What does Romans 14:2 mean?
ESV: One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
NIV: One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
NASB: One person has faith that he may eat all things, but the one who is weak eats only vegetables.
CSB: One person believes he may eat anything, while one who is weak eats only vegetables.
NLT: For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.
KJV: For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
NKJV: For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
Verse Commentary:
It may not have been clear to Paul's readers what he was talking about in the previous verse. Now he begins to explain it. Strong differences of opinion existed in the early church, as they have in every era of history. Paul makes a distinction between matters of opinion and outright works of darkness like sexual immorality (Romans 13:13). In this passage, Paul will clearly command that Christians ought not dismiss or judge those who differ in these matters of opinion—though they still ought to hold fast on issues which Scripture makes clear.

Still, Paul labels those who hold certain opinions as being "weak in faith" (Romans 14:1). Now he gives an example. Christians who eat only vegetables for religious reasons are said to be weak in faith. Those who feel free to eat anything at all are, by comparison, strong in faith. This corresponds to Paul's other comments where he indicated that God has a good purpose for everything He created (1 Timothy 4:4), so there is no spiritual requirement to avoid any particular food. The strength/weakness here is not a comment on these believers' general maturity, but only their stance on this specific issue.

Why eat only vegetables? It's possible these Christians had not been able to let go of Jewish dietary restrictions about eating only kosher foods. Perhaps daily life in Rome made it impossible to ensure meat sold in the market was kosher. Concerned believers might have decided it was better not to eat any meat at all.

It's also possible the issue has to do with eating meat offered in sacrifice to idols. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:23–30. Some Christians did not want to support idol worship by eating meat that may have been offered to an idol and then sold in the marketplace. Others, perhaps, may have been concerned about associating with any demonic activity attached to that meat.

Whatever the issue, Paul's statement about weakness seems to indicate his view is that these believers do not yet have the strength of faith to be convinced that God's grace has freed them from any of the requirements of the law. They cannot, in good conscience, bring themselves to eat meat.

Paul will not correct them in this passage, however. In essence, he will instead tell both sides of these issues to mind their own business.
Verse Context:
Romans 14:1–12 describes how Christians with opposing views on matters of freedom and sin should treat each other. First, strong-faith Christians who understand that all things are clean for those in Christ should welcome and not try to change weaker-faith Christians who believe some things, like eating certain meats, to be sinful. Each should act on their convictions and honor the Lord in doing so. Neither should judge the other, for the real day of judgment is coming when we will all stand before Christ and give an account of our lives.
Chapter Summary:
In Romans 14, Paul tackles the question of how Christians with different convictions about disputable matters should treat each other in the church. Strong-faith Christians who feel free to eat and drink what was formerly forbidden under the law of Moses should not flaunt their freedoms in front of weaker-faith Christians who are not convinced it is right to participate in those things. Neither group should judge the other. Those strong in their faith should rather yield than lead those weaker in faith to violate their conscience, which is a sin.
Chapter Context:
Paul turns from the black-and-white instructions about light and darkness in Romans 13 to the issue of disputable matters with the potential to divide the church. Paul instructs those who feel free to participate in activities formally forbidden under the law not to flaunt their freedom in front of those who, by conscience, still believe those actions to be wrong. Those strong-faith Christians should be willing to set aside their freedom to keep from leading their weaker brothers and sisters into sin by violating their convictions. Paul addresses this topic with additional comments in 1 Corinthians chapter 10.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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