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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.
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