The Christian Brotherhood was initially referenced in the Bible 3,000 years ago by David in the Psalms depicting the suffering and victory of the future Messiah.
“They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones…But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me…You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren…They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.” Psalm 22:16-22, 31
The Hebrew term for brethren in the Old Testament translates to ‘similar’ and ‘friend’. It is a term of affection. Paul in the New Testament referred to the then present Christian Brotherhood.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
This powerful verse reveals that all those whom God elected to salvation He also predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus, His only begotten Son. This is the very essence of the Christian Brotherhood.
The Greek term for brethren in the New Testament is very similar to the Hebrew meaning ‘unity’ and ‘companion’, i.e. a fellowship of love.
Interestingly the Apostle John reveals the first time Jesus referred to His disciples as brothers was after His resurrection.
“Jesus said to her (Mary Magdalene), ‘…go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” John 20:17
Jesus will judge all nations upon His return to earth to end the great tribulation on the basis of how each person treated His brethren during His absence.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory… then He will sit on the throne of His glory…and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” Matthew 25:31-32
The sheep will ask Jesus the reason for their favor.
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or imprison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:31-40
But there is even a greater privilege than being considered Jesus’ brethren; to be Jesus’ brethren means also to be children of God the Father.
“Therefore, brethren…For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God…The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” Romans 8:12a, 14, 16-17
The plan was originally revealed in Genesis when God said the ‘Seed of the woman’ would destroy the enemy, the devil. Paul explained later to the early church how the concept of ‘sonship’ became reality.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons…then an heir of God…” Galatians 4:4-7
And when the Apostle John revealed the incarnation of Christ he included that all who would receive the Son would be granted the status of sonship.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” John 1:12
Therefore, the Christian is an adopted child of God and a joint heir with Christ. Such is the highest position for mankind other than Christ Himself.
Due to the coveted position of being God’s children Christians are and will be subjected to great jealousy and persecution.
Their Father will vigorously deal with their persecutors in His timing.
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves…for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19