Did Paul Tell the Romans One Thing and the Corinthians the Opposite?

You are here

Did Paul Tell the Romans One Thing and the Corinthians the Opposite?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

Many people assume that Paul was dismissing any need to keep the Sabbath and other biblical Holy Days when he wrote in Romans 14:5-6 Romans 14:5-6 5 One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regards the day, regards it to the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.
American King James Version×
: “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”

They assume, with no evidence, that these are the days to which Paul referred here—even though the Sabbath is not even mentioned anywhere in this entire epistle. Paul and the other New Testament writers did not ambiguously refer to the Sabbath by phrases such as “one day.” They also overlook the fact that Paul quotes from the Old Testament 84 times in this epistle to support his teaching —hardly the actions of a man who is trying to annul its commands!

The book of Acts sheds considerable light on Paul’s thinking when he wrote his epistle to the Romans. Most scholars agree that Paul wrote this epistle while visiting the Greek city of Corinth in or around A.D. 56. What does Acts tell us about Paul’s actions in that city?

It shows us that Paul, while in Corinth, “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:1-4 Acts 18:1-4 1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he stayed with them, and worked: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
American King James Version×
). This is the context of Paul’s actions when he wrote the book of Romans. Did he write to the church members in Rome to tell them Sabbath-keeping was irrelevant, while simultaneously teaching Jews and gentiles alike “every Sabbath” in Corinth?

Obviously something is wrong with many people’s view of Romans if they seriously believe this is what Paul taught. As the book of Acts shows, regardless of what city Paul was in, Sabbath-keeping was his regular manner or “custom” according to God’s commandments (Acts 17:2 Acts 17:2And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
American King James Version×
).

Further proof that this common interpretation of Romans 14 is wrong can be found in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. He wrote this epistle in or around A.D. 55, shortly before he came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:5-6 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 5 Now I will come to you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yes, and winter with you, that you may bring me on my journey wherever I go.
American King James Version×
) on the visit during which he would write his epistle to the Romans.

What do we find he tells the Corinthians in this letter?

• He tells them to keep the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread in the proper manner, understanding its spiritual intent (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×
; compare Leviticus 23:6 Leviticus 23:6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
American King James Version×
).

• He instructs them on how to keep the New Testament Passover as a commemoration of Jesus Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 11:23-30 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
American King James Version×
).

• He reminds them that “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×
).

• He writes that he intends to journey to them, but that he will first stay in Ephesus until after the biblical Feast of Pentecost has passed (1 Corinthians 16:8 1 Corinthians 16:8But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
American King James Version×
).

If you accept the common misinterpretation of the book of Romans, you would have to conclude that Paul instructed the Corinthians in how to properly observe the Passover, that he told them to keep the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread, and that he noted he was staying in Ephesus until after the biblical Feast of Pentecost—and the very next year wrote to the Romans that none of this mattered and was all unnecessary.

On the other hand, if you understand Paul’s teaching to the Romans as it is truthfully presented in this chapter, you will see complete agreement between his actions and the letters he wrote to Church members both in Rome and Corinth.

You might also be interested in...