The apostle Peter is the only writer in the New Testament to use the term “brotherhood,” 1 Peter 2.17; 5.9. Many versions don’t translate it that way, but it’s a collective term. In the first instance Peter wrote: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
How do we love the brotherhood? Here are four ways.
Love the brotherhood by defending the truth that defines and forms it.
The brotherhood is defined by those who believe in and obey the truth. There are those among us who want to blur the lines. They want to change who we are. They must be resisted and silenced.
Any cursory reading of the New Testament from Jesus to John, and writers in between, make a clear distinction between those who are in Christ and those who are outside of Christ. Even some who claim to be in him actually are not. The truth is the dividing line.
Love the brotherhood by loving the congregation you are a part of.
Some people talk of loving humanity, but they don’t love the humans close to them. Love of the brotherhood must not be some abstract idea. Brotherly love in practice is our sign to the world.
For brotherly love, demonstrated in the family of faith, we were purified from sin. All the wonderful virtues of patience, preference, hospitality, forgiveness, and service are best shown in our local congregation.
Love the brotherhood by enlarging its borders.
Renewal among us comes by adding to our number. Progressives love to talk about renewal, but it’s a subjective, egotistical exercise. If the brotherhood is important to us, we will want it to be vigorous and alive. We will want it to grow in size. We will do our part in evangelizing both near and far. We will glorify God by letting the light of the gospel shine.
Love the brotherhood by fearing its Maker.
The two outer elements of the verse above belong together, as do the two inner elements: “Love the brotherhood. Fear God.” To fear God means, in practical terms, to obey him. That’s why Jesus said,
“So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5.19 BSB.
These comparatives reflect rabbinic language. “Least” meant to be unworthy. One or two translations indicate that. Mace is one, and even though his is old, it’s spot on: “whoever therefore shall break any commandment, tho’ of the least importance, and shall teach men so to do, shall not have the least admittance into the kingdom of the Messias ….”
Ralph Earle takes another tack but gets there as well: “The solution lies in translating the phrase: ‘in relation to the kingdom of heaven’; that is, in relation to the Kingdom he would be the least, left outside” (Beacon Bible Commentary, vol. VI, p. 73).
Why this emphasis here on obedience? Because progressives hate it. Those who love the brotherhood fear God and do all in their power to obey and teach what the Lord commands.
Let us love the brotherhood. It’s the only one we have, a precious gift from the Lord.