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Romans 14 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Romans 14 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

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

In speaking about the Sabbath, Paul says that some observe one day and others another day. He says that's OK with him. But the Old Testament god was not so understanding (Ex.20:8, 31:13-17, 35:2-3; Dt.4:12-14, Is.56:2).
Is it necessary to keep the sabbath?

"Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
In this chapter the apostle Paul discusses if the people in Rome should keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws, such as not eating particular animals or keeping the Saturday (in addition to the Sunday), or keeping special days like the feast of tabernacles (Deut. 16:13) or the passover (Deut. 16:1). This question came up frequently in the transitional period between the Old Testament and New Testament. But the answers the apostles gave at the Apostle Convent (Acts 15:6-31) was clear:

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

So it is not necessary to keep the Old Testament Laws as far as they were intended for a particular region or for a particular time and as far as they were clearly abolished by the lawgiver.
Coming back to the question of keeping the Sabbath, yes, we still must do that. It is part of the moral law, which was not abolished at all. And God himself rested on the Sabbath before the Fall, Gen. 2:2. So the question the apostle Paul addresses here is not if we should keep the Sabbath, but if the church in Rome should keep both the Sabbath and the Saturday as well. The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that the Saturday is abolished (such as this verse). In the Old Testament the rest was at the end of the week, as it was the end of creation and it was a sign of the promise of rest after works. In the New Testament we rest at beginning of the week to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this is the beginning of the recreation. It is the day that Christ showed himself to his Church. That Sunday observance was the practice of the early Church is abundantly clear from verses like Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
So to answer the question: yes, we should remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
For a more in-depth treatment, see “One Day in Seven”.

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

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

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

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

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

"But why dost thou judge thy brother?"
Should we judge others?
Shall a society have no judges? Because that's what the author of the SAB compares here: verses that judges should be impartial, and verses about those that are not judges, should restrain themselves. It's comparing apples and oranges.
God had given freedom to the church at this time: if some still obeyed the ceremonial laws, we should not judge them, nor they us.

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

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

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

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more."
Don't judge other people or cause them to fall.
Do not judge, with regard to keeping the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. Otherwise, from the fruit we know the tree, Luke 6:43.

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

"There is nothing unclean of itself."
Paul says that every kind of animal is OK to eat. But the Dt.14:7-8 clearly forbids using certain kinds of animals for food.
What should we eat?
Again, we come back here to the context. The Old Testament ceremonial laws, such as not eating certain animals, keeping certain days, sacrifices and the like, were now abolished. No Christian has ever made the claim that we should keep Old Testament ceremonial laws. Not eating particular animals was for a certain time, but this law was abolished by the lawgiver, Acts 10:15. It is exactly the point of this chapter to affirm that principle.

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

16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."
I'm sure the author of the SAB exhorts his readers to buy the Playboy only for the edification the articles bring.

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."
Is it OK to drink alcohol?
What should we eat?
On alcohol, see Prov. 20:1.
On what we should eat, see verse 14.

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

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

"He that doubteth is damned.... Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
The principle “what is not of faith, is sin” is neither unjust nor intolerant. A believer professes to walk by faith, 2 Cor. 5:7, so if he doesn't, he sins. On the word damned, John Gill observes:

not with everlasting damnation, which is not the consequent of, nor connected with such an action, as eating of a thing indifferent, with a scrupulous conscience; but such an one is condemned in his own conscience; he is self-condemned, his conscience condemns him for what he himself does; and he is self-condemned in judging and censuring others