Romans 14:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 14:20, NIV: Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

Romans 14:20, ESV: Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.

Romans 14:20, KJV: For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

Romans 14:20, NASB: Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the person who eats and causes offense.

Romans 14:20, NLT: Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.

Romans 14:20, CSB: Do not tear down God's work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong to make someone fall by what he eats.

What does Romans 14:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul begins to say in a more straightforward way what he has already alluded to. In the previous verse, he put it positively. He urged those Christians who are strong in their faith to pursue what leads to peace and the building up of each other.

Now he says it negatively, telling these free Christians not to tear down or destroy the work of God for the sake of food. Put most plainly: Paul is telling these Christians with stronger faith to be willing to give up eating the meat they are free to eat if that will build up and unify the church instead of dividing it and tearing it down.

Again, though, Paul is clear: The problem is not with the meat or drink itself. Everything is clean for those who are in Christ (1 Timothy 4:4). Believers have been released from any obligation to the restrictions of the law of Moses. The wrong comes when what a Christian eats and drinks has the potential to cause another Christian to stumble by violating his or her conscience before God.

As with other verses, context prevents this statement from being abused in legalism (1 Timothy 4:4; Colossians 2:16–23). Paul's teaching is not meant to imply that those with restricted convictions get to "make the rules" for other believers (1 Corinthians 10:29–30). Rather, his point is that there is a difference between using our freedom in Christ, versus abusing it at the expense of the spiritually weak.