Spiritual Growth

A Deeper Look at One Another in the Bible and Its 4 Major Themes

This page/post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, as well as an affiliate of other programs, this means if you purchase something using these links, I will receive a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you! For more detailed information, please visit our Affiliate Disclaimer page

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase one another in the Bible. There are numerous one another verses in scripture – all in the New Testament.

Probably the most recognizable of the one another verses is when Jesus tells His disciples to love one another.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. –

John 13:34

“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek:  ἀλλήλων  allélón (pronounced phonetically as al-lay’-lone). It means “one another” or “each other”.

It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% of those verses are instructions from Paul.

Jesus, Himself, spoke these one another statements numerous times, including the verse above where He tells us to “love one another”. Interestingly, however, more of the one another verses come from Paul and Peter, including in the phrase to “bear one another’s burdens”. Many of these verses give us instruction on how to treat others and how not to.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. –

Galatians 6:2

The one anothers in scripture are designed for the purpose of building up community and relationships. God created us in His image. God is a Trinitarian God who is three persons in one. This means that He created us to be in relationship with each other just as the three persons of the Trinity are in close relationship with each other.

hand lettered image of galatians 5;13; one another in the Bible

The one another statements address various situations we may encounter and encourage better fellowship and interpersonal relations between Christians.

The one anothers in scripture generally fall into four categories:

  • Love
  • Unity
  • Humility
  • Encouragement

See below for a printable PDF with One Another Bible verses

Unity. One third of the one-another commands deal with the unity of the church.

Love. One third of them instruct Christians to love one another.

Humility. About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.

Encouragement and edification. The remaining one another commands serve to build up and edify us as Christians.

Let’s look at each of these four categories and highlight some of the one anothers in scripture that fall into that category.

The Four Categories of One Another in the Bible

1. Love One Another

The exhortation to “love one another” occurs numerous times throughout the gospels.

Jesus Himself says in John 13:34-35

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” –

John 13:34-35

In addition to the phrase “love one another”, we also find similar phrases such as “keep loving on another earnestly” (1 Peter 4:8) or “love one another with brotherly affection”. (Romans 12:10).

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. –

1 Peter 4:8

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. –

Romans 12:10

There are 4 types of love described in the Bible. These are erōs, which refers to romantic or sexual love, storgē which refers to family love between a parent and child or brothers and sisters, philía, which refers to friendship love, and agápē, which refers to God’s love which is unconditional and sacrificial love.

When Jesus commands us to love one another as He loved us, He wants us to demonstrate an unconditional agape love towards each other.

“Love one another” could easily encompass the entire range of sayings as a general statement of how to act towards each other. After all, Jesus summarized the 10 commandments by simply saying “Love God and love your neighbor” (Mark 12:30-31). To love our neighbor is to love one another.

To love one another, might not, however, address every situation. While it is broad enough to apply to most situations, we may need a few more details to address different kinds of situations. Fortunately, the New Testament does exactly this with the other three themes of one another in scripture.

As we examine the additional one anothers in the Bible below, we’ll see that part of loving each other is being welcoming towards other Christian brothers and sisters and expressing our love or affection towards them. Paul tells us to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16).

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. –

Romans 16:16

The remaining one another statements can be seen as expressions of love, or the outward working of these love relationships in different situations. In fact, the other themes could really be subsets of the larger set titled “love”. If you think about it, they are all essentially expressions of love and how to love one another.

2. Unity with One Another

This is the largest section of one another statements. These focus on how to deal with certain relationships that have become troubled, how to take precautionary measures to avoid broken unity, or how to improve community in general. Unity is critical to the life of the church and harmonious relationships within the body of Christ.

Therefore, within this category of one anothers in the Bible, you’ll find counsels such as we find in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. “–

1 Corinthians 1:10

God calls us to be of one mind as members of the same body of Christ. We’re to have that singular purpose for God’s Kingdom.

As Christians, we can get so caught up with our own churches, doctrines and or how we do things. We fail to see the bigger picture or the common goal that we share in fulfilling the great commission. Our disunity can affect our effectiveness as Christians and our overall witness.

Note that this doesn’t mean that we all have to be in perfect agreement with each other. Believers have different interpretations of doctrine and opinions on how to put these into practice within a church community. However, it does involve choosing to put aside these differences for the bigger picture, which is to love one another. We can still choose to treat each other well or forgive each other.

We have an opportunity now, in our broken world, to put aside differences in doctrines (Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.) and show our love to others and share the Good News of the Gospel.

We can examine one another statements such as “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.…” (Romans 15:7), “forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13), or “Do not grumble against one another,…” (James 5:9) among many other exhortations which tell us how to deal with difficult situations.

We also find verses such as “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26).

In addition, we are commanded to spend quality time together. For example, we find exhortations in the New Testament about fellowship including sharing a meal together. In 1 Corinthians 11:33 we read:

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—

1 Corinthians 11:33

Unity is such an important theme that it can positively or negatively spill over into the rest of our community life. Without unity, we find it difficult to love one another, to serve others or to encourage and build up each other. However, by loving each other, that is how the world will know we are Jesus’ disciples.

3. Servanthood and Humility Toward One Another

Jesus’ entire ministry and leadership style was one of serving and humility. In John 13: 1-17, He washes his disciples’ feet, a task that a slave would normally perform for their masters or one of a lower class would do for those in a higher class. 

The washing of His disciple’s feet foreshadowed Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Greek word “tithenai” used in the passage here in reference to Jesus laying aside His garments is the same word used in the context of Jesus laying down His life for others. The washing of the feet then was not simply an act of humility but also symbolic of bringing the disciples to share in his death and resurrection.

By taking this servant position, Jesus demonstrated that this is what he expected of his followers. In verse 14-15 Jesus says:

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. –

John 13:14-15

This is how we are to treat one another and serve one another. Since we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection, He expects us to take up the role of humble servant, as well. We are not to put ourselves above each other, but, instead, to clothe ourselves with humility and seek other’s needs above our own.

This is summed up when Paul write in Philippians 2:5 (NIV):

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” –

Philippians 2:5

Paul goes on to describe how Jesus took on the nature of a servant, humbling Himself even unto death on a cross. In doing so, God exalted Him to the highest place.

Servanthood and humility are acts of service. When we serve one another, we are put each other’s needs before our own. In that way, we demonstrate our love for each other.

Servanthood and humility in one another statements overlap the theme of unity. Paul wrote:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. –

Philippians 2:3-4

If everyone were to have the same attitude of putting others before ourselves and serving other’s needs rather than seeking always to serve our own needs, we can build up the community of Christ and enjoy greater unity in the church.

4. Encouragement and Edification For One Another

The last theme occurring in one anothers in the Bible relates to encouragement and edification. While they are similar, they are not exactly the same thing.

Edification is a broad term which means to build another person up. We find an example of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:18:

Therefore encourage one another with these words. –

1 Thessalonians 4:18

Another example can be found in Romans 15:14 where we are commanded to instruct one another.

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. –

Romans 15:14

Encouraging one another can involve difficult conversations, including admonishing others, if necessary. However, if we must admonish another, it needs to come from a place of truth in love.

Click the image below to download your free PDF with Bible verses about “One Another”.

Bible verses about One Another

True encouragement has to come from a genuine commitment to that other person. This is where you’re speaking from your heart of love to their heart. Their heart can mean a heart of fear, in which case you may be addressing those fears as you speaking words of encouragement to it. Or you can be affirming positive qualities in the other person you already see.

Encouragement can incorporate words of affirmation. When we choose to speak life giving words to each other, this has the effect of building each other up.

But admonishing, instructing or correcting should also be for the purpose of deepening our relationship with God and not to tear each other down. When we don’t build each other up, this has the effect of creating disunity between believers. In a sense then, this section is the other side of the coin of unity. Both go hand in hand.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You may enjoy this brief video One Another | Daily Devo Bible Study

For deeper understanding, you may wish to check out one of the below recommended resources about one another in the Bible.

Which are your favorite one anothers statements in the Bible?

 How can we use these four categories of one anothers in scripture to walk closer to Him and better love one another?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You may also want to check out what it means to do everything for God’s glory.


Because He Lives,

Sue

Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women deepen their walk with God through Bible study and creative worship and strengthen their marriages.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.