The "strong" and the "weak" in Romans and the Seven Laws Of Noah

Correspondence between Shlomoh and Internet friends - November, 2010

From: Shlomoh Sherman []
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 11:04 AM
To: Cindy Pace; Suzanne utts; Jim Massey; Scott McMeekan; Ruth Powers; Ruth Powers; Elaine Haines; Elaine Haines
Cc: Deke Barker; Loren Frendt; Susan Hall; Ken Kimes; Jan Secrest; Carolyn Speight; jeanette sutcliffe
Subject: The "weak" and the "strong" in Romans

I am curious to hear from believers in Christ about what Paul means when he speaks of the "weak" and the "strong" in Romans 14 and elsewhere. To whom is he refering by these terms?
I will add my own comments at a later time.

RE: The "weak" and the "strong" in Romans
Friday, November 12, 2010 1:40 PM
From: "Deke" <>
To: "'Shlomoh Sherman'" []

I had to look this up in several resources, both because that's my habit and because I had conflicting recollections of the meaning. (Good thing, too, since -- while I got most of the details right -- I missed Paul's main point!)
Scholars are divided on what this ("weak" and "strong") relates to and means, and even on its origins: original to the primitive church, original to Paul, a holdover from Judaism (unlikely), a holdover from pagan religions, or something else?
My own 'take' is that the "strong" are those who live by faith in Jesus, period. That is, they largely eschew the trappings of Judaism and of pagan religions (unlike the "weak"). However, Paul seems to expect the "strong" to accommodate themselves to the practices/needs/expectations of the "weak". For example: It's okay to eat 'forbidden' foods (e.g., ignore Jewish dietary laws), but the "strong" should respect their hosts/guests/companions at communal meals and eat only that which is appropriate to the latter's beliefs.
Overall, Paul seems to be asking that the "strong" cooperate with and embrace the "weak", and vice-versa. At least by implication, Paul is saying that things like dietary laws are inappropriate sources of conflict. Thus (as I see it), if Paul invited a Jewish-Xian acquaintance to dinner, Paul would only serve food consistent with that Jewish-Xian's beliefs and practices, even though Paul himself would have no problem with violating those beliefs and practices. Similarly, that "weak" person should never shun a fellow Xian merely because that Xian (typically, a Gentile Xian) did not adhere to the "weak" Xian's dietary laws.... and any other laws or rules or practices that were not central to Jesus' teachings and to a belief in Jesus as the Christ.
To put it on a simplistic level, Paul is asking everyone (Xians) to cooperate with each other, in spite of differences in belief, differences which Paul regards as irrelevant to Xianity.

Re: The "weak" and the "strong" in Romans
Friday, November 12, 2010 2:15 PM
From: "Suzanne utts" []
To: "Shlomoh Sherman" []

Back up to Romans 14:1 "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. vs 2  One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.  

Weak doesn't mean physically weak here it means spiritually a baby. Babies have milk to start and when they grow they progress to soft food, then to solid food. Same in the spiritual realm. You wouldn't give a baby a hunk of meat because it would choke.  New believers are like that too. They will choke on deep doctrine. As they grow they can take on more learning. So in the meantime, build them up, don't tear them down over food or any other doctrine.  New believers as per Acts 15:29 are already instructed to not eat food sacrificed to idols which would be unclean food.  Unlike today's Christians, they probably were obeying the kosher commandments.

You might want to go to your local library and borrow the book COMPLETE JEWISH NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY by David Stern.  If the library does not have it, they usually can order it from a regional library.  I think a lot of your questions would be answered. Stern is a Jewish believer and a scholar.


On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 1:52 PM, Shlomoh Sherman [] wrote:

Romans 15
 1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’[a] 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope

--- On Fri, 11/12/10, Suzanne utts [] wrote:

From: Suzanne utts []
Subject: Re: The "weak" and the "strong" in Romans
To: "Shlomoh Sherman" []
Date: Friday, November 12, 2010, 1:30 PM

Please give me some chapters and verses so that I can read them to see which you are referring to.

Re: The strong and weak in Romans ans the 7 laws of Noah
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:59 PM
From: "Suzanne utts" []
To: "Shlomoh Sherman" []

Nope.  The Noachide issue is a rabbinical invention and it is relatively recent.  It is not what Paul was talking about nor what the Messianic Beis Din was talking about in Acts 15. Gentile "aliens" were being taught in the synagogues until they came to faith in Yeshua when they were booted out with the Jewish believers. At that time they formed their own home fellowships. They were expected to learn Torah and in Torah it says there will be 1 law for both the Jew and the alien that resides with them.  The Beis Din in Acts 15 were giving guide lines to the new gentile believers so that they could fellowship with Jewish believers who were keeping kosher etc. After all these people were coming OUT of paganism and there had to be some way to show that they had forsaken pagan ways. EVERY ONE of the guide lines in Acts 15 refer to pagan practices and by adhering to the teachings of the Beis Din, it showed that the former pagans had truly forsaken the pagan temple rituals.  After all, they were still supposed to abide by ALL 10 Commandments but none of those were mentioned in Acts 15...HOWEVER a few verses up from this James mentions that Moses is taught on the Sabbath in the synagogues so these believers who were attending synagogue were learning Moses.  What we learn we are expected to live!

Shlomo, Jews often, even in Yeshua's time, refer to gentiles as "dogs."  The Noachide schtick is just the rabbis' way of throwing a bone to us dogs.  It is a way by which we can become accepted by them as a way of BYPASSING and DENYING Yeshua.  THAT I WILL NOT DO TO PLEASE ANY RABBI!

How could I deny the One Whose blood atoned for my sins?  I can't and I won't.  I would rather walk totally alone as far as mankind/religion is concerned because I will never truly be alone. The L-rd is always with me.

In Yeshua,

Re: The strong and weak in Romans and the 7 laws of Noah
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 11:14 AM
From: "Suzanne utts" []
To: "Shlomoh Sherman" []

Believe me, I have heard gentiles being called dogs.  I used to be in chat rooms quite often, and we got called everything including indecent by anti-missionaries.   Also, if you remember the story in the NT of the woman who had an issue of blood. She touched Yeshua's fringe and He asked her what she wanted.  She knelt before Him and said "Lord, help me!" and He replied "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." (She was Syro-phoenician).  She replied "Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master's table." and He marveled at her faith and healed her.

No. It isn't a slander to say that that they are a rabbinical invention. They ARE a rabbinical invention. Today's Judaism is definitely not the Judaism of Moses, which Yeshua was trying to get them to go back to. It is rabbinic Judaism. The rabbinate replaced the priesthood. Nowhere in Torah or anywhere in Tanakh does it say that rabbis should replace the priests. (I understand why it happened though.)  And no. You guys aren't saving us from destruction. Yeshua did that, Shlomo. There is a difference between destroying the body and destroying the soul.  Jews cannot save themselves or us from destruction of the body, much less the soul which only G-d can touch. Yeshua, the ultimate Jew (as Pinchas Lapide called Him) saves those who trust Him from the Destroyer.

I am not slandering Judaism or the rabbis. I have respect for both, but the Noachide thing is not correct nor is that movement for me.

Re: The strong and weak in Romans ans the 7 laws of Noah
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 4:44 PM
From: "Shlomoh Sherman" []
To: "Suzanne utts" []
Cc: "Cindy Pace" [], "Norman Kane" [],

Well Jesus said it, not me. But that was because he was a Galilean. They didn't like gentiles. The rabbis did. Priests never tried to make Jews out of gentiles. Rabbis did. Rabbis existed since the time of Moses they just weren;t called rabbis till much later on. The 7 laws are for all gentiles regardless of whether they accept them or not. Several times, God tried to get the TORAH to gentiles and they always refused it - so he gave it to jews who gladly accepted it. Why bring up chat rooms? The worst scum inhabit those places. Rational jews don't do it so don't generalize. *I* don't do it so Jews don't do it. I mean A REAL JEW would never do that just like a real xtian wouldnt be antisemitic. So they must not have been real jews. onlt chat room jews masquerading as real jews Meanwhile you must follow the 7 laws if you want to be considered a righteous gentile. But even if a gentile is a polytheistic pagan, he is still ok in my book as laong as he follows the 7 laws.

The strong and weak in Romans
November 16, 2010

Romans 14
 1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
 4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for  he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
 21 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.
 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
 23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

At first glance, it's hard to know who is weak and who is strong. At least one author suggestes that the weak are Jews who are associated with Paul's ecclesia in Rome but perhaps they are Jews who are not Christians. Paul seems to be telling his gentile followers not to engage in activities that will turn Jews off such as eating TREYF or not observing sabbath and Jewish holidays. The message is: altho you are gentiles, you are no longer pagans so don't act like pagans. In this context, Jews will determine what is pagan. What is pagan, according to the Jews who lived in Paul's time is eating TREYF [things that are strangled or offered to the gods], wine that is not KOSHER [libation wine offered to the gods], and non-observance of the day of rest. Paul seems to be saying that as gentiles you are free but as pagans you are not. Therefore altho you are not bound by the TORAH, do not give offense to the tree that bears you by acting as though you would be pagans in Jewish eyes. Did Paul write Romans after or before he met with James in Jerusalem and agreed to James' directives for gentiles in the faith? I don't know. What I found interesting is that the book that follows Romans is Corinthians. Each book addresses a parallel and opposite set of circumstances. The converts in the ecclesia of Rome had an "attitude" towards Jews who did not believe in Christ.

Romans 11
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

These gentiles thought they were better than unbeliving Jews and therefore the new, true Israel. But then, that's what Paul taught them. But now, he saw that not all people have the same capacity to understand him. So chapter 14 serves as a corrective; gentiles are free but not free to insult anyone, especially Jews. In Corinthians, the situation is reversed. Paul demands that his gentiles NOT become Jewish because the urge to become Jewish implies that the Jewish condition is better than the gentile one, and according to Paul's persuasion, all are one in Christ as he says elsewhere.

As the Ecclesia became overwhelmingly gentile, just as the Jews were defeated by the Romans and the Temple destroyed, Christians moved away from their double-bind; that is, not remain gentile but act as Jews by food, Sabbath, and holidays. Although some Christians continued to observe the sabbath and Jewish holidays, and who knows what else, the leadership of the Ecclesia became more and more antisemitic, seeing Jews as competitors for converts. As jews became powerless in the temporal world, the Roman Ecclesia was evolving into the Catholic Church and Christians who continued to judaize were penalized by the Church leaders. Traces of judaizing were outlawed. Observance of Passover was denounced as Easter was calendrically separated from it. Sabbath observance was transferred to Sunday, and December 25, which has been celebrated as a holiday by the pagan world for 6000 years, was established as the holiday announcing the arrival of Christ on earth. All laws of PURITY that James enjoined on Paul were ignored. Acting Jewish or associating with Jews was no longer necessary. Both Greek and Roman Catholicism were now the official religions of the Roman Empire, Jews were merely just another minority in the Empire. The verses in the book of Romans which were now stressed were those verses that implied or specifically expressed the idea of Christians as being the new, true Israel.

Until the rise of Christianity, the only Jews interested in or concerned about the spiritual well being of gentiles were the Pharisees. There is a parallel development in their thought to that of Paul's own thinking. While the only gentiles that they knew were pagans, there were some gentiles who attached themselves to the synagogue as Fearers of God or Righteous Gentiles. The rabbis [Pharisees] encouraged these people to become Jews. Some did but others found the transition of gentile to Jew difficult, especially Greek men who had uncomfortable feelings about being circumcised. With the rise of Christianity, the rabbis began to realize that there were gentiles who were not acting like pagans and who professed belief in the God of Israel. They also realized that it was not necessary to ask gentiles to become Jews so long as they led a righteous life. As to the gentiles who were not becoming Christians but remaining as pagans, the rabbis developed a system to determine which gentiles were righteous from a Jewish point of view. The yardstick they developed came to be known as the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. Each of these 7 laws is based on a distinct verse in Genesis and each is universal to the human race. That is, everyone of these laws for gentiles are also incumbant upon Jews. But since it is not necessaty for a gentile to become a Jew in order to recieve God's grace, the 7 laws only pertain to universal, non-ethnic principles. So for example,the law of Noah that prohibits murder is based on the story of Cain and Abel. The law that prohibits sexual mistreatment is based on the story of Sodom. Since there is no story of any gentile ever desecrating the Sabbath, there is no law for them to celebrate sabbath. The rabbis did not initially prohibit the observance of Sabbath to gentiles until a period in history when the Roman goverment had spies enter the Jewish community posing as Jews who publically showed an outward Sabbath observance. These Roman spies, acting as Jews, reported any Jews suspected of messianism or plot to rebel against the Empire to the Roman authority with the result that the entire community where those Jewish suspects resided was punished. After this, the rabbis declared that any gentile who appeared to observe Sabbath should be put to death. The logic was that there was no reason for a gentile to celebrate Sabbath since they could either convert to Judaism or Christianity. If they remained gentiles posing as Jews, they must be up to no good and in league with the Romans.

How does that apply today in practical terms? In the modern world, no one is killing anyone for keeping KOSHER or observing the Sabbath. In fact, many Jews [who are not fanatics] see a positive aspect to this. But what about the fact that Jews determine that breaking any of the 7 laws deserves the death penalty? Well Jews also believe that anyone breaking any of the 10 commandments also deserves the death penalty. So far, no one is being killed for breaking any commandment except in the Moslem world. For us, it's an academic issue only.

In recent times, Christians have become aware of the 7 laws and may feel offended that Jews have instituted these laws in order to make gentiles 2nd class citizens. At least, that is what is being preached by some extreme elements in Christianity. But that is not the case. Just as I, as a simple Jew, am not obligated to observe laws pertaining to priests, and in fact, according to the TORAH, would be punished if I attempted to observe them. So likewise, nonJews are not obligated to follow any laws pertaining to Jews. The rabbis did not make up these laws to make gentiles 2nd class citizens but to shiow that nonJews are just as righteous as Jews and will inherit the World to Come. What about Christians? The rabbis determined long ago that Christians follow their own laws and don't need to be preached to about the laws of Noah. Those laws only pertain to people who don't wish to be either Jewish or Christian.

Personally, I see the 7 laws as a very compassionate bit of thinking on the part of rabbis who did not wish to consider gentiles beyond the pale of salvation. None of these 7 laws has anything to do with what a person believes; only with how he acts. His belief is his concern and no inquisition should be established to kill him for his own beliefs. God will judge him only for his actions.

The paranoia and bad faith of some in the Christian community concerning the Seven Laws is as disturbing to me as any paranoid or fanatical thinking on anyone's part.

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