Who art thou ... - That is, who gave you this right to sit in judgment on others; compare Luke 12:14. There is reference here particularly to the "Jew," who on account of his ancient privileges, and because he had the Law of God, would assume the prerogative of "judging" in the case, and insist on conformity to his own views; see Acts 15. The doctrine of this Epistle is uniformly, that the Jew had no such privilege, but that in regard to salvation he was on the same level with the Gentile.
That judgest ... - compare James 4:12. This is a principle of common sense and common propriety. It is not ours to sit in judgment on the servant of another man. He has the control over him; and if "he" chooses to forbid his doing anything, or to allow him to do anything, it pertains to "his" affairs not ours. To attempt to control him, is to intermeddle improperly, and to become a "busy-body in other men' s matters;" I Peter 4:15. Thus, Christians are the servants of God; they are answerable to him; and "we" have no right to usurp "his" place, and to act as if we were "lords over his heritage;" I Peter 5:3.
To his own master - The servant is responsible to his master only. So it is with the Christian in regard to God.
He standeth or falleth - He shall be approved or condemned. If his conduct is such as pleases his master, he shall be approved; if not, he will be condemned.
Yea, he shall be holden up - This is spoken of the Christian only. In relation to the servant, he might stand or fall; he might be approved or condemned. The master had no power to keep him in a way of obedience, except by the hope of reward, or the fear of punishment. But it was not so in regard to the Christian. The Jew who was disposed to "condemn" the Gentile might say, that he admitted the general principle which the apostle had stated about the servant; that it was just what he was saying, that he might "fall," and be condemned. But no, says the apostle, this does not follow, in relation to the Christian He shall not fall. God has power to make him stand; to hold him; to keep him from error, and from condemnation, and "he shall be holden up." He shall not be suffered to fall into condemnation, for it is the "purpose" of God to keep him; compare Psalms 1:5. This is one of the incidental but striking evidences that the apostle believed that all Christians should be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Is able - See John 10:29. Though a master cannot exert such an influence over a servant as to "secure" his obedience, yet "God" has this power over his people, and will preserve them in a path of obedience.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Romans 14:4:
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