Get your Daily Encouragement with the Jesus Minute
We’ve covered the first six transformational action-steps Peter sets forth in the first chapter of his second letter:
TRUST IN JESUS-Faith!
TAKE A STAND TO ACT LIKE IT-Virtue!
GRASP JESUS AS YOUR OWN-Knowledge!
EXERCISE INNER STRENGTH-Self-control!
REFLECT GOD IN YOUR LIFESTYLE-Godliness!
We come now to the 7th action-step: BROTHERLY LOVE. Brotherly love is the word, Philadelphia. It’s a love of brother or sister-a family kind of love.
Agape love is the love that values and esteems. It’s an unselfish love, an unconditional love, ready to serve. Philadelphia or brotherly love is never the word that is used for loving God. It has a very unique and special, relational distinction. Brotherly love is the term for love in this passage: He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.” (John 14:21) Brotherly love conveys the thought of cherishing the object loved above all else. It’s a fond affection, characterized by constancy with the highest motives. It’s a true and loyal friendship kind of love.
Jesus uses both agape love and brotherly love in his well-known list of questions to Peter. He asks Peter three times: “Do you love me?”. The first two questions, Jesus uses the agape love in his questions and Peter answers with brotherly love, not agape. Here it is: So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (brotherly) You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you (agape) love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (brotherly) You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
On the third question, Jesus moves toward Peter’s level of understanding and switches from agape love to brotherly love. He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (brotherly) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (brotherly) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (brotherly) You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Peter was doing the best he could do in using brotherly love for his devotion to Jesus. Jesus didn’t criticize him at all. He moved to Peter’s choice of words and connected to Peter in the same way. Whatever the reason for this switch of terms, it’s clear to me that both Jesus and Peter were resonating with what Peter finds so important here in his list of action steps. It’s vital that you add brotherly love to your faith. The action-step? COMMIT TO A FEW LOVING FRIENDSHIPS. Don’t even think of living your life alone. Travel in the power of the few!