Summary: Shades of opinion in the Christian church. We shall all appear before Christ.


Romans 14:1-12.

This passage has much to say about receiving one another in the Lord. Paul defines “the weak in the faith” (Romans 14:1) as those who have scruples about what they eat (Romans 14:2). Do not “despise” them, warns Paul; but he also warns the weak not to “judge” the strong “for” (he says of both) “God has received him” (Romans 14:3).

Another reason not to reject somebody whom God has received is because that is to set oneself up as a judge over “another man’s servant”. “To his own master he stands or falls”. And, indeed, he will be upheld, “for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

In a second point of contention, “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day (alike)” (Romans 14:5a). These are really “doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1), and should not cause us to judge or despise one another. Only, says Paul, “Let everyone be fully persuaded in their own mind” (Romans 14:5b).

Here is the key: Whatever you do, do it “unto the Lord”; and whatever you eat, give thanks to God (Romans 14:6). “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself (alone). For while we live, we live unto the Lord; and when we die, we die unto the Lord: so whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:7-8). This is why Christ “died and rose and lived again: that He might rule over the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).

“Why do you judge your brother?” Paul asks the weak; and “why do you set at nought your brother?” he asks the strong, “for we shall all stand at the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10). In the context, this “all” is referring to Christians, whether “weak” or strong: all of whom “God has enabled to stand” (Romans 14:4). These are those who are ‘born again of the Spirit of God’ (cf. John 3:5), all of whom have ‘passed from death unto life’ (cf. John 5:24), each a ‘new creature’ in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Greek “bema” - translated “judgment seat” in Romans 14:10 (and Matthew 27:19) - refers to a raised dais, a tribunal (cf. Acts 12:21) or throne. However, the judgment being exercised on this throne of Christ is not a judgment of final destiny as in John 5:28-29, but a judgment of reward (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:17-19; 1 John 2:28). If we are believers, we already have ‘everlasting life’ (cf. John 5:24) because the condemnation which we deserved has already fallen upon Jesus at the Cross of Calvary (cf. Romans 8:1).

In Romans 14:11 the Apostle offers a free translation of Isaiah 45:23. That which is applied to God there is clearly applied to Jesus Himself in Philippians 2:9-11. Jesus is God the Son (cf. Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13).

Again, in completing today’s passage, we are reminded that “Every one of us shall give account of himself (not his brother) to God” (Romans 14:12; cf. Galatians 6:4). ‘He that judges me is the Lord’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:4-5). So, ‘Judge not that you (all) be not judged’ (Matthew 7:1).