Q2: What are the “one another” commands in the Bible & where can I find them?
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Q2: What are the “one another” and “each other” commands in the Bible and where can I find them?
The “one another” commands in the Bible are imperatives given to disciples of Jesus specifically regarding how disciples are to treat other disciples. While a lot of attention is paid to how followers of Christ are to relate to the rest of the world, sometimes how we’re taught to relate to fellow Christians is foolishly overlooked.
In this article you will find what the Bible says specifically regarding how believers are expected to relate to and treat other believers. A spiritual community’s health can be gauged based upon how faithfully these “one another” and “each other” commands are being carried out (or not).
The primary “one another” command disciples are given regarding how to treat other disciples is Jesus’ command to “love one another”:
Love One Another
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you
17 This is my command: Love each other.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
1 Thessalonians 3:12
12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
1 Thessalonians 4:9
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
1 Peter 1:22
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Peter 4:8
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 John 3:11
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 3:23
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1 John 4:7
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11-12
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
2 John 1:5
5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
As you can see, the command to “love one another” is one that’s often repeated in the pages of the New Testament.
Furthermore, when Jesus initially states this as a “new command” in John 13, He specifically states in John 13:35 that through our love for one another the world will “know that you are my disciples”. In other words, the outside world will see something radically different in us when we’re faithful. Loving one another is key to our being a light in a dark world.
In addition to the command to “love one another”, there are a number of other “one another” commands in the New Testament. The rest of them can be thought of as an extension of Jesus’ first command that we must “love one another”.
When thought about in this way, the other “one another” commands paint a picture for us of what it looks like to “love one another” on a practical level in day to day life.
What does it look like when disciples of Jesus “love one another”?
First, love for fellow disciples will influence your attitudes toward one another:
1. Disciples are unified & accepting of one another.
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Peter 3:8
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
1 Corinthians 12:25
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
2. Disciples are forgiving toward one another.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
3. Disciples are affectionate toward one another (i.e. greet one another warmly).
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
1 Corinthians 16:20
20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Corinthians 13:12
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Peter 5:14a
14a Greet one another with a kiss of love.
- NOTE: A “holy kiss” involved a simple peck on each side of the face and was the normal form of greeting in the culture the first century church found herself in. The principle behind the command was to greet one another warmly and show affection for one another. While the practice may look different in our culture (i.e. a warm handshake and smile or a hug), the principle remains the same: we’re to be affectionate toward and greet one another warmly.
4. Disciples are patient with one another.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
5. Disciples are humble toward one another.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1 Peter 5:5
5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
6. Disciples do not sin against one another.
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
11a Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.
9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
- NOTE: Unity is a primary characteristic of love. Nothing destroys unity more quickly than slander, gossip, divisive attitudes, or a refusal to work out conflicts in a godly manner. All of these are sinful and must be guarded vigilantly against if love is to rule in our communities.
Second, love for fellow disciples will influence your actions & activities with one another:
7. Disciples spend time together in close fellowship.
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
1 Peter 4:9
9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 John 1:7
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- NOTE: The biblical idea of fellowship encapsulates much more than simply meeting for an hour or two one day a week and saying hello to one another. Fellowship (GREEK koinonia) involves a mutual sharing together in the lives of one another. True, biblical fellowship takes time and energy beyond simply attending a church service together every once in a while. Think more in terms of how you’d spend time together in a healthy family and less in terms of the types of relationships you’d see in a typical church in the United States.
8. Disciples serve one another.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
9. Disciples teach one another.
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
10. Disciples encourage one another.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:18
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
11. Disciples challenge & sharpen one another.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Taken as a whole, when men and women practically live out Jesus’ command to “love one another”, they find themselves involved in a healthy spiritual family characterized by deep, mutually edifying relationships that result in the continued repentance of sin and movement toward spiritual maturity.
The Bible provides a great picture of what a healthy spiritual community like this looks like in Acts 2:42-47.
What results when disciples love one another as Jesus commands?
Acts 2:42-47 tells us about the community that formed very early in the life of the Christian church.
Shortly after the ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended upon the small community of disciples in the form of fire and led Peter to preach the first gospel sermon that resulted in the conversion of 3,000 people in a single day.
It’s the behavior of these 3,000 baby Christians that’s described in the following passage:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Take note of what they were devoted to. Notice how they took care of one another, the types of activities they engaged in together, and how much time they spent with each other. In this short passage, close inspection reveals that all of the characteristics described in the “one another” passages above are on display within this early community of disciples.
Notice the last line in verse 47: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This is what happens when the church is faithfully being the church – lives are blessed, and love on display attracts others. How does your church compare?
This type of loving fellowship we see in Acts 2 is indicative of a healthy community of Christ, but unfortunately healthy communities of Christ are few and far between nowadays – especially in the relationally shallow, consumer-driven culture of the United States.
If we are to be a light as Jesus wills, we must do what doesn’t come natural to most today – we must learn to love one another as the scriptures instruct.
Use the categories above to evaluate yourself and your faith community – where are you strong, and where do you struggle? Repent where needed – God wants to use you and your community of faith to bless the world!
Genuine, authentic, purposeful love for one another is a bright, healing light in a dark and lonely world.
35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”