Romans 14:5 – To Eat or Not To Eat

The next verse is going to start off a series about food. Many think the dietary laws given by G-d were abolished or fulfilled or somehow Christians do not need to follow them. One of the verses used is Romans 14:5. What is interesting they also use this verse to state the Sabbath no longer has to be followed, yet they believe the 10 Commandments do? Go figure.

Romans 14:5 – One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

It is easy to see where one might show this verse is about the Sabbath than the dietary laws, but when you see the rest you will understand. I think this verse is dealing with the same thing 1 Corinthians 8 dealt with. Foods sacrificed to idols. Let’s take a look:

v1 – Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

The first clue we have as to what is going on is in this verse. The last word is important – opinions. We are not dealing with facts here. The fact is we are to eat kosher…meaning for one no pork or shellfish. Really and truly we cannot be dealing with anything in the Torah since it is not opinion.

v2 – One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

Remember we are not in Jerusalem or even in Israel. This is a letter to the Romans and so eating meat was a concern for many. You never know if meat is tainted or something else had happened to it. Many did not eat meat b/c of this concern. Remember we are dealing with opinions here, so the first part of the verse could not mean one thought they could truly eat all things. This was an issue in Paul’s letters in Corinthians, so it very likely could be coming up here in Romans.

v3-4 – The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand

Nothing much here, but I want to remind you that we are dealing with opinions per v1 and not facts. There is no way v3 is saying we can eat anything and others should not judge you. If the issue was not eating pork vs eating pork then vegetarianism would not be the answer. There must be something else going on. .

v5-6 – One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.

It is easy to think this is saying the Sabbath day is something you must be convinced in your own mind. Again, we are dealing with opinions here. Also, the letter of Romans does not deal with the Sabbath in the entire letter. It is well known that Pharisees fasted twice per week, usually Monday and Thursday. This is confirmed both by Luke 18:12: “I fast twice a week.” as well as the Didache (an early church document dated by most scholars to be from the late first century AD) which states, “Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays” (Didache 8:1). Interestingly, from the Didache, we see not only that Pharisees fasted on certain days of the week, but that fasting among the early Christians was also a common practice, and that certain days (Wednesday and Friday) were set aside by some for the purpose of fasting. Thus, these days were “esteemed.” Is this activity fact or opinion? Opinion of course.

Starting in v14 you will see the exact argument in 1 Corinthians 8, which is beyond this post. I have an answer to this as well, but not for today. I hope I have helped you see that Romans 14:5 does not tell us to celebrate the Sabbath or any other
G-d ordained festival whenever we want and neither does it tells us to eat whatever we want.

If you have a questions or disagree please speak up.

Until next time…Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh is HaShem!

Shalom Aleichem!