Him that is weak in the faith receive you, but not in doubtful disputations.”
In this chapter Paul is dealing with what may have been a big  problem in the Roman church, but something that is continually confronting the Church and always demanding a solution.  In the Roman church there seems to have been two lines of thought: |
1.      Those who believed that in Christian liberty the old taboos were gone; that the old food    laws were now irrelevant and that Christianity did not consist in the special observance of any one day or days.
2.      Those who were full of scruples; who believed in the rigid observance of the Sabbath and its pertaining rules and laws; and they believed it was wrong to eat certain meats.  Paul calls these ultra-scrupulous persons as being weak in the faith.  They are weak in the faith because:
           a.          They have not yet discovered the meaning of Christian freedom.

 At heart, they are still legalists and see Christianity as consisting of rules and     regulations.  Legalism is still a big problem in the church today.  My fundamentalist      brethren often fall into this trap of legalism by coming up with so many rules of “thou shalt nots.”

b.          They have not freed themselves from belief in works.

In their hearts they bey believe that they can gain more of God’s favor by doing certain things and abstaining from others.

“Him that is weak in the faith
Literally:  “And the {one} being weak in the faith.”–Not firmly established; not “rooted and grounded in the faith” (Col. 2:7); not fully instructed in Christian knowledge.

Namely, the faith of the Gospel.  Paul has in mind the overly conscientious believer, who has not attained to such enlarged views of the liberty of the Gospel as to raise him above bondage to unessential outward observances.

            WEAK: (Grk.–asthenounta)—Literally: “being weak,”  or speaks of one who is for a time feeble, but may become strong. The weak ones here are most Jewish believers, and especially new converts from Judaism who are still influenced by the Jewish dietary          laws.  Paul’s comments about the “weak” Christian ends in verse 4.

           Paul’s purpose here is to encourage more mature Christians to receive to into their fellowship those who had scruples about the propriety of certain things, or might have peculiar prejudices and feelings as the result of prior  education or former habits of belief.  Paul therefore begins by admitting that such an one may be weak, i.e., not fully established, or not with so clear and enlarged views about Christian liberty as others might have.
This phrase does not mean one who is weak in the great truths of the Gospel, i.e., the fact of faith, but rather refers to the abstract quality of the faith. The faith of the weak falters and hesitates about matters of conduct.  He just does not know what he should do or not do in certain matters.
By these Paul is evidently referring to the converted Jew, who must indeed be weak in the faith if he considered this distinction of meats and days essential to his salvation. He might even be referring to some Jewish Christians who had been part of the Essene party. These Essenes  were a Jewish sect that were very strict about the Law and its dietary teachings. 
There are those who are “weak” in faith.  They do have true saving faith, they have received Christ; but, because of traditional or legal teaching; or perhaps even because of Satan’s accusations on account of former sins; or because they have not yet grasped the fact of their dying with Christ, and their present and eternal union with Him..Perhaps for some of these reasons they are weak.

          IN THE FAITH: (Grk.–tei pistei)—Literally: “in his believing.” This does not really refer as much to saving faith in Christ, for the weak brother does have that; but it refers to the idea of “assurance” or “conviction.”  

           Young or new converts have often a peculiar delicacy or sensitiveness about the lawfulness of many things in relation to which older Christians are more fully established. To produce peace, there must be kindness, tenderness, and faithful teaching; not denunciation, or harshness, on one side or the other.
Paul has in mind the overly conscientious believer, who has not attained to such enlarged views of the liberty of the Gospel as to raise him above bondage to unessential outward observances. Not him that is sick unto death through fundamental error, but one that is sound in the faith, though weak in judgment; men of honest hearts, but weak heads.

“receive ye”
Literally:  “receive into fellowship.”–Admit to your society or fellowship; receive him kindly; do not meet him with a cold and harsh repulse (comp. 15:7). 

            Receive him to your fellowship, treat him as a Christian, as a brother. Take him into your fellowship, but NOT to discuss and pass judgments on any doubts he may have.  Do not act so as to make distinctions about disagreements and reasonings. The idea is that disputes over doubtful questions must not be in the way of Christian fellowship.  Take these into your houses; yea, into your hearts; receive them into your society, into your communion, and do not let differences in judgment cause a distance in affection. The weak one is to be received into the fellowship of believers with open arms. 

            Here se see Paul urging the “stronger” or “more mature”  believers to receive, (accept) those who are still weak, or new,  in the faith. You may not with him, but you are to receive him if he is a believer in Christ.

“not to doubtful disputations”
Literally:  “Not to judgments of {your} thoughts.”–Do not quarrel or contend with him about his opinions, or fill his head full of curious and intricate questions. Simply put, this verse says, “Receive the one who is weak in faitH into fellowship, but not with the view of passing judgment upon his scruples, upon his conduct and viewpoint.”

          DISPUTATIONS: (Grk.–dialogismon)–judgment on thought.

          The oroginal meaning is a “thinking through” or “thinking over.”  Hence, referring to those speculations or reasonings in one’s mind which take the form of scruples.   The weaker brother is the be received, but not to decide for him his conscientious scruples.  He must be taught the Christian doctrines, and God will bring him along.  He must never be forced.
The plain meaning of this is, “Do not admit him to your society for the purpose of debating the matter in an angry and harsh manner; of repelling him by denunciation; and thus, by the natural reaction of such a course, confirming him in his doubts.” Or, “Do not deal with him in such a manner as would have a tendency to increase his scruples about meats, days, etc.
The leading idea here–which all Christians should remember–is that a harsh and angry denunciation of a man in relation to things not morally wrong, but where he may have honest scruples, will only tend to confirm him even more in his scruples. To denounce and
him will be to make him more adament in his beliefs. To receive him affectionately and in fellowship with us, to talk freely and kindly with him, to do him good, will have a far greater tendency to overcome his scruples.
Persons may have erroneous views with regard to many unessential things, and yet be real Christians; and those who give evidence of being received of Christ as His disciples, should be received by us, and treated as Christian brethren. The leading idea here-which all Christians should remember-is, that a harsh and angry denunciation of a man in relation to things not morally wrong, but where he may have honest scruples, will only tend to confirm him more and more in his doubts. 


“For one believeth that he may eat all things:  another, who is weak, eateth herbs.”
Paul now begins to name the differences between the groups in the church.  The first difference pertains to what they considered right to eat. One thought all meats to be lawful under the Gospel; another, rather than eat any meats forbidden by the law, will eat only herbs.

“For one believeth”
Literally: “One indeed believes”–  This was the case with the Gentiles in general, who had none of the scruples of the Jew about the propriety of eating certain kinds of meat.

Many of the converts who had been Jewish believers might also have had the same view—such as the apostle Paul evidently had–while the great mass of Jewish converts might have cherished these scruples.

           BELIEVETH:  (Grk.–pisteuô)—This Greek word is the same  word translated as “faith.” 

This phrase might also be rendered, “For he has faith…”  Faith  here means knowledge and heart persuasion that the Jewish dietary distinctions of meats do not exist in this dispensation, and such knowledge would enable the believer to eat any food with thankfulness, and without being hindered by scruples.

“may eat all things”
Literally: “To eat all things.”–That is, he will not be restrained by any scruples about the lawfulness of certain meats, etc. “Has faith that the may eat.”   He is convinced that he may eat anything he wants to.

           Paul now names one of those differences of opinion that had made trouble—eating of meat. The flesh of animals offered in idol sacrifices was offered in the markets, and one buying could not always be sure that he did not get it. Others, (Jewish Christians), or of Judaizing tendencies, believed it wrong to eat any food forbidden by the law. Perhaps others believed, like the Essenes, that the regenerate man should eat only vegetables, like the primitive race in Eden. And so, disputes arose over the difference.
He believes that whatsoever is wholesome and nourishing, whether herbs or flesh (whether encouraged or forbidden by the Mosaic law) may be safely and conscien-tiously used by every Christian.  In those days there was no way of refrigerating or keeping meat.  Every day, animals were sacrificed in the temples to the pagan gods, and then the meat from those sacrifices was sold to the public.  This offended some in the church to eat meat sacrificed to idols

“another, who is weak eateth herbs”
Literally:  “But one being weak, {another} one eats vegetables.”–Mark this well!  The “vegetarian” is here called a weak brother. 

            Keep in mind that such a person’s refusal to eat meat and his limiting himself to a vegetarian diet  is for religious  reasons and not for dietary reasons, and Paul poiints out that such scruples that were the result of an in-adequate understanding of the Word of God and an overly senstitive conscience, whiich is the result of an unenlightened and limited understanding of what  really consitutes spirituality.  Therefore, this classifies him as being a weak Christian.
         There are those even now who esteem themselves particularly “strong” in abstaining from eating flesh, although God says, meats “which God created.” Were to be received, “with thanks-giving of them which believe and know the truth” (I Tim. 4:3-5).  To make distinctions of meats where God has set aside such distinctions, is sad weakness, and even presumption. 
God made a distinction between clean and unclean animals for Israel to teach them the Doctrine of Separation and Holy Living.  The instructed believer knows that such separation of meats does not apply to him in this present Dispensation of Grace.  Paul tells us in I Cor. 8:8—“But meat commenteth us not to God:  for neither if we eat are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”

            ANOTHER, WHO IS WEAK:  (Grk.–ho de asthenon)—Literally:  “one but being weak.”  The word, “another” is     not in the original Greek text. It is another word that was added by the English translators. 

           Paul says that such a believer was weak, i.e., not fully established in the views of Christian liberty. The question with the Jew doubtless was, whether it was lawful to eat the meat which was offered in sacrifice to idols. In those sacrifices a part only of the animal was offered, and the remainder was eaten by the worshippers, or offered for sale in the market like other meat. It became an inquiry whether it was lawful to eat this meat; and the question in the mind of a Jew would arise from the express command of his Law, (Exodus 34:15).
This question Paul discusses and settles in I Cor. 10:20-32. There Paul lays down the general principle that it was lawful to partake of that meat as a man would of any other, unless it was expressly pointed out to him as having been sacrificed to idols, and unless his partaking of it would be considered as countenancing the idolaters in their worship (I Cor. 10:28).
         One who is ignorant
of what is proper on this subject or are ignorant of what is proper on this subject.  Many Jewish converts might not have been acquainted with this principle; or what is quite as probable, they might not have been ready to admit its appropriateness.

           HERBS: (Grk–lachana)—Eats herbs (or vegetables) only; is a vegetarian; does not partake of meat at all, for fear of eating that, inadvertently, which had been offered to idols.

           One who lives on vegetables and abstains from flesh, lest he should be defiled by the use of it. The Romans abounded in sacrifices to idols; and it would not be easy to be certain that meat which was offered in the market, or on the table of a friend, had not been offered in this manner. To avoid the possibility of partaking of it, even ignorantly, they chose to eat no meat at all.
The scruples of the Jews on the subject might have arisen in part from the fact, that sins of ignorance among them subjected them to certain penalties, (Lev. 4:2,3, etc.; 5:15; Num. 15:24, 27-29). Josephus says that in his time there were certain priests of his acquaintance who “supported themselves with figs and nuts.” These priests had been sent to Rome to be tried on some charge before Caesar; and it is probable that they abstained from meat because it might have been offered to idols. It is expressly declared of Daniel when in Babylon, that he lived on pulse and water, that he might not “defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank,” (Dan. 1:8-16).  But remember, that was under the Mosaic Law, and not in this time of the Church Age or Age of Christian liberty.|
Certain Jews, recently converted to the Christian faith, and having as yet little knowledge of its doctrines, believe the Mosaic Law relative to clean and unclean meats to be still in force; and thserefore, when they are in a Gentile country, for fear of being defiled, avoid flesh entirely and live on vegetables.  And a Jew when in a heathen country does this because he cannot tell whether the flesh which is sold in the market may be of a clean or unclean beast; whether it may not have been offered to an idol; or whether the blood may have been taken properly from it.

“Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth:  for God hath received him.”
Prohibition for both of the two parties. The self-consciousness of strength misleads into looking down with contempt on the weak; the narrowness of weakness is unable to comprehend the free thinking of the strong one, and judges it.

“Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not”
Literally:  “The {one} eating do not despise the {one} not eating.” —That is, he who has no scruples about eating meat, etc., who is not restrained by the law of the Jews respecting the clean and unclean, or by the fact that meat may have been offered to idols.

The Gentile, who does eat flesh, despise him not, the Jew, who does not eat flesh, but herbs.  All kinds of wholesome food indiscriminately, having attained, in this respect, to a true idea of the liberty of the gospel. That is, look with contempt on what he considers the weakness of the other.

and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth
Literally:  “and the {one} eating, do not judge the {one} eating”

           DESPISE:  (Grk.–exoutheneô)–Literally: “To disregard as nothing; to make of no       account.” And the Jew, whot eats discriminately, not judge or condemn the  Gentile, who indiscriminately eats flesh or vegetables.

           Him who does  eat flesh, is not to judge in a condemnatory way, or look down  upon “him that eateth not.”  That is, hold him in contempt as being unnecessarily scrupulous, etc. The word despise here is happily chosen. The Gentile would be very likely to despise the Jew as being restrained by foolish scruples and mere distinctions in matters of no importance.
This is the sin to which conscientious men of narrow views are particularly prone. We should never despise any on account of their errors, or their supposed inferiority to ourselves; nor condemn them for following their own consciences, not ours; but we should endeavor to enlighten them as to the will of God, and set them an example of obeying it

“let not him which eateth not judge him”
Literally:  “The {one} not eating, do not judge.”  Him that is restrained by scruples of conscience, and that will eat only vegetables, (v. 2). The reference here is doubtless to the Jew. 

          JUDGE: (Grk.–krinetô)–To judge, literally: criticize or condemnDefined by the connection as a condemning type of judgment; a pronouncement against the true Christian character.

Judgment is assigned to the “weak” brother, contempt for the “stronger.”  The Jew would not be so likely to despise the Gentile for what he did as he would be to judge or condemn him. He would consider such actions as too serious a matter for mere contempt. He would regard it as a violation of the Law of God, and would be moore prone to assume the right of judging his brother, and pronouncing him to be guilty. Paul here has happily met the whole case in all disputes about rites, and dress, and scruples in religious matters that are not essential. One party commonly despises the other as being needlessly and foolishly scrupulous; and the other makes it a matter of conscience, too serious for mere ridicule and contempt; and a matter deserving of condemnation.
The true direction to be given in such a case is, to the one party, not to treat the scruples of the other with derision and contempt, but with tenderness and indulgence. Let him have his way in it. If he can be reasoned out of it, it is well; but to attempt to laugh him out of it is unkind, and will tend only to confirm him in his views. And to the other party it should be said, they have no right to judge or condemn another.
He has a right to his opinion; and while I do not despise him, he has no right to judge me. This is the foundation of true charity; and if this simple rule had been followed, how much strife, and even bloodshed, would it have spared in the church. Most of the contentions among Christians have been on subjects of this nature. Agreeing substantially in the doctrines of the Bible, they have been split up into sects on subjects just about as important as those which Paul discusses in this chapter.

“For God hath received him.”
Literally:  “For God received him.”

          RECEIVED:  (Grk.–proselabeto)—Pointing back to when he believed on Christ; to when Christ received him as a believer, and admitted him to fellowship with Himself.

This is the same word that is translated “receive” in v. 1. Here it mans that God has received him kindly; or has acknowledged him as His own friend. These scruples, on either side, are not inconsistent with true faithfulness; and as God has acknowledged him as his, not-withstanding his opinions on these subjects, so we also ought to recognize him as a Christian brother. Other denominations, though they may differ from us on some subjects, but may give evidence that they are recognized by God as His, and where there is such evidence, we should neither despise nor judge them.