Monday, August 1, 2011

One Anothers, Commands, and Community

Grammar is not normally the most interesting subject. However, when we're talking about biblical grammar it becomes much more important and fascinating.

When we look in scripture at the "one another" passages, we see something interesting. The phrase "one another" almost always follows either a plural command or at least an implied plural command. Here are several examples:

Romans 15:7, "Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."

I Corinthians 16:20, "All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss."

II Corinthians 13:11, "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."

Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

I Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

Hebrews 3:13, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."

James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

I 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."

Quite obviously the plural commands of scripture are written to more than one person (thus the plural grammar). They are written to churches. The scriptural writers appear to have wanted the receiving churches to live out these commands in community. The design for the church, then, was for the Christians to spend their lives together carrying out the one anothers. This of course does not preclude interaction with non-Christians, but it does imply that the Christ-followers will spend time together obeying the one anothers.

Obedience is a key in all this because these one anothers, as stated above, usually follow commands. I wonder if we think of them this way. In our daily walks, do we treat these exhortations as good advice and options, or as imperatives?

Grammar is important. A close study of it can and should inform the way we live. We see the one anothers as non-negotiables as we look hard at the verbs that often precede them. God has outlined His plan for His church in the words of the bible. We must trust the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds to comprehend God's grand plan.

The best part of the one anothers is that when we live them out we both honor God and are blessed through our interactions with others. God commands community living as a blessing to Himself and us.


Anonymous said...

Whenever I read scripture I always think "we" instead of "me".

Puts on whole new meaning, and cures the disease the US has... individualism.


Eric said...


We westerners usually have to work at that. We must remember that Christ was from the east where things are much more communal.