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Letter to the Editor: Lord Jesus Christ as our “Elder Brother”

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Dear Bro. David,

Of recent years, we have seen many brothers and sisters referring to the Lord Jesus Christ as our “elder brother.” I can understand their reasoning, based on several Scriptures. For example, we read in Hebrews 2:11-12,

“he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, I will tell of your name to my brothers.” (ESV).

However, we also need to notice these passages are referring to Christ’s attitude towards his disciples, not the other way around. Also notice in verse 13 the quote is, “I and the children which God hath given me.” (ESV). Verses 11-12 are used to support calling Jesus our brother, along with what Jesus himself said,

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (ESV).

Notice in the last quote, nobody would assume to call herself the “mother” of Christ, or in Hebrews 2:13, to call himself a “child” of Christ. Does this suggest we’re picking and choosing which to apply and which to gloss over? Obviously, it’s Christ’s prerogative to call us his brothers and sisters, and it is to our honor to be called as such. It’s his honor to bestow and not ours to claim.

As Christadelphians, we have taken the name Brethren in Christ, not Brethren of Christ. We have always strived to be careful Bible readers. We try not to pick out passages which support our views while ignoring others which do not. For me, what Jesus said to his apostles, “You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am,” (John 13:13 ESV) is really important.

Even more important is that nowhere in Scripture do Christ’s disciples call him “brother Jesus.” Even as Stephen died for his Master and was granted the blessing of seeing Jesus standing in honor of the sacrifice of his faithful servant, Stephen called to his Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59).

We know we are privileged to call the LORD God “Our Father.” That is an honor which we can claim. A Father is above and greater than his children. We also know that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, but to call him “our brother” while we are still in our present, mortal and sinful state is not given to us. That would be bringing the risen Son of God down to our level. We know that,

“At the name of Jesus, ever knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11 ESV).

So, although we have the blessing of the love of Christ, and a special relationship with our Lord, let us also remember to honor him as we love him.

Margaret Stonell
North Bay, ON

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