Romans 14:1-15:13 addresses how Roman Christians should view and interact with one another in light of different beliefs about things God created. The two issues were believers (1) looking down on and criticizing one another so that they did not edify but tore up one another, and (2) focusing on themselves so that they did not glorify God in their worship.
This passage (14:1-15:13) talks about two basic groups of people, the strong and weak in faith. “In faith” points to the fact that the issues here are not mere opinions or “personal convictions.” Faith has content, something from Scripture that is believed to be true. A “strong” Christian is one strong in his faith, a mature believer, and a “weak” Christian is an immature believer.
Some important points to note with this passage: (1) Paul does not identify who’s who here (whether Jew or Gentile). (2) The issues here deal with things God created, food and days. That must control application. Many Christians today wrongly say this passage deals with things that don’t matter, and then apply it to issues such as clothing, music, dancing, smoking, drinking, etc. things God has revealed truth about. (3) The strong in faith are correct, because God has spoken to the issues of food and days, (14:14, 20b; 15:1; cf. Mark 7:19; Acts 10:15; 11:9; Col 2:16–23; 1 Tim 4:1–5). Note that Paul says he is “strong” (15:1), a mature believer. (4) The strong in faith can cause the weak in faith to doubt, possibly resulting in their apostasy.
Christians (1) must not have a worldly assessment of and actions toward one another but a Christ-transformed outlook and actions (12:1-2), and (2) they must show a Spirit-controlled acceptance of one another to edify the church and glorify God.
In 14:1-13 Christians must accept one another because God accepts (vv. 1-4) and judges all believers (vv. 5-13). When Christians are controlled by the Spirit they will walk in love with one another (vv. 14-15), show the fruits of the Spirit (vv. 16-17), please God and be a blessing to others (v. 18), and will strive for peace and edification with believers rather than tear them down (vv. 19-23).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Don’t despise or judge one another (vv. 3, 10, 13a).
- Don’t be a stumbling block or cause another to fall away from the faith (v. 13b).
- Be controlled by the Spirit to love one another (vv. 14-18).
- Pursue what enables peace and mutual edification (vv. 19-23).