Do we choose which day to keep holy according to Romans 14:5,6?

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The apostle Paul wrote, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6).

Some use this passage to show that Paul taught the every believer can choose which day to keep holy. But in this passage, Paul was not addressing God’s eternal Sabbath or the feast days. The Bible is very clear of the sanctity of the Sabbath Day for the believers in all ages (Exodus 20:8-11). And it also mentions the feast days that were kept by the Jews up until the Resurrection (Leviticus 23).

Instead, Paul here was talking about eating meats that are offered to idols and fasting practices. He was urging the believers to accept the “weak in the faith” who doesn’t have enough knowledge and to not judge him (v. 1). For some of the newly converted, refused to eat meat because most of meat in the city was offered to idols. These believers thought that meat offered to idols can actually defile them (I Corinthians 8:7). So, Paul assured them that is not true for “we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one” (verse 4).

Then Paul talked about keeping days: “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike” (Romans 14:5-6). In addition to not eating meat, some new converts customarily abstained from eating on certain days, similar to the Catholics who abstain from eating meat on Fridays.

At that time, both Jews and Gentiles practiced semi-fasts on certain days of each week or month. The Jews fasted “twice in the week” (Luke 18:12) and on specific days (Zechariah 7:4-7). And the Gentiles also fasted according to their traditions (Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics).

In the Bible, the Lord made clear what is the fast that is pleasing to Him (Isaiah 58). Fasting should not be done to boast before people (Matthew 6:16) or judge others who don’t fast (Romans 14:1). And those who are stronger in faith are to “bear the infirmities of the weak” (Romans 15:1). No attempt should be made to steal from any believer his freedom to make up his own mind about his duty.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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