This chapter deals with our attitude toward one another in regard to disputes and disagreements in reference to the observance of certain days, the eating of certain foods, and conflicts over things that are not specifically commanded or forbidden in the Scriptures. The subjects of conflict may vary today, but the principles laid down can apply to all.
(Vs. 1) Welcome the weak believer or the babe in Christ into your fellowship not to criticize his opinions and his convictions. This statement is addressed to the mature, strong, knowledgeable Christian. If we are instructed to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, it can be safely assumed that there are weaknesses and immaturity to develop! Receive the weak in faith and the immature into your fellowship; take notice of them; bear their ignorance patiently rather than demanding that they know immediately what it took you years to learn.
(Vs. 2) One man's faith permits him to eat anything, while another is troubled about meat sacrificed to idols or meat forbidden under the Law, so he limits his food to vegetables.
(Vs. 3) The mature believer who understands that the kingdom of God is not in meat and drinks but righteousness and peacethat it is not that which goeth into the mouth but that which cometh out of the heart that defilethmust not look down upon nor despise the man who does not understand these things and is still bound by a "touch not, taste not" tradition. Let not the man who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God hath received and welcomed both (Matt. 15:17-20).
(a) The disagreement is not over the gospel of substitution.
(b) The disagreement is not over the moral law of God.
(c) The disagreement is not over repentance, faith, love, or godliness.
(d) It is over meats, drinks, and things regarding the flesh and not the spirit. The natural man's religion lies in works, deeds, and self-approval before God. When he comes to Christ, it is difficult for him to realize that our entire acceptance is in Christ, not in our own righteousness and works. These grave clothes are hard to shed.
(Vs. 4) The believer, whether weak or strong, is the Lord's servant. He is not my servant to condemn or to judge. He stands or falls before the Master. He is chosen of God to HIS SALVATION and HIS SERVICE. The Master will order His own household, and the weaker brother shall not fall but shall grow in faith and grace as the mature believer will also grow stronger in Christ. Let all criticism, condemnation, and judgment of one another in things not pertaining to the gospel of righteousness cease!
(Vs. 5) This is another instance of differences of opinions in the church about the observance of Jewish laws. He is speaking of certain days appointed by Moses, such as the Passover, different feast days, and the Sabbath. These were holy days in the Old Testament, and these traditions were hard to break. One man observes a strict Sabbath; another esteems EVERYDAY the Lord's Day and orders his life in prayer and praise continually.
(Vs. 6) He who observes a strict Sabbath or a special holy day does so in honor of the Lord. The man who considers all days equally holy does so in honor of the Lord. We must be convinced in our own minds; for to serve or worship only in imitation of someone else is folly; and to do something without being convinced in heart would be destructive. He who eats gives thanks to God, and he who abstains gives thanks to God. Since both parties are concerned with the glory of God, they should be patient with one another. Several things might be included here, such as styles of worship, order of worship, singing of hymns or psalms, personality differences, mode of dress, etc.
(Vs. 7) I am not a separate tree planted on a hill, but I am a branch (along with other branches) in Christ Jesus. I am not a building which stands separately and alone but a stone (along with other living stones) in the Living TempleChrist Jesus!
Also, I don't live by my duties, services, or sacrifices. I live in Christ! I don't live by my personal righteousnessbut His! No man dies to himself (Phil. 1:21-24). My life belongs to Christ and His body and so does my death.
(Vs. 8) The Father gave us to Christ. Our Lord purchased us by His obedient life and substitutionary death. We are His, not our own and not another's. Whether we eat or don't eat things formerly forbidden, whether we observe a day or don't observe a day, whether we live or die, it is to our Lord. We are His bondslaves and are not to be despised, judged, or ordered by men in the things of God.
(Vs. 9) This is why He diedthat He might be Lord of every believer, whether living or dead. He bought us from self-service and evil slavery. He redeemed us from sin and other masters which had dominion over us. He is the supreme Master of all believers, so we are to cultivate peace and love among ourselves.