Nope, I didn’t skip one. If you haven’t been following along we’ve been looking at Peter’s progression in his 2nd letter. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5–8, NASB95) The last article looked at godliness, this one focuses on love, the last two entries in Peter’s progression are brotherly love and agape love.
The word translated by the NASB as brotherly kindness is Philadelphian, which does not necessarily mean someone from the city on the east side of Pennsylvania. As I’m sure that you are aware, it means love of brother and sister. Over and over again in the New Testament, we are commanded to love each other. To love our blood family, but more pointedly to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul put it this way – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10, NASB95) What would happen if a church family loved each other without competition, jealousy, or judgementalism? What would happen if we treated each other with love and respect instead of like we only belonged to the same club or business? Brotherly kindness, brotherly love, does not suggest that we “give preference to one another in honor” – it commands it. Jesus put it this way – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34–35, NASB95)
To be fair, or to be more exacting, Jesus did not command brotherly love in John 13:34-35; He commanded agape love for one another. In other words, we are to love each other with the same kind of love Jesus has shown to us. I’m not going to dig too deeply into agape love in this article. For a more in-depth look at love let me suggest the LifeBridge study booklet available in our Bible Study section. Suffice it to say that we are to love God with everything we are and to sacrificially love each other.
Agape love is the pinnacle of Peter’s progression. Love is both the fruit and the guiding principle of everything that came before. With diligence supply moral excellence to your faith – with diligence supply knowledge to your moral excellence – with diligence supply self-control to your knowledge – with diligence supply perseverance to your self-control – with diligence supply godliness to your perseverance – with diligence supply love for each other to your godliness – and finally, with diligence supply agape love, God’s kind of love, to your brotherly love for each other. God’s promise is that if we continue to grow in all of the action traits we will be fruitful, useful, and keep from stumbling as we journey the narrow path of Christ. His instruction is clear, we don’t simply gain a measure of a trait and stop (I have enough self-control thank you very much) but, that we must continue to grow in them all until Christ returns or He calls us home.