bible blog 2018

ROMANS 14

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christian art from Roman catacomb

Welcome people who are weak in trust, but not with disputes about matters of opinion!  One person believes in eating all foods, while the “weak” person eats vegetable only. The one who eats must not despise the one who doesn’t; nor the one who doesn’t stand in judgement on the one who does, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to judge another person’s house-slave? It’s in the estimation of his master that he stands or falls; and he will keep his place, because the master can help him keep it.

This person values one day more than another; that person thinks all days are the same. Each of them should find assurance in his own opinion; the one who observes the day by fasting, does so for the Lord; while the one who eats does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God. The one who fasts does so for the Lord and also gives thanks to God.

For nobody amongst us lives or dies as a solitary individual.  If we are alive, we live with the Lord; and if we are dying we die with the Lord. So then, living or dying we belong to God. This is why Messiah died and lived again, so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

But listen here, why do you stand in judgement on your brother? Why treat him as being of no account? Remember we’ll all stand before the judgement seat of God. As Scripture says, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend to me, and every tongue confess to God

So then, each one of us will give an account about himself.

For this reason let’s not stand in judgement upon one another anymore but rather make this judgement; that no one should put a trip-stone or trap in a brother’s way. For myself, I understand and have been persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean to the person who thinks it is. So if your sister is offended by what you eat, you’re no longer walking with her in love. Don’t destroy by your food someone for whom Messiah died. Don’t bring your good thing into disrepute.

God’s kingdom is not eating and drinking but justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever in such matters is a slave of Messiah is well-pleasing to God and approved by human beings. So let’s pursue whatever leads to peace and builds up each other’s lives. Don’t demolish the work of God for the sake of food. Yes, everything is clean, but it’s wrong to bring another person down by what you eat. You do something lovely when you refuse meat or wine or to do anything that brings down your brother or sister. The trust you have, keep it for yourself before God.

How fortunate are the people who have nothing on their conscience for what they approve! But someone who is in doubt, and for example, eats meat, is under judgement, because it is not done out of trust in God, and anything that does not come from trust, is sin.

img_0174Phew! No amount of admiration for Paul can rid me of the suspicion that either he’s wittering, or that successive scribes have added unnecessary phrases throughout. Paul deals more vigorously with this issue in 1st Corinthians, where he arrives at the principle, “Knowledge puffs up; but love builds up.”

Neverthless his concern for the so-called weaker believer, who still has religious scruples about forbidden foods or days of obligation, is admirable, as he himself has moved to living a secular faith without any of the trappings of religion as understood by Gentiles or Jews.Yes, he is committed to the Messianic Assembly and to its shared life but he sees it as the future of humanity and not as a new religion.Nevertheless he sympathises with those who haven’t moved as far or as fast as he has; and commands that those who may think themselves “stronger” should defer to the “weaker.” Paul tells them they must not “trip or trap” their brothers and sisters, using Greek words which describe stratagems of guerrilla warfare, but have come  to mean in biblical Greek, “to offend or demolish someone’s trust in Jesus or God.”

The crucial paragraph here is the one that begins,”For nobody amongst us lives or dies as a solitary individual.” Paul insists that “interbeing in Messiah Jesus” is the heart of his joyful news. He spells out in regard to “religious scruples” what this interbeing requires.He praises restraint for the sake of others as something lovely. And he says something that in modern times was picked up by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his notion of the secret discipline of faith:”the trust you have, keep it for yourself before God”. This echoes Jesus’ teaching about prayer and charity, that it should be done quietly, for the Father alone.In spite of all that is shared with brothers and sisters there are some things that can only be shared with God.img_0175

So there are jewels in this passage, but also too much repetition.

 

 

 

 

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