Brotherly Love

Brotherly love is God’s teaching for us to practice to all brethren and to all men.

1 Thess 4:9

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

1 Peter 1:22

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

There are two terms that are used in the New Testament to express the love that we should have one for another -- filadelphia and agape. Both terms are used in the above passages (1 Thess 4:9 and 1 Peter 1:22).

The first term used (filadelphia) means -- the love of brothers (or sisters), brotherly love (Thayer’s lexicon). In the N.T. it means the love which Christians cherish for each other as “brethren.”

The second term used (agape) is closely related and means -- to love, to be full of good-will and exhibit the same (Thayer's lexicon). In the N.T. it means to love one another regardless of how they treat us.

Love is a wonderful thing. The whole nature and being of God can be described in one word: love.

1 John 4:8

8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:16

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

And one passage shows the extent of God’s love.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

There is no law against love. Love is the first fruit mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

There is no law against love, and consequently, since there is no law against it, we are encouraged to abound in it and to increase in it more and more.

Phil 1:9

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

1 Thess 4:9-10

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

And the Bible says that we ought to have a love for brethren such that we would lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 3:16

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

That attitude should be within us, but we really don’t know how we would react until the situation presents itself. We are reminded of the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, when in 2012 a deranged youth shot and killed 20 six and seven year-old children plus 6 staff members. Staff leaders died trying to warn others. The janitor ran through the school yelling warnings to classes. Teachers tried to save their children by disregarding their own safety and hiding them in bathrooms and closets. One teacher stood between the children and the shooter, and died trying to stop him. Another teacher was found laying on top of a student trying to protect him. A lot of brave people died trying to protect others.

In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions. The punishment for breaking these commandments was death.

And in the New testament, love of the brethren is not a suggestion or an option. It is the command of the Lord.

John 13:34

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

We are to love one another as Jesus loved us – he died for us.

In next verse Jesus says by that by this the world will see the love we have one to another, and will recognize that we are the disciples of the Lord.

John 13:35

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The successful work and the continued growth of the church depends on our love one to another – and hinges upon our continually provoking and encouraging one other unto love and to good works (can’t have growth without love and care one for another).

Heb 10:24-25

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Those who absent themselves from the assemblies of the church without good reason serve themselves and show a lack of love for their brethren.

And we as God’s people must always guard our hearts and souls -- to insure that pure, non-hypocritical love is always there

1 Peter 1:22

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

True, genuine love is always expressed – not in word or tongue -- but in deed and in truth

1 John 3:17-18

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Love is so easy to talk about, but so difficult to put into practice. Believe this is why the Lord emphasized it so much.

The ancient Israelites in Ezekiel’s day – were lovers of the Lord in mouth but not in deed. They would listen to Ezekiel but that was as far as it went! They loved to hear a good sermon about the Lord, but failed to act on it.

Ezek 33:30-32

30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.

If we have a problem with a brother -- then we need to talk to him and not about him. True brotherly love is to talk to his front and not his back.

Matt 18:15

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Brethren sometimes bypass this first step and talk to others first.

Example of the opposite of brotherly love can be seen in some at Corinth who used evil words to place Paul under a cloud of suspicion.

Some examined him over his failure to accept money from the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:3) – and Paul said that he hadn’t used that right and would continue to not use it lest the gospel be hindered (1 Cor 9:3-18; 2 Cor 11:8-9).

Some accused him of being very authoritative in his letters but that his bodily presence was weak (2 Cor 10:10) – and Paul assured then that they would find his bodily presence to be strong as well (2 Cor 10:11).

Some wanted proof that Christ spoke in him 2 Cor 13:3) – and Paul said that he was an apostle and that the Corinthians themselves were his proof of apostleship (1 Cor 9:1-2; 2 Cor 11:5; 2 Cor 12:12).

Some of the Corinthians, instead of practicing brotherly love, were having baked apostle for dinner -- and so Paul told them.

2 Cor 12:20

20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

And today we need to be careful lest we also have barbequed bishop, deep-fried deacon, poached preacher, marinated member, and stewed saint.

And true brotherly love is to be practiced toward all the brethren – not just with a select few in a clique that we enjoy.

1 Thess 4:9-10

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

In this regard a preaching brother named Dan Richardson once wrote an article entitled “Love of the Brethren”

“The work and influence of a local church will be greatly hindered, if not completely extinguished, by its members showing partiality to family members or close friends while at the same time treating others with less regard. In addition, partiality will exist if we make distinctions to certain ones with more money, better clothes, positions of prestige, etc. (James 2). Such behavior disregards love for God, the gospel, and the brethren.”

He references James 2. James 2 says to not show respect to persons in our assemblies who are persons of wealth, status, and fancy dress (James 2:1-9). If we do we will drive away those who are of lesser means.

The reason we should love one another – because God first loved us.

1 John 4:19-21

19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

He set the pattern for love by giving his only begotten son to die for us.

If we love our brother, we abide in the light – if we love not our brother, we abide in darkness.

1 John 2:10-11

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Like wandering in a pitch black house, and ramming toes into the coffee table, of stubbing toes into the fireplace hearth and breaking a toe.

If we love not our brother – we abide in death (horrible condition to be in). We become the walking dead (zombies).

1 John 3:14-15

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

The living dead have no feeling for the well-being of others, and live in a state of selfishness, living for fleshly pleasures.

Our love for others is to be unconditional – shouldn’t depend on their friendship or goodness – look at what Jesus said

Matt 5:43-48

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus set the ultimate example of loving enemies when he hung on the cross

Luke 23:34

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

His enemies had threatened him and tried to discredit him for three years. Then when all else failed, the captured him, put him through a mock trial, and then had him crucified. Yet Jesus was willing to forgive them.

How do we know that we love the brethren? What is the sign of brotherly love in our relationships and our lives.

1 John 5:1-3

1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

And when we do this, then the world will see us and will know that we are the disciples of the Lord, and are the children of God.

John 13:34-35

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

So let us ever strive to keep the commandments of God and love our brethren and all men. And we will have the greatest blessing of all. We will be the children of our Father which is in heaven, and look forward to eternal life.

Invitation – The ultimate in love. Love has been shown by God giving his only begotten son to die for us on the cross that we might have that eternal life with his in heaven.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.