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Sentence Sermons - Hebrews 13:1

Let Love of the Brethren Continue

The thirteenth chapter of Hebrews is a departure from the rest of the epistle.  Most of Hebrews is comprised of detailed explanations of the superiority of Christ and the new covenant over the Law of Moses, but the last chapter does not have the same characteristic of doctrinal discourse.  In fact, the first eight verses consist of what we may call “sentence sermons,” as each sentence gives a brief but potent direction without elaborate detail.

The first sentence sermon of Hebrews 13 is found in verse 1: “Let love of the brethren continue.”  The term translated here as “love of the brethren” in the original language is philadelphia, and it is also found in Romans 12:10, 1Thessalonians 4:9, 1Peter 1:22, and 2Peter 1:7.  Whereas the word agapao (translated as “love” or “charity”) indicates an active, goodwill type of love, the word phileo, one of the root words of philadelphia, denotes more of a tender, affectionate love.  While Christians should certainly practice goodwill toward one another in love (John 15:12; 1John 3:16-18), brotherly love indicates a warmness of love that is characteristic of family members toward one another.  This brotherly love is unique to those who through Christ have a relationship with God as His children and with one another as brethren.

Although the instruction “let love of the brethren continue” is brief, there are two implications that we can gather from it.  One implied message is that brotherly love among the Hebrew Christians was already in practice.  Evidence of their love for one another is found within the tenth chapter of Hebrews, where the text says that these Christians had shared harsh treatment with one another and had sympathy for those of their brethren who were imprisoned because of their faith (vv. 32-35).  Just as a family would rush to the aid of one of their own who was in trouble, so these Christians had cared for one another.

The other implied message that we can understand from this verse is that there was a threat that brotherly love might not continue.  Just as the entire epistle addresses the danger of the Hebrew Christians’ faith failing, it also addresses the danger of their love failing because their love for one another was founded in their “like precious faith” (2Pet. 1:1).  In fact, this danger was already being realized, for the text that we noticed above (Heb. 10:32) indicates that they had already declined in the kind of acts of faith and love that they had done after they had first believed.  Therefore, if love of the brethren was to continue, it would require a diligent and purposeful effort to continue in the faith.

The lesson for us today from this sentence sermon is the same as it was for the Hebrew Christians.  We are to be warmly loving of one another, for we too are brothers and sisters in the Lord’s family.  It is good if we have shown the evidence of our love for one another in the past, but we must continue to show that same love for one another in the present.  The key to the continuation of brotherly love is our faith in and love for Christ Jesus.  If we love the Lord as we should, then love of the brethren will come naturally.  As the apostle John wrote by inspiration, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God” (1John 4:7).

Next Sentence Sermon: Hebrews 13:2 – Show Hospitality

Stacey E. Durham

 




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