bruth'-er ('ach; adelphos = kin by birth, from the same parents or parent): Used extensively in both Old Testament and New Testament of other relations and relationships, and expanding under Christ's teaching to include the universal brotherhood of man. Chiefly employed in the natural sense, as of Cain and Abel (Ge 4:8); of Joseph and his brethren (Ge 42:3); of Peter and Andrew, of James and John (Mt 10:2). Of other relationships:
(1) Abram's nephew, Lot, is termed "brother" (Ge 14:14);
(2) Moses' fellow-countrymen are "brethren" (Ex 2:11; Ac 3:22; compare Heb 7:5);
(3) a member of the same tribe (2Sa 19:12);
(4) an ally (Am 1:9), or an allied or cognate people (Nu 20:14);
(5) used of common discipleship or the kinship of humanity (Mt 23:8);
(6) of moral likeness or kinship (Pr 18:9);
(7) of friends (Job 6:15);
(8) an equal in rank or office (1Ki 9:13);
(9) one of the same faith (Ac 11:29; 1Co 5:11);
(10) a favorite oriental metaphor used to express likeness or similarity (Job 30:29, "I am a brother to jackals");
(11) a fellow-priest or office-bearer (Ezr 3:2); Paul called Sosthenes "brother" (1Co 1:1) and Timothy his spiritual son and associate (2Co 1:1);
(12) a brother-man, any member of the human family (Mt 7:3-5; Heb 2:17; 8:11; 1 Joh 2:9; 4:20);
(13) signifies spiritual kinship (Mat 12:50);
(14) a term adopted by the early disciples and Christians to express their fraternal love for each other in Christ, and universally adopted as the language of love and brotherhood in His kingdom in all subsequent time (2Pe 3:15; Col 4:7,9,15).
The growing conception of mankind as a brotherhood is the outcome of this Christian view of believers as a household, a family (Eph 2:19; 3:15; compare Ac 17:26). Jesus has made "neighbor" equivalent to "brother," and the sense of fraternal affection and obligation essential to vital Christianity, and coextensive with the world. The rabbis distinguished between "brother" and "neighbor," applying "brother" to Israelites by blood, "neighbor" to proselytes, but allowing neither title to the Gentiles. Christ and the apostles gave the name "brother" to all Christians, and "neighbor" to all the world (1Co 5:11; Lu 10:29 ff). The missionary passion and aggressiveness of the Christian church is the natural product of this Christian conception of man's true relation to man.
See also FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
Dwight M. Pratt
© Levend Water