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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 17

Verse 17. For the kingdom of God. For an explanation of this phrase, See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

Here it means, that the peculiarities of the kingdom of God, or of the church of Christ on earth, do not consist in observing the distinctions between meats and drinks. It was true that by these things the Jews had been particularly characterized, but the Christian church was to be distinguished in a different manner.

Is not. Does not consist in. or is not distinguished by.

Meat and drink. In observing distinctions between different kinds of food, or making such observances a matter of conscience, as the Jews did. Moses did not prescribe any particular drink, or prohibit any; but the Nazarites abstained from wine, and all kinds of strong liquors; and it is not improbable that the Jews had invented some distinctions on this subject which they judged to be of importance. Hence it is said in Col 2:16, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink." Comp. 1 Co 8:8; 4:20.

But righteousness. This word here means virtue, integrity, a faithful discharge of all the duties which we owe to God or to our fellow-men. It means, that the Christian must so live as to be appropriately denominated a righteous man, and not a man whose whole attention is absorbed by the mere ceremonies and outward forms of religion. To produce this, we are told, was the main design and the principal teaching of the gospel, Tit 2:12. Comp. Ro 8:13; 1 Pe 2:11. Thus it is said, (1 Jo 2:2) "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God;" 1 Jo 3:10, "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." Comp. 1 Jo 3:7; 1 Co 15:34; 2 Co 3:9; 2 Co 6:7,14; Eph 5:9; 6:14; 1 Ti 6:11; 1 Pe 2:24; Eph 4:24.

He that is a righteous man, whose characteristic it is to lead a holy life, is a Christian. If his great aim is to do the will of God, and if he seeks to discharge with fidelity all his duties to God and man, he is renewed. On that righteousness he will not depend for salvation, (Php 3:8,9) but he will regard this character and this disposition as evidence that he is a Christian, and that the Lord Jesus is made unto him "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," 1 Co 1:30.

And peace. This word, in this place, does not refer to the internal peace and happiness which the Christian has in his own mind, (comp. See Barnes "Ro 5:1") but to peace or concord in opposition to contention among brethren. The tendency and design of the kingdom of God is to produce concord and love, and to put an end to alienation and strife. Even though, therefore, there might be ground for the opinions which some cherished in regard to rites, yet it was of more importance to maintain peace than obstinately to press those matters at the expense of strife and contention. That the tendency of the gospel is to promote peace, and to induce men to lay aside all causes of contention and bitter strife, is apparent from the following passages of the New Testament: 1 Co 7:15; 14:33; Ga 5:22; Eph 4:3; 1 Th 5:13; 2 Ti 2:22; Jas 3:18; Mt 5:9; Eph 4:31,32; Col 3:8; Joh 13:34,35; 17:21-23.

This is the second evidence of piety on which Christians should examine their hearts—a disposition to promote the peace of Jerusalem, Ps 122:6; 37:11. A contentious, quarrelsome spirit; a disposition to magnify trifles; to make the shibboleth of party an occasion of alienation, and heart-burning, and discord; to sow dissensions on account of unimportant points of doctrine or of discipline, is full proof that there is no attachment to Him who is the Prince of Peace. Such a disposition does infinite dishonour to the cause of religion, and perhaps has done more to retard its progress than all other causes put together. Contentions commonly arise from some small matter in doctrine, in dress, in ceremonies; and often the smaller the matter the more fierce the controversy, till the spirit of religion disappears, and desolation comes over the face of Zion.

"the Spirit, like a peaceful dove,

Flies from the reahns of noise and strife."

And joy. This refers, doubtless, to the personal happiness produced in the mind by the influence of the gospel. See Barnes "Ro 5:1"; also Ro 5:2-5.

In the Holy Ghost. Produced by the Holy Ghost, Ro 5:5. Comp. Ga 5:22,23.

{s} "the kingdom of God" Mt 6:33

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