Vol.IV No.IV Pg.7
May 1967

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Br. Turner:

Who is my "brother"? Have we not placed too narrow a concept upon this word". When the ruler asked the question it seems Christ placed a very wide definition before him. WM


The ruler asked, "Who is my neighbor?" -- in an attempt to justify himself. (Lu. 10:29) We should use great care lest, in an effort to justify some of our own loose concepts, we broaden or lose "where God has not loosed."

"Brother" is strictly speaking, "a male considered in his relation to another having the same parents." The word then has many figurative uses, but the idea of close "family type" relation persists, even when no actual blood relations exists. Ananias called Saul ".brother" (Acts 9:17) referring to Jewish relation. This explains some more general uses of the word by Jesus in His personal ministry. Even when we mean only "brother in Adam" i.e., our "fellow-man", or speak of "brotherly love"; the idea expressed is that of closeness.

When "brother" is used to designate a fellow-Christian, the family figure is strong, and clearly distinguishes those "born of water and the Spirit" from those outside the body of Christ. A man of the world may be a fornicator, and a "brother" may be a fornicator-- but 1 Cor. 5:9-11 makes a distinction between them. We may have to "note ...and have no company with" a fellowsaint who errs; but Paul says "count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." Common parentage ("born of God") makes for a relation closer and different from the broad "brother in Adam" concept. (2 Thes. 3:11-15) A Christian is to "do good unto all" but "especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal. 6:10, emphasis mine, rt.)

A man (or woman) is not my brother in Christ until he or she-- and I-have received the will of God in honest hearts, are thus begotten with the same "seed" (Jas. 1:18) and born into the same family, the body of Christ, His church. (1 Cor. 12:12-13;; Eph. 1:22-23;;2:13,16,19;;3:14-15) My "brethren" are more than "truth seekers"-- although such seeking must continue to characterize their attitude; they have become "truth finders" and "truth obeyers" in those things necessary to bring us into Christ.

The "brotherhood" (1 Pet. 2:17) is as broad as the family of God, and no broader. It is made up of all who have known Christ in the forgiveness of sins-- who have believed in Him, repented of their past sins, and have been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:36-41) It is true that "we" sometimes sectarianize "our" brotherhood; limiting it by metes and bounds of our own making. "We" may require one of "our" preachers do the baptizing, or "treat as an enemy" a brother with whom we disagree. "We" may turn "brotherhood" into "churchhood"-- supposing it to be some organization of churches. But my errors, or "our" errors, do not alter the N.T. definition of "brother" in Christ-- making it neither broader nor more narrow than the Lord made it.

Let God Be True, But Every Man A Liar.