on Romans 14 :23
And he that doubteth - This verse is a necessary part of the preceding, and should be read thus: But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith. The meaning is sufficiently plain. He that feeds on any kind of meats prohibited by the Mosaic law, with the persuasion in his mind that he may be wrong in so doing, is condemned by his conscience for doing that which he has reason to think God has forbidden.
For whatsoever is not of faith is sin - Whatever he does, without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, (see Romans 14:22) is to him sin; for he does it under a conviction that he may be wrong in so doing. Therefore, if he makes a distinction in his own conscience between different kinds of meats, and yet eats of all indifferently, he is a sinner before God; because he eats either through false shame, base compliance, or an unbridled appetite; and any of these is in itself a sin against the sincerity, ingenuousness, and self-denying principles of the Gospel of Christ.
Some think that these words have a more extensive signification, and that they apply to all who have not true religion, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; every work of such persons being sinful in the sight of a holy God, because it does not proceed from a pure motive. On this ground our Church says, Art. xiii, "Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they are not of faith in Jesus Christ; yes, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin." To this we may add, that without faith it is impossible to please God; every thing is wrong where this principle is wanting.
There are few readers who have not remarked that the last three verses of this epistle (Romans 16:25-27) appear to stand in their present place without any obvious connection; and apparently after the epistle is concluded. And it is well known to critics, that two MSS. in uncial letters, the Cod. A and I, with upwards of 100 others, together with the Slavonic, the later Syriac and Arabic, add those verses at the end of the fourteenth chapter. The transposition is acknowledged by Cyril, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Theodulus, Damascenus, and Tertullian; see Wetstein. Griesbach inserts them at the end of this chapter as their proper place; and most learned men approve of this transposition. It may be necessary to repeat the words here that the reader may see with what propriety they connect with the subject which terminates the fourteenth chapter as it now stands.
Romans 14:23 : And he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Romans 16:25 : Now, to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, (according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began,
Romans 16:26 : But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith);
Romans 16:27 : To God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Romans 15:1 : We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, etc.
These words certainly connect better with the close of the fourteenth chapter and the beginning of the fifteenth than they do with the conclusion of the sixteenth, where they are now generally found; but I shall defer my observations upon them till I come to that place, with only this remark, that the stablishing mentioned Romans 16:25, corresponds well with the doubting, Romans 14:23, and indeed the whole matter of these verses agrees so well with the subject so largely handled in the preceding chapter, that there can be very little doubt of their being in their proper place if joined to the end of this chapter, as they are in the preceding MSS. and versions.
on Romans 14 :23
He that doubteth - He that is not fully satisfied in his mind; who does not do it with a clear conscience. The margin has it rendered correctly, "He that discerneth and putteth a difference between meats." He that conscientiously believes, as the Jew did, that the Levitical law respecting the difference between meats was binding on Christians.
Is damned - We apply this word almost exclusively to the future punishment of the wicked in hell. But it is of importance to remember, in reading the Bible, that this is not of necessity its meaning. It means properly to "condemn;" and here it means only that the person who should thus violate the dictates of his conscience would incur guilt, and would be blameworthy in doing it. But it does not affirm that he would inevitably sink to hell. The same construction is to be put on the expression in 1 Corinthians 11:29, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."
For whatsoever ... - "Whatever is not done with a full conviction that it is right, is sinful; whatever is done when a man doubts whether it is right, is sin." This is evidently the fair interpretation of this place. Such the connection requires. It does not affirm that all or any of the actions of impenitent and unbelieving people are sinful, which is true, but not the truth taught here; nor does it affirm that all acts which are not performed by those who have faith in the Lord Jesus, are sinful; but the discussion pertains to Christians; and the whole scope of the passage requires us to understand the apostle as simply saying that a man should not do a thing doubting its correctness; that he should have a strong conviction that what he does is right; and that if he has "not" this conviction, it is sinful. The rule is of universal application. In all cases, if a man does a thing which he does not "believe" to be right, it is a sin, and his conscience will condemn him for it. It may be proper, however, to observe that the converse of this is not always true, that if a man believes a thing to be right, that therefore it is not sin. For many of the persecutors were conscientious John 16:2; Acts 26:9; and the murderers of the Son of God did it ignorantly Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8; and yet were adjudged as guilty of enormous crimes; compare Luke 11:50-51; Acts 2:23, Acts 2:37.
In this chapter we have a remarkably fine discussion of the nature of Christian charity. Differences of "opinion" will arise, and people will be divided into various sects; but if the rules which are laid down in this chapter were followed, the contentions, and altercations, and strifes among Christians would cease. Had these rules been applied to the controversies about rites, and forms, and festivals, that have arisen, peace might have been preserved. Amid all such differences, the great question is, whether there is true love to the Lord Jesus. If there is, the apostle teaches us that we have no right to judge a brother, or despise him, or contend harshly with him. Our object should be to promote peace, to aid him in his efforts to become holy, and to seek to build him up in holy faith.
on Romans 14 :23
14:23 Because it is not of faith - He does not believe it lawful and, in all these cases, whatsoever is not of faith is sin - Whatever a man does without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, it is sin to him.