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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Not in disputes about thoughts. That is, without blaming or condemning the thoughts, and reasonings (as it appears by the Greek) of those new converts, who had been Jews, and who were still of this opinion, that they ought to abstain from meats forbidden by the Jewish law, and observe the Jewish festival days. You must charitably bear with the weakness of such converts. Wi. — Be tender with him who is weak in faith; enter not into disputes with him, which only serve to extinguish charity, and create inveterate prejudices.
Ver. 2. Eat all things. Viz. without observing the distinction between clean and unclean meats, prescribed by the law of Moses: which was now no longer obligatory. Some weak Christians, converted from among the Jews, as we here gather from the apostle, made a scruple of eating such meats as were deemed unclean by the law: such as swine's flesh, &c. which the stronger sort of Christians did eat without scruple. Now the apostle, to reconcile them together, exhorts the former not to judge or condemn the latter, using their Christian liberty; and the latter to take care not to despise, or scandalize their weaker brethren, either by bringing them to eat what in their conscience they think they should not: or by giving them such offence, as to endanger the driving them thereby from the Christian religion. Ch. — For one that is not so weak, but well instructed, believeth, is persuaded, that he may eat all things, the distinction of clean and unclean meats being no longer obligatory under the new law of Christ. He that is weak, and not convinced of this Christian liberty, let him eat herbs, or such things as he esteems not forbidden. It is likely some of them abstained many times from all manner of flesh, lest they should meet with what had been offered to idols, or lest something forbidden by the law might be mixed. Wi.
Ver. 3-4. God hath taken him to him, that eats of any meats; he accounts him his servant, and will reward him as such. — God is able to make him stand, and will justify him before his tribunal. Wi.
Ver. 5. Between day, &c. Still observing the sabbaths and festivals of the law. Ch. — And another judgeth every day. That is, thinks every day to be taken away, that was to be kept, merely because ordered under the Jewish law. And now since both they who keep days, or do not keep them; and they who eat, or who abstain, do these things which a regard to God, and according to their conscience, let no one judge, or condemn the one party, nor the other; in these things, let every man abound in his own sense. It is without grounds that some would pretend from hence, that Christians cannot be bound to fast, or abstain from flesh on certain days. The apostle speaks only of the distinction of meats, called clean and unclean, and of fasts or feasts peculiar to the law of Moses. It does not follow from hence, that the Catholic Church hath not power to command days of fasting, and abstaining, for self-denial or humiliation. Wi. — The apostle here treats only of the subject in hand, viz. the Mosaic distinctions of clean and unclean meats: and in this he allows, for that present time, each one to follow his own private judgment. S. Chrysostom observes that S. Paul did not wish the weak to be left to their own judgment in this, as in a point of no consequence; but that they should wait for a time. The converts were not immediately prohibited their accustomed practices, but they were tolerated in them for a while, till fully instructed. This we see in many of the converts at Jerusalem, who were still observers of the Mosaic ordinances; this was tolerated, that the synagogue might be buried with honour. Estius.
Ver. 11. The apostle here gives a remarkable proof of the divinity of our Saviour. He could not possibly be more express. He had said in the preceding verse, that all men should appear before the tribunal of Christ; to prove this assertion, he adduces this testimony of the prophet Isaias: "As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall confess to God." Is. c. xlv. Thus shall all acknowledge the power, the divinity, and sovereign dominion of Christ, by bending the knee; and by confessing to him, shall acknowledge him for the master and judge of all mankind. Calmet.
Ver. 14. Nothing is unclean of itself. Because the law that made them unclean, is not now binding of itself, yet a man must not act against his conscience, neither must he, when he can avoid it, scandalize or offend the weak: nor cause divisions or dissensions. Wi.
Ver. 15. S. Paul repeats this, in almost the same words, in 1 Cor. c. viii. and plainly gives us to understand, that Christ died for the salvation of all men, by supposing a Christian brother, for whom Christ had died, in danger of perishing by the scandal given by another. This supposition could never have been made, if the death of Christ was only offered up for the elect: but we here learn from S. Paul, that they for whom Christ shed his blood and suffered the death of the cross, may perish eternally; and therefore all, even the greatest reprobates, may be saved, if they effectually desire it, by virtue of the death of our divine Redeemer.
Ver. 16. Let not then our good, or which we have a Christian liberty to do with a good conscience, be evil spoken of, because of the disputes and quarrels you have about it. Wi.
Ver. 17. The kingdom of God is not meat, &c. It does not consist in eating, nor in abstaining, both which may be done without sin, but in justice, peace, &c. Wi.
Ver. 20. Destroy not the work of God for meat. That is, do not hinder your brother's salvation, for whom, whoever he be, Christ died, who may be so offended at the liberty which you take, as to quit the Christian religion; or you may make him sin against God, by eating by your example against his weak conscience. Wi.
Ver. 22. Hast thou faith? He doth not here mean, saith S. Chrys. a faith to believe divine truths. But art thou by faith persuaded in mind and conscience, that to eat meats formerly forbidden, is now lawful, have it within thyself, remain in this faith and conscience, but make it not appear, when it is prejudicial to thy weak brother. — Happy is he that condemneth not himself, that maketh not himself liable to condemnation, by giving scandal, by using that liberty, which he is convinced is allowed. Or happy is he that acteth not against his conscience, by doing what he sees is allowed of by others, but which his conscience tells him he ought not to do. Wi.
Ver. 23. He that discerneth, or who judgeth that he ought to abstain from such meats, if he eat, is self-condemned, because he acts not according to his faith. For whatever a man doth, and is not according to what he believeth he may do, or whatever is against a man's conscience, is sinful in him. It is a mistake of the sense of this place, to pretend that every moral action done by an infidel, must needs be a sin, as when he gives an alms to relieve the necessities of the poor. Wi. — Discerneth. That is, distinguisheth between meats, and eateth against his conscience, what he deems unclean. — Of faith. By faith is here understood judgment and conscience: to act against which is always a sin. Ch.