Romans

14:13-23

Exhortations 12:1-15:13

ii] The weak and the strong, 14:1-15:13

b) Pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding

Argument

Having called for Christian toleration, v1-12, Paul now directly addresses the "strong" believers and calls for Christian considerateness, v13-23. Paul denounces the insensitivity of the "strong" in their behavior toward the "weak". Riding roughshod over the minutia of the law (possibly the Mosaic law in general) is highly offensive to a person trained in the legalistic observance of the Mosaic law. Such behavior only forces the "weak" to rely more on law-obedience than faith. To undermine the faith of a brother brings upon us the condemnation of God.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 14:1-12.

 

ii] Background: See 14:1-12.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, instructing "the strong" to consider "the weak", presents as follows:

Indifference toward the sensibilities of others, v13-23:

Instruction, v13:

Do not undermine the faith of a pious brother by insensitive behavior.

Principle, v14:

Nothing is unclean in itself, expect for the person who regards it as unclean.

Explanation, v16-18:

Unloving, v15;

Undermines the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, v16;

Antithetical to the realization of the kingdom of God, v17-18.

Application, v19-21:

Pursue peace and edification rather than undermine another's faith.

Conclusion, v22-23:

Blessed is the person who does not insist on their liberty at the expense of another.

 

There is much to commend the view that v13a, "therefore stop judging", concludes the exhortation for the argument developed in v1-12, while "don't put stumbling blocks in your brother's way" introduces the argument developed in v14-21.

 

iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.

 

v] Interpretation:

With an eye to the Lord's instruction on creating temptations to sin / "stumbling blocks", cf. Mk.9:42, Paul warns his readers against taking on this role and so undermining the faith of a brother or sister. Getting to the heart of the matter, Paul affirms the Lord's teaching on unclean foods, but with a qualification, cf. Mk.7:14-23. With reference to Levitical food laws, Jesus teaches that nothing is unclean in itself, yet Paul points out that for a believer who gives weight to these instructions, unclean foods are unclean and so, out of Christian love, their piety needs to be respected. For "the strong", those who have found freedom in Christ, by grace through faith, to act insensitively toward "the weak", law-bound believers, can only sully the doctrine of God's free grace through faith in the eyes of "the weak." Membership in God's new community, the kingdom of God, is not about matters of form, but is about new life in the Spirit. Such is pleasing to God.

Our behavior impacts on our brothers and sisters and so therefore we should act in a way that achieves peace and mutual upbuilding. Given Jesus' teaching on unclean foods, we know that everything is clean in itself, but that doesn't mean that we can exercise our Christian freedom at the expense of another. It is far better to abstain from some food that offends a brother or sister than to eat and so undermine their faith.

So, a believer who, through faith, has found freedom in the grace of God, should keep that freedom to themselves and God rather than flaunt it before a brother or sister who is yet to experience the fullness of the freedom they possess in Christ. To goad a law-bound believer ("the weak") into acting against their conscience is unconscionable because it may well reinforce their reliance on the law. A person is fortunate when they don't bring God's judgment upon themselves by insisting on their own freedom at the expense of a weaker brother or sister's faith.

 

vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 14:13

Let the strong consider the weak, v13-23; i] Indifference toward the sensibilities of others may serve to undermine their faith, v13-18. The "strong" (free-from-the-law believers) are not to be insensitive in their dealings with the "weak" (law-bound believers).

oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. Given that we must all give account of our life, "let us therefore ......"

krinwmen (krinw) pres. subj. "let us [stop] judging" - [no longer] let us judge [one another]. Hortatory subjunctive, the present tense being durative, expressing continuing activity - no longer continue to pass judgment. Often understood in the sense of "mutual recriminations" between the "weak" and the "strong", although it is more likely that Paul has the "strong" in mind. The sense of "judge" has to be determined within the context of v1-13. "Mutual recriminations" seems unlikely. The likely situation that Paul is addressing is an uncaring, insensitive, critical assessment of the "weak" by the "strong". The "weak" are being viewed as unspiritual legalists who rightly deserve to be disparaged and given little consideration within the Christian fellowship. Such an attitude prompts a willingness to hoe into a pork spare-rib at the church barbecue in front of a kosher believer. "Therefore, let us banish insensitivity from amongst us."

alla "instead" - but [rather judge this]. Adversative. We should not "judge" one another, but we should critically assess ourselves on the issue of tripping up a brother and determine not to do it.

to mh tiqenai (tiqhmi) pres. inf. "not to put" - The articular infinitive forms a noun clause standing in apposition to touto, "this"; "rather judge this, namely, not to put a stumbling block or cause of offence to/for the brother" = "let this be the judgment at which you arrive, that you must never put a stumbling block in the way of a brother, or do anything else which might entangle him", Cassirer.

proskomma (a atoV) "stumbling block" - a stumbling stone. Object of the infinitive. A stone that trips up, although actually referring to the bait-stick on a trap, so "entrap" and "cause ruin." Paul concurs with the "strong's" freedom under the gospel to ignore food regulations , although probably a wider principle applies, namely, freedom from the law as such (it is unlikely that the issue of food/meat offered to idols is in mind here, since Paul condemns the practice due to its Satanic associations, cf. 1 Corinthians [note his argument there is his typical "yes, but"]). The law has only ever served to expose sin and guide faithful living, and has never served to maintain/progress holiness. Given the outpouring of the Spirit and his indwelling renewal, camel law may still guide, but insect law is next to worthless. Yet, riding roughshod over the law (insect law would be the most noticeable casualty) not only causes offence to a law-bound believer (nomist), but could trip them up in the "faith and practice" department, Barrett. Of course, how they are tripped up is somewhat of a mystery. Most commentators opt for "a divided heart", ie., a believer who is cajoled by pier-pressure to act against their conscience; "to act without regard to one's own conscience is to enter into destruction through the dissolution of the self", Jewett. Yet, surely it is more likely that the libertine behavior of "the strong" would actually serve to reinforce the law-bound stance of "the weak", so causing them to retreat into the security of the law in the face of unbridled freedom, and that with its perceived divine condemnation. Thus, by retreating into the law, their salvation, which is by grace through faith and not works of the law, is undermined. It is more likely that this is the "stumbling-stone" in Paul's mind. At any rate, it seems that the exhortation is to the "strong", so Moo, Dunn, Dumbrell, .... although Jewett, Barrett, .... disagree.

tw/ adelfw/ (oV) dat. "in your brother's way / in the way of a brother or sister" - to a brother. The dative is probably local, of space, "before a brother", as NIV, but possibly interest, disadvantage, "a trap for your brother."

 
v14

Cranfield argues for a parenthesis here, "inserted asyndetically (missing an identifying conjunction), introduced for the purpose of making clear both Paul's own acceptance of the basic assumption of 'the strong' and at the same time the fact that there is an important qualification of that assumption", 14b. Paul is persuaded by the words of Jesus himself that the minutia of the law (all the purity regulations of the Old Testament, food etc.) have little application in the life of a believer, but that doesn't give him the right to ride roughshod over the conscience of others.

en + dat. "as one who is in [the Lord Jesus] / in [the Lord Jesus]" - in [Lord Jesus]. Possibly local, expressing space / sphere, incorporative union, "as a man united to the Lord Jesus", Cassirer, but possibly adverbial, reference / respect, "with regard to the Lord Jesus", even instrumental, expressing means, so Longenecker. The phrase often carries an idiomatic sense expressing the authority on which something is based; "All I know of the Lord Jesus convinces me ....", REB.

pepeismai (peiqw) perf. pas. "I am fully convinced / [I am convinced], being fully persuaded" - [I know and] have been persuaded. The intensive perfect expresses the fact that Paul has been convinced and continues to be convinced. An "emphatic" statement, Cranfield.

oJti "that" - Here introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows, namely, that .... It is possible that oJti here introduces a quotation, a "citation from the dominical tradition"; "that 'Nothing is profane of itself'", Jewett.

ouden "no food" - nothing. "No kind of food", Dumbrell.

koinon adj. "unclean" - is common. Predicate adjective. Probably "ceremonially impure", BAGD. Obviously alluding to Jesus' teaching on the issue of clean and unclean foods, Mark 7:19b. Food, of itself, is neither holy nor unholy.

dia + gen. "in [itself]" - Instrumental, expressing means, "by means of itself (variant, "him" = Christ)", or as NIV, local, spacial.

ei mh "but if" - except. Usually serving to express a contrast by designating an exception, but "after a negative joined to a noun it may be used in such a way that it refers to the negative alone; then it may be seen as an adversative", Morris, as NIV. Although the indicative verb must be assumed, the sentence is still conditional; "but if, as is the case, someone considers that something is uncommon, then for that person it is uncommon." Here introducing a qualification. No food is unclean in itself but we need to remember that there are many believers who unquestionably hold that certain foods are unclean.

tw/ logizomenw/ (logizomai) dat. pres. part. "anyone regards" - to the one reckoning, counting, thinking, supposing. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest; "for anyone who thinks it unclean." The verb takes the sense "be of the opinion", BDF. The law-bound believer who classifies food as clean and unclean cannot disregard this classification on the basis of a whim. For the pietist, unclean foods are unclean; they are viewed as repugnant to God.

einai (eimi) inf. "as" - to be [unclean]. [anything] to be [common]. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what is regarded, reckoned, considered, namely "that something is unclean, common", koinon, "unclean, common", serving as the complement of the infinitive.

ekeinw/ dat. pro. "for him" - to that one [it is common, unclean]. The pronoun serves as a substantive, dative of interest. Usually understood in the sense "if a man considers a food to be defiling and yet eats, he does in fact defile his conscience", Pilcher - for him it becomes unclean, even though not unclean in itself. Can something we think has the power to make us impure, but which does not have that power, then make us impure if we actually do it? the logic is somewhat obtuse! The point Paul is making is that if a person believes that something is impure, then to their way of thinking it is actually impure and thus offensive to God. This being the case, we can't just fly in the face of their sensibilities simply because we know that it actually isn't impure.

 
v15

We do not show love to a brother if we are insensitive to their scruples, undermining their faith by making an issue out of what is ultimately irrelevant.

gar "-" - for. Explanatory, rather than causal, as NIV, although if v14 is a parenthesis, then this verse picks up on v13b, and thus gar is causal, "don't place a stumbling block or hindrance before a brother, v15, because if your brother ....."

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as the case is, ..... then ...."

lupeitai (lupew) pres. pas. "is distressed" - [the brother of you] is pained, grieved, hurt. Gnomic present. A bit more than "upset", so "seriously upsets", Phillips; but better "injured", Pilcher. "Injured" in the sense that the unthinking act undermines the integrity of the law-bound believer's faith, cf. Murray.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of [food]. Causal, "because of, on account of", possibly instrumental, means / agency; "On account of something as unimportant as food", Morris.

peripateiV (peripatew) pres. "you are [no longer] acting" - you walk about [no longer according to]. Describing the Christian life as "a walk", so "your conduct is no longer based on love", Barclay.

kata + acc. "in [love]" - Expressing a standard for conduct, "in accord with, in conformity with"; "governed by", Harris.

mh tw/ brwmati (a atoV) "do not by [your] eating" - not by the food [of you]. The dative is probably instrumental, as NIV, cf. Moule, or causal, "because of food / what you eat." "That you eat", is assumed; "just because you eat certain foods, you must not allow that to ruin the man for whom Christ died", TH.

apollue (apollumi) pres. imp. "destroy" - ruin, destroy. The present tense indicates ongoing destruction, an eating away of a person's integrity, dividing their heart, rather than alluding to the final judgment, contra Schreiner who argues for eschatological ruin.

ekeinon pro. "[your] brother / someone" - that man. The position is emphatic.

uJper + gen. "for [whom]" - on behalf [of whom Christ died]. Expressing representation / benefit, advantage.

 
v16

Referring to using ones freedom in the gospel of God's free grace in such a way that it is debased in the eyes of the "weak", who, as a consequence, retreat back into the bondage of law-obedience.

oun "- / therefore" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "Therefore, do not ....."

mh basfhmeisqw (blasfhmew) pres. imp. pas. "do not allow [what you consider good] to be spoken of as evil" - let not be spoken against, blasphemed against. Iterative present tense. Lit. "let not your good be blasphemed against." The point of the argument being, "don't let the good thing of yours be spoken against by allowing that good thing to damage a brother."

to agaqon adj. "what [you consider / know is] good be spoken of as evil" - the good [of you]. "The good thing of yours", but what is it? Possibly the gospel of God's free grace in Christ (ie., Paul's gospel), or Christian freedom, liberty, as regard the law, so Jewett, or the blessings of the covenant, so Dunn. This freedom will be viewed negatively within the Christian fellowship if it is seen to cause harm to a brother, undermining the way of grace and strengthening law-obedience for sanctification leading to blessing / nomism.

 
v17

Verse 17 "sums up the central theological point ..... that Paul makes in vv.13-23", Moo. Christ's "kingdom is not of this world"; it is not about either eating, or not eating, either drinking, or not drinking. The kingdom is a spiritual reality expressed through such qualities as justice, peace and joy realized through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the "good" must not be blasphemed, v16, so Morris, although Cranfield includes the point made in v15. "Don't impose your freedom on others, because ...."

hJ basileia tou qeou "the kingdom of God" - A commonly used designation in the gospels, but rarely used by Paul, other than references to the eschatological kingdom. Best understood as the rule/reign of God, possibly even comparable to Paul's "righteousness of God" = God's righteous reign, his setting all things right; "God's rule in our lives is not related to matters of eating and drinking", TH. Taken this way the genitive tou qeou would be classified verbal, subjective, rather than possessive. Dumbrell's take on the kingdom, particularly as it is expressed in this verse, is interesting. He defines the kingdom as "the kingdom of God's allegiance", which reality is exhibited in "righteousness (evidence of divine acceptance), peace (the resulting condition) and joy (the inner attitude and hope)."

ou estin (eimi) pres. "is not a matter of" - is not [eating and drinking]. Allegiance to God and his eternal reign, does not exhibit freedom (eating and drinking) at the expense of a brother, but exhibits the qualities/fruits of the Spirit, Gal.5:22; "righteous action, joy, peaceful state of mind", Barrett; ie., "ethical qualities", Moo (not "the righteousness before God which is God's gift", "peace with God", cf. Cranfield, Schreiner). "The kingdom of God does not consist of eating, or not eating, drinking, or not drinking. It consists of justice, peace and joy", Barclay.

alla "but" - Adversative.

en "in [the Holy Spirit]" - [righteousness and peace and joy] in, by [holy Spirit]. Possibly local, expressing space / sphere, but instrumental, expressing agency, seems best, "given by the Holy Spirit". All three qualities are given by the Holy Spirit, not just joy by itself.

 
v18

Those who curtail their freedom for the sake of a brother, act in a way that is acceptable to God and well deserve the approval of their fellow believers.

gar "because" - for. Most likely calling for a conclusion, an end to the logical sequence of Paul's argument, so "whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men", ESV.

oJ douleuwn pres. part. "anyone who serves" - the one serving, enslaved to. The participle serves as a substantive; "Everyone who shows himself a servant of Christ", REB.

tw/ Cristw/ (oV) dat. "Christ" - Dative of direct object after the verb douleuw, "serve as a slave."

en + dat. "in [this way]" - in [this]. The prepositional phrase is somewhat illusive. Possibly local, expressing space / sphere; "on this matter", ie., on the ground of the package outlined in v17. Possibly adverbial, expressing manner, referring to our service to Christ; "he who thus shows himself to be a servant of Christ (in this way) finds glad acceptance from God", Cassirer. Submitting to Christ in the matter of restraining one's freedom for the sake of a brother is possibly the matter in mind, although Cranfield argues that it is in the matter of the three qualities in v17b, particularly "the righteousness before God which is God's gift", for it is only this "righteousness" which can gain God's good pleasure, ie., "the one supreme virtue", Lenski.

euarestoV adj. "is pleasing" - is acceptable. The sense "pleasing", as a servant would please his master, is commonly adopted, Jewett, Morris, Moo, Dunn, Schreiner, Osborne, Hunter, Barrett, Fitzmyer; "divine commendation", Dumbrell; "well-pleasing", Cranfield; "brings pleasure to God", Mounce. God can be "pleased" with the righteousness we possess in Christ, but can he be "pleased" with what in practice is our limited capacity to restrain our freedom for the sake of a brother? Better to take the sense as "acceptable to God", "acceptable to the will of God" = inline with the will of God and thus behavior that is honoring to God; "in this way is acceptable to God", REB. Of course, if the matter is the "righteousness" that is ours as a gift, then such is certainly well pleasing to God. The verb to-be is assumed

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "to God" - Dative of indirect object.

dokimoV adj. "approved" - [and] approved. The word means "able to stand the test", "approved by testing", valuable, excellent, pure, "esteemed", Jewett, "respected", Moo. They are "acceptable" to God and therefore should be acceptable to their brothers.

toiV anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "by men / receives human [approval]" - by men. The dative is possibly instrumental, agency, as NIV, or simply a dative of direct object.

 
v19

ii] Aim at mutual unbuilding rather than offend a brother or sister over matters of minutia, v19-21. In our Christian community we should act in a way that maintains fellowship and builds others up.

ara oun "therefore" - so then. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "So then, on the basis of the argument so far ......."

diwkwmen (diwkw) pres. sub. "let us .... make every effort to do" - let us pursue. Hortatory subjunctive, although an indicative variant exists - commentators are divided, but Moo and Cranfield opt for a hortatory subjunctive. In the sense of "promote a cause", Oepke.

ta "what leads to" - the things. Serving as a nominalizer turning the genitive "of the peace" into a substantive construction, object of the verb "to pursue"; "let us promote that which / what makes for peace." The same construction is used for ta thV oikodomhV, "that which / what makes for edification." Jewett notes Paul's "all things to all men" approach here. If our freedom serves to reinforce the law for the law-bound believer then we should restrain our freedom; become all things to all people that by all means we may save some.

thV eirhnhV (h) gen. "peace" - of peace. As with thV oikodomhV, "of building up, edifying", the genitive here is adjectival, limiting "things", the "peace" type of "things", ie., those things which make for peace between believers (obviously not the peace that God gives) + those things which build up believers (edify); "what makes for each other's peace and edification", Zerwick.

thV "-" - [and let us pursue the things of building up, edification] the [toward / for one another]. The genitive article here serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase eiV allhlouV, "for one another", into an attributive adjective limiting "edification", "mutual edification", as NIV. The preposition eiV expresses advantage, "for".

 
v20

Paul again makes the point that a believer should not undermine the faith of a "weak" brother or sister by making an issue out of matters of religious form.

mh katalue (kataluw) pres. imp. "do not destroy" - do not ruin, destroy. Cease an ongoing, or habitual action. The meaning of this word is disputed.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the work] of God" - The genitive may be treated as a adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective; "what God has done." Commentators are divided as to what work Paul is referring to, but we are best served by Cranfield who opts for God's work in the life of the "weak" brother. Again, it is likely that the issue concerns the selfish application of freedom by the "strong" which results in the "weak" retreating to the safety of law-obedience, which then serves to undermine their faith and thus their security in Christ.

eJneken + gen. "for the sake of [food]" - for the sake of, because of [food]. Causal. The position in the Gk. is emphatic, "not for the sake of food [should we] destroy the work of God", not for the sake of something that is unimportant.

men .... alla "...., but ..." - on the one hand [all food is pure], but on the other hand .... Adversative comparative construction; Jewett suggests a concessive sense here, cf., BAGD 502.

panta "all food" - all things. Given the context, "food" must be assumed, but then Paul's instruction covers all "insect" law (purity regulations). The phrase, "all food is clean", was probably a slogan commonly used by the "strong" to affirm their liberty in Christ.

kaqara adj. "clean" - are good. Predicate adjective. "Free from anything that soils, or corrupts", Morris. "Everything is indeed clean", NRSV.

alla "but" - Adversative / contrastive.

kakon adj. "bad" - evil, bad, wrong. "But it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat", NRSV.

tw/ anqrwpw/ (oV) dat. "for a man / for a person" - to / for the man. Dative of interest, disadvantage.

tw/ ... esqionti (esqiw) dat. pres. part. "to eat anything" - [who by means of] the one eating. The participle, with its attached prepositional phrase dia ...., serves as an attributive adjective limiting tw/ anqrwpw/, "man"; "it is a bad thing for a man who eats by means of a stumbling stone." "The one eating" is most likely the "strong man", not the "weak man". The "strong man" eats freely and undermines the faith of the "weak man", rather than the "weak man" eats against his conscience.

dia + gen. "that causes someone else to [stumble]" - through, by means of [causes stumbling]. This prepositional phrase is difficult to translate. The preposition, although followed by a genitive, does not seem to be instrumental. It is probably adverbial, denoting "manner of action", BDF, Zerwick..., "with offense", AV, probably with a causal slant, "in a way that causes stumbling", Harvey. Most commentators opt for attendant circumstance, "who eats and gives offense", NASB. So, the type of eating Paul is referring to is an eating which causes someone to stumble, as NIV. "It goes ill with the man who eats his food in such a way as to prove a stumbling block to another", Cassirer. Most commentators argue for attendant circumstance identifying action accompanying "eating"; "it is bad for a person who eats with stumbling", Jewett = "while causing another to stumble", Moo.

 
v21

This verse summarizes "the basic practical point that Paul makes in vv.13-23", Moo - it is far better to respect the minutia of the Mosaic law than to drive a pious believer back into the security of law-obedience because of insensitive license. The reference to wine, likely to serve as a hypothetical example of legalistic piety, is often used of not drinking alcohol so as to not lead another person to drink and alcoholism. Yet, the context is all about undermining faith, causing a person to fall back on the law to progress their Christian life.

to mh fagein (esqiw) aor. inf. "not to eat" - [it is good] not to eat [flesh nor to drink wine nor other acts of piety]. Constative aorist / punctiliar, point of action, although not necessarily referring to a specific incident as argued by Dunn. As with the infinitive mhde piein, "not to drink" and the supplied infinitive mhde, "not to do", "to do anything else", this articular infinitival phrase serves as the subject of the sentence; "not to eat meat, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything else ..... is good."

en + gen. "-" - [nor to do anything] in / by [which the brother of you stumbles]. The prepositional phrase formed by en + the dative pronoun w|/ is possibly temporal, "while your brother stumbles", causal, so Turner, or even adjectival, limiting a supplied "anything"; "do anything that makes your brother stumble", Cassirer. On the other hand, we may simply treat en as local, expressing space / sphere; "in connection with which your brother stumbles", Lenski. An instrumental sense is also possible, "or do anything by which your brother stumbles", NASB. As noted above, the "stumble" is most often defined as "the weak in faith, under pressure from the arguments and example of the strong, doing what they still think is wrong", Moo. Yet, it seems more likely that the "stumble" is the flight of the "weak" to the security of law-obedience in the face of the licence of the "strong".

 
v22

iii] Conclusion, v22-23. It is very likely that v22a gathers up Paul's argument in a concluding exhortation that the strong keep the convictions of their faith to themselves and those of like mind. Note the NIV "so", although it is not in the Gk. The emphatic "you" gives the sense of "so I want to make this point to you, ....." Then, in v22b-23 Paul reinforces his point with an observation: "fortunate is the person who does this, v22b, but not so the person who doesn't, v23.

su "-" - [the faith which] you [have]. The pronoun is emphatic by position and use; "you, the faith that you have."

h}n pro. "so whatever" - which. Variant, usually taken as original.

pistin .... eceiV (ecw) "you believe" - faith. It is most likely that "faith" here is, as often expressed by Paul, "a trusting, obedient response to the gospel", Jewett; "trust and reliance on God", Schreiner. For Paul "faith" often has a double meaning, with the stress on both meanings or either one. So, "faith" consists of the faithfulness of Christ on our behalf , ie. "faith of Christ" + our "faith" in his faithfulness / the cross. Of course, Paul is not encouraging the "strong" to keep their faith to themselves, but rather the convictions of their faith to themselves. This is not clearly expressed, but certainly implied by the context, a "conviction stemming from ones faith in Christ", Moo. Many commentators understand "faith" here, and in v23, as "conviction", but this is unlikely, eg., "as for the conviction that you hold", Cassirer. Better, "as for the convictions of your faith, look on these as matters which concern only you yourself in the sight of God."

kata + acc. "about these things" - [have] by / according to [yourself]. Here spacial, direction, "toward yourself", ie., "the convictions of your faith (ie., your libertine views) keep to yourself before God (ie., keep between yourself and God)", cf. BAGD, 406, Moo, Fitzmyer, etc. "Do not let conviction carry the day when by it untold harm will occur to others", Dumbrell. Jewett argues that the preposition here expresses a standard, "in accordance with / in conformity with", referring to "a consistency between belief and action in a social context", ie., act out what you hold to be true before God. This view is supported by v22b if understood as "you are fortunate if your behavior and belief are coherent", Peterson. Possibly reference / respect, so Harvey.

enwpion + gen. "[keep] between [yourself and God]" - before [God]. Spacial; "before the eyes of God." Omitted in some manuscripts, but regarded as original by most commentators.

makarioV adj. "blessed" - happy, blessed. Often translated as "happy", but the intention is "happy under God", so therefore "blessed" as NIV, or better "fortunate". In what sense is "the one who does not have to judge himself in what he approves" fortunate? Again, a difficult sentence to translate, producing numerous suggestions. It seems likely that the sentence supports the statement made in v21, 22a. A person is fortunate when they don't bring God's judgment upon themselves by insisting on their own freedom at the expense of a weaker brother's faith (ie., undermining the faith of the weaker brother by driving them back to the security of law-obedience), cf. Haldane (option 1). Most commentators opt for a commendation, on Paul's part, to those who have no reservations regarding what they hold to be true, and therefore have no need to judge themselves, "fortunate not to have a prickly conscience", Hunter; "a man is truly happy if he does not condemn himself when he does what he thinks is right", TH (option 2).

oJ mh krinw pres. part. "the man who does not condemn" - the one not condemning, judging [himself]. The participle serves as a substantive. "Fortunate are those who have no reason to reproach themselves" (option 2, above), but better, "fortunate are those who do not bring God's judgment upon themselves", (option 1).

en + dat. "by [what he approves]" - in/by [what he approves]. For option 2, the preposition is best understood as instrumental, "by what they approve". For option 1, a local sense is better, "in" = "in the matter of", "in the matter of that which they approve / hold to be true." Reference / respect is also possible; "with respect to what he has decided is right."

 
v23

It is often understood that Paul now addresses the situation faced by the weak who are being led into acting against their conscience by the license of the strong, those who have no need to reproach themselves with regard the eating of unclean foods etc.; "when a person does not feel sure, nor believe that a thing is clean, how can he do else than sin?" Chrysostom. Yet, it is more likely that Paul still has the actions of the "strong" in mind, and that those actions are more likely to reinforce the nomism of the weak than lead them to act against their conscience.

de "but" - but, and. Here adversative, as NIV.

oJ diakrinomenoV (diakrinw) pres. part. "the man who has doubts / whoever has doubts" - the one evaluating, considering, deciding, determining / disapproving, criticizing, disputing, passing judgment / doubting, wavering. The participle serves as a substantive. Usually taken to mean "doubting", and thus referring to the "weak" who eat with doubts, due to the witness of the "strong", and who are thereby condemned by God for their eating. Yet, it is more likely that the word applies to the "strong" and moves toward a meaning like "criticizing", as it does in 14:1 - welcome a brother who is overscrupulous, without "passing judgment on disputable matters", NIV, "entering into a debate (quarrelling) over mere matters of opinion", Cassirer, "criticizing their views", Williams, "a critical analysis of his inward reasonings", Wuest; .... We are probably closer to the mark if we take the word to mean "a critical insensitivity toward the religious sensibilities of others". Paul is most likely using the word krinw "judge" in the same sense, see v13. The sense is probably something like (elliptical, to say the least!), "but as for those who are insensitive [toward the piety of others] and so eat [without respecting the weaker brother], their end is divine judgment, for their actions do not spring from faith."

katakekritai (katakrinw) mid./pas. perf. "is condemned" - has been condemned. The perfect expressing a state of condemnation, "takes upon himself the condemnation of God's judgment", Stuhlmacher, but possibly proleptic, a future condemnation. Taken as passive, the voice may be classified as theological / divine; God does the condemning.

ean + subj. "-" - if [he eats]. Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, [he eats], then [he has been condemned]."

oJti "because" - for. Here serving to introduce a causal clause explaining why he is condemned.

ek + gen. "[is not] from" - [it is not] out of, from, out from. Expressing source / origin, here serving to introduce a general maxim used by Paul to support his previous statement. The maxim makes the point that apart from faith in Christ, nothing we do is pleasing to God, all is of sin, and this because "our righteousness is but filthy rags." The prepositional phrase most likely expresses an ablative idea of source, or separation; "what is not based on faith is sin", Barclay, or "any act that does not spring from faith is sin", Berkeley.

pistewV "faith" - faith [and all which not out of faith is sin]. As above "faith" does not mean "conviction", but rather "trust in God".

 

Romans Introduction

Exposition

 

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