1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
Chapters 14 and 15 deal with the subject of doubtful things. These are areas where there are different levels of understanding of a particular practice of life that does not involve a moral issue. Those with a weak understanding of the specificities of faith need further growth in biblical understanding. Those with strong understanding need to be patient with those who are weak in faith.
Both 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14-15 deal with the same subject of doubtful things. Paul wrote the book of Romans from Corinth so he was probably dealing with the same basic problem of Christian liberty in both books.
Verse one argues that strong believers are to approach weak Christians in a forbearing manner.
1 Receive [welcome]
“Receive” here means to accept. The idea is to welcome someone with whom you have a disagreement. Paul was addressing the mature believer with the word “receive.” Strong Christians are to accept the weaker Christian as a member in the family of God.
one who is weak in the faith,
The “weak” person in the context of chapters 14 and 15 is the legalistic believer who does not have a good grasp of Christian liberty. He is fettered by scruples from his pre-Christian days and still sees Christianity as rules and regulations. He is enslaved to the efficacy of works and believes that he can gain God’s favor by doing or not doing certain things.
A Christian’s liberty does not involve violating clear principles of God’s Word. Rather, liberty involves matters that are neither right nor wrong in themselves.
Weak faith is not the same as no faith. Rather, it is lack of a fuller knowledge of faith. Weak believers are people of faith, albeit inadequate faith. They do not have enough of a reservoir of truth in their souls to counter legalisms and insecurity about their ability to live up to God’s Word. There is no way to apply truth to experience without adequate understanding of principles about God’s way of life.
This phrase is emphatic in the Greek. Biblically, a “weak” person is not a defective person but someone who needs to grow in faith. His faith is weak but needs further development in understanding. His peculiar weakness is an inadequate understanding of Christian liberty.
The addition of scruples to the Christian life always makes for a weak faith. This chapter characterizes the weak believer in three ways:
He has scruples about being a vegetarian (vv. 2, 21).
He has scruples about certain days having more importance than others (vv. 5-6).
He has scruples about “wine” (v. 21).
Not all issues need to be resolved between Christians
When it comes to non-strategic doctrines, there needs to be divergent openness among Christians. This is especially true for mature believers; they need to take the higher ground with the weaker brother. The mature Christian allows for different opinions when it comes to minor issues.
It is not necessary for everyone in the church to hold the same opinions about everything. Christians do not need to be clones of one another, identical in all beliefs. God does not design the church so that it produces robots. God demands unity, not uniformity. It is not necessary for every Christian to think alike.