TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  General

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Chapter 26  Part I

General

The New Testament deals extensively with how we should relate to other Christians and with issues vital for the life of the church. Amongst the most prominent themes are the need for unity and love. Fellowship is another important concept that we need to grasp, with it being involved in a number of aspects of church life.

The Church as One Body

See also:

God’s people form local groups, called churches

The term “church” refers to a community of believers. As such it can be used of small house groups as well as local church congregations. Additionally it can be used more generally of God’s people as a whole – the worldwide church.

As per the first two uses, believers meet and function together in local community groups (as parts of God’s people as a whole). It is this localized context that is generally spoken of in this and the following chapters in Unit F. Church Life. The verses in this subsection evidence the existence of such local churches. (For further discussion on “church”, see the introductory comment under Church members function together as one body.)

Acts 13:1  Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger,w Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. ▤ 

w Niger is a Latin word meaning black, or dark

1Cor 14:33  For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, … ▤ 

2Cor 8:23  As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengersx of the churches, the glory of Christ. ▤ 

x Greek apostles

This is indicative of believers together forming churches, referring to members of various churches.

1Cor 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: … ▤ 

This and the following verses are examples of the numerous references in the NT letters to the names of particular local churches (cf. Acts 13:1 ) and local churches in certain regions.

Rom 16:1  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servanty of the church at Cenchreae, … ▤ 

y Or deaconess

1Cor 16:19a  The churches of Asia send you greetings. ▤ 

Gal 1:2b, 22  To the churches of Galatia: ▤ 22And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. ▤ 

Col 4:15  Give my greetings to the brothersz at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters

The phrase “the brothers at Laodicea” would appear to denote the church at Laodicea.

  • A reference to the first church:

Acts 1:15  In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, … ▤ 

This speaks of what would appear to be the first church or group of believers.

The many church members form one body – the body of Christ – with no overriding distinctions

See also:

The term “the body of Christ” figuratively depicts the spiritual union of Jesus Christ with his people. Moreover, it points to the unity Christ’s people have together in their relationship with him. While the worldwide church is the whole “body of Christ”, each local church is a form of “the body of Christ”. And in each case the many members together make one body – with no disparities or overriding distinctions.

Rom 12:4-5  For as in one body we have many members,a and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ▤ 

a Greek parts; also verse 5

The phrase “members one of another” (v. 5; Eph 4:25 ) indicates that church members are: “part of one another” (CEV); “all joined to each other” (GNT); and “mutually dependent on one another” (AMP; cf. NLT). It also suggests that they “belong to each other” (NLT; cf. NCV, NIV).

1Cor 10:16-17  The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. ▤ 

One thing that the Lord’s Supper signifies, with church members eating of the one loaf, is mutual participation in the church body – the body of Jesus Christ.

1Cor 12:12-14, 18-20, 24b-27  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesb or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. ▤ 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,c yet one body. ▤ 24… But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ▤ 

b Or servants; Greek bondservants

c Or members; also verse 22

For comment on vv. 24b-25, see 1Cor 12:24b-25 – under Be united as one.

Eph 4:4, 25  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call ▤ 25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. ▤ 

Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. ▤ 

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaved nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

d Greek bondservant

Oneness in Jesus Christ takes primacy over all distinctions. In him “there is no difference” (GNT, NCV) between contrasting groups such as Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, and males and females. For no such group is spiritually superior to another, and all are equal before God (cf. Eph 6:8-9). Note that the use of “Greek” as opposed to “Jew”, appears to denote Gentiles in general. However in Colossians 3:11 below it may be referring more specifically to those who live according to Greek culture, as opposed to the “uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian”.

Col 3:11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,e free; but Christ is all, and in all. ▤ 

e Greek bondservant

“Christ is all, and in all” (v. 11) points to Christ as the basis and source of his people’s unity. He is “all that matters” (CEV, NLT). All the distinctions previously referred to become irrelevant, no longer forming any kind of barrier.

Acts 4:32  Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. ▤ 

As one body, church members meet together

Acts 1:14  All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.f ▤ 

f Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 15

Acts 2:1  When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. ▤ 

Acts 2:44, 46-47a  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. ▤ 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. ▤ 

Acts 5:12  Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. ▤ 

Acts 11:26b  For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. ▤ 

Acts 12:12  When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. ▤ 

Acts 16:40  So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. ▤ 

This speaks of Paul and Silas meeting with the believers at Lydia’s house.

Rom 16:5  Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convertg to Christ in Asia. ▤ 

g Greek firstfruit

Like Acts 16:40 above, this refers to a church that met at a home (cf. Philem 1:1-2 ; 1Cor 16:19 ).

1Cor 11:17-21, 33-34  But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,h 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. ▤ 33So then, my brothers,i when you come together to eat, wait forj one another— 34if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. ▤ 

h Or I believe a certain report

i Or brothers and sisters

j Or share with

The Corinthians were doing the right thing in meeting together (cf. 1Cor 14:26 ) – and as such are a good example – but their behavior at the meetings obviously left a lot to be desired.

1Cor 14:26  What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ▤ 

Philem 1:1-2  Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: … ▤ 

This appears to refer to church members who met together at Philemon’s house (cf. CEV, GNT).

Heb 10:24-25  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ▤ 

Matt 18:20  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ▤ 

This suggests that it is a good practice for believers to meet together in small groups, in addition to their local church groups.

Neh 8:1  And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. ▤ 

In the OT the Israelites and later – after the Babylonian exile – the Jews, were in a sense forerunners of the NT church. This verse is an example of how they would all meet together as one group, a practice paralleled by church meetings.

Church members function together as one body

See also:

The concept represented by the term “church” – often used to translate the Greek word “ekklesia” – involves believers meeting together and functioning as a community or one spiritual body. As such, they worship God together and cohesively further the cause of their head, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they live in relationship with each other, in which they minister to each other. The verses in this subsection contain segments which speak of churches functioning as a unit or cohesive community.

Matt 18:17  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. ▤ 

Acts 12:5  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. ▤ 

Acts 15:3-4  So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.k 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. ▤ 

k Or brothers and sisters; also verse 22

Acts 15:22  Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, … ▤ 

Rom 16:4  … who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. ▤ 

1Cor 16:19  The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. ▤ 

1Tim 5:16  If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows. ▤ 

1Cor 16:1  Now concerningl the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. ▤ 

l The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1; also verse 12

Here Paul tells the Corinthian church as a whole to do what he had told other churches to do.

2Cor 8:19  And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. ▤ 

  • An example of various believers functioning together as one church body:

Acts 6:1-4  Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenistsm arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3Therefore, brothers,n pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” ▤ 

m That is, Greek-speaking Jews

n Or brothers and sisters

This exemplifies believers functioning together as one church body, by: firstly, their daily distribution of food amongst the needy (v. 1); secondly, them coming together to resolve the problem that arose from it (v. 2); and thirdly, the solution itself, with the believers delegating responsibilities amongst themselves so as to effectively tackle their shared objectives (vv. 3-4).

The church body grows – spiritually and numerically

See also:

Eph 4:11-16  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdso and teachers,p 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,q to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ▤ 

o Or pastors

p Or the shepherd-teachers

q Greek to a full-grown man

This speaks of believers growing spiritually individually as well as a church body. In keeping with the context – and as suggested by the text note – the phrase “to mature manhood” (v. 13) probably is speaking of believers together as a body becoming “like a mature person” (NCV™; cf. NASB, NKJV).

Acts 9:31  So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. ▤ 

Note that this and 16:5 below speak of churches both growing spiritually – being built up in the faith – and growing numerically. The subsequent verses speak just of the latter.

Acts 16:5  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. ▤ 

Acts 2:41, 46-47  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. ▤ 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ▤ 

Acts 4:4  But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. ▤ 

Acts 5:14  And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, … ▤ 

  • Each church is to develop into a dwelling in which God lives:

Eph 2:22  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God byr the Spirit. ▤ 

r Or in

Note: All God’s people together are the universal church

See also:

As noted earlier, as well as forming local individual churches, together all believers form the universal church – the whole body of Christ. All the following verses appear to speak of the church in this universal sense.

Matt 16:18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rocks I will build my church, and the gates of hellt shall not prevail against it. ▤ 

s The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar

t Greek the gates of Hades

Gal 1:13  For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. ▤ 

Eph 1:22-23  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. ▤ 

Eph 3:8-10  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages inu God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. ▤ 

u Or by

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, … ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Be in Unison

Be united as one

See also:

Acts 4:32  Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. ▤ 

Note that the second part of the verse shows an important aspect of the early church’s unity – believers sharing their possessions (cf. . . . Share what you have with those in need). This is exemplary for today’s church.

1Cor 1:10  I appeal to you, brothers,v by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. ▤ 

v Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 11, 26

1Cor 12:24b-25  But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. ▤ 

In saying that God has given “greater honor to the part that lacked it” (v. 24b), Paul appears to be referring to people’s innate sense of treating the less honorable and unpresentable parts of the human body with special honor and modesty (cf. v. 23). Paul implies that like the human body, God has combined church members into one body, causing less honorable parts to be given special attention by other body members, so that there will be no division in the body (vv. 24b-25).

Phil 1:27  Only let your manner of life be worthyw of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, … ▤ 

w Greek Only behave as citizens worthy

Phil 2:1-2  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. ▤ 

Col 2:1-2  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, … ▤ 

Col 3:11-14  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,x free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. ▤ 

x Greek bondservant

In light of v. 11, v. 14 may be speaking of love as “the perfect bond of unity” (NASB) of believers (cf. NCV, NLT) – particularly pertinent to the theme of this subsection. However it may instead be speaking of love as binding together the aforementioned virtues.

1Pet 3:8  Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. ▤ 

Judg 20:1, 8, 11  Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. ▤ 8And all the people arose as one man, saying, “None of us will go to his tent, and none of us will return to his house. ▤ 11So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man. ▤ 

This and 1 Chronicles 12:38 below are examples of the Israelites acting as one. As such they are exemplary of God’s people being united as one.

1Chr 12:38  All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with full intent to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. ▤ 

Ps 133:1-3  Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!y 2It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. ▤ 

y Or dwell together

The comparisons in vv. 2-3 portray unity amongst believers as being soothing and refreshing, bringing God’s blessing (v. 3b). A number of commentators understand that the comparison with the oil for consecrating priests, as indicative of unity consecrating God’s people.

Live in peace and harmony with each other

See also:

1Thes 5:13b  Be at peace among yourselves. ▤ 

Mark 9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. ▤ 

Rom 14:19  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. ▤ 

2Cor 13:11  Finally, brothers,z rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,a agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters

a Or listen to my appeal

Eph 4:1-3  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ▤ 

Note that the directions in vv. 1-2 are things which are important to maintaining “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3). Other verses in this subsection also speak of such things (cf. 2Cor 13:11 ; Rom 12:16 ; Rom 15:5-7 ).

Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. ▤ 

The reference here is to relationships amongst church members, in which the church members should seek the “peace of Christ” in working out differences.

Rom 12:16  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.b Never be wise in your own sight. ▤ 

b Or give yourselves to humble tasks

Rom 15:5-7  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. ▤ 

Verse 7 indicates that to live in harmony with other believers we need to welcome or accept them (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Phil 4:2  I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. ▤ 

Paul urges these two women to “live in harmony in the Lord” (NASB), settling their disagreement (cf. CEV, NLT).

Submit to one another

Eph 5:18-21  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ▤ 

1Cor 16:15-16  Now I urge you, brothersc—you know that the householdd of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. ▤ 

c Or brothers and sisters; also verse 20

d Greek house

Heb 13:17  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ▤ 

1Pet 5:5  Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ▤ 

Avoid foolish controversies and quarreling

See also:

2Tim 2:23-24  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servante must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, … ▤ 

e Greek bondservant

Titus 3:9  But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. ▤ 

Rom 13:13  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. ▤ 

Rom 14:1  As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. ▤ 

1Cor 3:3  … for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? ▤ 

2Cor 12:20  For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. ▤ 

Phil 2:14-15  Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, … ▤ 

In this context “questioning” is effectively quarreling – “arguing” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV), “disputing” (NASB, NKJV).

1Tim 2:8  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; … ▤ 

James 4:1-2  What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passionsf are at war within you?g 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. ▤ 

f Greek pleasures; also verse 3

g Greek in your members

The source of fights and quarrels – the combatant’s own evil desires (v. 1b) – is indicative of the sinfulness of these things.

  • The disciples recognized that their arguing was improper:

Mark 9:33-34  And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. ▤ 

The disciples apparently were rightly embarrassed and ashamed of their foolish and vain arguing.

Disagreements and quarreling cause divisions . . .

See also:

Acts 15:37-39  Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, … ▤ 

1Cor 1:10-13  I appeal to you, brothers,h by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? ▤ 

h Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 11, 26

Many of the Corinthians had apparently formed a preference for one of the notable leaders of the day. This had resulted in quarrels (v. 11) and divisions (v. 12). Paul points out that Christ cannot be divided (v. 13a), with the implication that neither should his body be. Christ alone should be the focus of the faith of believers, for it was Christ not Paul (or any other) who was crucified for them and into whose name they were baptized (v. 13). Note that the inclusion of those who said they followed Christ in Paul’s condemnatory remarks, may have been due to those concerned doing so in a divisive and exclusive manner, making out that they were spirituality superior.

Gal 5:19-20  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, … ▤ 

As reflected in v. 20, “dissensions” are disagreements that lead to “divisions” (NCV™).

1Tim 6:3-5  If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the soundi words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. ▤ 

i Or healthy

Although true believers are not being spoken of here, this is still illustrative of the fact that controversies and quarrels lead to animosity and division in the church. Note that the “quarrels about words” (v. 4; cf. 2Tim 2:14 ) may refer to quibbling over the technical meaning of certain words, or their application to theological concepts.

Prov 18:19  A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. ▤ 

Disputes cause divisions which are hard to break down.

. . . Quarreling can even cause ruin

Quarrelling can lead to the ruin of both individuals and church groups.

2Tim 2:14  Remind them of these things, and charge them before Godj not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. ▤ 

j Some manuscripts the Lord

Gal 5:15  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. ▤ 

Possibly the destruction of their faith or their fellowship is in view.

1Cor 3:17  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. ▤ 

This appears to be speaking of God’s church being destroyed by “jealousy and strife” (v. 3) – with those causing this destruction in turn themselves facing destruction from God.

Matt 12:25  Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. ▤ 

Jesus was not talking about church groups here, but obviously what he says is very much applicable to them.

  • Do not judge each other on disputable matters:

Rom 14:2-6, 10-13  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own masterk that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. ▤ 10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confessl to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. ▤ 

k Or lord

l Or shall give praise

The reminders in vv. 10, 12 that we ourselves will be judged by God is a sobering deterrent to judging others. Note that vv. 5-6 contain a couple of important related points on disputable matters. The last statement of v. 5 indicates that we should “firmly make up our own minds” (GNT), taking care to consider what God would have us do. Verse 6 teaches that whatever course of action one takes in regard to such disputable matters, one should aim to honor the Lord by it.

Sometimes disputes and differences may be necessary

Acts 15:1-2  But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. ▤ 

1Cor 11:18-19  For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,m 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. ▤ 

m Or I believe a certain report

Where there is sin or false beliefs in the church, differences will be needed so that those who act and believe in accordance with God’s will may distinguish themselves from those who do not (v. 19). It is in fact necessary for believers to take a stand against what is wrong – as is shown in the other passages in this subsection.

Gal 2:11-14  But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ▤ 

The behavior of Cephas/Peter (vv. 12-13) had left him open to condemnation. As such Paul felt compelled to publicly reprimand him.

Note: Have any internal legal disputes judged by people of God

See also:

1Cor 6:1-7  When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? ▤ 

Verses 2a, 3a appear to refer either to believers playing a role in the final judgment or to their rule with Christ. In v. 7a, Paul appears to be speaking of spiritual failure, either: in seeking retribution, as opposed to being meek and forgiving; or in being at odds with a fellow believer/s, as opposed to being unified as parts of the body of Christ.

Ex 22:7-9  If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor. ▤ 

In speaking of Israelites coming before God to have their disputes resolved, this has in view judges (cf. AMP, CEV, NCV, NIV) from among the people making decisions on behalf of God (cf. Deut 1:17), as his representatives. This practice is exemplary to God’s people today.

Ezek 44:24  In a dispute, they [the priests] shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my Sabbaths holy. ▤ 

  • Moses chose capable people as leaders and to be judges for the people at all times:

Ex 18:25-26  Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. ▤ 

This indicates that judges amongst God’s people should be capable, people with authority (as leaders have) and readily available.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Be in Fellowship

The concept of “fellowship” involves sharing and participating in a partnership concerning a mutual interest or purpose, which for believers is their common faith and life in Christ. This is shown in the Greek word translated as “fellowship” (“koinonia”) which emphasizes participation.  Believers participate in Christ and church activities, and in each other’s lives.

Note that a number of the verses in this section show that fellowship occurs amongst believers across the worldwide church, in addition to the local church context.

Have fellowship together . . .

1Jn 1:3, 7  … that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ▤ 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. ▤ 

Christian fellowship has its roots in sharing a common belief (v. 3) and a common way of life based on this belief (v. 7).

Acts 2:42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ▤ 

2Cor 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. ▤ 

The term “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” would appear to refer to the fellowship amongst believers produced by the Holy Spirit (cf. CEV), through their mutual participation in him.

Gal 2:9  … and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. ▤ 

James, Peter and John extended their hands to Paul and Barnabas as a sign of fellowship, inclusive of acceptance and friendship.

Ps 55:14  We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. ▤ 

Here David laments the fact that his enemy is one with whom he had once enjoyed “sweet fellowship together” (AMP, NASB; cf. NIV, NLT) amongst those who gathered at God’s temple.

Col 4:7, 10-11  Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servantn in the Lord. ▤ 10Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. ▤ 

n Greek fellow bondservant; also verse 12

Arguably the use of “fellow” here suggests that believers have fellowship in working together (vv. 7, 11) and in suffering together (v. 10) for God’s kingdom.

Philem 1:6  … and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.o ▤ 

o Or for Christ’s service

The phrase “the sharing of your faith” may well be speaking of the sharing in our faith with fellow believers, including the participation in and fellowship of our faith (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB). Hence the verse’s inclusion here. Alternatively, it could be speaking of either: the sharing that is part of our faith, i.e. sharing of our possessions or ourselves with others (cf. NLT); or sharing what we believe, as in proclaiming the gospel to non-believers (cf. NIrV).

. . . Believers have fellowship collectively with God and Jesus Christ

See also:

The fellowship believers have together is not only based on their mutual relationship in Jesus Christ, but is also a fellowship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.

1Jn 1:3, 6-7  … that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ▤ 6If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. ▤ 

The fellowship believers have together is both distinct from and beyond that of any other, being a fellowship that “is with the Father and with his Son” (v. 3b). In line with v. 3, note that vv. 6-7 correlate having “fellowship with him” with having “fellowship with one another”.

1Cor 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ▤ 

Particularly with Paul’s subsequent denunciation of divisions in the Corinthian church (cf. vv. 10-15) this may well be speaking of believers collectively having fellowship with Jesus Christ and/or with each other through Christ and being part of his body. Alternatively or additionally, believers individually having fellowship with Jesus Christ may be in view.

Phil 3:10  … that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, … ▤ 

Especially in light of Paul’s stated desire “to know Christ”, the phrase in question may be speaking primarily of Paul himself sharing sufferings – and consequently fellowship – with Christ. But even so, this is readily applicable to believers together sharing in such suffering – and to the consequent fellowship they have with each other and collectively with Christ. Note that some translations actually use “fellowship” here – e.g. “the fellowship of His sufferings” (NASB, NKJV; cf. NIV).

Matt 18:20  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ▤ 

This and 2 Corinthians 13:11 below speak of Jesus Christ and God’s presence with assembled believers, suggestive of fellowship with them.

2Cor 13:11  Finally, brothers,p rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,q agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ▤ 

p Or brothers and sisters

q Or listen to my appeal

  • One cannot have true fellowship with unbelievers:

2Cor 6:14-16  Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15What accord has Christ with Belial?r Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ▤ 

r Greek Beliar

This points out some things associated with fellowship, namely having things in common (vv. 14, 15), accord/harmony (v. 15) and agreement (v. 16). All of these believers can and should have with each other, but such things are limited in relationships with non-believers.

Participate together in church activities

See also:

Acts 1:14  All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.s ▤ 

s Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 15

Acts 2:46-47  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ▤ 

Verse 46 suggests that as well as “attending the temple together”, the believers also ate together (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

1Cor 14:26  What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ▤ 

Church members participate together in church meetings, in which various members contribute in such ways as those mentioned here, to build up the church.

1Cor 16:16  … be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. ▤ 

2Cor 8:3-4  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favort of taking part in the relief of the saints ▤ 

t The Greek word charis can mean favor or grace or thanks, depending on the context

3Jn 1:8  Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. ▤ 

Ps 34:3  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! ▤ 

  • Participating in the Lord’s Supper signifies believers together participating in the death and body of Jesus Christ:

1Cor 10:16-17  The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. ▤ 

For comment, see the comment on 1Cor 10:16-17 – under Participating in the Lord’s Supper also symbolizes participating in the blood and body of Jesus Christ.

Share together in the sufferings that come because of Jesus Christ

See also:

Rev 1:9  I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. ▤ 

John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos because of his faithfulness to the gospel.

2Cor 1:5-7  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.u 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. ▤ 

u Or For as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ

Phil 3:10  … that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, … ▤ 

2Tim 2:3  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. ▤ 

Philem 1:23  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, … ▤ 

Rom 8:17  … and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ▤ 

As may be the case in Philippians 3:10 above (cf. comment in . . . Believers have fellowship collectively with God and Jesus Christ), the focus here and in 1 Peter 4:13 below appears to be primarily on sharing in suffering with Jesus Christ – as opposed to sharing with other believers in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. But even so, they are certainly applicable to the latter.

1Pet 4:13  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ▤ 

2Tim 1:8  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, … ▤ 

Sharing in suffering for the gospel is a key aspect of sharing together in the sufferings that come because of Jesus Christ.

Heb 11:25  … choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. ▤ 

Moses’ choice to share in the suffering of “the people of God” is applicable and exemplary to believers in sharing in the suffering of others who suffer because of Jesus Christ.

Share together in the joy that comes in being of the church

See also:

Having relationships with other believers and doing God’s work with them, leads us to share in joy with them, for various reasons.

John 4:35-36  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. ▤ 

Those who work together in bringing people to faith, share together in much gladness over the fruits of their labor.

Acts 2:46-47  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ▤ 

The believers’ glad hearts seem to have been largely due to their fellowship – in which they met together, often ate together and praised God together. It may have also been in part due to them “having favor with all the people” (v. 47a) and/or their growth in numbers (v. 47b).

Phil 1:25-26  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. ▤ 

Here Paul recognized that his direction of and fellowship with the Philippian believers in Christ Jesus would produce joy amongst them (v. 25), even causing them to “glory in Christ Jesus” (v. 26).

Phil 2:28-30  I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. ▤ 

Here Paul again speaks of the Philippians being joyful together, in seeing Epaphroditus again and receiving him amongst themselves.

1Jn 1:3-4  … that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And we are writing these things so that ourv joy may be complete. ▤ 

v Some manuscripts your

The context suggests that the joy John speaks of (v. 4) comes from fellowship with other believers (v. 3a) – a fellowship that “is with the Father and with his Son” (v. 3b). Through this fellowship it is a joy that all believers share in – “you can be full of joy with us” (NCV™; cf. AMP).

2Jn 1:12  Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. ▤ 

Ps 106:4-5  Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,w 5that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. ▤ 

w Or Remember me, O Lord, with the favor you show to your people; help me with your salvation

Sharing in God’s help of his people leads to one rejoicing with them.

  • David found great delight in other people of God:

Ps 16:3  As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.x ▤ 

x Or To the saints in the land, the excellent in whom is all my delight, I say:

Share in each other’s troubles . . .

See also:

As members of the one spiritual body, believers should as much as possible share with other believers in both their sorrows and joys, identifying themselves with those experiencing such things and where appropriate become involved in their situation. This leads to a strengthening of the bonds between the members, and thus the strengthening of the body itself. It also leads to supportive responses to members in need.

1Cor 12:26  If one member [of the body] suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ▤ 

Paul is not so much instructing the Corinthians to suffer and rejoice with each other, but is more making the observation that in a tight knit Christian body this will naturally occur.

Phil 4:14-16  Yet it was kind of you to sharey my trouble. 15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. ▤ 

y Or have fellowship in

By sending him aid – giving of their own resources, possibly sacrificially so – the Philippians shared in Paul’s trouble. In doing so they shared with him in “giving and receiving” (v. 15). This expression refers to the exchanges between the Philippians and Paul; they gave him aid and in return spiritual blessings were credited to their account (cf. v. 17).

2Cor 11:28-29  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? ▤ 

Such was Paul’s concern for the churches (v. 28) that he strongly identified with them in their weaknesses and trials (v. 29), effectively sharing in them.

Heb 13:3  Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. ▤ 

Believers are to empathize with suffering believers. In showing empathy, one in a sense projects oneself into the situation of the person concerned. To some extent one then shares in it, both experiencing and being affected by the feelings that the person concerned would have. Doing so motivates us to do what we can to help suffering believers. Note that the final phrase “in the body” likely speaks of being “liable to bodily sufferings” (AMP) rather than being in the body of Christ.

Heb 10:32-34  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. ▤ 

The compassion for those in prison (v. 34) appears to have been expressed in helping them (cf. CEV, NCV) – in effect sharing in their suffering (cf. AMP, GNT, NLT), as was the case in v. 33b.

Job 2:11-13  Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. ▤ 

Here Job’s friends in a real sense share in his troubles with him. Unfortunately later, by their well-intended but often inappropriate words, they effectively added to his troubles.

. . . and share in each other’s joy

See also:

Rom 12:15  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ▤ 

Fellow believers may well be primarily in view here.

2Cor 2:3  And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. ▤ 

Paul had confidence in the Corinthian’s obedience to him and because of this he had anticipated to experience much joy on his return to them. Correspondingly, he had anticipated that they would share in his joy, on seeing their mentor’s joy over them.

Phil 2:17-18  Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. ▤ 

Luke 1:57-58  Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. ▤ 

This and the extract below from “The Parable of the Lost Coin” are not speaking specifically of joy experienced amongst believers, but they do mirror such joy which stems from mutual concern, as should exist in churches.

Luke 15:9  And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ ▤ 

Keep in touch about each other’s welfare – and keep the others informed of your own

See also:

In the first two references below (Phil 2:19-20; 1Thes 3:5-6) Paul speaks of taking steps to find out about the welfare of other believers, including their spiritual welfare or faith. In the following two (Eph 6:21-22; Col 4:7-9) Paul takes steps to keep other believers informed about his welfare.

Phil 2:19-20  I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. ▤ 

As well as Paul, Timothy was keen to know about the Philippians’ welfare (v. 20).

1Thes 3:5-7  For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. 6But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7for this reason, brothers,z in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters

Eph 6:21-22  So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. ▤ 

Note that part of Paul’s motivation in keeping other believers informed about his welfare was to encourage them (v. 22; Col 4:8 ).

Col 4:7-9  Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servanta in the Lord. 8I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. ▤ 

a Greek fellow bondservant; also verse 12

  • Keep each other informed about the circumstances of fellow believers:

Heb 13:23  You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. ▤ 

Note: Believers share together in spiritual blessings and privileges . . .

See also:

Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing rootb of the olive tree, … ▤ 

b Greek root of richness; some manuscripts richness

The “olive tree” represents Israel, particularly the patriarchs with whom Israel’s relationship with God was established. The “wild olive shoot” represents Gentile believers accepted into God’s people. The “nourishing root” refers to spiritual blessings that all God’s people have, quite possibly in particular to the promises made to the patriarchs (cf. ESB). Because of what Jesus Christ has accomplished, Gentiles believers now share with the Jews in their spiritual blessings (cf. Rom 15:26-27 ; Eph 3:6 ).

Rom 15:26-27  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. ▤ 

1Cor 9:23  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. ▤ 

Eph 3:6  This mystery isc that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ▤ 

c The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4

What the “promise” refers to is not specified but probably relates to an aspect of salvation, centered on and achieved through Jesus Christ. Possibly it may encompass – or at least be applicable to – all that is promised to those who are “in” Jesus Christ.

Eph 4:11-13  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsd and teachers,e 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,f to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, … ▤ 

d Or pastors

e Or the shepherd-teachers

f Greek to a full-grown man

The spiritual maturity of Christians together as “the body of Christ” (v. 12) is a wonderful blessing in which they can share.

Phil 1:7  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,g both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. ▤ 

g Or you all have fellowship with me in grace

Phil 2:1  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, … ▤ 

Christians participate/share together in the Spirit (cf. Heb 6:4 ).

Titus 1:4  To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. ▤ 

Heb 6:4  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, … ▤ 

2Pet 1:4  … by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ▤ 

Jude 1:3  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. ▤ 

This speaks of sharing in salvation in the present. This salvation of course has a future aspect, as per the following subsection.

Num 10:32  And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you. ▤ 

The reference here is more to material blessings rather than spiritual, but it is applicable to the latter and exemplifies how God’s people share in his blessings (as well as being indicative of how they should share material blessings with each other). Likewise, in 1 Samuel 26:19 David refers to sharing in the God-given blessing/s of the Promised Land – “share in the heritage of the Lord”.

. . . Believers will share together in future blessings and privileges

Acts 20:32  And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. ▤ 

This and Colossians 1:12 below are probably referring at least primarily to future blessings that believers together inherit. They may also present spiritual blessings in view.

2Cor 4:14  … knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. ▤ 

Col 1:12  … giving thanksh to the Father, who has qualified youi to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. ▤ 

h Or patience, with joy giving thanks

i Some manuscripts us

1Thes 4:17  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. ▤ 

2Thes 2:14  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

This speaks of obtaining glory that we will “share” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT; cf. 1Pet 5:1 ).

Heb 3:1  Therefore, holy brothers,j you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, … ▤ 

j Or brothers and sisters; also verse 12

The “heavenly calling” may have in view a call to heaven (cf. NLT; Phil 3:14), with the accompanying wonderful blessings of the afterlife. However it may simply mean a call from God in heaven (cf. GNT, NCV) to follow him.

1Pet 5:1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: … ▤ 

Rev 22:19  … and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. ▤ 

  • God has blessed believers with every spiritual blessing:

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, … ▤ 

This implies that in Christ believers share “every spiritual blessing”. The phrase “in the heavenly places” may be indicating that the blessings spoken of are ones that we will experience in the afterlife, although they have already been designated to us. However the phrase may be emphasizing the heavenly and eternal dimension of spiritual blessings that we have now.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Love Each Other (I): General

See also:

Love one another

See also:

John 15:17  These things I command you, so that you will love one another. ▤ 

1Jn 3:11, 23  For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. ▤ 23And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. ▤ 

2Jn 1:5  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. ▤ 

1Pet 2:17  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ▤ 

Philem 1:4-5  I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, … ▤ 

Rom 16:8  Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. ▤ 

1Cor 16:24  My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. ▤ 

Titus 3:15  All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. ▤ 

Loving others “in the faith”, speaks of loving others who share in the faith (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT).

3Jn 1:1  The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. ▤ 

Here “love in the truth” (cf. 2Jn 1:1-2) quite possibly refers to loving others who believe in the truth (cf. Titus 3:15 ). Alternatively or in conjunction with this, it may be speaking of loving other believers in accordance with the truth. A further possibility is that it simply means “truly love” (AMP, GNT).

Love one another more and more

Phil 1:9  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, … ▤ 

1Thes 4:9-10  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, … ▤ 

1Thes 3:11-12  Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, … ▤ 

2Thes 1:3  We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,k as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. ▤ 

k Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Prov 17:17  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ▤ 

In conjunction with loving one another more and more, we should love at all times and similarly have “steadfast love” (Prov 19:22 ).

Prov 19:22  What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. ▤ 

  • Have abundant love for other believers:

2Cor 2:4  For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. ▤ 

Loving other Christians is indicative of being of God and Jesus Christ . . .

See also:

1Jn 4:7, 12, 16  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. ▤ 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. ▤ 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ▤ 

Love is the essence of God’s nature – “God is love” (v. 16; cf. v. 8 ). Everyone who loves exhibits God’s nature, demonstrating that they have been “born of God” (v. 7b). In addition, loving one another shows that: we know God (v. 7b); we live in God and he lives in us (vv. 12, 16b); and “his love is perfected in us” (v. 12b).

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ▤ 

John 15:12-14  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. ▤ 

Loving each other as Jesus Christ loved us (v. 12) means we are friends of Jesus Christ (v. 14) – with the implication that he laid down his life for us, his friends (v. 13). As such we are recipients of both the salvation and the relationship with God that Christ’s death has made possible.

1Jn 2:10  Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in himl there is no cause for stumbling. ▤ 

l Or it

1Jn 3:14a, 18-20  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. ▤ 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. ▤ 

1Jn 5:1  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. ▤ 

This verse makes the assertion that everyone who loves God will naturally love his children as well (cf. 1Jn 4:20-21 ).

2Jn 1:1-2  The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: … ▤ 

Christian love flows from knowledge of God’s truth and a life lived in accordance with or obedience to this truth. It follows from this that loving other Christians is indicative that one is of God’s truth, and so of God.

. . . Not loving other Christians has negative implications

1Jn 2:9, 11  Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. ▤ 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. ▤ 

1Jn 3:10, 14-15  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. ▤ 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. ▤ 

Those who do not love other Christians: are “children of the devil” as opposed to “children of God” (v. 10); remain in death (v. 14); and are in a spiritual sense murderers (v. 15). Note that the association of hate with murder (v. 15; cf. Matt 5:21-22) appears to point to hate as being the motive behind murder, with the latter being the fulfillment of the former.

1Jn 3:16-17  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? ▤ 

We ought to follow Jesus Christ’s example and unselfishly show love to fellow believers (v. 16). Anyone who does not show love to a fellow believer in need – “closes his heart against him” – cannot have the love of God in him (v. 17).

1Jn 4:8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ▤ 

1Jn 4:20-21  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannotm love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. ▤ 

m Some manuscripts how can he

Fellow Christians: reflect the character of the invisible God, albeit to varying degrees; are highly valued and greatly loved by God; and are associated with God, being of his people. These factors in conjunction with the fact that it is easier to interact with what we can see, mean that if we do not love a fellow Christian we can hardly claim to love God himself.

2Pet 1:7, 9  … and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. ▤ 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. ▤ 

In v. 9 Peter refers to having the qualities he lists in vv. 5-7 which climax with love. Peter may be correlating lacking love and the other qualities with sin. He is not actually saying that such a person is not or no longer of God, but the suggestion is that there is a real danger of this being or becoming the case.

  • Loving one’s enemies is also indicative of being of God:

Matt 5:44-45  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ▤ 

In addition to loving other Christians, loving our enemies is also a sign of our relationship with God. For as God lovingly cares for the bad as well as the good, those who love their enemies reflect God’s nature – thus showing themselves to be children of God (cf. 1Jn 4:7 ).

Love is vital for Christian service and living

1Cor 8:1  Now concerningn food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. ▤ 

n The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1

The phrase “puffs up” is a reference to oneself, whereas “builds up” primarily refers to building up others, particularly those in the church. Note that in the first statement Paul indicates that he is beginning a response to the Corinthians, whom he quotes.

1Thes 1:3  … remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Their love had produced their labor. Note that here “love” could be referring to love for God or Christ, rather than love for others. It is applicable to both.

2Pet 1:7-8  … and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualitieso are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

o Greek these things; also verses 9, 10, 12

1Thes 5:8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. ▤ 

This figuratively illustrates that love – along with faith and hope – provides significant spiritual protection for the believer.

Phil 1:9-11  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ▤ 

Love that is knowledgeable and wise enables one to remain pure (v. 10) and to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness” (v. 11a). This expression refers either to good deeds (cf. CEV, NCV) or to righteous qualities (cf. GNT).

Further blessings of loving each other

Eph 3:17-19  … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ▤ 

In v. 17, “love” appears to refer to love that believers have – meaning that the passage is relevant to this subsection. However, it could instead refer to God’s love (cf. NLT) or Jesus Christ’s love (cf. CEV). In v. 18, “the breadth and length and height and depth” is often interpreted to be speaking of Christ’s love (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV) or God’s love (cf. NLT).

Col 2:1-2  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, … ▤ 

As Christians exist together united in love, they increasingly experience and comprehend spiritual blessings and truths.

1Pet 4:8  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ▤ 

This quotes Proverbs 10:12 – “… love covers all offenses.” It does not mean that loving others atones for sin, but that love forgives and “buries” the sins of others – particularly wrongs against oneself.

1Jn 4:17-18  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. ▤ 

This is speaking of having the love that comes from God, expressed in loving others. Such love, an expression and extension of God’s love, makes judgment from him inconceivable and so annuls any fear of judgment. Conversely, whoever fears has “not really learned to love” (CEV, v. 18b); they do not have perfect love (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT).

2Jn 1:3  Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. ▤ 

Here “in… love” could denote either living in God’s love or loving others; in any case the two are interrelated. As we live in love and truth, we experience the grace, mercy and peace of God and Jesus Christ.

Prov 3:3-4  Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4So you will find favor and good successp in the sight of God and man. ▤ 

p Or repute

Note that here and in 21:21 below, love for others amongst God’s people does not appear to be primarily in view.

  • Our love is a great benefit to other believers:

Philem 1:7  For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. ▤ 

The love Philemon had shown other believers had refreshed them, and had also given Paul great joy and comfort.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Love Each Other (II): How

See also:

Love is expressed with actions

See also:

1Jn 3:17-18  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. ▤ 

2Cor 8:7-8, 24  But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for youq—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. ▤ 24So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men. ▤ 

q Some manuscripts in your love for us

Paul had known the Corinthians to be earnest and loving to him (v. 7; text note), but now he wanted them to prove their love against the earnestness and love of others (v. 8, 24) by giving towards helping needy fellow believers. As such their love would be manifested or expressed in their action.

2Cor 12:15  I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? ▤ 

Paul’s love for the Corinthians (v. 15b) would be shown in what he did for them (v. 15a).

1Thes 1:3  … remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

The Thessalonians’ love was evidenced by their labor, the manifestation of their love.

1Thes 2:8  So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. ▤ 

Such sharing of their lives (by Paul and his associates) would have largely involved practical expressions of their affectionate desire or love (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

3Jn 1:5-6  Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. ▤ 

Gal 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ▤ 

The “law of Christ” quite possibly refers primarily to Christ’s commands to love each other as he has loved us (cf. John 13:34; 15:12), although Paul may instead have in view Christ’s teachings in general. By taking action in bearing one another’s burdens, we live out or fulfill this law.

  • What love is and is not, and does and does not do:

1Cor 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;r 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ▤ 

r Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

For comment, see the comment on 1Cor 13:4-7 – under What love is.

Love each other as Jesus Christ loved us, even laying down his life

See also:

John 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. ▤ 

John 15:12-13  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ▤ 

Jesus disciples were to love each other as he had loved them, a love which he would soon show to be unsurpassed by laying down his life for them.

Eph 5:2  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ▤ 

1Jn 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. ▤ 

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, … ▤ 

Phil 1:8  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. ▤ 

1Jn 2:8  At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, becauses the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. ▤ 

s Or that

The “command” is the command to love others (cf. vv. 9-11), fulfilled in Jesus in the love he showed and to be evident in the lives of his followers.

1Sam 20:14-15  If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15and do not cut offt your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth. ▤ 

t Or but if I die, do not cut off

Along with loving each other as Jesus Christ loved us, we should seek to show the steadfast love of God to each other, as Jonathan asks here of David.

  • Since God so loved us that he sent his Son to die for us, we ought to love one another:

1Jn 4:9-11, 19  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ▤ 19We love because he first loved us. ▤ 

Verse 19 suggests that our love for other believers is prompted by and an emulation of God’s love for us.

Love each other genuinely and earnestly

Rom 12:9  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. ▤ 

2Cor 6:4, 6  … but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, ▤ 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; … ▤ 

2Cor 8:8  I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. ▤ 

1Pet 1:22  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, … ▤ 

1Pet 4:8  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ▤ 

1Jn 3:18  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. ▤ 

The final phrase “in truth” is probably referring to expressing love sincerely and truly – “true caring” (NCV™) – and/or in a way that is in accordance with “the truth” (cf. v. 19).

  • Timothy’s genuine interest in others:

Phil 2:20  For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. ▤ 

Love each other as brothers (and sisters)

See also:

1Pet 3:8  Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. ▤ 

Heb 13:1  Let brotherly love continue. ▤ 

Rom 12:10  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ▤ 

Phil 4:1  Therefore, my brothers,u whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. ▤ 

u Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21

Philem 1:15-16  For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slavev but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. ▤ 

v Greek bondservant; twice in this verse

1Pet 2:17  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ▤ 

2Pet 1:5-7  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,w and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. ▤ 

w Or excellence; twice in this verse

  • Be friends:

3Jn 1:15  Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them. ▤ 

Keep each other in your hearts . . .

When Paul talks of having others in his heart, he implies that they are an integral part of himself and his consciousness.

2Cor 7:3  I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. ▤ 

The latter part of the verse points to the closeness that Paul felt towards the Corinthians, having them in his heart.

Phil 1:7  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,x both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. ▤ 

x Or you all have fellowship with me in grace

2Cor 6:11-13  We have spoken freely to you,y Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. ▤ 

y Greek Our mouth is open to you

Opening wide one’s heart to others, is akin to making room in one’s heart for others (cf. CEV).

Philem 1:12  I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. ▤ 

In describing Onesimus as “my very heart” Paul speaks of his strong love and closeness to him, akin to having Onesimus in his heart.

. . . Long for each other

Phil 4:1  Therefore, my brothers,z whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21

Phil 1:8  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. ▤ 

Paul appears to refer to sharing in Jesus Christ’s affection or love – through his union with Christ – expressing such affection in his great yearning/longing for the Philippians.

1Thes 2:17  But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, … ▤ 

1Thes 3:6  But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you ▤ 

2Tim 1:4  As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. ▤ 

  • The Ephesians’ grief over the prospect of never seeing Paul again:

Acts 20:37-38  And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. ▤ 

Greet or send greetings to each other . . .

Rom 16:14-16  Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothersa who are with them. 15Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. ▤ 

a Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

“Greet” is used by Paul no less than 18 times in vv. 3-16. Note that a “holy kiss” (v. 16a; cf. 1Cor 16:20 ; 1Pet 5:14 ) was apparently a common form of greeting in the early church, signifying the bonds and warmth of believers’ unity in Christ.

1Cor 16:19-20  The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. ▤ 

Philem 1:23-24  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. ▤ 

Heb 13:24  Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. ▤ 

1Pet 5:13-14  She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. ▤ 

3Jn 1:15  Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them. ▤ 

. . . and welcome each other

See also:

Acts 15:4  When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. ▤ 

Acts 18:27a  And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. ▤ 

Rom 14:1  As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. ▤ 

Rom 15:5-7  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. ▤ 

Gal 4:14  … and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. ▤ 

Col 4:10  Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), … ▤ 

Phil 2:29  So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, … ▤ 

Philem 1:17  So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. ▤ 

  • A classic Israelite greeting:

Ruth 2:4  And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” ▤ 

Note: Obedience to God and other aspects of the faith are essential for love

See also:

1Pet 1:22  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, … ▤ 

The importance for love of purity – which is attained through obedience to the truth – is also shown in 1 Timothy 1:5 below.

1Jn 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. ▤ 

2Jn 1:5-6  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. ▤ 

Verse 6 appears to be saying that love is lived out by walking in obedience to God’s commands.

1Tim 1:5  The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. ▤ 

2Jn 1:1-2  The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: … ▤ 

As commented earlier, Christian love flows from knowledge of God’s truth and a life lived in accordance with or obedience to this truth.

Col 1:4-5a  … since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. ▤ 

The very real hope of the wonderful blessings in the afterlife, spurs believers on in their love for others – as well as in their faith.

Phil 1:9  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, … ▤ 

The word “knowledge” probably refers to knowledge of God and his ways. Believers should exhibit love that reflects such knowledge (cf. 2Jn 1:1-2 ) – and also spiritual discernment – rather than a love which is based merely on sentiment or emotion.

Pray for persecuted Christians