that such is his will. In all other cases, it is to do it feeling that we receive our food from him; rendering thanks for his goodness, and desirous of being strengthened that we may do his commands.

He giveth God thanks. This is an incidental proof that it is our duty to give God thanks at our meals for our food. It shows that it was the practice of the early Christians, and has the commendation of the apostle. It was also uniformly done by the Jews, and by the Lord Jesus, Mt 14:19; 26:26; Mr 6:41; 14:22; Lu 9:16; 24:30.

To the Lord he eateth not. He abstains from eating because he believes that God requires him to do it, and with a desire to obey and honour him.

And giveth God thanks. That is, the Jew thanked God for the law, and for the favour he had bestowed on him in giving him more light than he had the Gentiles. For this privilege they valued themselves highly, and this feeling, no doubt, the converted Jews would continue to retain; deeming themselves as specially favoured in having a peculiar acquaintance with the law of God.

{1} "regardeth" or "observeth"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 7

Verse 7. For none of us, etc. Whether by nature Jews or Gentiles. In the great principles of religion we are now united. Where there was evidence of a sincere desire to do the will of God there should be charitable feeling, though there was difference of opinion and judgment in many smaller matters. The meaning of the expression is, that no Christian lives to gratify his own inclinations or appetites. He makes it his great aim to do the will of God; to subordinate all his desires to his law and gospel; and though, therefore, one should eat flesh, and should feel at liberty to devote to common employments time that another deemed sacred, yet it should not be uncharitably set down as a desire to indulge his sensual appetites, or to become rich. Another motive may be supposed, and where there is not positive proof to the contrary, should be supposed. See the beautiful illustration of this in 1 Co 13:4-8. To live to ourselves is to make it the great object to become rich or honoured, or to indulge in the ease, comfort, and pleasures of life. These are the aim of all men but Christians; and in nothing else do Christians more differ from the world than in this. See 1 Pe 4:1,2; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19,20; Mt 10:38; Mt 16:24; Mr 8:34; 10:21; Lu 9:23.

On no point does it become Christians more to examine themselves than on this.

To live to ourselves is an evidence that we are strangers to piety. And if it be the great motive of our lives to live at ease, (Am 6:1)—to gratify the flesh, to gain property, or to be distinguished in places of fashion and amusement—it is evidence that we know nothing of the power of that gospel which teaches us to deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily.

No man. No one, the same Greek word (oudeiv) which is used in the former part of the verse. The word is used only in reference to Christians here, and makes no affirmation about other men.

Dieth to himself. See Ro 4:8. This expression is used to denote the universality or the totality with which Christians belong to God. Everything is done and suffered with reference to his will. In our conduct, in our property, in our trials, in our death, we are his; to be disposed of as he shall please. In the grave, and in the future world, we shall be equally his. As this is the great principle on which all Christians live and act, we should be kind and tender towards them, though in some respects they differ from us.

{o} "none of use" 1 Pe 4:2

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 8

Verse 8. For whether we live. As long as we live.

We live unto the Lord. We live to do his will, and to promote his glory. This is the grand purpose of the life of the Christian. Other men live to gratify themselves; the Christian to do those things which the Lord requires. By the Lord here the apostle evidently intends the Lord Jesus, as it is evident from Ro 14:9; and the truth taught here is, that it is the leading and grand purpose of the Christian to do honour to the Saviour. It is this which constitutes his peculiar character, and which distinguishes him from other men.

Whether we die. In the dying state, or in the state of the dead; in the future world. We are nowhere our own. In all conditions we are his, and bound to do his will. The connexion of this declaration with the argument is this:—Since we belong to another in every state, and are bound to do his will, we have no right to assume the prerogative of sitting in judgment on another. We are subjects, and are bound to do the will of Christ. All other Christians are subjects in like manner, and are answerable, not to us, but directly to the Lord Jesus, and should have the same liberty of conscience that we have. The passage proves also that the soul does not cease to be conscious at death. We are still the Lord's; his even when the body is in the grave; and his in all the future world. See Ro 14:9.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 9

Verse 9. For to this end. For this purpose or design. The apostle does not say that this was the only design of his death, but that it was a main purpose, or an object which he had distinctly in view. This declaration is introduced in order to confirm what he had said in the previous verse, that in all circumstances we are the Lord's. This he shows by the fact that Jesus died in order that we might be his,

And rose. This expression is rejected by most modern critics. It is wanting in many manuscripts, and has been probably introduced in the text from the margin.

And revived. There is also a variation in the Greek in this place, but not so great as to change the sense materially. It refers to his resurrection, and means that he was restored to life in order that he might exercise dominion over the dead and the living.

That he might be Lord. Greek, That he might rule over. The Greek word used here implies the idea of his being proprietor or owner, as well as ruler. It means, that he might exercise entire dominion over all, as the sovereign Lawgiver and Lord.

Both of the dead. That is, of those who are deceased, or who have gone to another state of existence. This passage proves that those who die are not annihilated; that they do not cease to be conscious; and that they still are under the dominion of the Mediator. Though their bodies moulder in the grave, yet the spirit lives, and is under his control. And though the body dies and returns to its native dust, yet the Lord Jesus is still its Sovereign, and shall raise it up again.

"God our Redeemer lives;
And often from the skies
Looks down and watches all our dust,
Till he shall bid it rise."

It gives an additional sacredness to the grave when we reflect that the tomb is under the watchful care of the Redeemer. Safe in his hands, the body may sink to its native dust with the assurance that in his own time he will again call it forth, with renovated and immortal powers, to be for ever subject to his will. With this view, we can leave our friends with confidence in his hands when they die, and yield our own bodies cheerfully to the dust when he shall call our spirits hence. But it is not only over the body that his dominion is established. This passage proves that the departed souls of the saints are still subject to him. Comp. Mt 22:32; Mr 12:27. He not only has dominion over those spirits, but he is their Protector and Lord. They are safe under his universal dominion. And it does much to alleviate the pains of separation from pious, beloved friends, to reflect that they depart still to love and serve the same Saviour in perfect purity, and unvexed by infirmity and sin. Why should we wish to recall them from his perfect love in the heavens to the poor and imperfect service which they would render if in the land of the living?

And living. To the redeemed, while they remain in this life. He died to purchase them to himself, that they might become his obedient subjects; and they are bound to yield obedience by all the sacredness and value of the price which he paid, even his own precious blood. Comp. 1 Co 6:20, "For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's;" Ro 7:23; Re 14:4, (Greek, bought;) 1 Pe 2:9, (Greek, purchased.) If it be asked how this dominion over the dead and the living is connected with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we may reply,

(1.) that it is secured over Christians from the fact that they are purchased or ransomed by his precious blood; and that they are bound by this sacred consideration to live to him. This obligation every Christian feels, (1 Pe 1:18) and its force is continually resting on him. It was by the love of Christ that he was ever brought to love God at all; and his deepest and tenderest obligations to live to him arise from this source, 2 Co 5:14,15

(2.) Jesus, by his death and resurrection, established a dominion over the grave. He destroyed him that had the power of death, (Heb 2:14) and triumphed over him, Col 2:15. Satan is a humbled foe; and his sceptre over the grave is wrested from his hands. When Jesus rose, in spite of all the power of Satan and of men, he burst the bands of death, and made an invasion on the dominions of the dead, and showed that he had power to control all.

(3.) This dominion of the Lord Jesus is felt by the spirits on high. They are subject to him because he redeemed them, Re 5:9.

(4.) It is often revealed in the Scriptures that dominion was to be given to the Lord Jesus as the reward of his sufferings and death. See Barnes "Joh 17:2" also Joh 17:4,5; 5:26-29; Php 2:5-11; Eph 1:20,21; Heb 2:9,10; 12:2.

The extent of his dominion as Mediator is affirmed, in this place, only to be over the dead and the living; that is, over the human race. Other passages of the Scripture, however, seem to imply that it extends over all worlds.

{p} "For to this end" Php 2:9-11.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 10

Verse 10. But why, etc. Since we are all subjects and servants alike, and must all stand at the same tribunal, what right have we to sit in judgment on others?

Thou judge. Thou who art a Jewish convert, why dost thou attempt to arraign the Gentile disciple, as if he had violated a law of God? Comp. Ro 14:3.

Thy brother. God has recognised him as his friend, (Ro 14:3,) and he should be regarded by thee as a brother in the same family.

Or why dost thou set at nought. Despise, (Ro 14:3) why dost thou, who art a Gentile convert, despise the Jewish disciple as being unnecessarily scrupulous and superstitious?

Thy brother. The Jewish convert is now a brother; and all the contempt which you Gentiles once cherished for the Jew should cease, from the fact that he is now a Christian. Nothing will do so much, on the one hand, to prevent a censorious disposition, and, on the other, to prevent contempt for those who are in a different rank in life, as to remember that they are Christians, bought with the same blood, and going to the same heaven as ourselves.

We shall all stand, etc. That is, we must all be tried alike at the same tribunal; we must answer for our conduct, not to our fellow-men, but to Christ; and it does not become us to sit in judgment on each other.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 11

Verse 11. For it is written. This passage is recorded in Isa 45:23. It is not quoted literally, but the sense is preserved. In Isaiah there can be no doubt that it refers to Jehovah. The speaker expressly calls himself JEHOVAH, the name which is appropriate to God alone, and which is never applied to a creature, Isa 45:18,21, Isa 45:24,25. In the place before us, the words are applied by Paul expressly to Christ. Comp. Ro 14:10. This mode of quotation is a strong incidental proof that the apostle regarded the Lord Jesus as Divine. On no other principle could he have made these quotations.

As I live. The Hebrew is, "I have sworn by myself." One expression is equivalent to the other. An oath of God is often expressed by the phrase "as I live," Nu 14:21; Isa 49:18; Eze 5:11; 14:16, etc.

Saith the Lord. These words are not in the Hebrew text, but are added by the apostle to show that the passage quoted was spoken by the Lord, the Messiah. Comp. Isa 45:18,22.

Every knee shall bow to me. To bow the knee is an act expressing homage, submission, or adoration. It means, that every person shall acknowledge him as God, and admit his right to universal dominion. The passage in Isaiah refers particularly to the homage which his own people should render to him; or rather, means that all who are saved shall acknowledge him as their God and Saviour. The original reference was not to all men, but only to those who should be saved, Isa 45:17,21,22,24.

In this sense the apostle uses it; not as denoting that all men should confess to God, but that all Christians, whether Jewish or Gentile converts, should alike give account to him. They should all bow before their common God, and acknowledge his dominion over them. The passage originally did not refer particularly to the day of judgment, but expressed the truth that all believers should acknowledge his dominion. It is as applicable, however, to the judgment, as to any other act of homage which his people will render.

Every tongue shall confess to God. In the Hebrew, "Every tongue shall swear." Not swear by God, but to him; that is, pay to him our vows, or answer to him on oath for our conduct; and this is the same as confessing to him, or acknowledging him as our Judge.

{q} "As I live" Isa 14:23.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 12

Verse 12. So then. Wherefore; or according to the doctrine of the Old Testament.

Every one of us. That is, every Christian; for the connexion requires us to understand the argument only of Christians. At the same time it is a truth abundantly revealed elsewhere, that all men shall give account of their conduct to God, 2 Co 5:10; Mt 25; Ec 12:14.

Give account of himself". That is, of his character and conduct; his words and actions; his plans and purposes. In the fearful arraignment of that day, every work and purpose shall be brought forth, and tried by the unerring standard of justice. As we shall be called to so fearful an account with God, we should not be engaged in condemning our brethren, but should examine whether we are prepared to give up our account with joy, and not with grief.

To God. The judgment will be conducted by the Lord Jesus, Mt 25:31-46; Ac 17:31. All judgment is committed to the Son, Joh 5:22,27. Still we may be said to give account to God,

(1.) because he appointed the Messiah to be the Judge, (Ac 17:31) and,

(2.) because the Judge himself is Divine. The Lord Jesus being God as well as man, the account will be rendered directly to the Creator as well as the Redeemer of the world. In this passage there are two incidental proofs of the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, the fact that the apostle applies to him language which in the prophecy is expressly spoken by Jehovah; and, secondly, the fact that Jesus is declared to be the Judge of all. No being that is not omniscient can be qualified to judge the secrets of all men. None who has not seen human purposes at all times, and in all places; who has not been a witness of the conduct by day and by night; who has not been present with all the race at all times; and who, in the great day, cannot discern the true character of the soul, can be qualified to conduct the general judgment. Yet none can possess these qualifications but God. The Lord Jesus, "the Judge of quick and dead," (2 Ti 4:1,) is therefore Divine.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Let us not therefore judge, etc. Since we are to give account of ourselves at the same tribunal; since we must be there on the same level, let us not suppose that we have a right here to sit in judgment on our fellow-Christians.

But judge this rather. If disposed to judge, let us be employed in a better kind of judging; let us come to a determination not to injure the cause of Christ. This is an instance of the happy turn which the apostle would give to a discussion. Some men have an irresistible propensity to sit in judgment, to pronounce opinions. Let them make good use of that. It will be well to exercise it on that which can do no injury, and which may turn to good account. Instead of forming a judgment about others, let the man form a determination about his own conduct.

That no man, etc. A stumbling-block literally means anything laid in a man's path, over which he may fail. In the Scriptures, however, the word is used commonly in a figurative sense, to denote anything which shall cause him to sin, as sin is often represented by falling. See Barnes "Mt 5:29".

And the passage means, that we should resolve to act so as not by any means to be the occasion of leading our brethren into sin, either by our example, or by a severe and harsh judgment, provoking them to anger, or exciting jealousies, and envyings, and suspicions. No better rule than this could be given to promote peace. If every Christian, instead of judging his brethren severely, would resolve that he would so live as to promote peace, and so as not to lead others into sin, it would tend more, perhaps, than any other thing to advance the harmony and purity of the church of Christ.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 14

Verse 14. I know. This is an admission made to the Gentile convert, who believed that it was lawful to partake of food of every kind. This the apostle concedes; and says he is fully apprized of this. But though he knew this, yet he goes on to say, (Ro 14:15) that it would be well to regard the conscientious scruples of others on the subject. It may be remarked here, that the apostle Paul had formerly quite as many scruples as any of his brethren had then. But his views had been changed.

And am persuaded. Am convinced.

By the Lord Jesus. This does not mean by any personal instruction received from the Lord Jesus; but by all the knowledge which he had received, by inspiration, of the nature of the Christian religion. The gospel of Jesus had taught him that the rites of the Mosaic economy had been abolished, and among those rites were the rules respecting clean and unclean beasts, etc.

There is nothing unclean. Greek, common. This word was used by the Jews to denote that which was unclean, because, in their apprehension, whatever was partaken by the multitude, or all men, must be impure. Hence the words common and impure are often used as expressing the same thing. It denotes that which was forbidden by the laws of Moses.

To him that esteemeth, etc. He makes it a matter of conscience. He regards certain meats as forbidden by God; and while he so regards them, it would be wrong for him to partake of them. Man may be in error, but it would not be proper for him to act in violation of what he supposes God requires.

{1} "common" or, "unclean"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 15

Verse 15. But if thy brother, etc. This address is to the Gentile convert. In the previous verse, Paul admitted that the prejudice of the Jew was not well founded. But, admitting that, still the question was how he should be treated while he had that prejudice. The apostle here shows the Gentile that he ought not so to act as necessarily to wound his feelings, or to grieve him.

Be grieved. Be pained; as a conscientious man always is, when he sees another, and especially a Christian brother, do anything which he esteems to be wrong. The pain would be real, though the opinion from which it arose might not be well founded.

With thy meat. Greek, On account of meat, or food; that is, because you eat that which he regards as unclean.

Now walkest. To walk, in the sacred Scriptures, often denotes to act, or to do a thing, Mr 7:5; Ac 21:21; Ro 6:4; 8:1,4.

Here it means, that if the Gentile convert persevered in the use of such food, notwithstanding the conscientious scruples of the Jew, he violated the law of love.

Charitably. Greek, According to charity, or love; that is, he would violate that law which required him to sacrifice his own comfort to promote the happiness of his brother, 1 Co 13:5; 10:24,28,29; Php 2:4,21.

Destroy not him. The word destroy here refers, doubtless, to the ruin of the soul in hell. It properly denotes ruin or destruction, and is applied to the ruin or corruption of various things, in the New Testament. To life, (Mt 10:39) to a reward, in the sense of losing it, (Mr 9:41; Lu 15:4) to food, (Joh 6:27) to the Israelites represented as lost or wandering, (Mt 10:6) to wisdom that is rendered vain,

(1.) 1 Co 1:19) to bottles rendered useless, (Mt 9:17) etc. But it is also frequently applied to destruction in hell, to the everlasting ruin of the soul. Mt 10:28, "Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Mt 18:14; Joh 3:15; Ro 2:12.

That this is its meaning here is apparent from the parallel place in 1 Co 8:11, "And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish?" If it be asked how the eating of meat by the Gentile convert could be connected with the perdition of the Jew, I reply, that the apostle supposes that in this way an occasion of stumbling would be afforded to him, and he would come into condemnation. He might be led by example to partake against his own conscience, or he might be excited to anger, disgust, and apostasy from the Christian faith. Though the apostle believed that all who were true Christians would be saved, Ro 8:30-39, yet he believed that it would be brought about by the use of means, and that nothing should be done that would tend to hinder or endanger their salvation, Heb 6:4-9; 2:1. God does not bring his people to heaven without the use of means adapted to the end; and one of those means is that employed here to warn professing Christians against such conduct as might jeopard the salvation of their brethren. For whom Christ died. The apostle speaks here of the possibility of endangering the salvation of those for whom Christ died, just as he does respecting the salvation of those who are in fact Christians. By those for whom Christ died, he undoubtedly refers here to true Christians, for the whole discussion relates to them, and them only. Comp. Ro 14:3,4,7,8.

This passage should not be brought, therefore, to prove that Christ died for all men, or for any who shall finally perish. Such a doctrine is undoubtedly true, (comp. 2 Co 5:14,15; 1 Jo 2:2; 2 Pe 2:1,) but it is not the truth which is taught here. The design is to show the criminality of a course that would tend to the ruin of a brother. For these weak brethren, Christ laid down his precious life. He loved them; and shall we, to gratify our appetites, pursue a course which will tend to defeat the work of Christ, and ruin the souls redeemed by his blood?

{2} "charitably" or "according to charity"

{r} "destroy not him" 1 Co 8:11

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Let not then your good, etc. That which you esteem to be right, and which may be right in itself. You are not bound by the ceremonial law. You are free from the yoke of bondage. This freedom you esteem to be a good—a favour—a high privilege. And so it is; but you should not make such a use of it as to do injury to others.

Be evil spoken of. Greek, Be blasphemed. Do not so use your Christian liberty as to give occasion for railing and unkind remarks from your brethren, so as to produce contention and strife, and thus to give rise to evil reports among the wicked about the tendency of the Christian religion, as if it were adapted only to promote controversy. How much strife would have been avoided if all Christians had regarded this plain rule. In relation to dress, and rites, and ceremonies in the church, we may be conscious that we are right; but an obstinate adherence to them may only give rise to contention and angry discussion, and to evil reports among men, of the tendency of religion. In such a case we should yield our private, unimportant, personal indulgence to the good of the cause of religion and of peace.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 17

Verse 17. For the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

Here it means, that the peculiarities of the kingdom of God, or of the church of Christ on earth, do not consist in observing the distinctions between meats and drinks. It was true that by these things the Jews had been particularly characterized, but the Christian church was to be distinguished in a different manner.

Is not. Does not consist in. or is not distinguished by.

Meat and drink. In observing distinctions between different kinds of food, or making such observances a matter of conscience, as the Jews did. Moses did not prescribe any particular drink, or prohibit any; but the Nazarites abstained from wine, and all kinds of strong liquors; and it is not improbable that the Jews had invented some distinctions on this subject which they judged to be of importance. Hence it is said in Col 2:16, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink." Comp. 1 Co 8:8; 4:20.

But righteousness. This word here means virtue, integrity, a faithful discharge of all the duties which we owe to God or to our fellow-men. It means, that the Christian must so live as to be appropriately denominated a righteous man, and not a man whose whole attention is absorbed by the mere ceremonies and outward forms of religion. To produce this, we are told, was the main design and the principal teaching of the gospel, Tit 2:12. Comp. Ro 8:13; 1 Pe 2:11. Thus it is said, (1 Jo 2:2) "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God;" 1 Jo 3:10, "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." Comp. 1 Jo 3:7; 1 Co 15:34; 2 Co 3:9; 2 Co 6:7,14; Eph 5:9; 6:14; 1 Ti 6:11; 1 Pe 2:24; Eph 4:24.

He that is a righteous man, whose characteristic it is to lead a holy life, is a Christian. If his great aim is to do the will of God, and if he seeks to discharge with fidelity all his duties to God and man, he is renewed. On that righteousness he will not depend for salvation, (Php 3:8,9) but he will regard this character and this disposition as evidence that he is a Christian, and that the Lord Jesus is made unto him "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," 1 Co 1:30.

And peace. This word, in this place, does not refer to the internal peace and happiness which the Christian has in his own mind, (comp. See Barnes "Ro 5:1") but to peace or concord in opposition to contention among brethren. The tendency and design of the kingdom of God is to produce concord and love, and to put an end to alienation and strife. Even though, therefore, there might be ground for the opinions which some cherished in regard to rites, yet it was of more importance to maintain peace than obstinately to press those matters at the expense of strife and contention. That the tendency of the gospel is to promote peace, and to induce men to lay aside all causes of contention and bitter strife, is apparent from the following passages of the New Testament: 1 Co 7:15; 14:33; Ga 5:22; Eph 4:3; 1 Th 5:13; 2 Ti 2:22; Jas 3:18; Mt 5:9; Eph 4:31,32; Col 3:8; Joh 13:34,35; 17:21-23.

This is the second evidence of piety on which Christians should examine their hearts—a disposition to promote the peace of Jerusalem, Ps 122:6; 37:11. A contentious, quarrelsome spirit; a disposition to magnify trifles; to make the shibboleth of party an occasion of alienation, and heart-burning, and discord; to sow dissensions on account of unimportant points of doctrine or of discipline, is full proof that there is no attachment to Him who is the Prince of Peace. Such a disposition does infinite dishonour to the cause of religion, and perhaps has done more to retard its progress than all other causes put together. Contentions commonly arise from some small matter in doctrine, in dress, in ceremonies; and often the smaller the matter the more fierce the controversy, till the spirit of religion disappears, and desolation comes over the face of Zion.

"the Spirit, like a peaceful dove,
Flies from the reahns of noise and strife."

And joy. This refers, doubtless, to the personal happiness produced in the mind by the influence of the gospel. See Barnes "Ro 5:1" also Ro 5:2-5.

In the Holy Ghost. Produced by the Holy Ghost, Ro 5:5. Comp. Ga 5:22,23.

{s} "the kingdom of God" Mt 6:33

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 18

Verse 18. In these things. In righteousness, peace, and joy.

Serveth Christ. Or obeys Christ, who has commanded them. He receives Christ as his Master or Teacher, and does his will in regard to them. To do these things is to do honour to Christ, and to show the excellency of his religion.

Is acceptable to God. Whether he be converted from the Jews or the Gentiles.

And approved of men. That is, men will approve of such conduct; they will esteem it to be right, and to be in accordance with the spirit of Christianity. He does not say that the wicked world will love such a life, but it will commend itself to them as such a life as men ought to lead.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Let us therefore follow, etc. The object of this verse is to persuade the church at Rome to lay aside theft causes of contention, and to live in harmony. This exhortation is founded on the considerations which the apostle had presented, and may be regarded as the conclusion to which the argument had conducted him.

The things which make for peace. The high purposes and objects of the Christian religion, and not those smaller matters which produce strife. If men aim at the great objects proposed by the Christian religion, they will live in peace. If they seek to promote theft private ends, to follow their own passions and prejudices, they will be involved in strife and contention. There are great common objects before all Christians in which they can unite, and in the pursuit of which they will cultivate a spirit of peace. Let them all strive for holiness; let them seek to spread the gospel; let them engage in circulating the Bible, or in doing good in any way to others, and their smaller matters of difference will sink into comparative unimportance, and they will unite in one grand purpose of saving the world. Christians have more things in which they agree than in which they differ. The points on which they are agreed are of infinite importance; the points on which they differ are commonly some minor matters in which they may "agree to differ," and still cherish love for all who bear the image of Christ.

And things wherewith, etc. That is, those things by which we may render aid to our brethren; the doctrines, exhortations, counsels, and other helps which may benefit them in their Christian life.

May edify. The word edify means, properly, to build, as a house; then to rebuild or reconstruct; then to adorn or ornament; then to do anything that will confer favour or advantage, or which will further an object. Applied to the church, it means, to do anything by teaching, counsel, advice, etc., which will tend to promote its great object; to aid Christians, to enable them to surmount difficulties, to remove theft ignorance, etc., Ac 9:31; 1 Co 8:1; 14:4. In these expressions the idea of a building is retained, reared on a firm, tried corner-stone the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 2:20; Isa 28:16. Comp. Ro 9:33. Christians are thus regarded, according to Paul's noble idea, (Eph 2:20-22,) as one great temple erected for the glory of God, having no separate interest, but as united for one object, and therefore bound to do all that is possible that each other may be fitted to their appropriate place, and perform their appropriate function in perfecting and adorning this temple of God.

{w} "Let us therefore follow" Ps 34:14; Heb 12:14

{x} "things wherewith one edify" 1 Co 14:12

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 20

Verse 20. For meat. By your obstinate, pertinacious attachment to your own opinions about the distinctions of meats and drinks, do not pursue such a course as to lead a brother into sin, and ruin his soul. Here is a new argument presented why Christians should pursue a course of charity—that the opposite would tend to the ruin of the brother's soul.

Destroy not. The word here is that which properly is applied to pulling down an edifice; and the apostle continues the figure which he used in the previous verse. Do not pull down or destroy the temple which God is rearing.

The work of God. The work of God is that which God does, and here especially refers to his work in rearing his church. The Christian is regarded peculiarly as the work of God, as God renews his heart, and makes him what he is. Hence he is called God's "building," (1 Co 3:9) and his "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," (Eph 2:10) and is denominated "a new creature," 2 Co 5:17. The meaning is, "Do not so conduct yourself, in regard to the distinction of meats into clean and unclean, as to cause your brother to sin, and to impair or ruin the work of religion which God is carrying on in his soul." The expression does not refer to man as being the work of God, but to the piety of the Christian; to that which God, by his Spirit, is producing in the heart of the believer.

All things indeed are pure. Comp. Ro 14:14. This is a concession to those whom he was exhorting to peace. All things under the Christian dispensation are lawful to be eaten. The distinctions of the Levitical law are not binding on Christians.

But it is evil. Though pure in itself, yet it may become an occasion of sin, if another is grieved by it. It is evil to the man who pursues a course that will give offence to a brother; that will pain him, or tend to drive him off from the church, or lead him away into sin.

With offence. So as to offend a brother, such as he esteems to be sin, and by which he will be grieved.

{y} "are pure; but it is" Tit 1:15

{z} "evil for that man" 1 Co 8:10-13

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 21

Verse 21. It is good. It is right; or it is better. This verse is an explanation or enlarged specification of the meaning of the former.

To eat flesh. That is, such flesh as the Jewish convert regarded as unclean, Ro 14:2.

Nor to drink wine. Wine was a common drink among the Jews, and usually esteemed lawful. But the Nazarites were not allowed to drink it, (Nu 6:3) and the Rechabites (Jer 35) drank no wine; and it is possible that some of the early converts regarded it as unlawful for Christians to drink it. Wine was, moreover, used in libations in heathen worship, and perhaps the Jewish converts might be scrupulous about its use from this cause. The caution here shows us what should be done now in regard to the use of wine. It may not be possible to prove that wine is absolutely unlawful, but still many friends of temperance regard it as such, and are grieved at its use. They esteem the habit of using it as tending to intemperance, and as encouraging those who cannot afford expensive liquors. Besides, the wines which are now used are different from those which were common among the ancients. That was the pure juice of the grape. That which is now in common use is mingled with alcohol, and with other intoxicating ingredients. Little or none of the wine which comes to this country is pure. And in this state of the case, does not the command of the apostle here require the friends of temperance to abstain even from the use of wine?

Nor any thing. Any article of food or drink, or any course of conduct. So valuable is peace, and so desirable is it not to offend a brother, that we should rather deny ourselves to any extent, than be the occasion of offences and scandals in the church.

Stumbleth. For the difference between this word and the word offended, See Barnes "Ro 11:11".

It means here that, by eating, a Jewish convert might be led to eat also, contrary to his own conviction of what was right, and thus be led into sin.

Or is made weak. That is, shaken, or rendered less stable in his opinion or conduct. By being led to imitate the Gentile convert, he would become less firm and established; he would violate his own conscience; his course would be attended with regrets and with doubts about its propriety, and thus he would be made weak. In this verse we have an eminent instance of the charity of the apostle, and of his spirit of concession and kindness. If this were regarded by all Christians, it would save no small amount of strife, and heart-burnings, and contention. Let a man begin to act on the principle that peace is to be promoted, that other Christians are not to be offended, and what a change would it at once produce in the churches, and what an influence would it exert over the life!

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Hast thou faith! The word faith here refers only to the subject under discussion—to the subject of meats, drinks, etc. Do you believe that it is right to eat all kinds of food? etc. The apostle had admitted that this was the true doctrine; but he maintains that it should be so held as not to give offence.

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

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

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

Condemneth not himself. Whose conscience does not reprove him.

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

{a} "Happy is he that condemneth" 1 Jo 3:21

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 23

Verse 23. He that doubteth, he that is not fully satisfied in his mind; who does not do it with a clear conscience. The margin has it rendered correctly, "He that discerneth and putteth a difference between meats." He that conscientiously believes, as the Jew did, that the Levitical law respecting the difference between meats was binding on Christians.

Is damned. We apply this word almost exclusively to the future punishment of the wicked in hell. But it is of importance to remember, in reading the Bible, that this is not of necessity its meaning. It means, properly, to condemn; and here it means only that the person who should thus violate the dictates of his conscience would incur guilt, and would be blameworthy in doing it. But it does not affirm that he would inevitably sink to hell. The same construction is to be put on the expression in 1 Co 11:29, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."

For whatsoever, etc. Whatever is not done with a full conviction that it is right, is sinful; whatever is done when a man doubts whether it is right, is sin. This is evidently the fair interpretation of this place. Such the connexion requires. It does not affirm that all or any of the actions of impenitent and unbelieving men are sinful, which is true, but not the truth taught here; nor does it affirm that all acts which are not performed by those who have faith in the Lord Jesus are sinful; but the discussion pertains to Christians; and the whole scope of the passage requires us to understand the apostle as simply saying that a man should not do a thing doubting its correctness; that he should have a strong conviction that what he does is right; and that if he has not this conviction, it is sinful. The rule is of universal application. In all cases, if a man does a thing which he does not believe to be right, it is a sin, and his conscience will condemn him for it. It may be proper, however, to observe, that the converse of this is not always true, that if a man believes a thing to be right, that therefore it is not sin. For many of the persecutors were conscientious, (Joh 16:2; Ac 26:9) and the murderers of the Son of God did it ignorantly, (Ac 3:17; 1 Co 2:8) and yet were adjudged as guilty of enormous crimes. Comp. Lu 11:50,51; Ac 2:23,37.

In this chapter we have a remarkably fine discussion of the nature of Christian charity. Differences of opinion will arise, and men will be divided into various sects; but if the rules which are laid down in this chapter were followed, the contentions, and altercations, and strifes among Christians would cease. Had these rules been applied to the controversies about rites, and forms, and festivals, that have arisen, peace might have been preserved. Amid all such differences, the great question is, whether there is true love to the Lord Jesus. If there is, the apostle teaches us that we have no right to judge a brother, or despise him, or contend harshly with him. Our object should be to promote peace, to aid him in his efforts to become holy, and to seek to build him up in holy faith.

{1} "doubteth is damned" or, "discerneth and putteth a difference"

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