Romans 14:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 14:17, NIV: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,"

Romans 14:17, ESV: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Romans 14:17, KJV: "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Romans 14:17, NASB: "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Romans 14:17, NLT: "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Romans 14:17, CSB: "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

What does Romans 14:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

It's not worth it.

That, in brief, is what Paul wrote in the previous verse to Christians of strong faith who were tempted to flaunt their freedom in Christ in front of others. This refers to those who boldly eat meat, drink wine, or choose not to observe the Sabbath in the presence of those of weaker faith who feel convictions about those issues. Such "weak in faith" (Romans 14:1–2) believers could be harmed by their example. By tempting them to violate their conscience, such actions become a "stumbling block" to brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 14:13–15).

Paul reminds the Christian believer that they didn't come to faith in Christ just to eat meat and drink wine. Those freedoms from the restrictions of the law are real and meaningful, but they are not the point of the kingdom of God. There are other benefits: we receive God's declaration that we are righteous in His eyes because of our faith in Christ. We experience both peace and joy because of God's Holy Spirit with us. In other words, our place with God is secure, and that brings real emotional stability and confidence.

Compared to those benefits, the freedom to eat meat and drink wine on this side of eternity are clearly not worth what they might cost those of weaker faith. Exercising those freedoms in a callous way isn't justified compared to the risk of causing a weaker believer to violate his conscience.

Paul is asking a challenging question to those who insist on unfettered expression of their Christian liberty: Why did you come to Christ in the first place? For the food and drink or for the real benefits of participating in the kingdom?