Pod Prep: 2-2-18
The Deep Meaning of Romans 14:5-7
A FULL, DEEP, COMPREHENSIVE REVEALING OF ROMANS 14:5
If one approaches Paul's writing from the worldly Christian doctrines they wish to defend, his message can be easily twisted to appear that he was supporting false doctrines. We will uncover the clear and deep message Paul is expounding. Paul is writing to brethren who have had no major teacher in their area. Paul had not yet gone to Rome. He knew a number of brethren had learned and been converted to Christianity on Holy Day trips to Jerusalem primarily, and returned home to Rome. He now, in this portion of the Letter to the Roman believers, is teaching toleration regarding 'doubtful issues' and in dealing with the weak. Some hope this verse says we do not have to keep the Sabbath day, because it is now a matter of personal preference. This is a misinterpretation of what Paul is talking about.
Ro 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. (NKJV)
First remember the WEAK brother is afraid of the Pagan Temple contamination of the meat while the strong brother is not concerned and eats all clean meats available. The doubtful issue is again contaminated meat. Paul is telling them be kind to the weak brother who may not see things the way you do. They maybe strong on opinion but weak in faith. Paul says they have their own history to deal with so treat them gently. He is telling both the strong and weak to stop the hostility and arguing. Be tolerant. Treat your brother gently.
Ro 14:5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
The world interprets this verse to say “ ONE MAN OBSERVES ONE DAY FOR THE LORD, WHILE ANOTHER MAN OBSERVES EVERY DAY FOR THE LORD. Some variations may say don't give any day more importance than any other day, or no special day exists. One day on my porch two individuals from a church came by with their typical literature and said they would help me really understand the Bible. I brought up the Sabbath, and asked why don't you keep it? They replied that they kept everyday holy. I said, well when do you work and what day do you worship upon? They immediately exited my porch without another word, and scraped the dirt off their shoes. Paul could not have been saying attend synagogue to hear the scrolls read and services afterwards any day or no day at all. This would make no sense. When would one work and when would one honor God to attend services and worship God? No church could operate without a agreed upon day of worship. These Jewish and proselytes to Judaism were arguing over which days to make special to God for fasting and other activities in order to be pious. No evangelist had yet gone to Rome so few raw gentiles would be among them. Paul's conversions almost always began at the synagogue. These Roman Christians would never ever have considered the Sabbath a “doubtful issue”. Remember they debated circumcision for many years. An elimination of the Sabbath so casually is not possible without a long tough debate throughout the New Testament.
Paul is declaring that if you choose to fast on a specific day to God, it is good. If one chooses to use another day it is also good, or you could alternate around the days you choose during the week as well. If you choose not to observe some special day it is also good. This matter is between you and God. We think a debate existed among very religious Jews regarding which day or two days would be best to fast upon. Probably Tuesday Thursday or Monday Wednesday or just Wednesday. Paul knows that we all are Jesus' servants and we serve him and we should not hassle each other over “doubtful issues”. The Sabbath is never a doubtful issue. It is at the heart of the Ten Commandments and descriptions of the Feast Days. The Sabbath is not a fast day it is a feast day . Be tolerant and never judge others over disputable issues. That is Christ's responsibility.
THE CHRISTIANS IN ROME NEEDED CRUCIAL BASIC DOCTRINES
They were raw Jewish and Proselytes to Judaism converts. They needed to know the basics since Christianity was then seen as a separate division or sect within Judaism. The book of Romans is a book of basics because the Romans had never had an Evangelist or Apostle teach them. Paul the Apostle to the gentiles had not yet reached the city of Rome. Therefore he sent them this long letter. Note his desire to come which was thwarted for years. He gave the basics on grace in this letter to Romans.
Ro 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established-- 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
Paul's arrival in Rome was a few years away and when he did arrive he had special protection. Paul was under house arrest for two years in Rome. Roman soldiers guarded him so he could invite many Jewish leaders to hear his teachings and they could not create riots to silence and run him out of town as occurred in other cities in the empire. God thru Paul's appeal to Caesar was given a protected platform to evangelize the Capital of the Empire.
Ac 28:16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him. 17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 19 "But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 "For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." 21 Then they said to him, "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 "But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere." 23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
Note that Paul preached Jesus to them out of the Old Testament, not in contradiction to the O.T. What is the heart of the law of Moses? The Ten Commandments and right in the middle is the Fourth Commandment, the seventh day Sabbath. It is clear that Paul was a Sabbatarian. Note the following scriptures.
Ac 13:42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.
Note that in the above verses Paul and Barnabas have left the synagogue and are going to evangelize the gentiles. If Sunday were the new Sabbath they could have said “Why wait to next week come tomorrow on Sunday and or next Sunday. No they preached to the gentiles on the Sabbath. Paul also honored and kept the Sabbath as his manner was on the following occasions as any true worshiper of God would expect to do: Acts 17:1-2 ; 17:10 , 18:4, 18:19-21.
The book of Romans is not a discussion of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not mentioned anywhere in Romans Chapter Fourteen. The Sabbath is not mentioned in the entire book of Romans. The verses Romans 14:5-7 is not a discussion or cancellation of the Sabbath. But, what is Paul emphasizing?
PAUL'S MESSAGE TO THE OBSESSED AND WEAK, UNBALANCED BRETHREN AT ROME
The Apostle is clearly giving several parts of a unified message. The basic message is to be tolerant of the other brethren s' religious beliefs. If they are weak and so obsessed with avoiding eating any possible contaminated meat that they become vegetarians leave them alone. Those that are stronger and more balanced and less obsessed and fearful should not judge. The purist vegetarians also should not judge the stronger meat eating Romans. With regard to fasting on certain days of the week, they should not judged each other or argue.
Ro 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
Judging and cutting debates could put stumbling blocks before our fellow brethren. It would be better to give the weaker more unbalanced brethren time to grow and self correct. Arguing never works because of the human ego. Why was fasting so important to some of Jewish people ?
Lu 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
This self-righteous approach was within some factions of Judaism. It should not be a surprise that fasting often and methodically on certain days would also effect some of the believers in Rome. No Apostle had been their to deliver some level of balance and trusting in faith and grace. But Paul did have a lot of that teaching of grace within this letter.
Paul is saying :
1. If you are obsessed with meat purity you are weak but others should leave you alone.
2. If you are obsessed with frequent fastings during the week to showcase you are weak.
3. If you are obsessed over which days are best to fast on you are weak and unbalanced.
4. All days in the week are alike of course except the Sabbath. They would all know that.