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Positive Commands: The Methods—A Focus on Actions

One of the clear emphases of Scripture concerns the fact that the world we now live in as Christians is an alien world. The believer has been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Believers live in a hostile environment, one opposed to his progress in spiritual growth, spiritual health, and to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for his life as a child of God.

John 17:15-20 I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. 18 As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

Ephesians 6:10-16 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

But God has not left us without His personal provision for this alien environment. His provisions include the Word, the Holy Spirit, and pastor/teachers or elders who are to shepherd the church and protect it from the many forces at work to corrupt, deceive, and destroy the ministry of the church. But another very important means of protection lies in the ministry of the body of Christ as seen in the One Another injunctions of the New Testament. This concept is emphasized in John 15 where our Lord taught the disciples concerning three crucial relationships: our relationship with the Lord, our relationship with one another, and our relationship to the world. Concluding His discourse on our relationship to one another, He said, “This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17). This is immediately followed by His teaching concerning two things: (1) the hatred and antagonism of the world system (15:18-15), and (2) the purpose of the church to be a witnessing, ministering people through the ministry of the Spirit of God (15:26-27).

In other words, we will have tribulation in this world. Satan will seek to nullify, neutralize, or hinder us by any and every way he can. Regardless, we are to continue on in His purposes, and one of the things God will use to protect and keep us is loving and caring for one another. Working together and caring for one another, we can provide protection, stimulation, support, motivation, and enablement to the body of Christ.

This principle is illustrated for us in the animal kingdom when certain animals band together against outside forces. For instance, the musk oxen of the arctic when threatened by wolves form a circle facing the enemy with their calves in the center of the circle. While wolves will attack one or two lone oxen, they are afraid to attack an entire herd and will move on to other prey.

In this portion of our study we will summarize the remaining One Another passages in four categories:

  • Verses Promoting Spiritual Growth and Health in the Body of Christ
  • Verses Promoting the General Welfare and Good of the Body of Christ
  • Verses Promoting Unity and Peace in the Body of Christ
  • Verses Promoting Ministry and the Function of the Body of Christ

Each of these could become a topic for longer studies but the purpose here is an overview of the whole to illustrate our responsibility and the great need facing the church.

Verses Promoting Spiritual
Growth and Health in the Body of Christ

Command 2: Encourage and Build Up One Another

In the New Testament, encouraging and building up refer to the process of building spiritual maturity and Christian character through the function of the various gifts of believers—particularly teaching and the encouragement of others. Each believer is to be involved in the edification process of the church, the building up of one another, which is figurative of the process of spiritual strengthening and edification. Of first importance is the spiritual health of one another. The most important thing for all of us is our walk with the Lord. This brings us back to the concept of cause and effect, or root to fruit. The One Another injunctions are a means to an end—ministry to one another with the goal of Christlikeness through helping others to experience the sufficiency of the Savior.

The Apostle Paul had one important concern that was constantly on his mind and heart—to do all he could to build up the body of Christ (Col. 1:28-2:2). But one individual can do only so much, and God’s strategy is for the body of Christ to be involved in this same concern for all members of the body. Thus, a number of the One Another injunctions concern this very issue. They fall into two categories, those concerned with the progress of growth and those concerned with stopping spiritual regression and fall out.

As with Paul in the first century, no one Christian in the twentieth century can build up all other believers in a local church. God’s design and plan is that every Christian be a functioning part of the body of Christ; that every Christian contribute to the process. “The whole body,” wrote Paul, must be “joined and held together by every supporting ligament.” And as the body draws strength and direction from its Head, Jesus Christ, it then “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:15-16).12

(1) Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

“Encourage” is the Greek parakaleo (parakalevw). It is used a 109 times in the New Testament. It can mean “to exhort, admonish, teach,” or “to beg, entreat, beseech,” or “to console, encourage, comfort, help.” Its basic purpose always seems to be the same—to promote the spiritual growth of believers in Christ by helping them learn to draw on their new resources in the Savior. This is clear from the next injunction, “build up one another.”

(2) Build up One Another

Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another

Romans 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

1 Corinthians 14:12, 26b So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church … 26 … Let all things be done for edification.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.

“Build up” is the Greek oikodomeo (oikodomevw), “to build, erect,” or metaphorically, “to edify.” It is used figuratively of the process of building, strengthening, and edifying to build spiritual maturity into believers. Getz writes:

Many biblical examples demonstrate that the primary means for encouraging other believers focuses in God’s truth. For example, Paul, giving the qualities for eldership in his letter to Titus, emphasized that a pastoral leader “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).13

Here are a few passages which speak to this theme:

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

Romans 15:4-5 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;

Note the following passages for specific truths used to encourage and edify believers in the Lord: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17.

Command 3: Admonish One Another

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

Colossians 1:28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.

The word “admonish” is the Greek word noutheteo (nouqetevw), “to put in mind, to admonish, warn, advise, instruct.” Since this word has a broad range of meaning, it is sometimes more difficult to translate. Translators use various terms to translate Paul’s exhortation in Romans 15:14. The NEB and Williams’ Version translate it as “council.” The NIV and the NRSV have “instruct one another.” Beck translates it with “correct.” The KJV always translates this word with “admonish.” Getz writes:

Actually, the word noutheteo doesn’t refer to casual communication or normal-type teaching. It implies a definite exhortation, correction, and warning. In the Thessalonian letter, the translators of the New International Version use the word “warn” to describe Paul’s admonishment to Christians who were idle and lazy (1 Thes. 5:14; they use the same word in Acts 20:31 and 1 Cor. 4:14).14

When this word is used, there is always the implication of a problem. It presupposes an obstacle that must be removed or changed. Cremer says, “Some degree of opposition has been encountered, and one wishes to subdue or remove it, not by punishment, but by influencing the nous” (mind).15 Certainly, there is in this word some kind of a moral appeal for change in behavior through warning and biblical instruction, or putting sense into the mind with a strong appeal to the will through understanding.

In the psychological climate of our today where so much stress is placed on professional counselors, Romans 15:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, and Colossians 3:16 teaches us an important point we must not miss. Paul assumes that the body of Christ, not simply ministers of the Gospel or professionals, can and should engage in the ministry of admonishment which is a form of counseling. Two things, however, are required to make us able or competent to warn, instruct, or counsel one another.

(1) We must be “full of goodness.” Paul teaches us that the believers at Rome were able or competent because they were “full of goodness.” Goodness is the Greek word agathosune (agaqwsuvnh) which describes that which is good in its character and beneficial in its effect, at least in its goal or purpose. It becomes a synonym for Christlike character in motive, manner, and method. In other words, these believers were those who were mature enough to make sure the plank in their own eye was removed before they sought to remove the speck from their brothers eye (Matt. 7:3-5). They were not out to hurt, but to heal, not to get even, but to help and build up.

Getz writes:

Christians who are sensitive about their own walk with God are capable—and responsible—to admonish other Christians … It is one of the most difficult exhortations to obey, but it is necessary for the body of Christ to mature and grow.

Admonishment, when done according to biblical guidelines, is not “judging others.” One of the first guidelines was spelled out by Paul: make sure you are “full of goodness” yourself. Putting it another way, we must make sure we “clean up our own act” before we try to help someone else “clean up” his.16

Another passage that bears on our ability to admonish one another are the guidelines found in Galatians 6:1-5. This passage will be discussed later in this study.

(2) They were also “complete in knowledge.” Obviously, Paul is talking about an adequate knowledge of Scripture. Getz writes:

Admonishment must be based upon God’s specific will and ways—not on what we think other Christians should or should not be doing. We must be careful at this point. Many Christians tend to confuse absolutes and non-absolutes. If we exhort Christians in areas that are extra-biblical—areas that are not specifically spelled out in Scripture or specific things that involve cultural standards and practices—then we are in danger of imposing standards contrary to Scripture.17

Some churches, groups, or individuals have a list of rigid rules that they often seek to impose on others—the dirty dozen, the nasty nine, the heavenly seven. It varies with the local, but these are invariably doubtful or questionable things, certain practices which a portion of society may condemn as wrong, but they are called questionable because Scripture does not specifically condemn them as wrong. Scripture does set forth principles which guide us in how we should handle such practices. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul preceded this One Another injunction in Romans 15:14 with instructions regarding the issue of these questionable practices on which Christians very often disagree. These instructions divide neatly into three sections:

(1) Warnings against judging one another over these questionable issues (14:1-12). We are never to judge one another with contempt because of different opinions and actions regarding the questionable practices that may differ from ours. The admonishment of Romans 15:14 is not judgment, but loving counsel to move others to biblical living by the power of the Spirit of God.

(2) Warnings against hindering the spiritual growth and progress of one another by misusing our liberty or personal convictions on these issues (14:13-23).

(3) Exhortation to imitate the Savior by becoming a servant of one another, by bearing one another’s burdens (15:1-13).

This is then followed with verse 14 which teaches us that all believers, if they are full of goodness and knowledge (undoubtedly the knowledge of the Savior and our new life in Him), are competent to admonish one another in their walk with the Lord.18

Command 4: Comfort and Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

The Greek word used in each of the above passages translated as “comfort” or “encourage” is parakaleo (parakalevw). It may mean, depending on the context, “to summon, call to one’s side to give aid,” then “to exhort, entreat, beseech,” but it is often used in the sense of “to strengthen, encourage,” or “comfort, console” as one who comes alongside to give aid, strength, comfort, courage. It means doing whatever is needed to bring courage into the lives of believers. To encourage is to bring courage. “Encouragement is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough.19 Courage is the quality of mind that enables people to encounter difficulty and danger with firmness and resolve in spite of inner fears, to continue on in the pressures of life by faith so that we don’t throw in the towel.

Though the Thessalonian Christians were facing severe trials and persecutions (1:6), and though disturbed by doctrinal ignorance (4:13-18), and disturbance (2 Thess. 1:1-4), they had the ability and responsibility to encourage one another with God’s truth and by showing their support for each other. Indeed, they had been doing this very thing (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11).

But what are the primary means of encouragement?

(1) Always, the primary means of encouragement is God’s Word, His truth, from knowing and resting in God’s promises (Josh. 1:7-9; Rom. 15:4; Tit. 1:9; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Thess. 2:13; 4:13-18 [involved knowing and resting in the truth of the rapture and resurrection]).

(2) Encouragement comes from remembering the testimony of our mentors in the Lord (cf. Josh. 1:1-2; Heb. 12:1-2; 13:7). Remembering the examples of men and women of faith can be a tremendous encouragement.

(3) Encouragement comes from helping other to recognize and relate to God’s pleasure, His will. We all need to have a sense of God’s calling and destiny (Josh. 1:2-8).

(4) Ultimately, courage comes from reckoning on God’s presence and knowing God personally (Josh. 1:9; Heb. 13:5-6). Behind God’s promises is God Himself. This is why we go to the Word. To see, know, love, and rest in God’s love.

(5) Finally, one of the tools God uses to bring encouragement to others is people themselves. This is the point of this injunction, “encourage one another.” But for this to happen, Christians need to spend time together. This is the point of the next command.

Command 5: Assemble Together With One Another

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

We do great harm to ourselves and to others when we fail to come together to spend time together around the things of Christ not only to worship and learn of Him, but also to minister to one another. God has given to the church the responsibility of restoring troubled, discouraged people to deeper relationships with God, and out of that, to ministry in a hurting world.

Church life involves people getting together, people in contact with other people—whether in small groups or huge sanctuaries, whether in praise meetings or teaching classes, whether in evangelistic campaigns or worship services. When any emphasis in our church life interferes at all with our effort to better understand the resources of Christ and to more effectively minister to needy people, then the church has lost its way. The church is people—God’s people.20

When the central dynamic of living in relationship with God and each other is made secondary to concern for better facilities, expanded programs, or more staff, then the quietly enriching and soul-stirring excitement of life in Christ is numbed. The Christian life is in danger of being reduced to (depending on the personality of leadership) either a pep rally for Jesus or an irritating set of restrictions.

The muscles of relationship within the Christian body atrophy when we fail to exercise them, and the church becomes limp.21

Hebrews 10:25 warns us against failing to assemble ourselves together. But this is not the primary focus of this passage. The main verb and injunction is seen in verse 24, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” but the translations of the NASB and the NIV obscure the thrust of this command with the word “how.” Literally, the Greek text says much as the KJV reads, “let us consider one another to stimulate (incite, promote) to love and good works.” “Consider” is the Greek katanoeo (katanoevw), “to consider attentively, perceive, observe.” The text is calling us to notice and pay attention to people not to be judgmental, but that we might perceive one another’s moods, pain, needs. Why? That we might minister to those needs with a listening ear, a caring heart, a helpful word, etc., so that in turn, as we help them experience the sufficiency of Christ, they can become ministering people themselves in true Christlike living. The how element comes about in the verse that follows: (a) by not forsaking our own assembling together, and (b) by encouraging one another in the context of that assembled fellowship whether in small groups or in large gatherings.

So often when we gather together for events at church, or meet in the parking lot (or the foyer of the church before or after the service) the words we speak are often just surface words that lack little power or meaning because we aren’t truly listening and paying attention to each other. We often fail to ask questions of true concern and consequence. There is a failure to really consider one another in the sense of Hebrews 10:24-25. We face the problem of surface community that hides behind personal fears and apathy. We put up defensive layers. We keep people at a distance because of our fears of rejection or failure. But God is calling us to break out of this to become a ministering people.

Command 6: Bear One Another’s Burdens

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

The context of this verse is that of reaching out to help a fellow believer with a problem of sin (vs. 1). No doubt this is one of the most difficult tasks God has given us. We naturally shy away from this. It is much easier to do almost any of the other One Another injunctions, but this one is a vital responsibility for the spiritual health of the church when done according to the directives of this passage.

(1) A Contrast in Expectations:

We should not miss the close connection between 6:1-5 and the preceding chapter which has contrasted the works of the flesh with the fruit of a Spirit-controlled life. Just what does it means to have a Spirit-controlled life that is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc. (vss. 22-23)? To those who might think of the Spirit-controlled life primarily in terms of more self-centered concerns like personal satisfaction, emotional experiences, personal fulfillment, or realizing one’s potential, Paul’s words may come as an awakening shock, not what we might expect, for the Apostle quickly turns our attention to concerns that are oriented toward others—the burdens of others, those facing difficulty with life-dominating sins (vss. 1-5), and the use of our finances to minister to those who have ministered to us (vss. 6-10).

It is easy to talk about the fruit of the Spirit while doing very little about it. So Christians need to learn that it is in the concrete situations, rather than in emotional highs, that the reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives is demonstrated.22

The situation of verse 1 that sets the stage for the injunction to bear one another’s burdens is a hypothetical but very real kind of situation any believer might face, that of another believer who finds himself trapped by some area of sin. “Caught” (NASB, NIV), or “overtaken” (KJV) in verse 1 should not be taken to refer to someone being caught in the act of some sin, but rather to the problem of someone being overcome by it.

The thought is that of someone running from sin but sin, being faster, overtakes and catches him. Two passages show how the legalists responded to such (cf. John 8:3-5; Acts 21:27-29).23

The question is what is the Christian to do? How are we to handle the need? Paul gives us both the responsibility plus the qualifications.

(2) A Contrast in Persons—Only the Spiritual:

Paul’s words, “you who are spiritual” (pneumatikos [pneumatikvo”], “of that which belongs to or is activated by the Spirit”), teaches us that only the spiritual, those whose lives are truly controlled by the Spirit (5:1-26) and who possess both the attitudes and actions of this passage, are qualified to carry out this difficult and important responsibility.

(3) A Contrast in Aim—Restoration versus Censure (6:1a):

We are then shown the goal in view, the restoration of the sinning brother to a place of growth and victory over the overcoming sin. “Restore” is the Greek word katartizo (katartivzw), a term used of (a) mending nets (Mark 1:19), (b) of training students (Luke 6:40), and (c) in secular Greek as a medical term for setting a fractured bone. What is wrong in the life of the sinning believer needs to be mended or set straight with a view to spiritual growth and Christlike character.

(4) A Contrast in Attitude—Humility versus Pride (6:1b, 3):

A spirit of gentleness, itself a fruit of the Spirit (5:23), is to be the controlling sphere in which this work of restoration is to be done. The Greek word here is prautes (prauthv”), “meekness, humility, considerateness, gentleness.” Meekness or humility looks at the inward attitude while gentleness looks at its outward manifestation in relationships with others. This Greek word was used in secular Greek of horses that were gentle and under the control of their masters. It describes power under control. Verse 3 draws our attention more pointedly to the concept of humility. In the spirit of humility, considering our own potential lest we too are tempted, we are to delicately seek to restore the sinning Christian. Whenever we help another who has sinned, we are in danger of seeing ourselves as better or as his or her judge rather than as being one with them in natural tendencies with the same possibilities of sinning (1 Cor. 10:12).

(5) A Contrast in Actions:

A Burden Bearer versus One who Spreads Gossip (6:2): Serving others by helping them bear their burdens fulfills the law of Christ, the command to love one another in the example of the Savior Himself (Rom. 15:1-3). “Bear” is the Greek bastazo (bastavzw) which means: (1) to take up with the hands, lift up, (2) to take up in order to carry or bear what is burdensome, and then to endure, and (3) to bear, to carry in the sense of sustain, i.e. uphold, support which is the emphasis here. Christians are called to come alongside a brother to give support, to help him by sharing the load when life-dominating sins oppress his life. “Burdens” is baros (barov”), “a weight, a heavy load.” It refers to an excessive burden which needs the aid of others in contrast to “load” in verse 5, a different Greek word (see below).

Self Examination versus Condemnation (6:4-5): The remedy for self-conceit is found in verse 4. Here we are told to “examine” our own work or actions. “Examine” is dokimazo (dokimavzw), “to test with a view to approval.”

This means that rather than comparing himself with others he should step back and take an objective look at himself and his accomplishments. Then he can take pride in himself over what God has done in and through his life (cf. Rom. 12:3). The Greek word kauchema rendered “pride,” means personal exultation, not sinful pride.24

Regarding verse 5, Donald Campbell writes:

The Christian does in fact test himself by carrying his own load. This does not contradict verse 2 because the reference there is to heavy, crushing, loads (bare)—more than a man could carry without help. In this verse a different Greek word (phortion) is used to designate the pack usually carried by a marching soldier. It is the “burden” Jesus assigns to His followers (cf. Matt. 11:30). There are certain Christian responsibilities or burdens each believer must bear which cannot be shared with others. Jesus assured His disciples that such burdens were light.25

Verses Promoting
the Good of the Body of Christ

Command 7: Seek After That Which is Good for One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.

In the context, this injunction follows several positive illustrations and one negative. The general principle is to set aside our rights in order to do that which will promote the good of others. Note this can include admonishing the unruly, but it must be done for their edification.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Command 8: Be Honest With One Another

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Honesty stands opposed to hypocrisy and the cover ups we all tend to hide behind in our relationships with others. Dishonesty can steal not only time and material things from others, but it can rob others of the truth and the honesty that is so vital to good human relationships that truly benefit each other.

Command 9: Show Hospitality to One Another

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

The emphasis in this passage is reaching out to others. It includes being warm and hospitable to others such as visitors at church, having people in our homes, and promoting fellowship among believers. However, in New Testament times it primarily referred to helping suffering believers such as those in Hebrews 13:1-3; 10:32-34, and meant opening up their homes to those in need.

Command 10: Greet One Another with a Holy Kiss

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

This command is found four times in the New Testament (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Pet. 5:14). “Greet” is aspazomai (aspavzomai) which meant “to greet or to welcome,” but the basic and original idea seemed to be “to embrace.”26 So it came to be used of the embrace of greeting, welcome, or even parting.

As used in the New Testament epistles it was a sign of love, affection, and genuine interest in others. Often today our greetings are empty, superficial, or to gain points for ego purposes (Mark 12:38). Greeting one another warmly and genuinely is supra-cultural, going beyond the cultural patterns. “With a holy kiss,” is cultural and will change with the culture, time or area as we see in European countries today. In our culture, it would include a warm hand shake, an arm around the shoulder, or a hug.

Verses Promoting
Unity and Peace in the Body of Christ

Command 11: Be at Peace With One Another

Mark 9:50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:13b … Live in peace with one another.

Peace is more than the absence of war or a state of tranquillity. For the Christian community it expresses the harmonious and unified relationship of a body of people working together as a servant people in the kingdom of God for the purposes of God. It looks at a spiritual condition and attitude which is the product of commitment to God and out of that, commitment to people.

Command 12: Be Devoted to One Another in Brotherly Love

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

“Devoted” is philostorgos (filovstorgo”) which refers to family affection. It stresses how we should be devoted to and love one another because we are family, children of God through faith in Christ and the new birth.

Command 13: Give Preference to One Another in Honor

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;

In Romans 12:10, “honor” is time, “a valuing.” It involved placing a value on something so that it came to have our honor and respect. “Give preference” is literally, “to go before as a leader, lead the way.” The idea is that of leading the way in showing honor and respect. We must learn to give one another the priority in honor. Many of the problems which disrupt peace and unity and thus the mission and effectiveness of the church concern rights and privileges, places and prestige. Perhaps Philippians 2:3-4 is the perfect commentary on the meaning of this verse.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4).

Command 14: Clothe Yourselves with Humility Toward One Another; and be Subject to One Another

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

These two verses go with each other like root and fruit or cause and effect and are tightly related to giving preference in honor. Humility is a result of orientation to God’s grace which protects us from pride and the typical ego tactics which kill unity and peace. Humility is a mental attitude that allows and causes us to surrender our rights and submit ourselves to the needs and interests of others. Humility is never self-depreciation, like, “ah shucks, it weren’t nothin” attitude, but an awareness of who we are and what we are by the grace of God:

  • that we are accepted in the beloved through the merit of Christ,
  • that we are children of God who belong to God’s family, and
  • made capable for God’s calling on our lives by His resources and creativity, never ours, though He may use our God-given talents which we are to use in His strength, never our own.

Humility also means recognizing the value of others with the ability to appreciate them and their contribution to the body of Christ.

Command 15: Show Forbearance Toward One Another

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

“Forbearance” is anecho (anevcw) literally “to hold up.” It contained the idea of “to endure, to bear with, put up with,” either in relation to conditions or people. It was sometimes used in the sense of listening to someone, but really hearing what they are saying.

The context of Ephesians 4:2 points to four spiritual qualities needed to forbear with one another, humility, meekness (bridled strength, strength under control), patience (knowing that God is not through with the other person just as He is not through with me), and love (a work of the Word and the Spirit). Quite obviously this One Another injunction is aimed at protecting and promoting unity, peace, ministry, and building up of the body of Christ, also suggested by the context (4:3, 13-16).

We tend to be provoked by others who do not cater to our whims or even our ideas or convictions because we cling to our rights and desires rather than the well being of others. When we become provoked, we are in danger of hurting others and the peace of the body of Christ.

Command 16: Accept One Another

Romans 15:7 Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

This injunction is given in a context dealing with doubtful things or the taboos of a society. This means things that a segment of society may condemn but Scripture may not such as eating meat sacrificed in the heathen temples, observing certain days, or drinking wine (cf. Rom. 14:5-6, 21).

When believers, for whatever reason, have different opinions or beliefs concerning such things, they tend to become critical of those who do not believe as they do. This is true of both sides—those who observe or abstain and those who believe they have liberty to do as they please. The tendency is to reject one another which causes divisions.

See Addendum for a summary of the five types of believers.

Command 17: Be Kind to One Another, Tenderhearted, Forgiving One Another

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

“Be kind” (chrestos [crhstov”] fundamentally denotes the idea of “fitting, serviceable, good.” This means doing whatever is beneficial and benevolent to others (cf. Eph. 4:29). “Tender hearted” means “compassionate, having inner emotions of affection.” “Forgiving” is charizomai (carivzomai) from charis (cari”) “grace.” It means acting in grace toward one another, treating others as Christ treats us. When we fail to forgive others, it means we are acting on a works basis and accepting others on the basis of their record. This hinders peace and unity in the body and in turn hinders the body’s capacity to minister to a hurting world with the love and grace of Christ.

Verses Promoting
Ministry and the Function of the Body of Christ

Command 18: Serve One Another

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Ministry is the ultimate act of love and humility. It is that which promotes peace in the body of Christ. Christ came not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom for many. The ransom of His life was given to bring peace—peace with God and peace among men. He is the Peacemaker, but this He did by giving His life in ministry culminating in the cross. Even now, He is ministering to and for us at God’s right hand as He acts as our Advocate and Intercessor. Thus, the One Another injunctions call us to be servants who follow in His steps.

As good stewards of God’s grace, we are to employ our gifts in serving one another. Thank God, He has not left us to our own resources, but rather has enabled us to serve Him and one another through the power of the Spirit and through the gifts He gives to every believer in Christ. The emphasis is on being faithful to our stewardship.

Command 19: Live and Work as Members of One Another

Romans 12:4-8 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (emphasis mine). 6 And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

We are to live and work as members of one another using our gift(s) for the benefit of the body. These verses stress the same principle as above, but add the fact of our relationship together as members of the same body as a point of explanation and motivation. As the members of our human bodies work together to promote the general well being and ability of the entire body, so we are to minister to one another by discovering, developing, and using our gifts.

Conclusion

Just as musk oxen join forces to ward off an attack by the wolves of the arctic, so we must learn to face the various deceptive, disruptive, and savage wolves that Satan uses to attack us. We desperately need the protective ministry of the body of Christ working together by loving and caring for one another.

  • Are you committed to the One Another principle?
  • If not, will you commit yourself to becoming a One Another believer?
  • Make a list of the One Another verses and review them periodically as a reminder.
  • Ask God to make you sensitive to those around you and to enable you to apply these verses in your life in growing in your commitment to care for one another.
  • When faced with attitudes and feelings that hinder care and concern for others, replace them with a commitment to minister to others.

12 Gene A Getz, Building Up One Another, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1976, pp. 110-111.

13 Getz, p. 112.

14 Getz, p. 52.

15 Hermann Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek, T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, p. 441, 442.

16 Getz, p. 53.

17 Getz, p. 54.

18 For other material related to this subject, see Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company; Gene Getz, Building Up One Another, Victor Books; and Larry Crabb and Dan Allender, Encouragement, Zondervan.

19 Crabb/Allender, Encouragement, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1984, p. 10.

20 Crabb/Allender, p. 14.

21 Crabb/Allender, p. 11.

22 James M. Boice, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Vol. 10, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 501.

23 Donald K. Campbell, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT Edition, John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, editors, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1983, p. 609.

24 Ibid., p. 609.

25 Ibid., p. 610.

26 Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. I, p. 497.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Fellowship