Summary: A transformed life should lead to transformed relationships, adding brotherly affection to godliness.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “fellowship”? Usually, we think of spending time with fellow believers, sharing a cup of coffee or chatting with them. Those were acts of fellowship. But there are times we just end up socializing with friends. This morning, we will look at one of the things that would really make a gathering a true fellowship as we continue “Our Pursuit for Our Growth” series on 2 Peter 1:5-7. “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.” This morning, we will look into “brotherly affection.” Let us pray first…
There was a raging persecution against the believers when Peter wrote his second letter. He knew very well what would happen when a believer was all alone in facing the persecution. When the Lord Jesus was arrested, all the disciples went their separate ways. Peter himself denied the Lord three times. That’s why, in view of the persecution, Peter emphasized the need for “brotherly affection” along with the other character qualities that believers need to develop in their lives. To survive the persecution, the believers at that time must draw closer to each other just as they drew closer to God.
According to Thomas Constable, “This is a good checklist that helps us evaluate whether we are all that God wants us to be. Note that this list of qualities begins with those inside the believer and progresses to those he or she demonstrates outwardly. It moves from private to public qualities. This list begins with faith and ends with love.” Note that “brotherly affection” follows after “godliness.” It is because we will find it hard to be godly on our own. 2 Timothy 2:22 commands us, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Thus, we need a godly company to become godly personally. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tell us, “Bad company ruins good morals.” So, good company builds good morals.
That’s why more than attending worship services, we need to fellowship with one another. That’s why we need to join a small group. It is because we will never achieve our full growth potential until and unless we grow together. Also, we tend to think that to love our brothers means we condone their sins. But remember that “brotherly affection” comes right after “godliness”. So it is a kind of love that “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
We get the word “Philadelphia” from the Greek word of “brotherly affection.” Keep in mind that fellowship was never equated with mere fun times in the New Testament. One of the key ingredients of a real fellowship is the motive behind it, that is, brotherly love. It means “a fervent practical caring for others… a concern for others’ needs”. One version translates “brotherly affection” as “mutual love.” Fellowship is sharing sacrificially to meet the needs of others. We can only do that when we have brotherly affection for one another. It takes a lot of sacrifice to care for the needs of others while you care for your needs as well.
According to one commentary, “brotherly affection” was “a common term for relationships within a family unit; the New Testament is the only place where the word has been found outside the context of a home… Peter really does mean that Christians should have a quality of relationships which is demonstrably different and satisfying, demanding a high and new loyalty.”
Now, Peter used the Greek word for “brotherly affection” thrice, twice in 2 Peter and once in 1 Peter. To fully understand what Peter meant by “brotherly affection,” let us look at how he described it in 1 Peter 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”.
Note the first half of the verse: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love”. The phrase “having purified” is in the perfect active, which means that it is a completed action. It is something that has already happened with an ongoing result. We have an indication when it has happened and by what means it has happened: “by your obedience to the truth”. The “obedience to the truth” Peter was talking about was the time they accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Note verse 23: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”. So, when we put our faith on our Lord Jesus, we have obeyed the truth. And when we have obeyed the truth, we are cleansed. For what purpose? “for a sincere brotherly love”. We can love one another because we have been purified from our sins. A transformed LIFE should lead to transformed RELATIONSHIPS. I like how the New English Translation goes: “You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love.” Our relationship with Christ changes our relationship with our spouse, with our children, with our officemates, with our employees or with our employers.