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The Brotherhood

“Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17)

The brotherhood of which Peter is speaking is the Christian brotherhood. There are other brotherhoods in the world such as the Moslem brotherhood. A perusal of the Internet shows that often persons having a common interest call themselves a brotherhood. However, we are concerned with the brotherhood of those that are Christians - brothers in Christ. Christ Himself is said to be the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29), so it is not strange that the disciples are called brethren (Matthew 23:8).

However what is in mind in this article is not just to point out certain facts as to our relationship with Christians, but to emphasise that those facts are to influence us in our dealings with them. The quote at the head of this article says “ Love the brotherhood”. It is not “love everybody”. We are talking here of brotherly love, rather than love in a general way. There is a difference, so that Peter says in 2 Peter 1:7 “ in godliness brotherly love, in brotherly love love”. The apostle John speaks much about loving one another. For instance, he quotes Christ as saying: “have love amongst yourselves” (John 13:35) and he says in his first epistle: “This commandment have we from him, That he that loves God love also his brother” (1 John 4:21). What this last passage shows is that love to God comes first and then love to one’s brother. It is Christian love that John is speaking about and not simply natural affection. The context of the earlier passage indicates that our love for one another shows that we are Christ’s disciples.

There is another reference to the brotherhood in 1 Peter 5:9 in connection with sufferings. The fact that Christians are suffering for their faith in various parts of the world should not only draw out our affections towards them, but these affections should manifest themselves in prayer for them and practical help where possible. We can learn more what is going on abroad today than in the days of the early church, as communications round the world are much more rapid than they were then.

Where brotherly relations are lacking in the Christian company the danger is that Christians will seek for companionship elsewhere. Some churches are just places where people go to carry out religious

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