Romans 14 is set within the greater context of loving one another (see Romans 12:10 and 13:8a). The focus of Romans 14 is Christian liberty and matters of conscience. Therefore, Romans 14 offers practical instruction on how God wills for Christians to love one another when we have opposing viewpoints over disputable matters within the faith.
Read Romans 14 out loud.
1. In chapter 14, what are the specific issues dividing the church in Rome? (hint: there are three issues described in verses 2, 5, and 21)
2. The early church in Rome was made up of Gentile believers and Jewish converts. How does this knowledge shed light on the specific issues dividing the church in chapter 14? (hint: see Leviticus 11:1-2 and Deuteronomy 14:3)
3. Based on your understanding from question 2, who is Paul referring to as "weak in faith?" in chapter 14:1-2? Conversely, who is implied to be strong in the faith? (hint: one answer is 'Gentile believers' and the other answer is 'Jewish converts')
4. Building on your answers from questions 2 and 3, why does Paul refer to one group of believers as "weak?" Or, to phrase it another way, what does Paul mean by "weak?"
5. What does Paul instruct the strong in faith to do? (hint: see verses 1, 3, 13, 15, 19, 20, 21, and 15:1, 2, 7)
6. What does Paul instruct the weak in faith to do? (hint: see verses 3, 13, 19)
7. What does Paul instruct all believers to do? (hint: see verses 13 and 19)
8. What is the big idea Paul presents in order to refocus our attention on what's most important? (hint: see verse 17)
9. According to Paul, the stakes are high. What is at stake? (hint: see verse 20)
10. In verses 5 and 14, Paul suggests that the Christian conscience plays a vital role in how we are to respond in disputable matters. Then, in verse 23 he plainly states the consequences of acting in a way that's contrary to our conscience when he writes, "Whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." Read Psalm 149:1 and Hebrews 10:25 and consider the following question:
On the subject of wearing a mask in church, how can you apply the principles that we find in Romans 14 in light of the purposes that we find in Hebrews 10:25 and Psalm 149:1 (see lists of principles and purposes below)?
Principles for reconciling over disputable matters:
- Accept one another
- Do not look down on one another
- Do not pass judgement on one another
- Do not put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of one another
- Do not violate your conscience before God
Purposes for gathering for worship
- Sing to the LORD
- Stir up one another to love and good works
- Encourage one another
1. Permissible food and drink, and the observance of holy days
2. The Jewish converts had come into the faith from a lifetime of observing the Law of Moses. Specifically, the references to food and drink were references to the dietary laws put in place by God to teach his people that they were to be separate from the nations around them. The Gentile believers, however, came into the faith from a pagan background and were under no such compulsion.
3. Paul is referring to Jewish converts as being weak in faith and he implies that the Gentile believers are strong in faith.
4. The "weak" are the Jewish converts whose faith is sincere, but who are still living under certain dietary restrictions from Jewish ceremonial laws or traditions which are not binding on the Christian life or conscience. Paul refers to these believers as "weak" because they do not yet have a strong (i.e., accurate) grasp on the doctrines of the Christian faith with respect to these matters.
5. Welcome the weaker brother (v1), do not despise or look down on the weaker brother (v3), do not pass judgment on one another (v13), do not use your Christian liberty to destroy your weaker brother for whom Christ died (v15), pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification (v19), do not destroy the work of God (v20), do not do anything that causes your brother to stumble (v21), bear with the failings of the weak (15:1), please your neighbor for his good, to build him up (15:2), welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you (15:7).
6. Do not pass judgment on your brothers and sisters who have Christian liberty in disputable matters (v3), do not pass judgment on one another (v13), pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification (v19).
7. Do not pass judgment on one another (v13), pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification (v19).
8. Paul reminds the church that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
9. The work of God in every believer's life is at stake. Do not destroy it.
10. Read Romans 12-15:7, pray, think, discuss. Repeat.