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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Brother

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(Heb. אָח [see AcH-]; Gr. ἀδελφός ), a term so variously and extensively applied in Scripture that it becomes important carefully to distinguish the different acceptations in which it is used.

1. It denotes a brother in the natural sense, whether the offspring of the same father only (Genesis 42:15; Genesis 43:3; Judges 9:21; Matthew 1:2; Luke 3:1; Luke 3:19), or of the same mother only (Judges 8:19), or of the same father and mother (Genesis 42:4; Genesis 44:20; Luke 6:14, etc.)

2. A near relative or kinsman by blood, e.g. a nephew (Genesis 14:16; Genesis 13:8; Genesis 24:12; Genesis 24:15), or in general a cousin (Matthew 12:46; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; Galatians 1:19), or even a husband (Song of Solomon 4:9).

3. One of the same tribe (2 Samuel 10:13), e.g. a fellow Levite (Numbers 8:26; Numbers 16:10; Nehemiah 3:1).

4. One born in the same country, descended from the same stock, a fellow- countryman (Judges 14:3; Ezekiel 2:11; 4:18; Matthew 5:47; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 7:5), or even of a cognate people (Genesis 9:25; Genesis 16:12; Genesis 25:18; Numbers 20:14).

5. One of equal rank and dignity (Proverbs 18:9; Matthew 23:8).

6. Disciples, followers, etc. (Matthew 25:40; Hebrews 2:11-12).

7. One of the same faith (Isaiah 66:10; Acts 9:30; Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 5, 11); from which and other texts it appears that the first converts to the faith of Jesus were known to each other by the title of brethren, till the name of Christians was given to them at Antioch (Acts 11:26).

8. An associate, colleague in office or dignity, etc. (Ezra 2:2; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1,-etc.).

9. One of the same nature, a fellow-man (Genesis 13:8; Genesis 26:31; Matthew 5:22-24; Matthew 7:5; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 8:11).

10. One beloved, i.e. as a brother, in a direct address (Acts 2:29; Acts 6:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:1).

11. An ally of a confederate nation (Amos 1:9).

12. A friend or associate (Job 6:15; comp. Job 19:13; 1 Kings 19:13; Nehemiah 5:10; Nehemiah 5:14).

13. It is a very favorite Oriental metaphor, as in Job 30:29, "I am become a brother to the jackals."

14. It is even applied (in the Heb.) to inanimate things in the phrase " one another" (lit. a man his brother), -e.g. of the cherubim (Exodus 25:20; Exodus 37:9). The term is still used in the East with the same latitude (Hackett's Illustra. of Script. p. 118). The Jewish schools, however, distinguish between "brother" and "neighbor;" "brother" meant an Israelite by blood, "neighbor" a proselyte. They allowed neither title to the Gentiles; but Christ and the apostles extended the name "brother" to all Christians, and "neighbor" to all the world, 1 Corinthians 5:11; Luke 10:29-30 (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad Matthew v, 22).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Brother'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/brother.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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