On Sunday I preached on Psalm 133, emphasizing how the local church is one body in Christ and individually members one of another (cf. Rom 12:5). While not using the words “one another,” Psalm 133 speaks of the family of God dwelling together in Christian unity. This is the foundation of all the one another commands.
We can’t begin to obey the Lord’s commands towards one another until we begin to see ourselves as united in Christ. But neither can we manage to love one another until we see what that love looks like. This Sunday we will consider John 13:34–35 and Jesus’ new commandment to love another.
To help you consider the content of the one anothers, I would suggest that “Love One Another” is the main command and that all others explicate this first and great command. While the New Testament lists three dozen one another commands, these are not 36 disparate injunctions. Rather, they are various but united manifestations of the love God pours out into our heart. They are the colorful streams of light that shine from the one prism of Christ’s love.
While each command deserves its own consideration, it is worth observing that the multitude of commands can be generally classified under five headings. In what follows I have listed each passage under one of these five headings. In the weeks ahead I hope to look at each passage individually.
- Love One Another
- Be at Peace with One Another
- Show Hospitality to One Another
- Do Good and Not Evil to One Another
- Edify One Another
Love One Another
“Love one another” is the mother command, from which all the others are born. It is the summary command; all the other one anothers delineate how we are to love one another. To put it figuratively, Jesus new commandment to love one another is the prism through which the light of God refracts into three dozen other commands. To understand Jesus’ new commandment, therefore, we must consider how it refracts into all the other one anothers, but first we must see all the places “love one another” is repeated.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12, 17
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. . . . These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
1 Thessalonians 3:12
and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
1 Peter 1:22–23
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1 John 3:11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11–12
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
2 John 5
And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
Be at Peace with One Another
Hostility, bitterness, and unforgiveness are all too common in our fallen world. What Christ gives us in the gospel, however, is grace to befriend our enemies, forgive our offenders, and bear with those who irritate us. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). Accordingly, he calls us to be at peace with one another, for this is a distinguishing mark of those who have received peace from him.
Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Show Hospitality to One Another
Hospitality is far more than just being polite or putting on a good party. As these verses demonstrate it includes honoring other believers, welcoming strangers, graciously waiting on those from a lower class, and considering others (whoever they are) more important than yourself. Hospitality is best demonstrated in the way Jesus makes a place for sinners in his father’s house. Having received such grace from him, we too are to extend that grace to others in intentional acts of hospitality.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 11:33
At the Lord’s Table, Paul said to the cantankerous Corinthians, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—
1 Corinthians 12:25
In the body of Christ, Paul again advocates unity. He stresses the honorable parts of the body give honor to the less honorable, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another”
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
1 Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
**Greet One another with a Holy Kiss**
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” is a special subset of showing hospitality. Originating perhaps with Aaron and Moses greeting in Exodus 4:27, this repeated command calls for a pure expression of physical touch which expresses care and compassion. (For more on this idea, see Zack Eswine, Sensing Jesus, 181–94).
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
1 Corinthians 16:20
All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Corinthians 13:12–13
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
1 Peter 5:14
Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Do Good and Not Evil to One Another
There are a number of passages which call us to do good to one another and to avoid evil. More than just being at peace, we are called to consider the needs of those around us and to be a blessing. At the same time, we are to crucify selfish tendencies that hurt other people.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Edify One Another
Very similar to doing good one to another, the idea of edification goes one step further. It includes instruction, spiritual encouragement, prayer and confession. Without drawing a hard and fast line between physical care and spiritual needs, edifying one another focuses, as Romans 1:12 says, on encouraging one another in the faith. In this way, prayer and fellowship around the Word of God are central for edifying one another.
that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. . . .
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds