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Who is our brother mentioned in 1 John 4: 21?



      

1 John 4:21

NASB - 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Clarify Share Report Asked September 12 2014 Mini Diana Throckmorton

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Open uri20130622 23898 8dsex Kelli Hamann Supporter Pastor's Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Writer, Cellist
It's important to understand that whenever we attempt to take original text from the Bible and translate word origins and meanings to our modern languages, parts of the original meaning and intent will be lost. I can offer some insight regarding this question based on my personal studies of the original text, but I by no means claim to have all of the answers.

Here are some definitions offered for "brother" in modern translations of the original text in 1 John 4:21:

> a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother
> having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman
> any fellow or man
> a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection
> an associate in employment or office
> brethren in Christ
> his brothers by blood
> all men
> apostles
> Christians, as those who are exalted to the same heavenly place

As you can see from these definitions, the term "brother" can be applied in a variety of ways, from the narrow scope of an actual biological brother to the widest scope of all fellow humans. So, whom exactly are we supposed to love?

I think the answer lies in looking at this verse in its greater context. Context is always key when searching for the most accurate word meanings. The heading for this section of the Bible is "God Is Love." Here is a passage leading up to the verse in question:

I John 4: 7-12: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. In 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

It seems to me that "brother" applies to all people, including those who might hurt us or those with whom we might find fault since this passage tells us clearly that Jesus is our example. Jesus loved with no strings, and Jesus laid down His life for all mankind, from the most heinous criminal to the most "innocent" child. 

If you further study this particular sentence, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another," some might argue that loving "one another" should only apply to the original audience of 1 John since this letter is addressed to a particular group of people. However, that argument quickly falls flat, because if that were true, then there would be no point for any of us nowadays to read or learn from most of the New Testament since many of its 27 books were originally letters addressed to specific groups of people.

Here's the bottom line: God is love, and He sent His Son to demonstrate how we are to love our fellow men. Jesus loved even those who put Him to death, and in His dying breath He asked His Heavenly Father to forgive them. If we want to be like Jesus, it should be our aim to demonstrate selfless love to everyone we meet, as much as it is within our power to do so.

It should be further noted that sometimes we may not feel love toward a person, but God calls us to demonstrate actions of love toward that person. For example, I have a grumpy, elderly family member who is consistently unkind to my husband and me, but we are duty-bound to bring meals to this person and visit him on a regular basis because he is unable to care for himself or leave his home. I can't honestly say that I always feel warm and fuzzy when I'm around him, but God helps me to see him with His eyes, and I'm able to be kind to him, even when he doesn't return that kindness to us. As Christians, we are often called upon to love people with actions, in spite of how we feel.

November 27 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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