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The Difference Between Brotherly Affection And Christian Love

by Ngozi Nwoke  
3/20/2014 / Christian Living

Do you exercise brotherly love or Christian love? The difference between them is a function of your walk with God. Everyone has a level of love for humanity. The love of God has been shared abroad in your hearts and what you do with it determines your level of love for your neighbour.

And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love - 2 Peter 1:7 (AMP)

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers - 1 John 3:16 (KJV)

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? - Matthew 5:46 (NKJV)

Is there really any difference between brotherly affection and Christian love? Christians strive to love their neighbors as God commanded. Many people really can testify of their love for others by their good actions towards them, but the question is, "is it out of brotherly affection or Christian love?"

The knowledge of the difference between these two virtues will help you to answer the question and identify your own level of love.

Now, let's consider briefly the differences:


The scripture in 2 Peter 1:7 makes it clear that Christian love is different from and superior to brotherly affection. It is a level above the latter in hierarchy. Christian love stems from increase in maturity as it is an addition to brotherly affection.

Practiced by good people

Brotherly affection is practiced by good people, who do not think only of themselves. Sometimes, it may be for their own satisfaction and/or to prove to the world that they practice love. And it is only as it is convenient for them, if not count them out of it.

Brotherly love was the type of love that even tax collectors (a group that represented unbelievers or sinners) practiced: loving those who love them - Matthew 5:46. Also, it was the type the scribes and Pharisees practiced, that Christ warned that unless your righteousness exceeds theirs, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven - Matthew 5:20.

Pharisees and the scribes loved the approval and the praise and the glory that come from men more than the glory that comes from God. They valued their credit with men more than their credit with God - John 12:43


Unlike brotherly affection, Christian love is supernatural, it is empowered by God. It is beyond the ability and nature of man, unconditional and the true practice of the love of God. It is not as convenient but as commanded by God.

Christian love stems purely from a burning desire to do God's will and please Him. It is the very nature of God in action and is accessible only to those who have crucified the flesh (died to self).

It is growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity, as your heavenly Father is perfect - (Matthew 5:48 AMP)

Christian love was the type of love that Dorcas practiced and the community wanted her back alive after her death - Acts 9:36-41. It was also the very example Jesus Christ showed us when He laid down His life for us - 1 John 3:16

Obviously, Christian love is the best level of love to attain and the good news is that it is possible to achieve it. As Peter encouraged in 2 Peter 1:7, in exercising brotherly love, develop Christian love. Let the love of God already within you (Romans 5:5) be fully made manifest in your life by the help of the Holy Spirit.

One perfect way to grow in this love is to avoid resisting God as you get the urges from the Holy Spirit to respond to circumstances in the nature of God. As you practice obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit, Christian love will become your normal way of life.

Ngozi Nwoke is a teacher, counselor, and author of "Peace Money Can't Buy" and "The Man Jesus". She has a passion to teach people how to enjoy peace, God's love, and Christian living for a more fulfilling life. Want a more fulfilling life? Subscribe for free email updates today.

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