on Romans 14 :2
One believeth that he may eat all things - He believes that whatsoever is wholesome and nourishing, whether herbs or flesh - whether enjoined or forbidden by the Mosaic law - may be safely and conscientiously used by every Christian.
Another, who is weak, eateth herbs - Certain Jews, lately converted to the Christian faith, and having as yet little knowledge of its doctrines, believe the Mosaic law relative to clean and unclean meats to be still in force; and therefore, when they are in a Gentile country, for fear of being defiled, avoid flesh entirely and live on vegetables. And a Jew when in a heathen country acts thus, because he cannot tell whether the flesh which is sold in the market may be of a clean or unclean beast; whether it may not have been offered to an idol; or whether the blood may have been taken properly from it.
on Romans 14 :2
For one believeth - This was the case with the Gentiles in general, who had none of the scruples of the Jew about the propriety of eating certain kinds of meat. Many of the converts who had been Jews might also have had the same view as the apostle Paul evidently had while the great mass of Jewish converts might have cherished these scruples.
May eat all things - That is, he will not be restrained by any scruples about the lawfulness of certain meats, etc.
Another who is weak - There is reference here, doubt less, to the Jewish convert. The apostle admits that he was "weak," that is, not fully established in the views of Christian liberty. The question with the Jew doubtless was, whether it was lawful to eat the meat which was offered in sacrifice to idols. In those sacrifices a part only of the animal was offered, and the remainder was eaten by the worshippers, or offered for sale in the market like other meat. It became an inquiry whether it was lawful to eat this meat; and the question in the mind of a Jew would arise from the express command of his Law; Exodus 34:15. This question the apostle discussed and settled in 1 Corinthians 10:20-32, which see. In that place the general principle is laid down, that it was lawful to partake of that meat as a man would of any other, "unless it was expressly pointed out to him as having been sacrificed to idols, and unless his partaking of it would be considered as countenancing the idolators in their worship;" Romans 14:28. But with this principle many Jewish converts might not have been acquainted; or what is quite as probable, they might not have been disposed to admit its propriety.
Eateth herbs - Herbs or "vegetables" only; does not partake of meat at all, for "fear" of eating that, inadvertently, which had been offered to idols. The Romans abounded in sacrifices to idols; and it would not be easy to be certain that meat which was offered in the market, or on the table of a friend, had not been offered in this manner. To avoid the possibility of partaking of it, even "ignorantly," they chose to eat no meat at all. The scruples of the Jews on the subject might have arisen in part from the fact that sins of "ignorance" among them subjected them to certain penalties; Leviticus 4:2-3, etc.; Leviticus 5:15; Numbers 15:24, Numbers 15:27-29. Josephus says (Life, Section 3) that in his time there were certain priests of his acquaintance who "supported themselves with figs and nuts." These priests had been sent to Rome to be tried on some charge before Caesar: and it is probable that they abstained from meat because it might have been offered to idols. It is expressly declared of Daniel when in Babylon, that he lived on pulse and water, that he might not "defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank;" Daniel 1:8-16.
on Romans 14 :2
14:2 All things - All sorts of food, though forbidden by the law.