15:7 accept one another In Rom 15:1, Paul specifically asked the strong to bear with the weak; now he urges both groups to accept one another.
15:7 Therefore, in conclusion, both the strong and the weak are exhorted to accept one another, for they have been accepted by Christ even though they are sinners. Such mutual acceptance will bring great glory to God.
15:7 accept. See note on 14:1. as Christ … accepted us. If the perfect, sinless Son of God was willing to bring sinners into God’s family, how much more should forgiven believers be willing to warmly embrace and accept each other in spite of their disagreements over issues of conscience (Mt 10:24; 11:29; Eph 4:32–5:2).
15:7 Therefore introduces the conclusion of the discussion begun in 14:1, where Paul began with the command to receive the weak believer. Thus, the command to receive one another is addressed not just to the strong believers, but to all believers.
15:7 One more principle emerges from all this. In spite of any differences that might exist concerning secondary matters, we should receive one another, just as Christ also received us. Here is the true basis for reception in the local assembly. We do not receive on the basis of denominational affiliation, spiritual maturity, or social status. We should receive those whom Christ has received, in order to promote the glory of God.
15:7. Since the goal of interpersonal relationships among Christians is a unified glorying of God, Paul concluded his commands with Accept one another (pres. imper., “keep on accepting or receiving one another”). Significantly this is the same command Paul gave the strong Christians when he opened this entire discussion (14:1). The Model of acceptance for Christians, however, is the Lord Jesus, who accepted us. The Lord received believers when they were not only “powerless” (5:6, lit., “weak”) but also “ungodly” (5:6), “sinners” (5:8), and “enemies” (5:10). Certainly Christians can receive others who differ with them on nonessential matters. Jesus Christ received them so that they can bring praise to God (lit., “unto glory of God”), which is the purpose of Christian unity (15:6).
|“accept one another”
|“receive one another”
|“welcome one another”
|“treat each other in the same friendly way”
This is a PRESENT MIDDLE IMPERATIVE. Believers must continue to accept one another because Christ accepted them. This same truth is found in 14:1. However, here it introduces a series of OT passages about God accepting Gentiles (cf. vv. 9–12). This may have reflected the tension within the Roman Church.
Christianity is characterized by a self-giving of believers to one another (cf. 1:12; 12:5, 10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16).
© “just as Christ also accepted us” This is an AORIST MIDDLE INDICATIVE. Here is the motive and impetus of the believer’s actions toward others (cf. 14:3). In chapter 14 the focus was on (1) Christ as Master and Judge, vv. 1–12, and (2) Christ as our example of self-giving love, vv. 13–23. Christ accepted us, we must accept others!
© “to the glory of God” See note at 3:23.
7. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, to the glory of God.
In connection with this passage the question has been asked, “Does ‘to the glory of God’ modify ‘Christ accepted you,’ or does it go with ‘Accept one another’?” The right answer is probably, “In a sense it modifies both.” What Paul is saying amounts to this, “Just as Christ accepted you in order that by means of that acceptance God might be glorified—for he certainly is glorified by the hearts and lives of the accepted ones—so, and with the same ultimate purpose in mind, you should accept one another.”
The high ideal expressed in verses 5 and 6, namely, to live in harmony with one another and with heart and mouth to glorify God, here (in verse 7) becomes the basis for the exhortation that the addressed should accept one another. See what has been said with respect to this acceptance in connection with 14:1 (including footnote 372). However, here (15:7) the reciprocal character of this acceptance is stressed. Not only should the strong accept the weak (as in 14:1), but the weak must also welcome the strong.
Before leaving this passage it should be pointed out that between (a) Christ’s deed of accepting sinners, transforming them into beloved sons and daughters, and (b) the believers’ acceptance of one another there is an almost infinite qualitative difference. For Christ to be able to accept sinners meant nothing less than leaving the glories of heaven, entering into the miseries of earth, and undergoing a death so agonizing that words are lacking to describe it. For saved sinners to accept one another implies no such sacrifice. Hymn writers have given expression to the contrast between the divine sacrifice and human sacrifices; See especially Frances Havergal’s “I Gave My Life for Thee” and Isaac Watts’ “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” And as for the ultimate purpose of all human activity that is acceptable to God see Fanny Crosby’s “To God Be the Glory.”
Because Christ accepted you (7)
With verse 7 Paul returns to the beginning, to his original and positive appeal for acceptance. Indeed, the long, closely reasoned, theological-practical argument about the strong and the weak (14:2–15:6) is sandwiched between the two cries, Accept him (14:1) and Accept one another (7a). Both are addressed to the whole congregation, although the first urges the church to welcome the weaker brother, while the second urges all church members to welcome each other. Both also have a theological base. The weak brother is to be accepted for God has accepted him (14:3), and the members are to welcome each other just as Christ accepted you (7a).
Moreover, Christ’s acceptance of us was also in order to bring praise to God (7b). The entire credit for the welcome we have received goes to him who took the initiative through Christ to reconcile us to himself and to each other.
7. Welcome one another. Take your fellow-Christians to your hearts as well as to your homes. If Christ’s example is followed, as Paul enjoins, the welcome will be unreserved and God will be glorified by his people’s mutual love and kindness, Paul may have in mind especially, though by no means exclusively, the practice of unreserved fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers.
As Christ has welcomed you. For ‘you’ (hymas) there is, as in many other places, a variant reading ‘us’ (hēmas); cf. neb. ‘This is why it is right that they should remain united together, and not despise one another, because Christ despised neither of them’ (Calvin, ad loc.).
15:7 / Verses 7–13 summarize and conclude what Paul has said since 14:1. Verse 7 especially captures the spirit of the argument, Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Addressed to both the strong and weak, this injunction calls for unconditional affirmation and acceptance of each by the other. Paul moves from the historical indicative of Christ’s death for us to the present imperative of acceptance of others. Again, it is not moral principles in themselves but the person of Jesus who provides both rationale and empowerment for such acceptance. There are many ways to give glory to God, among them truth (3:7) and faith (4:20). Not least among them, however, is acceptance of those different from ourselves. How strange, said Luther, is the glory of God, for God is glorified when believers of differing persuasions accept one another and when the strong bear the burdens of the weak! (Lectures on Romans, p. 411).
7 “Therefore” gathers up the threads of Paul’s entire exhortation to the strong and the weak. Similarly, his command that believers in both groups “receive one another” brings the section to its climax. As in 14:1, “receive” means more than “tolerate” or “give official recognition to”; Paul wants the Roman Christians to accept one another as fellow members of a family, with all the love and concern that should typify brothers and sisters. In 14:3, Paul prohibited weak Christians from judging their strong fellow believers on the grounds that God had “received” them. Now, however, he grounds a similar command on the truth that “Christ has received you.” Here we have yet another instance of Paul’s close association of God and Christ in this part of Romans. The conjunction that Paul uses to introduce this theological reminder, kathōs, usually indicates a comparison; and, were we to adopt this meaning here, Paul would be teaching that believers should accept one another in the same manner as Christ has accepted us. But kathōs here probably has its more rare causal sense. Paul would then be insisting that Christians treat one another as the fellow members of the family of God that they all truly are. “Mutual love ought to reign supremely in a church wholly composed of the Lord’s well-beloved.”738
The final phrase, “to the glory of God,” is a statement of purpose: “in order that God might be glorified.” The difficulty is to decide whether this is the purpose of believers’ receiving each other740 or of Christ’s receiving us. Perhaps, since the former is the leading idea, and since Paul has already drawn a connection between unity and the glorifying of God (v. 6), we should attach the phrase to the initial imperative, “receive one another.”
7 As in verses 5, 6 both weak and strong are in view, so here. In 14:1 the same exhortation is addressed to the strong in reference to the weak but now both classes are exhorted to mutual embrace in confidence and love. The necessity is underlined by what Christ has done. If Christ has received us, are we to refuse fellowship to those whom Christ has received? If we place restraints upon our acceptance of believers, we are violating the example of that redemptive action upon which all fellowship in the church rests. In 14:3 the fact that God has received the strong believer is urged as the reason why the weak should receive him. Christ’s reception of all without distinction is the ground upon which fellowship is to be unrestrained. “To the glory of God” should be taken in conjunction with Christ’s action in receiving us. In verses 8 and 9 two respects are mentioned in which the glory of God is exhibited in Christ’s being made a minister of the circumcision. But we may not limit the glory of God in verse 7. There is a close connection between “to the glory of God” (vs. 7) and the glorifying of the Father (vs. 6). The harmony enjoined is for the glory of God the Father. This, as well as the harmony, is patterned after Christ’s example; his receiving of us is to the glory of God and no consideration could enforce the necessity of mutual confidence and love more than that Christ’s receiving of all, weak and strong, was not only in perfect accord with God’s glory but was directed specifically to that end. The ultimate goal of Christ’s action was likewise the glory of the Father (cf. John 17:4). We are reminded of the coalescence of supreme grace to us and the promotion of God’s glory (cf. Eph. 1:14; Phil. 2:11).
7 As Paul moves forward to the conclusion of his treatment of the strong and the weak, he pauses, good teacher that he is, to summarize what he has already stated. “Accept one another” picks up the emphasis of 14:1, where the same verb occurs, but here the charge is directed to both groups rather than to the strong alone. Each group is to accept the other group as they are, as fully justified members of the Christian church, without prejudice and without the attempt to change them. Then, in line with 15:3, he brings in the example of Christ once more and states that bringing praise to God is the grand objective, in agreement with v. 6. It is not fully clear whether this final phrase, eis doxan tou theou (lit., “to the glory of God”; NIV, “in order to bring praise to God”), relates grammatically to the command to receive one another or to the fact that Christ has received them. As far as the sense of the passage is concerned, it could apply to either, but the wider context suggests the former: receive one another to the glory of God.
The Basic Instruction
Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (15:7)
This verse, in effect, summarizes the previous two, which also focus on our accepting one another, just as Christ also accepted us and on giving glory to God.
Proslambanō (accept) is an intensified form of lambanō and carries the meaning of receiving something or someone to oneself with special concern. It can have a negative connotation, as when Peter presumptuously “took [Jesus] aside [proslambanō] and began to rebuke Him” (Mark 8:32).
But the connotation in Romans 15:7 is positive and is illustrated several times in the book of Acts. When Apollos “began to speak out boldly in the synagogue,” Priscilla and Aquila lovingly “took him aside [proslambanō] and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). After Paul’s ship was wrecked just off the coast of Malta, “the natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received [proslambanō] us all” (Acts 28:2, emphasis added). It is the word Paul uses in imploring Philemon to lovingly take back his runaway slave Onesimus, to “accept [proslambanō] him as you would me” (Philem. 17).
In the present text, the apostle gives an infinitely greater illustration of the way in which Christians are to receive each other. He has used the word twice in Romans 14, each time (vv. 1, 3) referring, as here, to believers accepting one another with love and without reservation or judgment. And in 14:3, as here, believers are commanded to accept one another in the same gracious way that Christ has accepted us. Although He used a different verb, Jesus declared that “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matt. 10:40). Therefore, to accept one another is to accept Christ Himself.
Paul does not mention specific types of believers in this verse. He is speaking to the strong and to the weak, to Gentiles and to Jews. All believers are called to accept one another. He is not simply speaking of accepting new believers into our church fellowship, although that would certainly be included in this admonition. He is calling on all Christians to accept one another in the fullest and deepest sense, to treat each other with love and understanding, just as Christ also accepted us. If the perfect, sinless Son of God has accepted us into God’s divine family, how much more should we be willing to accept each other, despite the fact that we all still carry sinful trappings from our old, unredeemed flesh. The self-righteous, hypocritical scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus because He “receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). All of those sinners may not have become saved, but before salvation, every person whom Christ accepts is just like those sinners.
Jesus Christ Himself is our pattern for accepting one another. As He reminded the Twelve, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master” (Matt. 10:24). In saying, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29), Jesus commands us to learn from His example the virtues of kindness, gentleness, and humility. Paul admonished the Ephesians to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 4:32–5:2).
To accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us, is a sure mark of godliness, and failure to do so is just as surely a mark of carnality. Failure to accept one another in love and compassion is an affront to the Savior who accepted us. A congregation that is divisive, quarrelsome, contentious, and judgmental gives the world reason to ridicule Christ’s church and to reject the One who is their only hope of salvation.
There are at least four characteristics of Christ’s accepting sinners. First, He accepts them joyously. In the passage cited above from Luke 15, Jesus told His critics and the rest of the crowd a parable,
saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:3–7)
Jesus graciously entreats all men: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), and “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37, emphasis added). In great sorrow, He looked out over the holy city and lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). From the cross, He expressed His willingness to forgive and to save even those who were then putting Him to death, “saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ ” (Luke 23:34).
Some years ago I was visiting in a city and drove by a church that had a prominent sign in front that proclaimed Jesus’ invitation mentioned above: “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” I later learned that a former pastor of that church had witnessed to and was discipling a man of another race. The people of the church and community strongly discouraged his doing that, and when he continued, he was virtually ostracized. He was not able to buy gas at the service station or groceries at the supermarket. His insurance was canceled and his children were continually harassed. The pastor became so distraught that he had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized. A few days after being admitted, he committed suicide. His desperate state of mind and sinful act were, in some measure, impelled by the utter failure of that church to live up to the message it publicly proclaimed.
Jesus also has a message for believers who presumptuously oppress and mistreat His children: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).
Second, Jesus accepts sinners for salvation in spite of their sin. Otherwise, no person could be saved, because no person can cleanse his own sin. “God demonstrates His own love toward us,” Paul has said earlier in this letter, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). In his first letter to Timothy, he testified, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15).
One day, as Jesus “was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the taxgatherers and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ ” (Matt. 9:10–13). On another occasion, “the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the taxgatherers and sinners?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick’ ” (Luke 5:30–31; cf. 6:32–36).
On still another occasion, Jesus
told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a taxgatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this taxgatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the taxgatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9–14)
Third, Jesus accepts sinners impartially. His promise is unequivocal: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). The Lord has bound Himself by His own word that He will accept any person, without qualification, who receives Him by faith. Early in this letter, Paul declared that there absolutely “is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11). It was a difficult truth for Peter to accept, but he finally confessed, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34–35).
James vividly emphasized that truth. “My brethren,” he wrote,
do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?… If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:1–4, 8–9)
Fourth, Jesus accepts sinners to the glory of God, as Paul states explicitly in our text: Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. God established His eternal plan of redemption to glorify Himself. Everything He does is to His glory, and everything His children do should be to His glory.
God “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved,” Paul declares (Eph. 1:5–6). In a benediction later in that letter he said, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (3:20–21). “God highly exalted [Christ], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,” in order that, when He comes again, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9–11).
Therefore, when we follow our Lord’s example in receiving each other in love and without judgment or condescension, we do so as He did, to the glory of God. And keep in mind, Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me” (Matt. 18:5, emphasis added)!
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ro 15:7). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1738). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Stott, J. R. W. (2001). The message of Romans: God’s good news for the world (p. 371). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.