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This is love is associated with family love or the love between members of a family. It can also designate the love of friends but certainly not in the erotic sense. David loved Jonathan with a brotherly love even though he was a royal enemy of Saul. 1 Samuel 18:1 states that "the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." We can also use the illustration of Hebrews 13:1 which conveys this love in the context of brotherly love. The Greek word employed is philadelphia for brotherly love and the verse translates let brotherly love continue (KJV). The NAB says let mutual love continue while the NJB renders it “continue to love each other like brothers.” The original Greek text shows that this exhortation is in the verb imperative present tense indicating that it was to be an action of a continuing nature and that the recipients of the letter of Hebrews were to make it a continuing habit and therefore a lifestyle to love one another as a body of Christ. This command rules the church through all the ages. The nature of love mentioned here is conveyed in the Greek text as philadelphia which translates in English the love of bothers or brotherly love. This love has a broader application and is not restricted to the male gender but should be best rendered love of brethren as identified by the NAS and the NAU translations. This is the love that is associated with siblings of one family. This love prompts them to stand out for one another, to defend the family and to fend for and support one another. This is the love that drove Joseph into tears as he remembered that his brothers had sold him as a slave but realized that God had positioned him to provide relief to them and care for them in Egypt. This love abides or remains in the siblings even when both parents are gone. It is a lifelong family love that God has put in the siblings. Believers should share in this nature of love too. We are members of God’s household who share in the nature of our heavenly Father and are obligated to demonstrate this love to one another. Satan hates and fights this love in the church in an effort to weaken the unity of the church and fuel divisions and bring dishonor to Christ. We need to foster this love always against all odds. Jesus taught that we should love one another and by this love the world will identify us as his disciples (John 13:34-35). Although the word used for love here is agapao which is a higher expression of sacrificial love the phileo love is certainly in view by reason of Hebrews 13:1. The phileo love lays the foundation for our relationships as the redeemed of Christ, identifying with one another as brothers and members of God’s family who are forever united in him through the divine love of God that Christ made possible through his finished works at Calvary.
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