Only one word. One word given a different English translation among major Bible versions. But this morning, the difference made a difference. The difference had an impact. The difference evoked awe . . . sparked thanksgiving . . . was a catalyst for worship. Only one word.
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. (Romans 15:7 NKJV)
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7 NIV)
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7 EV)
I was struck by the thought that I have been “welcomed” by Christ. And wondered why I don’t recall this idea of being welcomed before. And it’s because I grew up on a different version. And in that version of the Bible I was “received.”
According to my online lexicon, the Greek word translated as received, or accepted, or welcomed can have the following nuances of meaning: to take as ones companion; to take by the hand in order to lead aside; to take or receive into ones home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to ones heart; to take into friendship. It’s a combo word . . . “to take” and “near”. So each of the translations have it right. But, and I’m no Greek scholar, I’m kind of liking the ESV translation.
That I have been accepted into relationship by the holy Son of God is jaw-dropping. That I have been received into fellowship by Him who made all things, and without Him nothing was made, is very much awe-inspiring. But there’s something about being welcomed, at least for me, that kind of takes the idea to a next level.
I’m received because of the finished work of Christ. The price paid that the chasm caused by sin might be bridged. No longer separated or alienated. Instead, because my sin was laid upon Him, I can be brought into His presence. I’m accepted because of the perfect life of Christ. His righteousness credited to my account. His life infused into mine through the Holy Spirit. All working such that He is not ashamed to call me His brother (Heb. 2:11).
But to be welcomed . . . beyond the implications of these wondrous spiritual transactions — my sin upon Him, His righteousness upon me — stirs me to think that my acceptance and reception are something that Jesus greatly desires. The Christ welcomes me into relationship . . . He wants me to fellowship . . . the door is opened and the Lord of the Church delights to come in and eat.
. . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)
I’m wondering if part of that joy was Christ’s anticipation of welcoming His children. Of taking us as His companion . . . of laying hold of our hand that He might lead us by His side . . . of wanting us in His house that He might show us unmerited kindness . . . so that He might allow us access to His heart . . . so that He might call us friend.
Oh to be welcomed by the King.
What wondrous grace . . . to Him be eternal glory.