1 Him that is weake in the faith receiue you, but not to doubtfull disputations.
2 For one beleeueth that he may eat all things: another who is weake, eateth herbes.
3 Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not: and let not him which eateth not, iudge him that eateth. For God hath receiued him.
4 Who art thou that iudgest an other mans seruant? to his owne master he standeth or falleth; Yea he shall bee holden vp: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day aboue another: another esteemeth euery day alike. Let euery man bee fully perswaded in his owne minde.
6 He that regardeth a day, regardeth it vnto the Lord; and hee that regardeth not the day, to the Lord hee doeth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for hee giueth God thankes: and hee that eateth not, to the Lord hee eateth not, and giueth God thankes.
7 For none of vs liueth to himselfe, and no man dieth to himselfe.
8 For whether we liue, we liue vnto the Lord: and whether wee die, we die vnto the Lord: whether wee liue therefore or die, we are the Lords.
9 For to this ende Christ both died, and rose, and reuiued, that hee might be Lord both of the dead and liuing.
10 But why doest thou iudge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? wee shall all stand before the Iudgement seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I liue, saith the Lord, euery knee shall bow to mee, and euery tongue shall confesse to God.
12 So then euery one of vs shall giue accompt of himselfe to God.
13 Let vs not therefore iudge one another any more: but iudge this rather, that no man put a stumbling blocke, or an occasion to fall in his brothers way.
14 I know, and am perswaded by the Lord Iesus, that there is nothing vncleane of it selfe: but to him that esteemeth any thing to bee vncleane, to him it is vncleane.
15 But if thy brother be grieued with thy meate: now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be euill spoken of.
17 For the kingdome of God is not meat and drinke; but righteousnes, and peace, and ioy in the holy Ghost.
18 For hee that in these things serueth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approued of men.
19 Let vs therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edifie an other.
20 For meat, destroy not the worke of God: all things indeed are pure; but it is euill for that man who eateth with offence.
21 It is good neither to eate flesh, nor to drinke wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weake.
22 Hast thou faith? haue it to thy selfe before God. Happie is he that condemneth not himselfe in that thing which hee alloweth.
23 And hee that doubteth, is damned if hee eate, because hee eateth not of faith: For whatsoeuer is not of faith, is sinne.
The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and Gentile believers against despising one the other. (1-13) And the Gentiles exhorted to take heed of giving offence in their use of indifferent things. (14-23)1-6 Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate followers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paul attempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, or conformity to outward observances without being convinced, would be hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absolute oneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let not Christian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It will be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain and blame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dare I disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty, despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let not the scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for God accepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. We usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view. The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Those who knew that all these things were done away by Christ's coming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it is not enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it is necessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heed of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make our own views the standard of truth, to deem things certain which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise or condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. A thankful regard to God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies, sanctifies and sweetens them.
7-13 Though some are weak, and others are strong, yet all must agree not to live to themselves. No one who has given up his name to Christ, is allowedly a self-seeker; that is against true Christianity. The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God. That is true Christianity, which makes Christ all in all. Though Christians are of different strength, capacities, and practices in lesser things, yet they are all the Lord's; all are looking and serving, and approving themselves to Christ. He is Lord of those that are living, to rule them; of those that are dead, to revive them, and raise them up. Christians should not judge or despise one another, because both the one and the other must shortly give an account. A believing regard to the judgment of the great day, would silence rash judgings. Let every man search his own heart and life; he that is strict in judging and humbling himself, will not be apt to judge and despise his brother. We must take heed of saying or doing things which may cause others to stumble or to fall. The one signifies a lesser, the other a greater degree of offence; that which may be an occasion of grief or of guilt to our brother.
14-18 Christ deals gently with those who have true grace, though they are weak in it. Consider the design of Christ's death: also that drawing a soul to sin, threatens the destruction of that soul. Did Christ deny himself for our brethren, so as to die for them, and shall not we deny ourselves for them, so as to keep from any indulgence? We cannot hinder ungoverned tongues from speaking evil; but we must not give them any occasion. We must deny ourselves in many cases what we may lawfully do, when our doing it may hurt our good name. Our good often comes to be evil spoken of, because we use lawful things in an uncharitable and selfish manner. As we value the reputation of the good we profess and practise, let us seek that it may not be evil-spoken of. Righteousness, peace, and joy, are words that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is to appear before him justified by Christ's death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, and love, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joy wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as their expected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone can make them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that are best pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and the opinion of others is not to be regarded.
19-23 Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do not follow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility, self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify one another, while quarrelling and contending. Many, for meat and drink, destroy the work of God in themselves; nothing more destroys the soul than pampering and pleasing the flesh, and fulfilling the lusts of it; so others are hurt, by wilful offence given. Lawful things may be done unlawfully, by giving offence to brethren. This takes in all indifferent things, whereby a brother is drawn into sin or trouble; or has his graces, his comforts, or his resolutions weakened. Hast thou faith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to our Christian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not trouble others by a wrong use of it. Nor may we act against a doubting conscience. How excellent are the blessings of Christ's kingdom, which consists not in outward rites and ceremonies, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How preferable is the service of God to all other services! and in serving him we are not called to live and die to ourselves, but unto Christ, whose we are, and whom we ought to serve.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.