Picture Frame First John Answers: “WHO IS MY BROTHER?” “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? — 1 John 4:20-5:5 NKJV
After hearing or reading the above verses, one is likely to ask, “But who do you mean by my brother?” Some people have an idea that our brethren are those who happen to belong to the same particular company with whom we associate. If I belong to one certain church, my brethren are those who go to that church. That is, if I am a Methodist, my brethren are Methodists; if I am a Presbyterian, my brethren are Presbyterians; if I am a certain Baptist, my brethren are the immersed, and perhaps not all the immersed, for some of them may have undergone immersion somewhere else; and so as they are not the particular ones with whom I associate, they are not my brethren! Our poor minds are inclined to narrow down the brotherhood to some special fellowship, some group of churches with which we are linked. But in this fifth chapter of John’s first epistle the Lord Himself gives the limits of the brotherhood when He says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.” The brethren include all in every place who have exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; because by this expression, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” we are not to understand a mere intellectual acceptance of the creedal fact that Christ is the Son of the living God, but rather a true, vital confidence – a personal faith in the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the anointed One of God. If you have faith in Him, you are born of God.

All who trust in Him enter into this relationship. It is not a question of with whom we may associate, or what church connection we may have; for after all there is only one great Assembly, the Body of Christ, which God Himself recognizes as His Church. We speak in a limited way with regard to church membership, for we think of a local fellowship; yet when the Word of God speaks of this, it means that vast company of which Christ is the glorified Head in heaven.

To that Church every believer belongs, every member of the family of God in this present age. And so as we ask, “Who is my brother?” we must look upon the whole Church of God and realize that our love must go out to them all.

This article is from H. A. Ironside’s Epistles Of John And Jude (Loizeaux Bros; New York, ’75) pp. 183-185. Used by permission.


In his first epistle John used the word love many times to teach readers the importance of love in the Christian’s walk. Some of them are listed below.

  • Keeping God’s Word is proof that we love God (2:5; 5:2-3).
  • When we love our brother, we will live without stumbling (2:10).
  • We are not to love the world or the things in the world (2:15).
  • We cannot love the world and love God also (2:15).
  • God’s love prompted Him to make us His children through His Son’s death (3:1; 4:9-11).
  • Loving other believers is a fundamental requirement of the Christian (3:11,16,23; 4:7,11-12).
  • Failure to love other Christians raises questions about our faith (3:10,14; 4:8,20).
  • Genuine love always results in action, not merely words (3:17-18).
  • God is the source of all love (4:7,16).
  • Mature love does not produce fear, it imparts courage (4:17-18).
  • Long before we loved God, He first loved us (4:19).

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website:


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