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Romans 14:13 – Stumbling block or snare?

09-02-2022 - Posted by Hans

By no means, then, should we still be judging one another, but rather decide this, not to place a stumbling block for a brother, or a snare.

Once we realize that “each of us shall be giving account of himself to God” (13:12), it becomes natural that we no longer judge one another. And if we still want to judge, Paul writes with a wink, then come to this judgment… Then it is no longer about what the other person does, but about what I can do better myself.

There is no better judgment than this decree: “Do not place a stumbling block or a snare for the brother.” Now there is a persistent misunderstanding about this exhortation, which unfortunately is fed by Bible translations in which the Greek word ‘skandalon’ (=snare) is rendered with ‘annoyance’. With the association of irritation and displeasure (annoyance = magnifying degree of bad > making worse). A ‘skandalon’, however, is not an ‘annoyance’, but a ‘snare’.

If Jan is annoyed by Piet’s behavior, then that is no snare for Jan. On the contrary, the annoyance is more likely to confirm him in his thinking. Piet’s behavior becomes a snare when Jan’s faith ‘goes down’ because of it’ and he loses track. That is loveless. The goal is not to please the brother in everything, but that he is spiritually built and established on the one foundation.