1. Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
1. Eum vero qui fide est imbecilla, suscipite, non ad disceptationes quaes-tionum.
2. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
2. Qui credit, vescatur quibusvis: qui autem infirmus est, olera edit.
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.
3. Qui edit, non contemnat eum qui abstinet; et qui abstinet, eum non condemnet qui edit: Dominus enim illum suscepit.
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.
4. Tu quis es qui judicas alienum servum? proprio Domino stat vel cadit. Stabit vero: potens est enim Dens efficere ut stet.
Now, as man's disposition is to slide from a difference in opinion to quarrels and contentions, the Apostle shows how they who thus vary in their opinions may live together without any discord; and he prescribes this as the best mode, -- that they who are strong should spend their labor in assisting the weak, and that they who have made the greatest advances should bear with the more ignorant. For God, by making us stronger than others, does not bestow strength that we may oppress the weak; nor is it the part of Christian wisdom to be above measure insolent, and to despise others. The import then of what he addresses to the more intelligent and the already confirmed, is this, -- that the ampler the grace which they had received from the Lord, the more bound they were to help their neighbors.
He then calls those contentious questions which disturb a mind not yet sufficiently established, or which involve it in doubts. It may at the same time be proper to extend this farther, even to any thorny and difficult questions, by which weak consciences, without any edification, may be disquieted and disturbed. We ought then to consider what questions any one is able to bear, and to accommodate our teaching to the capacity of individuals.
Now, though the power of judging as to the person, and also as to the deed, is taken from us, there is yet much difference between the two; for we ought to leave the man, whatever he may be, to the judgment of God; but as to his deeds we may indeed form a decisive opinion, though not according to our own views, but according to the word of God; and the judgment, derived from his word, is neither human, nor another man's judgment. Paul then intended here to restrain us from presumption in judging; into which they fall, who dare to pronounce anything respecting the actions of men without the warrant of God's word.
But by referring to the power of God, he means not simply, as though he had said, that God can do this if he will; but, after the usual manner of Scripture, he connects God's will with his power: and yet he speaks not here of perpetuity, as though they must stand to the end whom God has once raised up; but he only reminds us, that we are to entertain a good hope, and that our judgments should lean this way; as he also teaches us in another place,
"He who began in you a good work, will perform it to the end." (Philippians 1:6.)
In short, Paul shows to what side their judgments incline, in whom love abounds.
1 Some, as Haldane, have found fault with this classification, as there is nothing in the chapter which countenances it. But as the Apostle's object throughout the epistle was to reconcile the Jews and Gentiles, there is reason sufficient to regard them as the two parties here intended: and, as Chalmers justly observes, it is more probable that the Gentiles were the despisers, inasmuch as the Jews, who, like Paul, had got over their prejudices, were no doubt disposed to sympathize with their brethren, who were still held fast by them. -- Ed.
2 Non ad disceptationes quaestionum,
3 Scott's remarks on this verse are striking and appropriate, -- "Notwithstanding," he says, "the authority vested by Christ in his Apostles, and their infallibility in delivering his doctrine to mankind, differences of opinion prevailed even among real Christians; nor did St. Paul, by an express decision and command, attempt to put a final termination to them. A proposition indeed may be certain and important truth; yet a man cannot receive it without due preparation of mind and heart; -- so that a compelled assent to any doctrine, or conformity to any outward observances, without conviction, would in general be hypocrisy, and entirely unavailing. So essential are the rights and existence of private judgment, in all possible cases, to the exercise of true religion! and so useless an encumbrance would an infallible judge be, for deciding controversies, and producing unanimity among Christians!"
4 This is true, but the passage here seems not to require such a construction. Both sentences are declarative, announcing a fact respecting two parties: the one believed he might eat everything; the other did eat only herbs. The relative
Some think that this abstinence from meat was not peculiar to the Jews; but that some Gentiles also had scruples on the subject. It is true that heathens, who held the transmigration of souls, did not eat flesh: but it is not likely that abstinence, arising from such an absurd notion, would have been thus treated by the Apostle. It indeed appears evident, that the abstinence here referred to did arise from what was regarded to be the will of God: and though abstinence from all animal food was not enjoined on the Jews, yet it appears from history that Jews, living among heathens, wholly abstained, owing to the fear they had of being in any way contaminated. This was the case with Daniel and his companions, Daniel 1:8-16. Professor Hodge says, in a note on this passage, "Josephus states in his life (chapter 23) that certain Jewish priests, while at Rome, lived entirely upon fruit, from the dread of eating anything unclean." We may also suppose that some of the Essenes, who abstained from meat and from wine, were among the early converts. -- Ed.
5 The last clause is by Haldane confined to the strong, and he object to this extension of it; and certainly the following verse is in favor of his view, for the weak, the condemner, is the person reproved, and therefore the strong is he who to his own master stands or falls. The condemner throughout is the weak, and the despiser is the strong. -- Ed