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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Let not him that eateth. That is, he who has no scruples about eating meat, etc., who is not restrained by the law of the Jews respecting the clean and unclean, or by the fact that meat may have been offered to idols.

Despise him. Hold him in contempt, as being unnecessarily scrupulous, etc. The word despise here is happily chosen. The Gentile would be very likely to despise the Jew as being restrained by foolish scruples and mere distinctions in matters of no importance.

Him that eateth not. Him that is restrained by scruples of conscience, and that will eat only vegetables, Ro 14:2. The reference here is doubtless to the Jew.

Judge him. To judge here has the force of condemn. This word also is very happily chosen. The Jew would not be so likely to despise the Gentile for what he did as to judge or condemn him. He would deem it too serious a matter for contempt. He would regard it as a violation of the law of God, and would be likely to assume the right of judging his brother, and pronouncing him guilty. The apostle here has happily met the whole case in all disputes about rites, and dress, and scruples in religious matters that are not essential. One party commonly despises the other as being needlessly and foolishly scrupulous; and the other makes it a matter of conscience, too serious for ridicule and contempt; and a matter, to neglect which is, in their view, deserving of condemnation. The true direction to be given in such a case is, to the one party, not to treat the scruples of the other with derision and contempt, but with tenderness and indulgence. Let him have his way in it. If he can be reasoned out of it, it is well; but to attempt to laugh him out of it is unkind, and will tend only to confirm him in his views. And to the other party it should be said, they have no right to judge or condemn another. If I cannot see that the Bible requires a particular cut to my coat, or makes it my duty to observe a particular festival, he has no right to judge me harshly, or to suppose that I am to be rejected and condemned for it. He has a right to his opinion; and while I do not despise him, he has no right to judge me. This is the foundation of true charity; and if this simple rule had been followed, how much strife, and even bloodshed, would it have spared in the church. Most of the contentions among Christians have been on subjects of this nature. Agreeing substantially in the doctrines of the Bible, they have been split up into sects on subjects just about as important as those which the apostle discusses in this chapter.

For God hath received him. This is the same word that is translated "receive" in Ro 14:1. It means here, that God hath received him kindly; or has acknowledged him as his own friend; or he is a true Christian. These scruples, on the one side or the other, are not inconsistent with true piety; and as God has acknowledged him as his, not-withstanding his opinions on these subjects, so we also ought to recognise him as a Christian brother. Other denominations, though they may differ from us on some subjects, may give evidence that they are recognised by God as his, and where there is this evidence, we should neither despise nor judge them.

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