Sunday, July 10, 2016 am                                                        Others 2016 Index

We are Brethren


As we continue our study of the Christian and others we now want to turn our focus to the church.  We have addressed the importance of our example in every aspect of our lives.  We live in a world where many do not care about God and His word.  Our goal in being a godly example is to win some and to bring glory to God in our lives.  BUT, if truth be known, we need each other as brethren.  Our brethren are God’s support system as we seek to let our light shine in this crooked and perverse generation.  So with this in mind we enter the next portion of our study about others – our relationship to one another as brethren.  This will also be the most extensive part of this study. 

In this portion of our study we are going to address:

-          What it means to be brethren

-          The blessings of brotherhood

-          Why we need each other

-          What fellowship and edification means and involve

-          There are more than 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament – we will devote considerable time to these qualities that define how we are to behave as brethren

-          How to approach each other with problems and concerns

-          We will also notice the purpose and proper implementation of discipline within the Lord’s church

 I.                     What is the church?

a.       Church - The term translated “church” in many of our English Bibles is the Greek, ἐκκλησία, (ekklēsia) and is a word commonly associated with an assembly or gathering.  In scripture, the term is used to designate its use in a sacred way as opposed to its common meaning (see Acts 19:32, 39 & 41).
As we use the term “church” we mean the body or assembly of the saved.

b.       The term in scripture can refer to the universal body of all who are saved (a spiritual relationship determined by God Himself in heaven) (See Ephesians 1:22-23, Matthew 16:18).
When one obeys the gospel he is added to the body of the saved - Acts 2:47 (KJV, NKJV))
1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”

c.        The term can also refer to a local church which is a community of believers in a given location who join together to do the work God has given us to do collectively – namely worship, evangelize, edifying the saints and limited benevolence.   
The term is found in passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:2, 11:18, 1 Thess. 1:1, etc. 
It is also used to describe more than one local church (without removing the autonomous distinction of each one) – Galatians 1:2, Acts 14:23 – elders appointed in every church, Acts 9:31 churches throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria; 1 Corinthians 4:17 – “as I teach in every church”, Romans 16:16, “the churches of Christ salute you”, etc.

d.       The church is NOT the building or even the location where we meet.  The church is the people who are part of it (whether universal or locally).  That is implied in the definition of the word - an assembly or gathering.
Acts 2:47 – the Lord added to the church (their number – NASB) daily the saved
1 Corinthians 11:18, when you come together as a church
Ephesians 1:22-23 describes Christ as the head of the church, which is His body.  Ephesians 5:23-27 describes Christ as head of the church and savior of the body.  The church is subject to Him as a wife is subject to her husband.  In 1 Corinthians 12:27 he notes, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

 II.                   We are brethren

a.       One of the descriptions of the church is that of the family of God –
1 Timothy 3:15 Paul writes to Timothy,
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Galatians 6:10 – do good…especially to those of “the household of faith.”
Mark 10:29-30 – Jesus promised those who would follow him, even at the cost of losing family (cf. Matthew 10:37-38) would receive “a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.  I am convinced here Jesus is speaking of our family relationship. 

b.       God is our Father and we are His children – Ephesians 3:14-15, Paul bowed his knee “to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”  That “family” is called by the name “Christian” (Acts 11:26).
John 1:12 we read, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Galatians 4:4-7 describes how God sent His Son to redeems those under the law, “that we might receive the adoption as sons,”…therefore we are sons and heirs through Christ.  

1 John 3:1, “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.”
The FAMILY relationship ought to bring us together as His people. 

c.        As to our relationship to one another, we are referred to as brethren.
More than 200 times, the word brethren (and brother) are found in the New Testament in reference to our fellow Christians.  Most New Testament writers made reference to our relationship as brethren (Paul, James, John and even Luke)
Typically, when reference is made to brethren it includes all our fellow Christians, whether within the local context or universal.  This would include our sisters in Christ as a few passages indicate. 
1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Paul pleaded with them as brethren for unity
1 Timothy 5:1-2 – treat each other like you would your own family – brother, sister, father and mother
James 2:15, if a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food… - notice the inclusion of our sisters in this text.
1 Peter 3:8, we are called upon to love as brothers
1 John 3:10-17, esp. 16-17 – as Christ laid down His life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren; to see a brother in need and shut up your heart, how does the love of God abide in you?
Romans 16:1, Phoebe is described as “our sister”
Hebrews 2:10-12 Our Lord is not ashamed to call us brethren because we are all of one.

d.       We need to cherish our relationship as brethren?  It ought to be fundamental in our lives.   Jesus Himself taught us that the world will know that we belong to Him by the way we behave toward each other – John 13:35.  We will see this as we study various passages that address how we are to treat each other. 

 III.                 We are to function as a body

a.       The term body is a collective noun, meaning it is a noun that describes a collection of something.  In this case, a body is a collection of parts.

b.       Paul used this analogy to describe how we as brethren are to be working together.  In 1 Cor. 12:12-27, Paul clearly describes how as the body of Christ we function as a human body with each part being important.  His emphasis is how we need to act like a properly functioning body.  Because we have been addressing this in class, we will not notice this in great detail here.  When we are properly functioning as a body, “there is no schism in the body.”  That is our goal.

c.        We have already noted that we are the body of Christ.  He is the head and we are to the body (Eph. 1:22-23).

d.       Romans 12:4-5, in a more brief description, Paul summarizes what he said in 1 Corinthians 12 here. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

e.       Ephesians 4:12, 16 – leaders are given so that we can function as the body of Christ in unity.  When every part does its share it causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

f.         Ephesians 3:6 notes that Gentiles should be fellow heirs (with the Jews) of the same body and partakers of His promise in Christ.

g.       Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

h.       We will not function as a body if we do not understand what it means to be brethren and how to treat each other. 


When we want to convert someone to Christ we seek to turn them to the Bible.  Within its pages we find the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” (cf. Acts 16:30, etc.)  There is much to describe what is necessary to be saved. 

But there is even more addressing the question of what one needs to do to STAY saved.  The majority of the New Testament is addressed to brethren instructing us to how to maintain fellowship with God (1 John 1:3) and how to act like brethren.   We want to devote some time to remind ourselves of what God expects of us as we realize that “we are brethren”.   May this study strengthen you in Him and draw us closer together.