For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV)
It seems only natural that Peter would exhort us to supplement our godliness (being God-like) with brotherly affection. God is love and to be like him would demand that we be loving people. The Greek word Peter used for brotherly affection means fraternal affection, brotherly love (kindness), and love of the brethren. I take this to mean that Peter is specifically referring to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Brotherly love is an important theme in both of Peter’s epistles. He wrote, Love the brotherhood. (1 Peter 2:17) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8 ESV) Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22 ESV) The Greek word Peter used for sincere means without hypocrisy. We are to intently and fervently love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not just with lip service but a laying down of our lives; counting them as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4)
Paul wrote, Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV) Affection is a gentle feeling of fondness or liking; it is an emotion. The apostles are commanding us to get emotionally involved with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul said to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
Scripture gives us numerous examples of how we should live out brotherly affection. We are to live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 15:5), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). We are to neither lie to one another (Colossians 3:9), nor pass judgment on or be a stumbling block to one another (Romans 14:13). We are to be kind and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32), encouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25), hospitable (1 Peter 4:9), caring (1 Corinthians 12:25), and comforting (2 Corinthians 13:11) to one another. We are to serve, teach, admonish, and do good to one another (Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:15). We are to stir one another up to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
Our witness to the world is greatly affected by the way we love our brothers and sisters of the faith. Jesus said to this disciples, “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV) The apostle John takes the idea of loving the brethren as being a sign of not only being Christ’s disciples, but also loving God. He wrote, 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 cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20 ESV)
Brotherly affection is not optional if we are members of the body of Christ. And we are commanded to let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1 ESV). In fact, our love for the brethren is a detemining factor of whether or not we are children of God (1 John 3:10).
Do you sincerely love the brethren?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Thessalonians 4:9
1 John 3:17; 4:12