The Centrality of the “One Another” Passages for Christian Unity

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The Greek word alaelon, usually translated “one another”, “each other” or “mutually” occurs 100 times in the Greek New Testament. There are only 5 books in the NT that do not have this phrase (1 & 2 Tim, Philemon, 3 John, and Jude). There are two ways this word is used in the NT.

1) Describing interactions between people:

  • Matthew 25:32 – he separates the sheep from the goats – “he will separate the people from each other as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
    • In this case it is physical action and movement within a group of people.
  • Mark 4:41 – the question was being bounced back and forth among the disciples.
  • Mark 9:34 – (ask someone to read – absent in NIV, present in NRSV and NASB – have someone read the other version) “they had argued with one another who was the greatest.”

2) Encouragement of proper action between Christians:

  • See list below

Romans 12:5 ties these two uses together. “in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to each other/one another.” Paul is saying, Because we are united in this way there is a certain way we are to treat each other. Paul uses this word frequently in his epistles to describe how we are to treat other Christians. There are a variety of ways the NT tells us we should treat “one another”

Alaelon is used frequently enough in the New Testament that it is wise to pay attention to it and embrace mutuality. The things we are told to and not to do to one another should serve as preventative measures for dividing the church and bring about a healthy culture of mutual concern for others in the church. As you read through the list you will notice just how much unity Paul promotes through this word.    

One Another Passages

Things to do in regard to each other:

  • Rom 12:10 – Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
  • Rom 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
  • Rom 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman fulfilled the law.
  • Rom 14:19 – Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to building up one another (=mutual edification)
  • Rom 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (notice here how we treat each other has a direct relationship to our relationship with God)
  • 12:25 – so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
  • Gal 5:13-14 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
  • Gal 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Eph 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • Eph 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
  • Eph 5:22 – Submitto one another out of reverence for Christ.
  • Phil 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
  • Col 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
  • 1 Thess 3:12 – May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you.
  • 1 Thess 4:18 – Therefore encourage each other with these words
  • Heb 10:24 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  • James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 – Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, loveone another deeply, from the heart.
  • 1 Peter 4:9 – Offer hospitality to one another, without grumbling.
  • 1 Peter 5:5 – Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.
  • 1 John 1:7 – 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.

Things to avoid doing to each other:

  • Rom 14:13 – Let us stop passing judgment on one another.
  • Gal 5:15 – if you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
  • Gal 5:26 – Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
  • Col 3:9 – Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self
  • James 4:11 – Brothers, do not slander one another.
  • James 5:9 – Do not grumble against each other.

Download the list in pdf

This is more than just a list of more things to do. This is about how we see others and our own obligation to be supportive of those around us. This is a call away from self and pride to make a difference in the lives of those around us. If Christian embraced this kind of vision for people and way of life…I am convinced we would make a huge impact on the world.

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