5 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.“ (2 Peter 1:5–7 ESV).
The Holy Spirit commands believers, through the Apostle Peter, to supplement, or add, to their saving faith. This supplementation is not contributing to their justification but rather it is a necessary component of each believer’s sanctification. Sanctification is the believer’s growth in holiness.
Believers are to add to their faith virtue or godly character and moral excellence. To virtue, believers in Christ are to add knowledge. To knowledge, believers in Christ are to add self-control. To self-control believers in Christ are to add steadfastness. To steadfastness, believers in Christ are to add godliness. To godliness, believers are to add brotherly affection.
Brotherly affection is one word in the New Testament Greek language: φιλαδελφίᾳ. We derive our English word Philadelphia which means brotherly love or kindness as translated from today’s text. What does it mean to possess brotherly kindness?
Brotherly kindness is love and affection for a fellow believer. Throughout the New Testament, brotherly kindness is primarily restricted within the sphere of and in reference to fellow believers in Christ. While agape love is to be shown by believers to not only fellow believers, but also to unbelievers, brotherly kindness is spoken of within the realms of the covenant community of the church. It is love of and for the brethren.
Puritan Matthew Henry writes, “Brotherly kindness is a tender affection to all our fellow-Christians, who are children of the same Father, servants of the same Master, members of the same family, travelers to the same country, and heirs of the same inheritance, and therefore are to be loved with a pure heart fervently, with a love of complacency, as those who are peculiarly near and dear to us, in whom we take particular delight.”
You would think that such an attribute as brotherly kindness would not even have to be mentioned by the apostle. And yet how often are Christians unkind and unloving to their fellow believers in Christ. It is a sad commentary that often pagans treat believers in Christ better and with more respect than other believers in Christ. If this were not so, then the Holy Spirit would not have let Peter to write that it is necessary for the saints to add to their lives such a virtue.
Consider how you may consciously add the characteristic of brotherly kindness in your life and how you may display it towards your fellow believers today.
Soli deo Gloria!