Recently, Daniel gave an introduction to the book we are going to study over the next season – Paul’s letter to the Romans. He mentioned that although it is known for setting out much of Paul’s theology and some confronting sections on living as Christians, the central purpose is to talk about how to live in unity with one another especially where there is diversity. Paul uses the term ‘weak and strong’ to draw out how he expects Christians of differing understandings to get along. Daniel also pointed out how important context is when reading Romans and used the following verses from Romans 14 as an example of what happens when context is ignored or misunderstood.
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.
Romans 14: 1-2
At face value this verse seems to indicate that vegetarians are weak and a whole theology could be built up to persecute anyone who didn’t eat meat. However once we understand the dietary requirements of the Jews and the lack of availability of Kosher meat in Rome at the time this verse begins to make some sense. Once we add an understanding that Paul was calling Jewish converts who were now following Jesus ‘weak’ because they hadn’t let go of the old laws then the verse makes even more sense. Understanding the context well can prevent those of us keen to obey the scriptures from confusion and potential error in our thoughts and actions.
As we delve into Romans further over the coming weeks we need to always be asking what Paul was saying to the early Christians he was writing to, how they would have understood his words and only then consider how we should apply that understanding to our lives today.
If you missed Daniel’s introduction message and intend to listen to the series over the coming weeks then you can catch up with it here:
Introduction to Romans