What does Romans 14:21 mean?
ESV: It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
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.
NASB: It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother or sister stumbles.
CSB: It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.
NLT: It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.
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.
NKJV: It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 14:13–23 instructs strong-faith Christians who understand that all food and drink is clean for those who are in Christ to be willing to set aside indulging their freedom for the sake of weaker-faith Christians. Those who cannot partake in good conscience—even though they are free in Christ to do so—should not do so. To violate their conviction is sin. It is also wrong for strong-faith Christians to tempt weaker-faith brothers and sisters into sin by insisting on exercising their own right to eat and drink those things.
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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