Article published in Paso Robles Press, Dec. 18, 2019
“Receiving One Another”: Romans 15:7
Dr. Gary M. Barker
One of the great doctrines of the New Testament is that in Christ all believers are EQUAL. Practicing equality promotes unity and prevents both bigotry and racism. It is sinful to be a bigot or racist. Treating other people as an equal will promote acceptance and eliminate discrimination, prejudice, and the prideful belief that a particular race is superior to another race. The apostle Paul in Romans 14:1-15:7 was instructing the Roman believers who were Gentiles to accept Jewish believers as equals. The unity of the local church in Rome was being destroyed because of intolerance and sinful attitudes of superiority which manifested itself in showing partiality and disrespect for others. There are only two biblical justifications for rejecting and separating from other people: 1) Living in sin and rebellion against God (Ephesians 5:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15) and 2) Promoting and teaching False doctrine (Romans 16:17, Titus 1:13-16, Revelation 2:12-17). Biblical separation is right when it is based upon judging and separating from sin (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) and refuting and rejecting false teaching (1 Timothy 6:3-5). False unity is maintained when either sin or false doctrine are tolerated.
It is the personal responsibility of every believer to treat other believers as equals. This is the command of the apostle Paul in Romans 15:7: “Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” The word “receive” is a present imperative in the Greek text of this verse. It is a command that is to be done continuously. The word literally means to accept with special interest as a friend and to welcome with kindness. These actions are obviously the opposite of rejecting people caused by prejudice or bigotry. The example of receiving other people is like Christ did. Christ accepts all those who believe in Him (Ephesians 1:6, Galatians 3:26-28, Romans 15:7). No believer is superior to another believer. This is true in relationship to race and gender. This New Testament teaching will transform and change the social relationships of the societies of the world. This change will be promoted by loving others as Christ loved us. Christlike acceptance of others as equals will eliminate the evils produced by prejudice, bigotry and rejection.
I personally experienced seeing the transformation that acceptance and love can produce as a missionary to Africa. Black and white people loved and treated one another as equals. This action also greatly elevated the status of women. May God enable us as believers to practice accepting and receiving one another in Christlike love.