Romans 14:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 14:21, NIV: It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Romans 14:21, ESV: It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 14:21, KJV: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Romans 14:21, NASB: It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother or sister stumbles.

Romans 14:21, NLT: It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.

Romans 14:21, CSB: It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.

What does Romans 14:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul put this same statement in negative terms in the previous verse. There he wrote that it is wrong to make anyone stumble by what he eats. Now he says it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes a brother or sister in Christ to stumble into sin (Romans 14:13).

How might this cause a Christian of weaker faith to sin? Paul has said clearly that for anyone who believes a specific food or drink to be unclean, that thing really is unclean for that person. In other words, if they choose to follow the example of another believer who eats or drinks freely, they might sin by violating their own conscience.

Paul's bottom-line to those stronger-faith Christians is clear: Don't do what is wrong. Instead, do what is good. Even if it means "giving up" your freedom voluntarily for a specific time or purpose. Even if that means eating only vegetables, today, for the sake of those of weaker faith. If it shows love to a "weak in faith" fellow believer, it's worth that.

Does this amount to a full restriction on the Roman Christians ever eating meat or drinking wine? It doesn't seem so from what Paul writes in the following verse. In fact, Paul has made it clear in this and other writings that legalism-minded believers can't wield their own convictions like a weapon (Romans 14:3; 1 Corinthians 10:29–30). Paul is not calling on believers to submit to the judgment of others (Colossians 2:16–23). He is calling on Christians to consider the weakness of others before pursuing their own enjoyment.