Unmerited acceptance

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‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see’ (Newton).

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Bible passage Romans 15:7–13

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
       "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
       I will sing the praises of your name."

    10 Again, it says,
       "Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people."

    11 And again,
       "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
       let all the peoples extol him."

    12 And again, Isaiah says,
       "The Root of Jesse will spring up,
       one who will arise to rule over the nations;
       in him the Gentiles will hope."

    13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible

Open to all
When Paul was writing this letter, it was still a highly amazing fact that God’s kingdom was now open to non-Jews. We Gentiles now take it for granted that Christ’s sacrifice was for us as well as for the Jewish nation, but passages like this should help us pause and remember the incredible gift the Father has given us.

And if you are Jewish you’re not excluded from this gift; you too were chosen from before the creation of the world for redemption by the blood of Christ.

Looking through God's eyes
The disputes that Paul was addressing in chapter 14, from which all of this follows, were about the transition between Jewish law and new covenant freedom, but Paul is clear that neither trumps the other in God’s eyes – we each have to be accepted by God because of his grace and mercy, not by our merit or obedience to his law. Therefore, we must each accept one another as equals.


Our culture today, as much as ever, tends to be suspicious and fearful of ‘the other’. Those who are different from us are treated as outsiders and have to earn our acceptance. Reflect on the fact that you were once an outsider and were welcomed in with love and open arms. Thank God for his acceptance.

Jennie Pollock

Deeper Bible study

‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1)

So Paul can now state the conclusion of his argument: we are to accept each other. If it be true that Christ has accepted us, with all our flaws, failings and former sins, the logic is inescapable: we should accept each other within the community that names him as Lord. The primary divide across which the Romans’ welcoming hands were to be stretched was the deep and longstanding one between Jews and Gentiles, but these communities brought with them all manner of religious, ethnic and cultural disagreements so there were many subsets of difference that needed to be tolerated, forgiven and negotiated.

Paul stacks up the biblical texts, to stress that although Christ was Jewish and came to the Jewish people (v 8) God’s purpose always had the Gentiles in view. The gospel was ‘first to the Jew, then to the Gentile’, as Paul declared from the beginning of this letter (Romans 1:15; see also 15:15,16). The Hebrew scriptures justified this belief and the apostle cites four texts to put his point beyond doubt (vs 9,10,11,12). This was the peculiar emphasis that had been entrusted to Paul, which he called ‘my gospel’ (Romans 16:25, 2 Timothy 2:8) and which came to define the inclusive, international community that was the Christian church. We are included because we are in Christ, not for any other reason. We must welcome each other for his sake.

This does not, of course, mean that every kind of behaviour can be included in Christ. The church is called to holy living as well as to unity. It is not that anything goes but rather that anybody may come. When they come they are to be welcomed, but this very welcome is a powerful means by which people may be helped to cast off ‘the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light’ (Romans 13:12).

Nigel Wright

Bible Background: Root of Jesse

Old Testament background

In a key passage in the book of Isaiah (9:1–10), it is prophesied that from the roots of Jesse a branch will bear fruit. This implies that the coming Messiah will be a descendant of David, whose father was Jesse (1 Samuel 6:1).

A description follows as to what the promised deliverer will be like (vs 1–5). After this comes a description of the idyllic Messianic age (vs 6–9). Finally, in verse 10 we read that ‘the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples’.

Significance of the title

This title can either be taken as a parallel to the idea of the Branch (v 1), or in a different sense, namely that the Messiah is not only a descendant of Jesse and David, but is greater than them (see John 1:15), the root from which they and everything springs.

Alec Motyer comments that the coming King ‘is the root support and origin of the Messianic family in which he will be born’ (The Prophecy of Isaiah, IVP, 1993, p121). This interpretation also ties in with Revelation 22:16, where Jesus is referred to as ‘the Root and Offspring of David’.

Quotation in Romans 15

In Romans 15:12 Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, because its reference to the Gentiles fits in with his point that God’s plan all along was to bless the Gentiles along with Israel.

As a rabbi he was trained to quote from the Law, the Prophets and the Writings to establish his argument from all the major parts of the Hebrew canon, and that is what he is doing in verses 9–12. 

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  • Ray Skinner | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I cannot read this passage without a deep longing, that the world if Islam is included too. While to be found among the Gentiles, most Muslims have a similar and proper Fear of God, as the patriarchs did. Do Christians share the same longing and prayer for our Muslim 'cousins', that St Paul had for Abraham's children, whether of blood or by faith? We surely should. Not for a moment am I suggesting that we falter in our commitment to proclaimed Christ crucified, and I find there is a questioning within Islam from its early years, as to whether Jesus actually died on the cross. Was it not until 400 years after Miuhammad, that the first Muslim scholars suggested that someone else had been crucified in the place of Jesus? Who can pray with me, that Arabic-speaking Christians will engage with their Muslim friends on this, with renewed energy, inspired and enabled by the Spirit of God in Christ?

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    In v7, Paul concluded his remarks about walking in love toward brethren who had different convictions. He judged that on certain issues that were not critical to salvation the stronger should bear with the weak.Here in case someone should try to cite Jesus’ exclusion of the Gentiles during His earthly ministry as proof that we can reject those who don’t conform to Jewish traditions, Paul explained why Jesus ministered nearly exclusively to the Jews. He was fulfilling God’s promises to the Jews. Jesus could not become the Saviour of the Gentiles until He had been the Messiah to the Jews. Paul then went on to cite a number of OT scriptures that make it very clear that Jesus’ present ministry embraces the Gentiles without converting them to Judaism.

  • Janet Webb | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    RAY absolutely. I feel for those who have earnestly looked for truth but have been lead astray. In a similar way I have the Mormons and JWs on my heart. And the Jews who reject Jesus as the Messiah that they are looking for.

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    People from every nation on earth have been given a new life in Jesus. We are a family; God's family here and in heaven. It is our choice to believe and act accordingly that makes us God's holy people; praising and glorifying Him always......"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Amen.

  • Roger Hall | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    If I may agree with Ray. I found a book in the Christian bookshop with the title "Mosul. When Isis moves out, Jesus .moves in." Mosul is ancient Ninevah. I'm not sure of the title, but this records some amazing incidents where Muslims are suddenly confronted with visions of Jesus, others dream that I'd is telling them someone will come and speak to them. A lot are mortified that Islam appears to be shaming them with their terror, but when they come to the Bible, they find only Love is spoken! Grace - amazing!

  • Ruth Chisholm | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    From deeper study ...'It is not that anything goes in our churches but rather that anybody may come. When they come they are to be welcomed, but this very welcome is a powerful means by which people may be helped to cast off ‘the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light." " Doesn't that sum up nicely these past few weeks of study. Thank you for your prayers my immune system seems to be on the way back up and I was able to have yesterday's chemo.4/¹². V13 is a great start to the day. 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Not in our strength but through his spirit we receive more than we need so we can OVERFLOW. Blessed day everyone.

  • Jim Scott | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Verse 13 has been very special to me, since I "discovered" it one evening after a particularly stressful day at work. It has been a source of encouragement to me many times since, as well as to a number of people to whom I have had the privilege to minister. "Not in our strength" indeed, Ruth!

  • Ruth Lewis | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    REBECCA, praying for your family that are in FL. I am thanking God they are safe. I am also praying that the they won't be without power as long as it is predicted. God changes things!!!

  • Ruth Lewis | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I enjoyed your comment RUTH C. Continuing to pray for you!

  • Ruth Lewis | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I enjoyed your comment RUTH C. Continuing to pray for you!

  • Eileen Smith | Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Thanking God with you RUTH C & continuing to pray for you

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