“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we Love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14, KJV). This verse reveals a mutually inclusive relationship between salvation and brotherly love.
In the verse, John uses the phrase being passed from death unto life. That’s just another term for the effect of salvation. Before we became saved, we were dead in our sins and trespasses. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we were translated from death to life. So we can paraphrase the verse as follows: we know we have been saved because we love the brethren. The one who does not love his brother is still not saved.
In the next verse, John is even more emphatic about the relationship between salvation and brotherly love: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal live abiding in him” (verse 15).
If we take verse 15 literally, any person who calls himself a Christian and who at the same time hates another true believer is not saved. That’s what that verse says if you take it literally.
But here is something we need to consider: the Scriptures acknowledge the fact that you and I are less than perfect—even after we become a Christian. Therefore, it is possible for a genuine Christian to get in the flesh and hate another person who is a Christian.
But if you are a true Christian, you will eventually repent of that hatred and become reconciled with your brother or sister. If you don’t repent and become reconciled; if you choose to remain in a mode of hatred toward your brother or sister; according to this verse 15, such a person is not saved.
The Importance of Brotherly Love in the Christian Church
Throughout this post, I have restricted our conversation to the actions of one believer toward another believer because that is the context of this passage—love the brethren. Of course, we should love everyone. But we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.
I believe it is vital for brotherly love to characterize the Christian church today. America today is so politically and racially divided. It seems as if the fires of discontent are burning everywhere. God forbid that unbelievers should come to the house of God and find the same kind of division and discontent there.
As the church, we have been called to be the light of the world. We should be the model for this world to follow. Brotherly love is one of the most potent weapons we have for impacting this world for the Kingdom of God. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” Jesus said (John 13:35).
Copyright © 2020 by Frank King. All rights reserved.