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Accept one another…

Posted by on May 16, 2007 in community, fellowship, love, service | 6 comments

Can we accept one another?

This is an interesting concept that is mentioned three times in Romans. Look at the various translations of Romans 15:7 –

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (ESV)

Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. (NKJV, cf. KJV, NET)

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (NASB, cf. NIV, NLT, HCSB)

All of these English versions are translating the Greek word προσλαμβάνω (“proslambanō“). According to a standard Greek lexicon (BDAG), προσλαμβάνω carries a range of meanings: 1) to take something that meets a personal need (take, partake of), 2) to promote one’s own ends (exploit, take advantage of), 3) to take or lead off to oneself (take aside), 4) to extend a welcome (receive into one’s home or circle of acquaintances), or 5) to take or bring along with oneself (take along). According to the lexicon, all of the uses of προσλαμβάνω in Romans fall into definition 4 above: to extend a welcome (receive into one’s home or circle of acquaintances).

Here are the other uses of προσλαμβάνω (“proslambanō“) in Romans:

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome (accept / receive) him, not to quarrel over opinions. (Romans 14:1 ESV)

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed (accepted / received) him. (Romans 14:3 ESV)

Interestingly, in each case, the “accepting” or “receiving” is carried out in spite of differences. Therefore, even though someone disagrees with me, if that person is a brother or sister in Christ, I am supposed to receive that person into my home or circle of acquaintances. Why? Because that is the way that Christ received us (Rom. 15:7).

Have we forgotten what we were like when Christ received us? Read through the first few verses of Ephesians 2 if you have forgotten. There was nothing in us to deserve acceptance. In fact, we deserved (and still deserve on our own) condemnation – punishment – judgment. This is the definition of grace. We were accepted by God in spite of the fact that we were unacceptable.

Now, we are to accept or receive others in the same way – that is, in the same way that Christ accepted us. We can only accept one another (as they are) when we realize that there is nothing in us that makes us better than anyone else, nothing that makes us acceptable. As long as we think that we are better than others, then we do not accept them. As long as we expect something from others, then we do not accept them. As long as we value people for what they do for us, then we do not accept them. As long as we love, care for, and welcome only those who agree with us, then we do not accept them.

When we can learn to accept someone who is not worthy of being accepted, then we will begin to understand what it means to accept someone as Christ accepted us. When we accept someone even when they can offer us nothing, then we truly accept them. When we accept someone that does not love or accept us in return, then we truly accept them. When we accept someone in spite of our differences, then we truly accept them.

Unfortunately, many within the church continue to value people for the work that they do, or their intelligence, or their talents, or the time they have to put into church projects. Some are accepted because they can speak well. Some are accepted because they can sing well or play an instrument. Some are accepted because they have money to give. Some are accepted because they have a nice home and drive a nice car. Some are accepted because they can organize projects. This is not acceptance, at least not in the way that Christ accepted us.

If we accept the one who cannot speak well, and who cannot sing or play an instrument, and who has no money to give, and who is homeless or always needs a ride, and who cannot organize projects…

If we look at a brother or sister and recognize that Christ has accepted them and if we accept them as well with no strings attached, then we are learning to accept one another as Christ accepts us. And, according to Romans 15:7, this brings glory to God.

So, who are you welcoming into your home and into your circle of acquaintances? Are you “accepting” others as Christ accepts you?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-17-2007

    Exactly. How does the church wake up to this? Why isn’t this being preached/taught? It seems the message we receive more of is the message that says everyone needs to believe this set of doctrinal propositions (I am trying to find a new word for what we typically call doctrine) or face rejection.

    Fall Holy Spirit!

    BTW, thank you for both of your kind links!

  2. 5-17-2007

    Let’s throw this verse into the mix:

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

    I am being challenged in this area currently, and you’ve given me something to think about. I’m glad that you posted about this.


  3. 5-17-2007

    I understand “accepting one another” to refer primarily to the fellowship of the church. We are to accept into the fellowship of the church all those that Christ Himself accepts.

    This, however, brings up the question of church discipline again. We are not, as I understand it, to accept into the fellowship of the church those that Christ does not accept. Christ accepts us on the basis of the pardon bought for us by His shed blood on the cross of Calvary. But, we appropriate that acceptance by way of faith and repentance. Those who insist on continuing in unrepentant sin, are in effect, denying the acceptance bought for them by Christ’s atonement.

    Also, the sole requirement for acceptance into the fellowship of the church is, as I understand it, a credible testimony of present and active faith and repentance, not agreement on second and third-tier doctrines.

    Of course, none of this goes against the additional implications of receiving brothers and sisters in Christ into our homes and into our circle of acquaintances. That goes along with the territory. It is part of the “one anothers” that apply to all of our fellow members in the Body of Christ.

  4. 5-17-2007


    I appreciate your encouragment and enthusiasm. I agree that we will not be able to accept others who are different than ourselves apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives, and our obedience to the Spirit.


    I agree that accepting one another is a response to loving one another. It seems that perhaps all of our reactions and responses toward one another must begin with love.


    Yes, we are to accept all those that Christ accepts. We are not given the rights nor the priveleges to choose who we should or should not accept. I think that unrepentant sin should be the exception instead of the rule, but you are correct that we respond to those in unrepentant sin in specific ways. Usually, though, unrepentant sin is not the reason that we choose not to accept someone.


  5. 5-17-2007

    Someone is moving in my neighborhood due to some neighbors comments etc. Not everyone in the neighborhood accepts this person and it is sad. That person’s sin is no worse than any other’s sin in the eyes of God.

  6. 5-17-2007


    Sin is serious. But, this is true for all sin (including greed and gluttony), not just those pet sins that evangelicals love to hate. I think discipleship would be a better response than comments by neighbors. Thank you for you comment.