Finding the Key to Brotherly Affection
“Supply to your . . . godly devotion brotherly affection.”—2 PETER 1:5-7.
1. What is one of the main reasons why gatherings of Jehovah’s people are such happy occasions?
ONCE a physician who was not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses attended his daughter’s graduation from the Watch Tower Bible School of Gilead, where she had received missionary training. He was so impressed with the happy throng that he opined that there must be very little sickness among these people. What made that throng so happy? For that matter, what makes all gatherings of Jehovah’s people, in congregations, at circuit assemblies, and at district conventions, happy occasions? Is it not the brotherly affection they display toward one another? Without a doubt, brotherly affection is one reason why it has been said that no other religious group gets as much enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction out of religion as do Jehovah’s Witnesses.
2, 3. What two Greek words deal with how we should feel about one another, and what are their distinctive characteristics?
2 We should expect to see such brotherly affection in view of the apostle Peter’s words at 1 Peter 1:22: “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth with unhypocritical brotherly affection as the result, love one another intensely from the heart.” One of the basic elements of the Greek word here rendered “brotherly affection” is phi·liʹa (affection). Its meaning is closely related to the meaning of a·gaʹpe, the word usually translated “love.” (1 John 4:8) While brotherly affection and love are often used interchangeably, they have specific characteristics. We should not confuse them with each other, as so many translators of the Bible do. (In this article and in the one that follows, we will treat each of these words.)
3 Regarding the difference between these two Greek words, one scholar noted that phi·liʹa is “definitely a word of warmth and closeness and affection.” On the other hand, a·gaʹpe has more to do with the mind. Thus while we are told to love (a·gaʹpe) our enemies, we do not have affection for them. Why not? Because “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Further indicating that there is a difference are the words of the apostle Peter: “Supply to your . . . brotherly affection love.”—2 Peter 1:5-7; compare John 21:15-17.*
Examples of Very Special Brotherly Affection
4. Why did Jesus and John have special affection for each other?
4 God’s Word gives us a number of fine examples of very special brotherly affection. This special affection is not the result of some whim but is based on appreciation of outstanding qualities. Doubtless the best-known example is that of the affection Jesus Christ had for the apostle John. Without question, Jesus had brotherly affection for all his faithful apostles, and that for good reason. (Luke 22:28) One way he showed this was by washing their feet, thereby giving them a lesson in humility. (John 13:3-16) But Jesus had a special affection for John, which John repeatedly mentions. (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2) Even as Jesus had reason to display affection for his disciples and his apostles, John most likely gave Jesus reason to have special affection for him because of his deeper appreciation for Jesus. We can see this from John’s writings, both his Gospel and his inspired letters. How often he mentions love in those writings! John’s greater appreciation for Jesus’ spiritual qualities is seen in what he wrote in John chapters 1 and 13 to 17, as well as by the repeated references he makes to Jesus’ prehuman existence.—John 1:1-3; 3:13; 6:38, 42, 58; 17:5; 18:37.
5. What can be said about the special affection Paul and Timothy had for each other?
5 Similarly, we would not want to overlook the very special brotherly affection that the apostle Paul and his Christian companion Timothy had for each other, which was, certainly, based on appreciating each other’s qualities. Paul’s writings contain fine comments about Timothy, such as: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. . . . You know the proof he gave of himself, that like a child with a father he slaved with me in furtherance of the good news.” (Philippians 2:20-22) Many are the personal references in his letters to Timothy that reveal Paul’s warm affection for Timothy. For example, note 1 Timothy 6:20: “O Timothy, guard what is laid up in trust with you.” (See also 1 Timothy 4:12-16; 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15.) In particular does a comparison of Paul’s letters to Timothy with his letter to Titus underscore Paul’s special affection for this young man. Timothy must have felt the same way about their friendship, as can be noted from Paul’s words at 2 Timothy 1:3, 4: “I never leave off remembering you in my supplications, . . . longing to see you, as I remember your tears, that I may get filled with joy.”
6, 7. What feeling did David and Jonathan have for each other, and why?
6 The Hebrew Scriptures also provide fine examples, such as that of David and Jonathan. We read that after David killed Goliath, “Jonathan’s very soul became bound up with the soul of David, and Jonathan began to love him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1) Appreciation for David’s example of zeal for Jehovah’s name and his fearlessness in going forth to meet the giant Goliath no doubt caused Jonathan to have special affection for David.
7 Jonathan had such affection for David that he risked his own life in defending David from King Saul. At no time did Jonathan resent David’s being chosen by Jehovah to be the next king of Israel. (1 Samuel 23:17) David had equally deep affection for Jonathan, which is evident from what he said when mourning Jonathan’s death: “I am distressed over you, my brother Jonathan, very pleasant you were to me. More wonderful was your love to me than the love from women.” Truly, keen appreciation marked their relationship.—2 Samuel 1:26.
8. What two women manifested special affection for each other, and why?
8 We also have a fine example in the Hebrew Scriptures of special affection on the part of two women, Naomi and her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth. Recall Ruth’s words to Naomi: “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you; for where you go I shall go, and where you spend the night I shall spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Must we not conclude that Naomi, by her conduct and her speaking of Jehovah, helped to evoke this appreciative response on the part of Ruth?—Compare Luke 6:40.
The Apostle Paul’s Example
9. What shows that Paul was exemplary as to brotherly affection?
9 As we have seen, the apostle Paul had very special brotherly affection for Timothy. But he also set a marvelous example of expressing warm brotherly affection for his brothers in general. He told the elders from Ephesus that “for three years, night and day, [he] did not quit admonishing each one with tears.” Warm brotherly affection? No question about it! And they felt the same way about Paul. Upon hearing that they would see him no more, “quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they fell upon Paul’s neck and tenderly kissed him.” (Acts 20:31, 37) Brotherly affection based on appreciation? Yes! His brotherly affection is also seen from his words at 2 Corinthians 6:11-13: “Our mouth has been opened to you, Corinthians, our heart has widened out. You are not cramped for room within us, but you are cramped for room in your own tender affections. So, as a recompense in return—I speak as to children—you, too, widen out.”
10. What lack of brotherly affection led to Paul’s relating his trials in 2 Corinthians chapter 11?
10 Clearly, many of the Corinthians were lacking in appreciative brotherly affection for the apostle Paul. Thus, some of them complained: “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his presence in person is weak and his speech contemptible.” (2 Corinthians 10:10) That is why Paul referred to their “superfine apostles” and was driven to tell of the trials he had endured, as recorded at 2 Corinthians 11:5, 22-33.
11. What testimony is there regarding Paul’s affection for the Christians in Thessalonica?
11 Paul’s warm affection for those he ministered to is especially evident from his words at 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” In fact, he had such affection for these new brothers that when he could stand it no longer—so eager was he to know how they were enduring persecution—he sent Timothy, who gave a good report that greatly refreshed Paul. (1 Thessalonians 3:1, 2, 6, 7) Well does Insight on the Scriptures observe: “A close bond of brotherly affection existed between Paul and those to whom he ministered.”
Appreciation—The Key to Brotherly Affection
12. What reasons are there for our showing warm affection for our brothers?
12 Indubitably, the key to brotherly affection is appreciation. Do not all dedicated servants of Jehovah have qualities that we appreciate, that elicit our affection, making us fond of them? All of us are seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. All of us are putting up a valiant fight against our three common foes: Satan and his demons, the wicked world under Satan’s control, and the inherited selfish tendencies of the fallen flesh. Should we not always take the position that our brothers are doing their best in view of the circumstances? Everybody in the world is either on Jehovah’s side or on Satan’s side. Our dedicated brothers and sisters are on Jehovah’s side, yes, our side, and therefore merit our brotherly affection.
13. Why should we have warm affection for the elders?
13 What about appreciating our elders? Should we not have a warm spot in our hearts for them in view of the way they labor hard in the interests of the congregation? Like all of us, they have to provide for themselves and their families. They also have the same obligations as the rest of us to do personal study, attend congregation meetings, and share in the field ministry. In addition, they have the obligation to prepare program parts for the meetings, give public talks, and care for problems that come up in the congregation, which at times involve hours of judicial hearings. Truly, we want to “keep holding men of that sort dear.”—Philippians 2:29.
Giving Expression to Brotherly Affection
14. What scriptures enjoin us to show brotherly affection?
14 To please Jehovah, we must express the warm feeling of brotherly affection for our fellow believers, even as Jesus Christ and Paul did. We read: “In [brotherly affection] have tender affection for one another.” (Romans 12:10, Kingdom Interlinear) “With reference to [brotherly affection], you do not need us to be writing you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9, Int) “Let your [brotherly affection] continue.” (Hebrews 13:1, Int) Surely our heavenly Father is pleased when we show brotherly affection for his earthly children!
15. What are some ways to express brotherly affection?
15 In apostolic times Christians were wont to greet one another with “a holy kiss” or “a kiss of love.” (Romans 16:16; 1 Peter 5:14) Truly an expression of brotherly affection! Today, in most parts of the earth, a more appropriate expression would be a sincerely friendly smile and a firm handshake. In Latin lands, such as Mexico, there is the greeting in the form of a hug, truly an expression of affection. This warm affection on the part of these brothers might help to account for the great increases taking place in their lands.
16. What opportunities do we have to show brotherly affection at our Kingdom Halls?
16 When we enter the Kingdom Hall, do we go out of our way to express brotherly affection? It will cause us to have encouraging words to say, especially to those who seem to be depressed. We are told to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) That certainly is one way in which we can communicate the warmth of brotherly affection. Another fine way is to express appreciation for a fine public talk, a program part handled well, the good effort put forth by a student speaker in the Theocratic Ministry School, and so forth.
17. How did one elder gain the affection of the congregation?
17 How about inviting various ones to our homes for a meal or perhaps a snack after a meeting if it is not too late? Should we not let Jesus’ counsel at Luke 14:12-14 govern? Once a former missionary was appointed as presiding overseer in a congregation where all others were of a different race. He sensed a lack of brotherly affection, so he set about to remedy the situation. How? Sunday after Sunday, he invited a different family for a meal. By the end of a year, all were manifesting warm brotherly affection toward him.
18. How can we show brotherly affection for our sick brothers and sisters?
18 When a brother or a sister is sick, at home or in a hospital, brotherly affection will cause us to let that one know we care. Or how about those living in nursing homes? Why not make a personal visit, make a phone call, or send a card expressing warm sentiments?
19, 20. How can we show that our brotherly affection has widened out?
19 When giving such expressions of brotherly affection, we can ask ourselves, ‘Is my brotherly affection partial? Do such factors as color of skin, education, or material possessions influence my manifestations of brotherly affection? Do I need to widen out in my brotherly affection, as the apostle Paul urged the Christians in Corinth to do?’ Brotherly affection will cause us to view our brothers positively, appreciating them for their good points. Brotherly affection will also help us to rejoice at our brother’s advancement instead of envying it.
20 Brotherly affection should also make us alert to help our brothers in the ministry. It should be as one of our songs (Number 92) puts it:
“Give kind assistance to all the weak,
So that with boldness they too can speak.
Never neglect those of tender years,
Help them grow strong and get rid of their fears.”
21. What response can we expect when we show brotherly affection?
21 So let us not forget that in expressing brotherly affection, the principle that Jesus stated in his Sermon on the Mount applies: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” (Luke 6:38) We benefit ourselves when we show brotherly affection, expressing esteem to those who are servants of Jehovah as we ourselves are. Truly happy are those who take delight in manifesting brotherly affection!
See the succeeding article: “Love (Agape)—What It Is Not and What It Is.”
Love (Agape)—What It Is Not and What It Is
1. (a) To what quality does the Bible give preeminence? (b) What four Greek words are often translated “love,” and which is the one referred to at 1 John 4:8?
IF THERE is one quality or virtue that God’s Word, the Bible, gives preeminence to, it is love. In Greek, the original language of the Christian Scriptures, there are four words often translated “love.” The love we are concerned with now is not that of eʹros (a word not found in the Christian Greek Scriptures), which is based on sexual attraction; nor is it that of stor·geʹ, a feeling based on blood relationship; nor is it phi·liʹa, warm friendship love based on mutual esteem, dealt with in the preceding article. Rather, it is a·gaʹpe—the love based on principle, which might be said to be synonymous with unselfishness, the love the apostle John referred to when he said: “God is love.”—1 John 4:8.
2. What has well been said about love (a·gaʹpe)?
2 Concerning this love (a·gaʹpe), Professor William Barclay in his New Testament Words says: “Agapē has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts [as may be the case with phi·liʹa]; it is a principle by which we deliberately live. Agapē has supremely to do with the will. It is a conquest, a victory, and achievement. No one ever naturally loved his enemies. To love one’s enemies is a conquest of all our natural inclinations and emotions. This agapē . . . is in fact the power to love the unlovable, to love people whom we do not like.”
3. What emphasis did Jesus Christ and Paul place on love?
3 Yes, among the things that differentiate the pure worship of Jehovah God from all other forms of worship is its emphasis on this kind of love. Rightly did Jesus Christ state the two greatest commandments: “The first is, . . . ‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31) The apostle Paul put the same emphasis on love in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. After stressing that love was the premier indispensable quality, he concluded by saying: “Now, however, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Jesus rightly said that love would be the identifying mark of his followers.—John 13:35.
Things That Love Is Not
4. How many negative and how many positive aspects of love does Paul mention at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8?
4 The point has been made that it is easier to tell what love is not than to tell what it is. There is some truth in that, for the apostle Paul in his chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, in 1Co 13 verses 4 to 8, mentions nine things that love is not and seven things that it is.
5. How is “jealousy” defined, and how is it used in a positive sense in the Scriptures?
5 The first thing Paul says that love is not is that it “is not jealous.” That requires a little explaining because there are positive and negative aspects of jealousy. A dictionary defines “jealous” as “intolerant of rivalry” and as “exacting exclusive devotion.” Thus, Moses stated at Exodus 34:14: “You must not prostrate yourself to another god, because Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.” At Exodus 20:5, Jehovah says: “I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” In a similar vein, the apostle Paul wrote: “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.”—2 Corinthians 11:2.
6. What Scriptural examples show why love is not jealous?
6 However, by and large, “jealousy” has a bad connotation, for which reason it is listed with the works of the flesh at Galatians 5:20. Yes, such jealousy is selfish and spawns hate, and hate is the opposite of love. Jealousy caused Cain to hate Abel to the point of murdering him, and it caused Joseph’s ten half brothers to hate him to the point of wanting to do away with him. Love does not jealously begrudge others their possessions or advantages, as King Ahab jealously begrudged Naboth his vineyard.—1 Kings 21:1-19.
7. (a) What incident shows that Jehovah is displeased with bragging? (b) Why does love not brag even thoughtlessly?
7 Paul next tells us that love “does not brag.” Bragging betrays a lack of love, for it causes one to place oneself in a position above that of others. Jehovah is displeased with braggarts, as can be seen from the way he humbled King Nebuchadnezzar when he bragged. (Daniel 4:30-35) Bragging is often done thoughtlessly because of being overly pleased with one’s own attainments or possessions. Some may be prone to boast about their success in the Christian ministry. Others are like the elder who just had to phone his friends to tell them of his having bought a new automobile worth almost $50,000. All such is unloving because it presents the braggart as superior to his listeners.
8. (a) What is Jehovah’s attitude toward those who are puffed up? (b) Why does love not behave that way?
8 Then we are told that love “does not get puffed up.” One who is puffed up, or haughty, unlovingly exalts himself above others. Such a mental attitude is most unwise because “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (James 4:6) Love acts in just the opposite way; it considers others to be superior. Paul wrote at Philippians 2:2, 3: “Make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind, doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you.” Such a mental attitude makes others feel comfortable, while the haughty person because of contentiousness makes others feel uncomfortable.
9. Why does love not act indecently?
9 Paul further says that love “does not behave indecently.” The dictionary defines “indecent” as “grossly unseemly or offensive to manners or morals.” One who behaves indecently (unlovingly) disregards others’ feelings. Many Bible versions translate the Greek as “rude.” Such a one flouts what is considered proper and in good taste. Certainly, loving consideration for others would mean avoiding all things that are rude or indecent, things that offend and may even shock.
Other Things Love Is Not
10. In what way does love not look for its own interests?
10 Next we are told that love “does not look for its own interests,” that is, when there is a question of our personal interests and those of others. The apostle states elsewhere: “No man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it.” (Ephesians 5:29) When, though, our interests compete with another’s interests and no other Bible principles are involved, we should do as Abraham did with Lot, lovingly let the other person have the preference.—Genesis 13:8-11.
11. That love does not get provoked means what?
11 Love also does not quickly take offense. So Paul tells us that love “does not become provoked.” It is not thin-skinned. It exercises self-control. Especially should married folk take to heart this admonition by guarding against raising their voices impatiently or shouting at each other. There are circumstances when it is easy to get provoked, for which reason Paul felt the need to counsel Timothy: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil”—yes, does not get provoked—“instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed.”—2 Timothy 2:24, 25.
12. (a) In what way does love not keep account of the injury? (b) Why is it unwise to keep account of an injury?
12 Continuing with things that love is not, Paul counsels: “Love . . . does not keep account of the injury.” That does not mean that love takes no note of an injury. Jesus showed how we are to handle matters when we have been seriously injured. (Matthew 18:15-17) But love does not allow us to continue to be resentful, to harbor grudges. Not to keep account of an injury means to be forgiving and to forget about it once the matter has been handled in a Scriptural way. Yes, do not torment yourself or make yourself miserable by going over and over a wrong, keeping account of an injury!
13. What does it mean not to rejoice over unrighteousness, and why does love not do that?
13 Moreover, we are told that love “does not rejoice over unrighteousness.” The world rejoices over unrighteousness, as can be seen by the popularity of violent and pornographic literature, films, and TV programs. All such rejoicing is selfish, having no regard for God’s righteous principles or the welfare of others. All such selfish rejoicing is sowing to the flesh and in due time will reap corruption from the flesh.—Galatians 6:8.
14. Why can it be said confidently that love never fails?
14 Now the final thing that love does not do: “Love never fails.” For one thing, love never fails or ends because God is love, and he is “the King of eternity.” (1 Timothy 1:17) At Romans 8:38, 39, we are assured that Jehovah’s love for us will never fail: “I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Also, love never fails in that it is never found wanting. Love is equal to any occasion, to any challenge.
Things That Love Is
15. Why does Paul list long-suffering first among the positive aspects of love?
15 Coming now to the positive side, the things that love is, Paul begins: “Love is long-suffering.” It has been said that there can be no such thing as Christian fellowship without long-suffering, that is, without patiently putting up with one another. That is so because all of us are imperfect, and our imperfections and shortcomings try others. No wonder the apostle Paul lists this aspect first as to what love is!
16. In what ways can members of a family show kindness to one another?
16 Paul states that love is also “kind.” That is, love is helpful, thoughtful, considerate of others. Kindness manifests itself in things big and little. The neighborly Samaritan was certainly showing kindness to the man waylaid by robbers. (Luke 10:30-37) Love delights in saying “please.” To say, “Pass the bread” is a command. To preface that with “please” makes it a request. Husbands are kind to their wives when they heed the counsel at 1 Peter 3:7: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” Wives are kind to their husbands when they show them “deep respect.” (Ephesians 5:33) Fathers are kind to their children when they follow the counsel at Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”
17. What are two ways in which love rejoices with the truth?
17 Love does not rejoice over unrighteousness but “rejoices with the truth.” Love and truth go hand in hand—God is love, and at the same time, he is “the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5) Love rejoices at seeing truth triumph over and expose falsehood; this accounts in part for the great increase taking place in the number of Jehovah’s worshipers today. However, since truth is contrasted with unrighteousness, the thought may also be that love rejoices with righteousness. Love rejoices at the triumph of righteousness, as Jehovah’s worshipers are commanded to do at the fall of Babylon the Great.—Revelation 18:20.
18. In what sense does love bear all things?
18 Paul also tells us that love “bears all things.” As the Kingdom Interlinear shows, the thought is that love covers over all things. It does not “give away a fault” of a brother, as the wicked are prone to do. (Psalm 50:20; Proverbs 10:12; 17:9) Yes, the thought here is the same as at 1 Peter 4:8: “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Of course, loyalty would keep one from covering over gross sins against Jehovah and against the Christian congregation.
19. In what way does love believe all things?
19 Love “believes all things.” Love is positive, not negative. This does not mean that love is gullible. It is not quick to believe sensational statements. But for one to come to have faith in God, one must have the will to believe. So love is not skeptical, unduly critical. It does not resist believing as does the atheist, who dogmatically states that there is no God, nor is it like the agnostic, who dogmatically asserts that it is simply impossible to know where we came from, why we are here, and what the future will be like. God’s Word gives us assurance in regard to all these things. Love is also ready to believe because it is trusting, not being unduly suspicious.
20. How is love connected with hope?
20 The apostle Paul assures us further that love “hopes all things.” Since love is positive, not negative, it has strong hope in all that is promised in God’s Word. We are told: “The man who plows ought to plow in hope and the man who threshes ought to do so in hope of being a partaker.” (1 Corinthians 9:10) Even as love is trustful, it is also hopeful, always hoping for the best.
21. What Scriptural assurance is there that love endures?
21 Finally, we are assured that love “endures all things.” It is able to do so because of what the apostle Paul tells us at 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” Love will cause us to look to the many examples in the Scriptures of God’s servants who have endured, chief of whom is Jesus Christ, as we are reminded at Hebrews 12:2, 3.
22. As children of God, what preeminent quality must we always be concerned with manifesting?
22 Truly, love (a·gaʹpe) is the preeminent quality that we as Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, need to cultivate, both as to what it is not and as to what it is. As children of God, may we always be concerned with manifesting this fruit of God’s spirit. To do so is to be godlike, for, remember, “God is love.”