10 Key Bible Verses on Brotherly Love

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

All commentary notes adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1. Romans 12:9–10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Read More

The second half of chapter 12 is a description of the life that is pleasing to God. Not surprisingly, love heads the list, for all that Paul says is embraced by the call to love (see note on John 13:34–35). genuine. Love cannot be reduced to sentimentalism.

2. Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Read More

The instruction and warning of Lev. 19:17 is developed in a heightened way. you shall love your neighbor as yourself. To love one’s neighbor as oneself is a fundamental principle of the Torah, God’s law. Both Jesus and Paul teach that it is a foundational tenet for how believers are to treat one another (Matt. 22:39–40; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14), while James calls this the “royal law” (James 2:8). In Matt. 5:43, Jesus cites a distortion of this rule in order to restore the rule to its rightful place.

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3. Mark 12:30–31

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Read More

A teachable scribe (a theological scholar, probably of the Pharisaic faction) holds a friendly dialogue with Jesus. He asks which commandment of God is of fundamental importance and central to everything else. Jesus answers directly: the most important commandment, introduced by Deut. 6:4, is to love the Lord your God completely (Deut. 6:5; cf. notes on Matt. 22:37–38 and Luke 10:27). Second to this is to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18, 34). The faithful, covenant-keeping God asks the objects of his love to love him and other human beings too (Rom. 13:8–10; Gal. 5:14; 1 John 4:10–11, 19).

4. 1 Peter 1:22

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. Read More

Peter’s call for his readers to love one another is grounded in their conversion, which occurred when they were obedient to the truth (i.e., the gospel) and therefore were purified and cleansed.

5. John 13:34–35

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. Read More

Love must be the distinguishing mark of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ “new command” takes its point of departure from the Mosaic commands to love the Lord with all one’s powers and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev. 19:18; cf. Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:28–33), but Jesus’ own love and teaching deepen and transform these commands. Jesus even taught love for one’s enemies (Matt. 5:43–48). The command to love one’s neighbor was not new; the newness was found in loving one another as Jesus had loved his disciples (cf. John 13:1; 15:13). In light of Jesus’ subsequent death, just as implies a love that is even willing to lay down one’s life for another (see John 15:13).

6. 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. Read More

taught by God to love one another. Jeremiah 31:33–34 prophesied that God would write his law on the hearts of his people and directly teach them as part of the new covenant. Christians already know this reality (1 John 2:27): by love they fulfill the law (Rom. 13:8–10; cf. Lev. 19:18; John 13:34).

7. Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Read More

Where the wicked are described as concealing violence (Prov. 10:6b, 11b) or hatred (Prov. 10:12a, 18a) and thus deceiving others for their own sinful purposes, the one who is wise seeks the good of others even when he or she is the offended party: love covers (the same Hb. verb, kasah, is translated as “conceal” in Prov. 6b, 11b, 18a) all offenses. Cf. the similar instruction in Matt. 5:44; James 5:20; 1 Pet. 4:8.

8. Ephesians 4:1–2

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. Read More

Humility was regarded as distasteful by the pagan world of Paul’s day. Pride was more highly prized. All of the virtues mentioned—humility, gentleness, patience, and most of all, love—were displayed in Christ’s own character and are to be evident in the daily walk of every Christian.

9. Philippians 2:1–2

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Read More

Paul is not doubting that encouragement, participation in the Spirit, affection, and sympathy are realities in Christ and are present in the congregation at Philippi. He uses a conditional sentence (if) to provoke the Philippians so that they will reflect on whether these qualities are evident in their lives. The Philippian believers must make sure they continue to progress in the absolutely critical area of love for one another. As Paul emphasizes, they must be of the same mind. This does not imply a drab intellectual uniformity; rather, the Philippians are to use their diverse gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) in an agreeable, cooperative spirit, with a focus on the glory of God.

10. Colossians 3:12–14

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Read More

Paul calls the Colossians to a holy lifestyle, consistent with their new identity. Believers have been chosen by God and stand before him as his beloved holy ones. They are to live up to what they are in Christ.

Above all else, Christians are called on to love one another (see 1 Corinthians 13). Binds ... together may suggest that love unites all the virtues.


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