Special Studies

Scripture Reading:  Romans 14:1-8


Power Point Show

Romans 14 and the Scope of Fellowship

(God’s plan for unity in matters of liberty)



1.  Romans 14 was written to help Christians achieve unity among themselves in the area of liberty, i.e., matters which in and of themselves are indifferent before God.

2.  The old adage, in matters of faith, unity; in matters of judgment, liberty; in all things, charity" appropriately applies to the context of Romans 14.

3.  Unfortunately, some are not content to apply Romans 14 only to matters of opinion or personal liberty.  They insist that Romans 14 can be appealed to as a basis for unity in at least some doctrinal matters.

  a.  Toleration for the use of instrumental music in worship, institutionalism, denominationalism, homosexuality, adultery, divorce and remarriage, fellowship with false teachers and much more has been advocated using Romans 14.

  b.  Unity in moral &/or diversity;  The belief and practice that we can differ in doctrine and still be united in Christ - has lifted Romans 14 out of its proper context and application to make God's word say something never intended by the Holy Spirit.

4.  Romans 14 has been greatly abused as men attempt to justify &/or tolerate sin & error (unity in diversity).

5.  There is a proper use of Romans 14 today.

  a.  Our task will be to correctly understand & apply Romans 14:1-15:7.

  b.  When we do so we will be equipped to properly use it in our own lives as citizens of God’s kingdom (Rom. 14:17).

6.  Outline the chapter & set its context, define important terms & study the text, make appropriate applications & warn of abuses of Rom. 14.



  A.  Outlining the Chapter.

    1.  Defining the Problem:  Doubtful Disputations 14:1-12.

    2.  The Remedy that Makes for Peace14:13-23.

    3.  An Appeal for Unity Rather than Disputes in Matters of Liberty15:1-7.

  B.  Text and Context.

    1.  Text:  Things that are clean (14:14), good (14:16), acceptable (14:18), & pure (14:20).

    2.  Immediate context: No moral sins (Rom. 13:11-14); no doctrinal sins (Rom. 16:17-19).

    3.  Distant context:

      a)  Col. 3:5-11 – Put sin to death.

      b)  Gal. 5:19-21 – Works of the flesh.

      c)  Eph. 5:11-14 – Reprove sin (not tolerate it).

      d)  2 Cor. 6:14 – No unequal yoking.

      e)  2 Jno. 9-11 – No fellowship with sin.

    4.  Romans 14 addresses matters which are indifferent before God.

    5.  Attempts to put that which Scripture defines as sin into Romans 14 violates the text and its context!  There should be no dispute over this!

  C.  Any Attempt to Put Sinful Doctrines or Practices into Romans 14:

    1.  Violates the context (no moral or doctrinal sins).

    2.  Puts God into fellowship with sin (14:3, 4, 6, 18, 22; 15:7).

    3.  Brings sin into the church (14:17; 15:5).

    4.  Provides basis for open-ended fellowship with sin (15:6-7).



  A.  The Strong Brother (meat-eater) Was Despising (looking down on) the Weak Brother (herb-eater) – 14:3, 10.

  B.  The Weak Brother (herb-eater) Was Judging (condemning) the Strong Brother (meat-eater) – 14:3-4, 10.

  C.  Both, As They Were, Pleased God – 14:4, 6, 10-12.

  D.  Therefore, Both Were to Receive the Other! – Rom. 14:1 & 15:7

      -Here is the scope of fellowship taught in Romans 14!



  A.  The Weak (14:1).

    1.  Eats herbs (14:2); Does not observe days (14:5-6); Do not judge the strong (14:3).

    2.  Weak in conscience14:2, 14, 23.

      a.  Doubts the propriety of participating in matters of opinion (meats & days):  Abstains from meat & observes days - 14:6, 14.

      b.  Weak in knowledge & conscience concerning matters of liberty (are indifferent before God) – 14:14, 20 [cf. 1 Cor. 8:4-12 parallels & explains Rom. 14].

      c.  Do not judge (condemn) the strong 14:3.

    3.  The “weak” (because he does not violate his conscience) is in good standing with God14:4, 6, 18 - (no sin is involved; not condemned!).

  B.  The Strong (14:1; 15:1).

    1.  Eats meat (14:2); Does observe days (14:5-6); Do not despise the weak (14:3).

    2.  Strong in conscience14:2.

      a.  Does not doubt the propriety of participating in matters of opinion (meats & days):  Eats meat & does not observe one day above another - 14:6.

      b. Strong in knowledge & conscience concerning matters of liberty (are indifferent before God) – 14:14, 20, 22.

      c.  Do not despise (look down on, show contempt for) the weak – 14:3.

    3.  The “strong” (because he does not violate his conscience) is in good standing with God14:4, 6, 18, 22 - (no sin is involved; not condemned!).

  C.  The Faith (14:1, 5, 22-23):

    1.  Personal conscience (confidence or trust) – 14:2, 22.

    2.  Personal faith (estimation, judgment, persuasion) – 14:5, 14, 22-23.

  D.  The Faith (Jude 3):  Revealed Truth, the Gospel (Gal. 1:23).  

  E.  Doubtful Disputations (scruples, ASV) – 14:1.

    1.  Disputes over doubtful things; dispute about opinions (decisions of doubts).

    2.  “The thinking of a man deliberating with himself” (Online Bible NT Lexicon).

    3.  Arguments over doubtful things which arise as one deliberates with himself.

  F.  Offend; Cause to Stumble; Become a Stumbling Block (14:13).

    1.  14:13 – Do not put a stumbling block before a fellow Christian!

    2.  Influence or &/or pressure upon the “weak in conscience” to do that which violates his conscience – cf. 1 Cor. 8:9-13.

      a.  14:14-15 – Grieves the weak due to his violation of conscience regarding that which he considers unclean.

      b.  14:20 – Destroys (14:15) the weak due to the sin of violating his conscience (14:23).

    3.  15:1-2 – Do not “please yourself” to the destruction of your brother (1 Cor. 8:13).


IV.  THE REMEDY:  RECEIVE EACH OTHER IN YOUR DIFFERENT SCRUPLES OF CONSCIENCE (matters which are indifferent to God).  {Patient forbearance & acceptance of each other}

  A.  Stop showing contempt & condemnation toward one another! – 14:1, 3, 10.

    1.  14:3 – Because each are accepted by God.

    2.  14:5 – Because each are fully persuaded in their own mind.

    3.  14:7-9 – Because each living unto the Lord who died for them (each were faithful!).

    4.  14:10-11 – Because each will be judged by the Lord.

    5.  14:12 – Because in such matters (of conscience & liberty), each are accountable to God (not man).

  B.  Stop putting stumbling blocks before each other! – 14:13-23.

    1.  14:14-15 - Because matters of liberty allow for differences of conscience.

    2.  14:15 – Because Christ died for the weak as well as the strong in conscience.

    3.  14:16 – Because we are to do good to each other.

    4.  14:17 – Because of the nature of the kingdom of God.

    5.  14:18 – Because in matters of liberty each serve Christ, are accepted by God, and are genuine (approved) before men.

    6.  14:20 – Because each Christian is more valuable than food (“the work of God”).



  A.  Follow the Example of Christ15:1-3.  (Unselfishness, love, sacrifice)

  B.  Receive Each Other With Patience & Encouragement 15:4-7.  (This glorifies God!)

     -Be like-minded toward one another!15:5



   -(Continues to be many appropriate & needful uses of Rom. 14 today!)

  A.  We Must Respect Each Others Conscience In Matters of Liberty.

    1.  Romans 14 nowhere instructs the “strong” to change the mind of the weak!

    2.  Stop the disputes & receive each other!

  B.  We Must Be Diligent Students of the Word in Order to Distinguish the Revealed Faith of Christ from the Personal Faith of Men – cf. Phil. 1:9-11 (2 Tim. 2:15).

  C.  Romans 14 Does NOT Teach Us To Have Ongoing Fellowship With Doctrinal Error or Immorality (We must NOT use it to condone such.)



1.  Rom. 14:1-15:7 teaches us to receive one another (with our different opinions in areas of personal liberty).  WHY?

  a.  Our motivation?  Christ has received us (without reservation, completely, for our edification, for peace)

  b.  We must receive each other in the same way!

2.  Romans 14 does not allow us to have unity in moral & doctrinal diversity (ongoing fellowship with sin) – 2 Jno. 9-11.