“Let not then thy good be evil spoken of”

Literally:  “Then do not let your good be spoken evil of.”–Do not make such a use of your Christian liberty as to subject the Gospel itself to reproach.  Do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil.

            Whatsoever you do, do it in such a manner, spirit, and time, as to make it productive of the greatest possible good.  There are many who have such an unhappy method of doing their good acts, as not only to do little or no good by them, but a great deal of evil.  It requires much prudence and watchfulness to find out the proper time of performing even a good action.
            Christian freedom must never be used as an excuse for riding roughshod over the genuine feelings of others.  No pleasure is so important that it can justify bringing offence or grief, and even ruin to others.  Christianity consists not only in loving Christ, but also in loving our neighbor as ourselves.      

            YOUR GOOD:  (Grk.–humôn to agathon)–Referring to the liberty of the strong believer. Your knowledge of your Christian liberty and freedom from the Ceremonial      Law, which is a real good.

            That which you esteem to be right, and which may be right in itself.  The “good” to our Christian liberty which has been won by Christ, but which will inevitably get a bad name if it is exercised in an inconsiderate, loveless fashion. This freedom you esteem to be a good; a favor; a high privilege. And so it is; but you should not make such a use of it as to do injury to others. You have greater knowledge than these weak brethren, and know that "nothing is unclean" (v . 14).  But liberty is not license.  The believer is to use his liberty, not abuse it. REMEMBER: With ever gift also comes responsibility.  To whom much is given, of him much is required.

           BE EVIL SPOKEN OF: (Grk.–blasphêmeô)—Be an occasion of reproach and blame, by your using your liberty in such a manner as to injure others, or dishonor Christ.

          Literally in the Greek: “be blasphemed.”  Do not so use your Christian liberty as to give occasion for railing and unkind remarks from your brethren, or so as to produce contention and strife, and thus to give rise to evil reports among the wicked about the tendency of the Christian faith as if it were adapted only to promote controversy. How much strife would have been avoided if all Christians had regarded this plain rule. In relation to dress, and rites, and ceremonies in the church, we may be conscious that we are right; but an obstinate adherence to them may only give rise to contention and angry discussion, and to evil reports among men, of the tendency of religion. In such a case we should yield our private, unimportant, personal indulgence to the good of the cause of religion and of peace.
         Do not make such a use of your Christian liberty as to subject the Gospel itself to reproach.  Whatsoever you do, do it in such a manner, spirit, and time, as to make it productive of the greatest possible good.  There are many who have such an unhappy method of doing their good acts, as not only to do little or no good by them, but a great deal of evil.  It requires much prudence and watchfulness to find out the proper time of performing even a good action.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

“For the kingdom of God”–This is the only reference in this entire epistle to the   Kingdom of God  and is not necessarily synonymous with the Kingdom of Heaven in the  Matthew 17 parables. 

The Kingdom of Heaven referred to in the Matt. 17 parables is the Church, while the Kingdom of God includes all that is in God’s created universe, which would include the Church. The peculiarities of the Kingdom of God do not consist in observing the distinctions between meats and drinks. It was true that by these things the Jews had been particularly characterized, but the Christian church was to be distinguished in a different manner.

           KINGDOM OF GOD:  (Grk.–basileia tou theou)–This is not referring the future kingdom of eschatology (Last Things), but the present spiritual kingdom; i.e.,  the reign of God in the heart, of which Jesus spoke so often. Paul scores heavily here, for it is not found in externals like food and drink, but in spiritual qualities and graces.

“is not meat and drink
Literally: “Is not eating and drinking.”–It does not consist in these outward and indifferent things.

MEAT AND DRINK:  (Grk.–brôsis kai posis)– Referring to eating and drinking.

It neither encourages nor particularly forbids such. In observing distinctions between different kinds of food, or making such observances a matter of conscience, as the Jews did. Moses did not prescribe any particular drink, or prohibit any; but the Nazarites abstained from wine, and all kinds of strong liquors; and it is not improbable that the Jews had invented some distinctions on this subject which they judged to be of importance. Hence it is said in Col. 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat or in drink.” It rises higher than food questions. Personally, its essence is not in external things.

 “but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”
Literally: “But righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”–A comprehensive division of living Christianity.

           RIGHTEOUSNESS:  (Grk.–dikaiosunê)–The First division—“righteousness” has respect to virtue, integrity, a faithful discharge of all the duties which we owe to God or to our fellow men.

           It means, that the Christian must so live as to be a righteous man, and not a man whose whole attention is absorbed by the mere ceremonies and outward forms of religion. To produce this, we are told, was the main design and the principal teaching of the GospelTitus 2:12. (Comp. 8:13; I Pet. 2:11). Thus it is said, (I John 2:2) “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God;” ( I John 3:10), “Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” (Comp. I John 3:7; I Cor. 15:34; II Cor. 3:9; 6:7,14; Eph. 4:24; 5:9; 6:14; I Tim. 6:11; I Pet. 2:24).
           He that is a righteous man, whose characteristic it is to lead a holy life, is a Christian. If his great aim is to do the will of God, and if he seeks to discharge with fidelity all his duties to God and man, he is renewed. On that righteousness he will not depend for salvation, (Phil. 3:8,9) but he will regard this character and this disposition as evidence that he is a Christian, and that the Lord Jesus is made unto him “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,: (I Cor. 1:30).

          PEACE: (Grk.–eirênê)–The Second division, “peace,” has respect to our neighbors, denoting “concord” among brethren (as is plain from v. 19; (compare Eph. 4:3; Col. 3:14-15).  Not peace with God but mutual concord among Christians.

          This word, in this place, does not refer to the internal peace and happiness which the Christian has in his own mind, but to peace or concord in opposition to contention among brethren. Peace does not simply mean the absence of trouble.  It is not a negative thing, but it intensely positive.  It means everything for our highest joy and protection.
         That the tendency of the Gospel is to promote peace, and to induce men to lay aside all causes of contention and bitter strife, is apparent from the following passages of the N.T. (I Cor. 7:15; 14:33; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:3, 31-32; I Thess. 5:13; I Tim. 2:22; James 3:18; Matt. 5:9; Col. 3:8; John 13:34; 17:21-23). This is the second evidence of piety on which Christians should examine their hearts–a disposition to promote the peace of Jerusalem, (Psa. 122:6; 37:11)

          JOY:  (Grk.–chara)-The Third division–“joy” has respect to ourselves. This phrase, “joy in the Holy Ghost” represents Christians as so thinking and feeling under the workings of the Holy Spirit, that their joy may be viewed rather as that of the blessed Agent who inspires it than their own (compare I Thess. 1:6).

          Christian joy can never be a selfish thing.  It does not consist in making ourselves happy; but rather it consists in making others happy.  Christian joy is not individualistic: rather, it is interdendent.
          Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.  Unfortunately, it is often absent from the lives of many believers. There should be joy in our lives.  This does not mean that you need to run around all the time smiling like a Cheshire cat, but it does mean you are to have a joyful feeling deep in your heart.

“For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”

“For he that in these things serveth Christ” 
Literally:  “For those serving Christ in these things.”–In righteousness, peace, and joy.

The man, whether Jew or Gentile, who in these things (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost), serve Christ–acts according to His doctrine, is acceptable to God; for he has not only the form of godliness in thus serving Christ, but he has the power, the very spirit and essence of it, in having righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and therefore the whole frame of his mind, as well as his acts, must be acceptable to God.

           SERVETH CHRIST:  ( Grk.- tôi Christôi)–Literally: “Serves the Christ.”–Or obeys Christ, who has commanded them. He receives Christ as his Master or Teacher, and does His will in regard to them. To do these things is to do honor to Christ, and to show the excellency of His religion.

           Here again observe how, though we do these three things as a “kingdom of God,” yet it is “Christ” that we serve in so doing. Paul is passing here from God to Christ as naturally as before from Christ to Godin a way to us inconceivable, if Christ had been viewed as a mere creature (compare II Cor. 8:21).
           Though it is written, “Worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” (Matt. 4:10), yet he that serves
Christ is acceptable to God. The reason is, Christ is God. (9:5; John 1:1; Heb. 1:6-8).

“is acceptable to God, and approved of men”
Literally:  {Is} well-pleasing to God and approved by men.” although his faith may be persecuted, yet the righteous man, who is continually laboring for the public good, will be generally esteemed.  This was a very common form of speech among the Jews; that he who was a conscientious observer of the Law, was pleasing to
God and approved of men, Whether he be converted from the Jews or the Gentiles. 

This shows and evidences that he is a person accepted with God, and approved of men, of wise, charitable, and good men. The natural consciences of men in general will applaud and approve what is done by him, notwithstanding the fore-mentioned difference in lesser things concerning meats and days.

          APPROVED:  (Grk.–dokimos)—Meaning: “put to the test for the purpose of being approved;” and having met specification, having the stamp of approval placed upon one. That is, men will approve of such conduct; they will esteem it to be right, and to be in accordance with the spirit of Christianity. Paul does not say that the wicked world will love such a life, but it will commend itself to them as such a life as men ought to lead.

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace; and things wherewith one may edify another.”
This verse seems to be an exhortation, or summing up, for the Roman believers to follow what Paul has been teaching them.

“Let us therefore follow…”
Literally:  “Let us pursue.”–The object of this verse is to persuade the church at Rome to lay aside their causes of contention, and to live in harmony.

          FOLLOW: (Grk.–diôkô)—Literally meaning: “to pursue without hostility”–Far from contending about meats, drinks, and festival times, in which it is not likely that the Jews and Gentiles will soon agree, let us endeavor to the utmost of our power to promote peace and oneness that we may be instrumental in edifying each other, in promoting religious knowledge and faithfulness instead of being stumbling-blocks in each other's way.

“after the things which make for peace”
Literally:  “The things of peace,”–Hence, charitably yield what grieves a brother.

If men aim at the great objects proposed by the Christian faith, they will live in peace. If they seek to promote their private ends, to follow their own passions and prejudices, they will be involved in strife and contention. There are great common objects before all Christians in which they can unite, and in the pursuit of which they will cultivate a spirit of peace.  
1.      Let them all strive for holiness;
2.      Let them seek to spread the Gospel;
3.      Let them engage in circulating the Bible,
         or in doing good in any way to others.
Then their smaller matters of difference will sink into comparative unimportance, and they will unite in one grand purpose of saving the world. Christians have more things in which they agree than in which they differ. The points on which they are agreed are of infinite importance; the points on which they differ are commonly some minor matters in which they may “agree to differ,” and still cherish love for all who bear the image of Christ

“things wherewith one may edify another.
Literally:  “The things for building up one another.”  That is, those things by which we may render aid to our brethren; may edify.

          EDIFY: (Grk.–oikodomês)—The Greek word for “edify” means, properly, “to build, as a house;” then to rebuild or reconstruct; then to adorn or ornament; then to do anything that will confer favor or advantage, or which will further an object.

Applied to the church, it means, to do anything by teaching, counsel, advice, etc., which will tend to promote its great object; to aid Christians, that is, to enable them to surmount difficulties, to remove theft ignorance, etc. In these expressions the idea of a building is retained, reared on a firm, tried corner-stone the Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph. 2:20; Isa. 28:16). Comp. 9:33. Christians are thus regarded, according to Paul's noble idea, (Eph. 2:20-22,) as one great temple erected for the glory of God, having no separate interest, but as united for one object, and therefore bound to do all that is possible that each other may be fitted to their appropriate place, and perform their appropriate function in perfecting and adorning this temple of God.

“For meat to destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure:  but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.”
Here is a new argument presented why Christians should pursue a course of charity–that the opposite would tend to the ruin of the brother's soul.

“For meat to destroy not the work of God”
Literally:  “Not for the sake of food undo the work of God.”–Do not pursue such a course as to lead a brother into sin, and ruin his soul by your obstinate attachment to your own opinions about the distinctions of meats and drinks, 

Here is a new argument presented why Christians should pursue a course of charity–that the opposite would tend to the ruin of the brother's soul. A rigid insistence on eating the meat so offensive to some of the brethren may tear the church apart. For the sake of your own indulgence, do not injure the spiritual character of your brother, or do anything which shall tend to destroy him. While all things indeed are pure; or all kinds of wholesome food are in themselves innocent, but…

          DESTROY:  (Grk.–kataluô )–Meaning, “undo.  This word is the opposite of “edify,” and means to “unbuild.” or “pull down.” This Greek word was originally a military term applied to pulling down an edifice or stronghold. Paul continues the figure which he used in the previous verse. Do not pull down or destroy the building (the church) which God is rearing.

           “the work of God”–The work of God here especially refers to His work in raising up His church.

         The Christian is regarded peculiarly as the work of God, as God renews his heart, and makes him what he is. Hence he is called God's “building,” (I Cor. 3:9) and His “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” (Eph 2:10) and is denominated “a new creature,” (II Cor. 5:17); “living stones” (I Pet. 2:5). The meaning of what Paul is saying is, “Do not so conduct yourself, in regard to the distinction of meats into clean and unclean, as to cause your brother to sin, and to impair or ruin the work of the Gospel which God is carrying on in his soul.” The expression does not refer to man as being the work of God, but rather to the piety of the Christian; to that which God, by His Spirit, is producing in the heart of the believer.
         The Christian brother is primarily referred to here, whose Christian personality is
God's work (see II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; James 1:18). Do not hinder the progress of the Gospel either in your own souls or in those of others, by con-tending about lawful or unlawful meats.  And do not destroy the soul of thy Christian brother, v. 15, by offending him so as to induce him to apostatize.

“all things indeed are pure”
Literally:  “Truly all things are clean.”–This is a concession to those whom he was exhorting to peace.

PURE:  (Grk.–kathara)– This purity is purely ceremonial, non-moral in its implications.  

Under the Christian dispensation all foods are lawful to be eaten. All kinds of wholesome food are in themselves innocent, but if your partaking of them causes your brother to sin, or injures him, it is wrong for you to do it.

“but it is evil”
Literally:  “But {it is} bad.”  Though pure in itself, yet it may become an occasion of sin, if another is grieved by it.

 It is evil to the man who pursues a course that will give offence to a brother; offense that will pain him, or tend to drive him off from the church, or lead him away into sin. It is morally unclean to him who eats with hurt to his conscience.  The distinctions of the Levitical law are not binding on Christians; nothing that is proper for consumption t is unlawful to be eaten; but it is evil for that man who eats with offence-the man who either eats contrary to his own conscience, or so as to grieve and stumble another, does an evil act; and however lawful the thing may be in itself, his conduct does not please God.

“With offence.”
Literally:  “With a stumbling-block” as in verse v. 13. Meaning, “against his own conscientious scruple” is literally “through or amidst offence.” 

This is addressed to the “strong” brother not to cause a stumbling-block by the way he eats and exercises his freedom.  So as to offend a brother, such as he esteems to be sin, and by which he will be grieved.

       “Paul ends by setting out the Christian aim within the fellowship.  (1) It is the aim of peace; (underlining emphasis, mine) the aim that the members of the fellowship should be in a right relationship with each other.  A church where there is strife and contention, quarrels and bitterness, divisions and disagreements, has lost all right to the name of a church.  It is not a fragment of the Kingdom of Heaven; it is simply an earthbround society(2) It is the aim of upbuilding,  The picture of the church as a building runs through the N.T.  The members are stones within the building.  Anything which loosens the fabric of the church is against God; anything makes that fabric stronger and more secure is of God.
       “The tragedy is that in so many cases it is little unimportant things which disturb the peace of the fellowship–matters of law, procedure, precedent and prestige.  A new age would dawn in the church if we remembered that our rights are less important than our responsibilities, if we remembered that while we possess Christian liberty, it is always an offence to use it as if it is conferred upon us the right to grieve the heart and conscience of someone else.  Unless a church is a body of people who, in love, consider one another, it is not a church at all.”-William Barclay, The letter to the Romans commentary