Romans 14:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 14:14, NIV: I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.

Romans 14:14, ESV: I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Romans 14:14, KJV: I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Romans 14:14, NASB: I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to the one who thinks something is unclean, to that person it is unclean.

Romans 14:14, NLT: I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.

Romans 14:14, CSB: I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.

What does Romans 14:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul makes his strongest statement so far about whether it's okay for a Christian to eat certain meats—or drink wine as mentioned in verse 21. This thought applies even if that meat might not be kosher according to the law, or may have been offered to idols. Paul knows and is fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean to eat or drink for Christians (1 Timothy 4:4). From a "ground level" view, there are no unclean or forbidden foods. By extension, this supports Paul's earlier point that those things which the Bible does not explicitly forbid are acceptable for believers.

There is a powerful, and important second side to this idea, however. Paul adds that if a Christian believes anything to be unclean, then it is unclean—for him or her. Paul is talking about a person's conscience. If, because of upbringing or previous experiences, someone cannot bring themselves to believe they can participate in eating or drinking something, that thing is actually wrong for them to consume.

This is a new idea. Paul elevates the role of the human conscience for those who are in Christ. Even if the facts seem to show that it is okay to participate in something, and even if other mature Christians confirm that it's okay for Christians to do, but you just don't feel that it is right, then it is wrong for you.

It's important to realize this principle only applies to disputable issues. These are the topics on which Scripture and the teaching of the apostles doesn't take a position. In other words, murder, adultery, and stealing are always wrong. That's a moral fact, regardless of what our consciences tell us. In the same way, kindness and prayer are always right, no matter what we feel. It's only in questionable areas—such as Paul's examples of food, drink, and holidays—where a Christian's conscience should have the last word about whether he or she will exercise freedom in Christ.