Summary: The Hebrew Christians were holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling and were instructed to consider Christ Jesus.
Reading 2 Pet 1:5-10; 3:1-10
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.
It is very easy to skip over such introductory words, but here we have two descriptions of the Hebrew Christians. I wonder how we measure up.
The first description of the readers is holy brethren. You get two terms for the price of one.
The readers are called brethren, not because they were all from the same human family, but because they had all been adopted by the same heavenly Father. As this verse puts it they all shared a heavenly calling (JB Phillips). They were God’s children, brothers and sisters of Christ, of one another, and of the writer.
We have already seen that ch. 2 v 11 says of Jesus He is not ashamed to call them brethren, v11. There are many today who would love to be the brother or sister of some actor or singer. Is it not infinitely more wonderful to have the King of Kings and Lord of Lords call Himself our brother! How wonderful it is to be part of God’s family.
1Jn3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
This is amazing! God loved us so much that not only did He want to save us, but He also took us as His family! With all of our different personalities, backgrounds, traits and quirks we are one big, if not always happy, family. As Paul put it in Romans 8 we can call God Abba - Daddy - emphasising the closeness of our relationship and the depth of His love.
Rom 8: 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
Interestingly Scripture calls all Christians sons - even the daughters! This is to make it crystal clear that we all share equally in all that belongs to Christ. In Jewish tradition most of the inheritance passed to the eldest son and usually nothing went to any daughters. Interestingly the Romans treated all children, including adopted children, equally.
It is easy to talk loudly of our love for Christ, but what about His people - our brothers and sisters. Do we love each other? Do we grieve when they grieve? Are we there when they need help?
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.(1 John 4:21).
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. … 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
Do we behave as adults or petulant children? Are we concerned with each other, or only with ourselves? Are we getting on with the family business together or spending our time playing with our toys, squabbling or throwing tantrums? In our prayers do we ask for His wisdom, presence and strength or just toys to play with? There is a Church to build and a war to fight.
But the Church is not just any family, brethren, but holy brethren - a holy family. What does holy mean? To many it means being overly religious - holier than thou people who behave as if they are so much better than others. The Greek words for holy, sanctified, hallowed, and saint all come from the same root word - that which is set apart, pure, and kept for God’s use. While those words are used to describe the Holy Spirit, the name of God (Mt 6:9), Jesus (Jn 10:36), and the angels (Lk 9:26), they are also used to describe us as Christians. We are called holy, sanctified or saints because God has set us apart for Himself, not because we have done wonderful things.