The New Testament has several books that mention the universal principle of brotherly love. It communicates the kind of love expressed toward other people as our fellowman. Brotherly affection can mean a pleasant feeling of belonging and presents a calm atmosphere of peacefulness like friendship. In the biblical context, it’s a love seeking the best interest of other believers and counting them as more important than yourself. Philippians 2:3 says that we shouldn’t do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Instead, we should do things in humility and value others about ourselves. 1 John 4:19 says that we love because he first loved us. With this idea, love isn’t about how we love God but about how He loves us. Our ability to show love is due to the love shown to us.
Christian churches exist because of the love of Jesus, and it expands with the love of every believer, strengthening the family of God. Each follower of Christ is part of God’s universal family, and as children of God, we will enjoy His fellowship through the life of every believer. It’s a gift from God to enjoy our faith journey with Christians around us to help, encourage, strengthen, and comfort us. It’s also a blessing from Him to show our love for them.
What is brotherly love?
The phrase brotherly love comes from the Greek word phileo, which means love or love of brothers in Greek philosophy. This kind of brotherly love set apart early Christian churches from other groups during their time. It’s their most notable character as Christians. This trait should also be an eminent trait for all Christians in today’s world because the God we serve is the author of love. The New Testament flourishes with expressions and teachings of brotherly love. This type of love mentioned in the Bible means loving our brothers in Christ with selfless desires and modesty. True brotherly love isn’t self-centered, but it’s sacrificial.
The book of 1 John 3:16 includes a famous phrase about love. The laying of one’s life for another is the true essence of brotherly love. The Bible never points to looking for personal satisfaction in loving each other. It always pursues others before yourself. Jesus modeled the perfect example of love which we should follow in carrying out brotherly love. Also, the Bible never fails to define and describe the context of love in Christianity. It gives us the best lessons about brotherly love without the need to take a class on it.
Biblical examples of brotherly love.
The word phileo is used several times in the New Testament. One example is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In this story from John, Jesus hears that his friend Lazarus is sick. Two days later, Jesus takes His disciples to visit him in Bethany. Sadly, Lazarus died. When Mary saw Jesus, she told Him that Lazarus would still be alive if He were there. Jesus saw her crying, and He also saw the Jews that came with her crying. When Jesus saw that, He was deeply moved and troubled. He asked where they laid Lazarus, and they told Him to go and see. After that, Jesus wept. The Jews were shocked that He cried, but some of them wondered if he could’ve kept Lazarus from dying.
Jesus had a close and personal relationship with Lazarus. They shared a brotherly love, a love born of mutual connection and appreciation. Another example of brotherly love happens after Jesus’ resurrection in the book of John. One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, boasted during the Last Supper that he would never abandon Jesus, no matter the circumstances. In actuality, Peter denied Jesus three times that night to avoid being arrested as His disciple. After the resurrection, Peter was forced to confront his failure when he met with Jesus again. John 21:15-17 details the conversation that Peter and Jesus had when they met up.
In this conversation, Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him three times may have referenced the three times that Peter denied Him. That’s why Peter lamented the interaction. Jesus reminded Peter of his failure while also giving him a chance to reaffirm his love for Christ. Peter’s disappointment humbled him, so Peter responded by telling Jesus that he loved Him. Peter reaffirmed his friendship with Jesus, but he wasn’t willing to give himself the ability to show divine love.
Bible verses about brotherly love.
Brotherly love is just one way that love is shown in the Bible. From Proverbs to Mark, many scripture pieces help bring a message of kindness to one another.
- Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
- 1 John 4:20 – If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
- 1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
- Mark 12:33 – And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
How does a Christian show brotherly love?
Expressing love to others takes several forms. When we understand the significance of brotherly love as a commandment through Jesus Christ, it will be less challenging to find the willingness to show brotherly love. Looking to our brothers and sisters in faith through Jesus’s eyes is the first step to showing our love for others. This change in view isn’t an ordinary shift of outlook because the eyes which Jesus had were filled with love, so much that He died for all. In Romans 14, Apostle Paul gave specific instructions on treating each believer and thinking of each other. His first advice was embracing a brother and sister in Christ who has weaker faith without passing judgment. If we start to judge our fellow believers, there will never be enough room for our love to stand.
Judgment and love can’t exist in the same place. The Apostle Paul said that no one is fitting to judge another, for we are all servants of one master, who only calls us to love. Paul’s last instruction was not to cause another to falter. It’s heart-rendering to see God’s children without love for one another. Paul’s warning was clear; do not for the sake of food and other pointless reasons destroy the work of God and your relationship with others. Christian bonds are far more critical than our sentiments and opinions.
Showing real brotherly love takes courage and strength. It’s impossible to accomplish such love with our strength, but Matthew 19:26 reminds us that all things are possible with God.