Romans 14:16-19 Commentary

 

 

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Romans 14:16-19 Commentary

Romans 14:16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: me blasphemeistho (3SPPM) oun humon to agaqon
Amplified: Do not therefore let what seems good to you be considered an evil thing [by someone else]. [In other words, do not give occasion for others to criticize that which is justifiable for you.]
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  You mustn’t let something that is all right for you look like an evil practice to somebody else.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Therefore, stop allowing your good to bespoken of in a reproachful and evil manner;
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: Let not, then, your good be evil spoken of,

REFERENCES
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Romans 14 Commentary
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Romans 13 Commentary - go to Page 346
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Romans 14:1-6 Responsibilities Under Grace 13
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Romans 14:13-21 Responsibilities Under Grace 15
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Romans 14:19-23: One More Time

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Romans 14:1-12 A Warning Against Judging Brothers

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Romans 14:13-23 On Christian Freedom

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Romans 14 What is Unity Worth?

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Romans 14:17 A Definition of the Kingdom
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Romans 14:1-9  Jesus Is Precious Because Through Him We Become Authentic

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Romans 14:16-19 Kingdom of God is Righteousness & Peace & Joy in the Holy Spirit

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Romans 14:1-12: How to Kill a New Christian

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Romans 14:1-12 Overcoming a Judgmental Spirit
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Romans 14-15 Why We Don't Have to Win Every Argument

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Romans 14 Word Pictures in the New Testament
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Romans 4:10-12 Accountability
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Romans 14:1 The Strong and the Weak

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Romans 14:1-2 Accept Him Whose Faith is Weak

Romans 14:1-15:13 Covenant Fidelity: Among Weak and Strong

Romans 14:13-15:4 Our freedom

Romans 14:15 Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died

Romans 14:16-17 Exercising our freedom

Romans 14:18 Approved by men

Romans 14:19-21 Promoting peace and mutual edification

Romans 14:2 Eats only vegetables

Romans 14:22-23 Liberty of conscience in God's presence

Romans 14:3-4 Look down ... condemn

Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another

Romans 14:6-8 He who regards one day as special

Romans 14:9-14 The seriousness of judging another
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Romans 14:1-6 The duties of the strong

Romans 14:7-8 Dying and living to the Lord

Romans 14:9 Christ died and rose again

Romans 14:10-12 The day of judgment

Romans 14:13-16 Acting in love to your Brother

Romans 14:17-18 What is the kingdom of God

Romans 14:19-20 The Christians three great goals

Romans 14:20-23 Filled with joy and peace as you trust in God

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Romans 14 Cross References - expanded edition

Romans 14:10 The Judgment Seat of Christ (Thesis)
Romans 14 Word Studies in the New Testament
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Romans 14:1-12 Each Of us Will Give An Account Of Himself To God 
Romans 14:13-23 What Are Christian Liberties & How Do We Practice?
Romans 14:1-8 Dealing with Diversity

Romans 14:20-23 Lives Built by Christ
Romans 12-16: Inductive Bible Studies
Romans 14:1-13
Romans 14:1-13 Resolve To Resolve
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Romans 14:13

Romans 14:13
Romans 14:17

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
SERVICE
OF
SALVATION
God's Holiness
In
Condemning
Sin
God's Grace
In
Justifying
Sinners
God's Power
In
Sanctifying
Believers
God's Sovereignty
In
Saving
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
The
Object of
Service
Deadliness
of Sin
Design
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Righteousness
Needed
Righteousness
Credited
Righteousness
Demonstrated
Righteousness
Restored to Israel
Righteousness
Applied
God's Righteousness
IN LAW
God's Righteousness
IMPUTED
God's Righteousness
OBEYED
God's Righteousness
IN ELECTION
God's Righteousness
DISPLAYED
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"


THEREFORE DO NOT LET WHAT IS FOR YOU A GOOD THING BE SPOKEN OF AS EVIL: me blasphemeistho (3SPPM) oun humon to agathon:

 

Middletown Bible - The Law of Love (Romans 14:1-15:3) - For further help in understanding how to live so as to not cause a brother to stumble, see our paper entitled, "Guidance: 67 Biblical Tests to Use in Deciding Upon a Course of Action."

As in the preceding verse, when the Greek construction combines a negative ("me" = not) with a present imperative (command), it means to stop an action which is already going on. So stop letting this good thing be "blasphemed" (blasphemeo [word study] [987]) This word is used 2 other times in Romans (Ro 2:24-note, Ro 3:8-note)

Blasphemy is any word or act that insults the honor and dignity of another person or thing. Paul reaffirms that the position of the strong is right and "good", but advises them to stop letting what is good become the object of slander or reviling. You may be fighting so hard for your rights over a "non essential" that others are beginning to speak of it as evil. Don't allow anyone to say that what you consider good as being evil. The strong is to give up his rights in these areas of non essentials. Liberty does not mean license. The believer is to use his liberty, but not abuse it and not place an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's Christian walk or do anything that would bring ruin to the brother's spiritual life. These are grave dangers not to be underestimated. The stronger brother must always to keep in mind how his conduct in this area of non essentials (externals rather than eternals) will affect weaker Christians.

Good (18) (agathos [word study]) means intrinsically good, inherently good in quality but with the idea of good which is also profitable, useful, benefiting others, benevolent (marked by or disposed to doing good).

Evil (2549) (kakia [word study] refers to the quality of wickedness and thus in a moral sense means depravity, vice or baseness (James 1:21-note, 1Peter 2:16-note, Acts 8:22). It is the opposite of arete (note) and all virtue and therefore lacks social value. It denotes a vicious disposition, evilness, ill-will, spitefulness.

In reference to behavior kakia conveys the idea of a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition as indicated by words such as malice, ill-will, hatefulness, and dislike. It is an attitude of wickedness as an evil habit of one's mind. Kakia is used in NT to describe the wickedness which comes from within a person. Malice describes a vicious intention and expresses the desire to hurt another and rejoices in it!
           
Stedman

If you [as a stronger brother] are going to create division by arguing so hard for your rights, or your freedom, or by flaunting your liberty in the face of those who do not agree with it, then you are distorting the gospel itself, Paul argues. He actually uses the word blaspheme. You are causing that which is good, Paul says, the good news about Christ, to be blasphemed because you are making too much of an issue over a minor matter. You are insisting that your rights are so important that you have to divide the church over them, or separate from a brother or sister who does not believe as you do. That is saying to the watching world around that Christianity consists of whether you do, or do not do, a certain thing. I heard of a church some time ago that got into an unholy argument over whether they ought to have a Christmas tree at their Christmas program. Some thought that a tree was fine; others thought it was a pagan practice, and they got so angry at each other that they actually got into fist fights over it. One group dragged the tree out, then the other group dragged it back in. They ended up suing each other in a court of law and, of course, the whole thing was spread in the newspapers for the entire community to read. What else could non-Christians conclude other than that the gospel consists of whether you have a Christmas tree or not? They made such an important issue over it, they were ready to physically attack one another."  (The Right to Yield)

 

Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ou gar estin (3SPAI) e basileia tou theou brosis kai posis alla dikaiosune kai eirene kai chara en pneumati hagio:
Amplified
:[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  After all, the kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of whether you get what you like to eat and drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the sphere of the Holy Spirit;
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal:  for the reign of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit;

FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT EATING and DRINKING: ou gar estin (3SPAI) e basileia tou theou brosis kai posis: (Col 2:16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23)

 

The kingdom of God is the sphere of salvation where God rules as King in the hearts of those He has saved.
           
The main point of the Christian faith is not eating or drinking or ____________ (fill in the blank = some moral, ethical procedural area not clearly spelled out in Scripture). The kingdom of God does not consist in observing or not observing days, eating or not eating meats, or any other secondary issues of religious scruples. The kingdom of God is not externals but eternals. What really counts in the kingdom of God is not EXTERNAL REGULATIONS but ETERNAL REALITIES.
           
Paul's main point is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. A non-Christian, looking at a Christian, ought to see these things, not wrangling and disputing and fighting and law courts, but righteousness, here he is not referring so much to our righteous standing (
justification) but our righteous walking (sanctification).

 

BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE and JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT:alla dikaiosune kai eirene kai chara en pneumati hagio:  (Ga 5:22, Php 4:8, 9)

 

As we are submitted to the Lord of the Kingdom, King Jesus, we will chose to surrender our rights daily, moment by moment and His Spirit in us will cause us to walk in His statutes (Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.") and the result is His righteousness produced in us along with the fruit of the Spirit, peace and joy.
           
Paul is not referring in 'righteousness' with right standing with God (as in ch1-11) but in the context of (Ro 12:1, 2-see notes
Ro 12:1, 12:2) consecration with the emphasis on the "service of salvation" in this last segment (Ro 12-16) he is emphasizing practical holy living. A concerned believer who is walking in love will chose right conduct, harmony, and joy rather than forcing his own lifestyle and liberty in Christ on others. This one then is serving Christ (showing he is a true "doulos [word study]" or bondservant who is submitting his rights to those of his Master), is acceptable to God and is approved by men (Ro 14:18) instead of being blasphemed by men (Ro 14:16).
           
Wiersbe

 

Not the externals, but the eternals must be first in our lives: righteousness, peace, and joy. Where do they come from? The Holy Spirit of God at work in our lives (Ro 5:1,2-note). If each believer would yield to the Spirit and major in a godly life, we would not have Christians fighting with each other over minor matters. Spiritual priorities are essential to harmony in the church.  (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor )
           

Peace (1515)  (eirene [word study) is the loving tranquility, produced by the Spirit, that should characterize believers’ relationships with God and each other (Gal 5:22).

Joy (5479)(chara) is part of the Spirit’s fruit, this describes an abiding attitude of praise and thanksgiving regardless of circumstances, which flows from one’s confidence in God’s sovereignty (Gal 5:22-note; 1Thes 1:6-note). It is a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing.

Secular dictionaries define joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The world's definition of joy is therefore virtually synonymous with the definition of happiness, for both of these "emotions" are dependent on what "happens".

Certainly there is joy in human life, such as joy when one experiences a victory  (" We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions." Psalm 20:5 Spurgeon's comment) or reaps a bountiful harvest (see Isaiah 9:3), but more often the Bible speaks of joy in a spiritual sense. For example, Nehemiah declared to the down in the mouth (not very filled with joy) Jews that "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). Similarly, David pleaded with God to “restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12 Spurgeon's Comment). It is not surprising that joy and rejoicing are found most frequently in the Psalms (about 80 references) and the Gospels (about 40 references).

C. S. Lewis got a bit closer to the Biblical meaning when he called joy an “unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.” That statement is a bit obtuse but Lewis then goes on to add that joy  "must be sharply distinguished both from happiness and from pleasure". Ultimately Lewis' experienced joy when he discovered that Jesus was the wellspring of all joy.

Joy then is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. It is not an experience that comes from favorable circumstances but even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe as Jesus taught His disciples declaring...

Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy. 21 "Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 "Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you. (John 16:20, 21, 22)

Believers have the Resident Source of joy within for as as Paul teaches

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-note)

Emotional fluctuations cannot disturb this Source of joy. Note Paul’s statement of this confidence (Php 3:20-note). 

In the epistle to the Philippians joy is like a golden thread Paul interweaves throughout this epistle (Click for all 12v with "joy") As Bengel says “The whole letter is ‘I rejoice,’ and ‘Rejoice!’”
           
Stedman

 

What the world ought to see is peace. That comes across visibly as a kind of calmness, an inner core of unflappability that is undisturbed by the minor irritations of the moment. It is that quiet and calm assurance that God is present in the situation; that he will work it out for his glory, and therefore, we need not get upset or angry, or vindictive toward someone. It is hard for the world to get that impression of peace and calmness if they see two people screaming at one another over what they disagree on. That does not look very calm. The important thing, therefore, is that you manifest that gift of God, which is peace. The third element is Joy. These three always go together: righteousness, peace, and joy. They are gifts of God. They do not come from you; they come from him. Joy is that delight in life that always finds life worthwhile, even though it may be filled with problems. Joy, in a Christian, does not come from circumstances. I was down south a couple of weeks ago, and I met a lady who has been lying in her bed for 13 years. She has arthritis so bad that her joints are disconnected and she cannot even raise her hands. But the smile on her face, the joy that is evident in her, is an outstanding witness to the fact that joy of this kind is a gift of God. It comes out of relationship, not out of circumstance. She has a tremendous ministry to the community around her because of that. (The Right to Yield)

 

Stedman

 

Paul is saying that if that (righteousness peace joy) is what you have discovered, if that is the center of your focus and interest, then you can easily give up some momentary indulgence in a pleasure that you enjoy and are free to participate in, if it is going to bother someone, or upset someone, or make them move beyond their own conscience. Sometimes, when you enter a main highway, you see a sign that says "YIELD." Now, I would not suggest that you steal one of those, but it would be good if you could make one and put it up in your dining room. That is a Christian philosophy -- to yield, to give way. Do not insist on your rights under these circumstances (The Right to Yield)

 

A W Pink (from The Lord's Prayer)

 

One may ask, ”Which aspect of the Kingdom is here prayed for as yet future? Certainly not its providential aspect, since that has existed and continued from the beginning. The Kingdom must, then, be future in the sense that God’s reign of grace is to be consummated in the eternal glory of His Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth (2Pe 3:13). There is to be a voluntary surrender of the whole man—spirit and body—to the revealed will of God, so that His rule over us is entire. But if we are to experience and enjoy the eternal glory of God’s Kingdom, we must personally submit to His gracious reign in this life. The nature of this reign is summed up in three characteristics: the Kingdom of God is…righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Ro 14:17). A person experiencing this present reign of grace is characterized by righteousness in that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him as one who, by faith, has become His willing subject; furthermore, he also possesses the righteousness of a good conscience because the Holy Spirit has sanctified him, that is, has set him apart to a new life of holiness to the glory of God. Such a person is also characterized by peace: peace of conscience toward God, peaceful relations with God’s people, and the pursuit of peace with all his fellow creatures (Heb. 12:14). This personal, godly peace is maintained by attention to all the duties of love (Luke 10:27; Ro 13:8). As the result of righteousness and peace, such a person is also characterized by joy in the Holy Spirit, a delighting in God in all the states and vicissitudes of life (Phil. 4:10, 11, 12, 13, 14; 1Tim. 6:6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

 

Romans 14:18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: o gar en touto douleuon (PAPMSN) to Christo euarestos to theo kai dokimos tois anthropois
Amplified
: He who serves Christ in this way is acceptable and pleasing to God and is approved by men.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  If you put these things first in serving Christ you will please God and are not likely to offend men.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest:  for the one who in this serves the Christ is well pleasing to God, and because having met the specifications is approved by men.
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal:  for he who in these things is serving the Christ, is acceptable to God and approved of men.

FOR HE WHO IN THIS WAY SERVES CHRIST: o gar en touto douleuon (PAPMSN) to Christo:

 

He who gives up his liberty in a good thing that heretofore his partaking of had resulted in slanderous speech...the one who does this is the one is truly a bondslave, serving his Master Christ, submitting his will to that of His Master and like His Master walking in love (which includes laying down one's rights for the sake of the higher good of the other brother). This will result in a righteous, peaceful and joy filled walk which pleases the Father and men will see and deem to be a worthy walk, a genuine walk. This is surely "love without hypocrisy" (Ro12:9).

 

IS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD AND APPROVED BY MEN : euarestos to theo kai dokimos tois anthropois: (2Co 4:2,5:11, 8:21, 1Th 1:3,4, Ja 2:18-26, 1Pe 3:16)

God judges the inward motives. Man sees the outward effects. If righteousness, peace and joy are being progressively manifest in our life, this could only come from a heart surrendered to God, the "branch" bearing fruit because he or she is abiding in the Vine, walking in obedience to the truth, in context not holding on to his or her rights concerning external, non essentials but laying down his or her rights for the sake of eternal lasting fruit.
           
Approved (1384) (dokimos) (related verb "dokimazo" (1381) in Ro 14:22
)  Conveys the idea of approval after testing and was commonly applied in the Greco-Roman world to the practice of assessing the genuineness and value of precious metals like gold and silver. The metal was given a fiery test and if it came out "persevering and enduring", the metal was judged to be "proven", "authentic" or "genuine."  This word group is also found in an early manuscript, referring to the action of an examining board putting its approval upon those who had successfully passed the examination for the degree of Doctor of Medicine.

Dokimos - 7x in NT: Ro 16:10,1Co 11:19, 2Co 10:18, 2Co 13:7, 2Ti 2:15-see notes, Jas 1:12)

One gets an added sense of the "dokimos" by studying several secular uses of the antonym "Adokimos" (G96) (unapproved) which was used to refer to a  COUNTERFEIT COIN that had been tested and found to be below the standard weight and thus was rejected, to a COWARDLY SOLDIER who had failed the test in the hour of battle, to a REJECTED CANDIDATE for office whom the citizens regarded as useless, to a building STONE which the builders rejected because on examination the stone was found to have a flaw which if used might jeopardize the structural integrity of the building. Such stones were marked with a capital "A" (for Adokimos) and were discarded, having been deemed unfit to be utilized in the construction of the building.

Ponder the practical application these pictures conger up in your mind for us as believers who are as approved

"living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1Pe 2:5-note).

We may be the "only Bible" many in the skeptical world will ever read as they "read" how we live with and treat one another over Christmas trees and length of hair and color of the carpet in the sanctuary, etc, etc. How vital and eternally important to our witness is our proper conduct in these "little" non essential externals!

Ponder Jesus' challenging declaration that...

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13:35)

Paul's similarly gave us a challenging command to...

"Do ALL  things WITHOUT grumbling or disputing that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world". (Php 2:14, 15-note

Donald Barnhouse has this helpful note on dokimos:

"In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into molds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called "dokimos" or "approved".

F B Meyer writes (Our Daily Homily)...

Dean Howson renders this verse thus: “He who lives in these things as Christ’s bondsman is well-pleasing to God, and cannot be condemned by men.” There are two rules, therefore, to be observed by us when we consider our behaviour in that great borderland which lies between the dark and light, the clearly wrong and clearly right. We are all conscious of habits and tastes, of inclinations towards certain forms of amusement and recreation, of methods of life, which do not contravene any distinct law of God, but are certainly open to question. It is such things that fall within the scope of these two principles.

First, we must always remember that we are Christ’s bondservants. — Let us look then, every day and hour, and as to the mental habit, every moment, upon Jesus Christ as our Master. Saintly George Herbert chose that to be, as it were, his best — beloved aspect of his Savior; “My Master, Jesus.” “An oriental fragrancy, my Master.” Let us do the same. Let us wear the word next the heart, next the will; nay, let it sink into the very springs of both, deeper every day. And as each fresh question arises in our life, let us stand close beside Him, noticing the expression of His face, asking Him what He would desire, and always reckoning that the least suggestion of his preference is law. “None of us liveth to himself for, whether we live, we live unto the Lord.”

Second, we must always bear in mind the spiritual life of others. — We are to put no stumbling block, or occasion for falling, in another’s way. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor to do any other thing, whereby our brother is made to stumble. Let us each of us please his neighbor for good ends, to build him up; for Christ pleased not Himself.

 

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Ara oun ta tes eirenes diokomen (1PPAS) kai ta tes oikodomes tes eis allelous
Amplified: So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  So let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another's character.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Accordingly, therefore, the things of peace let us be eagerly and earnestly seeking after, and the things which edify, which edification is with a view to the edification of one another.
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: So, then, the things of peace may we pursue, and the things of building up one another;

SO THEN LET US PURSUE THE THINGS WHICH MAKE FOR PEACE: Ara oun ta tes eirenes diokomen (1PPAS):

Phillips paraphrase

So let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another's character.

So then - This phrase is frequent in Paul's writings and means in essence "therefore then" which draws a conclusion -- therefore motivated by these worthy goals of being acceptable to God and approved by men we (note here Paul uses "we" thus including himself) are to

"...pursue the things which make for peace..." 

Because of the great "benefits", Paul is exhorting all believers to have more than a slight interest in these "things". Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of "pursue" gives us a sense of Paul's zeal here --

"o follow with a view to overtake; to follow with haste; to chase; as, to pursue a hare. To seek; to use measures to obtain. To endeavor to attain to; to strive to reach or gain."

Pursue (1377) (dioko) (4 other uses in Romans: Ro 9:30, Ro 9:31, Ro 12:13, Ro 12:14) This word is often translated "persecute" in NT but here dioko means to follow or press hard after or pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain an objective. Go after with the desire of obtaining, like a runner in a race running and exerting with every fiber within him to reach the goal.

Dioko is in the present tense = continually press hard after = let this be your lifestyle. Not perfection but the direction! The pattern of your life!

For added insights compare similar uses of dioko in 1Co 14:1, Php 3:12, Php 3:14, 1Th 5:15, 1Ti 6:11, 2Ti 2:22, Heb 12:14, 1Pe 3:11.

Dioko - 45x in 44v - Matt 5:10ff, 44; 10:23; 23:34; Luke 11:49; 17:23; 21:12; John 5:16; 15:20; Acts 7:52; 9:4f; 22:4, 7f; 26:11, 14f; Rom 9:30f; 12:13f; 14:19; 1 Cor 4:12; 14:1; 15:9; 2 Cor 4:9; Gal 1:13, 23; 4:29; 5:11; 6:12; Phil 3:6, 12, 14; 1Th 5:15; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22; 3:12; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 3:11; Rev 12:13

Only one RACE twill soon be past,
Only what's yielded to and done for and by Christ will last.

What "things" is Paul speaking of? In context the things which make for peace have been clearly delineated: accepting of one another, giving up our rights so that we don't cause a brother to stumble or ruin him, not holding him in contempt, not judging our brother in those areas where the Bible is silent, and doing so with the full realization that we all have a Master and He alone is the Judge Whom we shall  all stand before to give an accounting for our stewardship of those truths which when practiced bring forth the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 

Solomon might add

"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (Ecc 12:13, 14)

Peace (1515) (eirene [word study]) from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”. It follows that peace is the opposite of division or dissension.  Peace as a state of concord and harmony is the opposite of war. Peace was used as a greeting or farewell corresponding to the Hebrew word shalom - "peace to you".

Peace is defined by Cremer as

"a state of untroubled, undisturbed wellbeing.”

Webster defines peace as a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, harmony in personal relations, a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, state of repose in contrast with or following strife or turmoil.

Eirene can convey the sense of an inner rest, well being and harmony. The ultimate peace is the state of reconciliation with God, effected by placing one's faith in the gospel. In eschatology, peace is prophesied to be an essential characteristic of the Messianic kingdom (Acts 10:36).

Peace is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies or inwardly, as in the current context, within the soul. Peace implies health, well-being, and prosperity. 

Eirene is the root the English "serene" (= clear and free of storms or unpleasant change, stressing an unclouded and lofty tranquility!) and "serenity".

I rest beneath the Almighty's shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.
---Charles Wesley.

The picture of eirene is reflected in our modern expression "having it all together." Everything is in place and as it ought to be. When things are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and well being. When they are joined together, there is both. Thus Hamlet cried,

“The times are out of joint. O, cursed spite that I was ever born to set them right.” 

Peace contrasts with strife and thus denotes the absence or end of strife.  Peace for a believer is not the absence of danger but is the presence of God (cp Psalm 27:1 - See Spurgeon's note). Peace is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church but is the supernatural fruit of a heart set deep in God and His trustworthy Word. And so peace is the conscious possession of adequate resources for God's Name is "I Am ____________." (Fill in the blank with your need... not your greed, but your need!) Peace rules your day when Christ (and His Word) rules your mind, because peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.

Ray Stedman notes that...

 Whenever you are doing something that threatens the peace of a community, or a church, or a group, or an individual, so that they cannot handle it, so that they become angry and upset, then back off. You who are strong, bear that burden. Do not insist on your rights. Some Christians get so intent on having their rights that I have seen them indulge in the very presence of people they knew would be highly offended by what they did, simply because they wanted to show how free they were. Paul says that kind of thing is absolutely wrong.

J C Philpot devotional

What a sweetness is contained in the word "peace." Bunyan well represents this in his Pilgrim's Progress, where he speaks of Christian, after having been entertained in the "house Beautiful," going to sleep in the chamber called "Peace." And what blessed sensations are couched in that word "Peace!" It was the legacy that Jesus left to his Church. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you;" and the Apostle says of it that it "passes all understanding."

Now many even of the Lord's people seem as if they wanted and were expecting raptures. There is, I believe, a vast deal of enthusiasm in the natural mind of man, as is evident from what I may call its religious history in all ages; and this leads many who, in other points, seem rightly taught to look for wonderful visions, ecstasies, and raptures, things which nature can imitate, or Satan, as an "angel of light," counterfeit to delude souls.

But I believe Satan cannot speak gospel peace to the conscience; he cannot bring a holy calm into the soul. He could lash the waters of Gennesaret into a storm; but there was only One who could say to them, "Peace, be still." Satan may raise up a storm in our carnal mind, but he cannot allay it; he cannot pour oil upon the waves; nor calm the troubled breast, and enable it to rest upon God. Of all spiritual blessings, none seem preferable to peace; and I believe that it is what a child of God covets more than anything. For, O how much is implied in the word "peace!" Is not man by nature an enemy to God? Then to be saved he must be reconciled; and that implies peace. Is not his heart often troubled, as the Lord said, "Let not your heart be troubled?" Then he needs peace. And is not his mind often agitated and tossed up and down by conflicting emotions? Then he needs peace to calm it. And when he has to lie upon his dying bed, O, if he can but lie there in peace, peace with God through Jesus Christ, and a holy calm comes over his soul, flowing out of manifested mercy and felt reconciliation, it will beat all the raptures in the world!

To be blessed with peace, through the blood of sprinkling, before the soul glides out of its earthly tabernacle to enter into the haven of peace above--this indeed will make a death-bed happy, this will extract every thorn from the dying pillow, and enable the departing believer to say, with holy Simeon, "Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation." (J. C. Philpot. Daily Portions)
 

AND THE BUILDING UP OF ONE ANOTHER : kai ta tes oikodoms tes eis allelous: (1Th 5:11, Acts 20:32)

 

Building up (3619) (oikodome [word study] from oikos = dwelling, house + doma = building or demo = to build) is literally the building of a house and came to refer to any building process. Oikodome can refer to the actual process of building or construction. Another literal meaning is as a reference to a building or edifice which is the result of a construction process (Mt 24:1, Mk 13:1, 2 are the only literal uses of oikodome in the NT). (See sermon by Alexander Maclaren entitled "Edification")

 

Oikodome is also used by Paul in Ro 15:2-note (Compare similar uses in 2Co 13:10, Eph 4:12-note, Eph 4:16-note, Eph 4:29-note)  

 

When used literally oikodome refers to the building of a house (oíkos [3624]) and when used figuratively as Paul does in this verse oikodome refers to the spiritual edification of one another which can include what we say to one another in regard to non essentials.

 

Note Paul's admonition

Let "no unwholesome ("rotten") word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for EDIFICATION (oikodome) according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear."  (Eph 4:29-note)

 

Webster's dictionary says our English "edify"  is derived from the Latin aedificare to instruct or improve spiritually, in turn from Latin, to erect a house,  in turn from aedes temple, house. What a picture of the power of our words in regard to non-essentials.

 

Do my words tear down a brother, either because I despise his ignorance of his liberty or because I judge him for what I perceive as abuse of his liberty? Or do I build up my brother with words that are good for edification according to the need of the moment" (Eph 4:29)? This chapter is incredibly convicting isn't it?
           
In (1Cor 8:1) Paul warned the Corinthian church that KNOWLEDGE makes one arrogant (and predisposes them to causing another brother to stumble or be ruined in these "grey" areas) but LOVE edifies or builds up. Considering that scripture is the best commentary on scripture, examine Paul's parallel thoughts in (1Cor 8:1-13) where he instructs us on how to handle the "do's, don't and differences".

 

Love says I know that I have the liberty to act in this "grey" area but I will chose not to do it because it might stumble or ruin my brother who is watching me "indulge". This then is walking in love w/o hypocrisy (Ro 12:9), being fully devoted to one another in brotherly love, thoroughly giving preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10-note), continually owing nothing but love to one another (Ro 13:8-note) and so doing with the realization that "the Judge is standing right at the door" (James 5:9), that "the night is almost gone and the day is at hand" (Ro 13:12-note) and that we all have an appointment on our "day timer" to appear at the Bema seat of Christ (Ro 14:10, 11, 12-note, 2Co5:9,10).
           
The Disciple's Study Bible has this note...

 Paul's teaching here is of supreme importance as one of the building blocks for a consistent approach to Christian decision-making. Though Paul claimed his freedom in Christ, he still (1Co 9:1,19, 10:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33) highlighted the need to be sensitive to others' consciences. Our conscience may not be violated by a particular action, but such an action may be perceived as immoral by other individuals living out of another level of ethical maturity. For them moral confusion may set in. Does one live life, then, continually bending to the dictates of others' consciences? Yes, when the motivation is to nurture others in the understanding of the kingdom of God and to bring honor to God. No, when the bending limits or alters our own sense of maturity in God. A fragile balance results, and constant vigilance to such a tension is necessary. We must avoid an attitude of condemnation and a feeling of guilt. We must seek to mature and help others mature. Above all, we must seek to avoid quarrels and divisions in God's church. Church unity is more important than my freedom. (Disciple's Study Bible)

           
Warren Wiersbe writes that...

Our desire must not be to get everybody to agree with us; our desire must be to pursue peace (Ro 12:18-note "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men"), not cause others to stumble, and help others to mature in Christ. What starts as grieving (Ro 14:15) can become offending (Ro 14:21), and causing others to stumble and fall (Ro 14:13, 21). The result might be destroying a brother’s or sister’s faith (Ro 14:15, 20). Is destroying another just to have your own way worth it? (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor )

One another  (240) (allelon) means each other and speaks of a mutuality or sharing of sentiments between two persons or groups of persons. Allelon is a reciprocal pronoun which denotes that the encouragement and edification is to be a mutual beneficial activity. As each submits, encourages, loves, etc, the other members benefit. This is the God's description and prescription for a body of believers.

One another is a common NT phrase (especially in Paul's letters) with most uses relating to the building up of the body of Christ. As such the "one anothers" in the NT would make an excellent Sunday School study (or topical sermon series), taking time to meditate on each occurrence, asking whether it is being practiced (in the Spirit-note) in your local church and seeking to excel still more (cp Php 1:9, 10, 11 -notes; 1Th 3:12-note, 1Th 4:1-note, 1Th 4:10-note). Below is a list  of the NT uses of one another (be sure to check the context for the most accurate interpretation).

Ro 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16; 1Co 6:7; 7:5; 11:33; 12:25; 16:20; 2Co 13:12; Ga 5:13, 15, 26; Ep 4:2, 25, 32; 5:19, 21; Php 2:3; Col 3:9, 13, 16; 1Th 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 13, 15; 2Th 1:3; Heb 3:13; 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1Pe 1:22; 4:8, 9, 10; 5:5, 14; 1Jn 1:7; 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2Jn 1:5

 

 


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