(al-LAY-lone, allélón, one another)
The Christian life was intended to be experienced in community with other disciples. We were never meant to soldier through life alone, but rather to band together as believers within a covenant of church fellowship. The ekklésia or “church” (lit. the ‘called-out’) is commissioned to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).
How we love and relate to God and each other as a community of believers ought to serve as a living display of the glory of God, an embodiment of the gospel itself. Our testimony before the world is either adorned or marred by how we share life together as a church. What a sobering thought!
No church this side of glory is perfect, but we can have a shared vision of what church life ought to be and strive together to fulfill that vision. One helpful resource in this pursuit is an examination of the many “one another” passages in the New Testament which describe how we are to live, love, and labor together within the church.
Most of these passages use the word allélón and are listed in this survey. However, there are a few other select passages that express the same “one another” idea through heautoú (*marked with an asterisk below). My own examination of the "one-another" passages was stimulated by a similar study over at The Overview Bible Project. I appreciate Jeffrey Kranz's permission to utilize and modify some of his artwork in displaying the results of this study.
These “one anothers” should guide, challenge, and encourage us to share life together to the glory of God.
Over one-fourth of the “one another” passages deal with how the church gets along in unity.
- Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
- Don’t grumble at one another (Jn 6:43)
- Recognize we are members of one another (Rom 12:5; Eph. 4:25)
- Be of the same mind with one another (Rom 12:16, 15:5)
- Accept one another (Rom 15:7)
- Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another (Gal 5:15)
- Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Gal 5:26)
- Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Eph 4:2)
- Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Eph 4:32)
- Bear with and forgive one another (Col 3:13)
- *Live in peace with one another (1 Th 5:13)
- Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
- Do not speak evil against one another (Jas 4:11)
- Don’t complain against one another (Jas 5:9)
- Be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Pet 4:9)
- Walk in the light, fellowshipping with one another and being cleansed by the blood of Christ (1 Jn 1:7)
Nearly 30% of these passages instruct members how to love one another.
- Love one another (Jn 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17; Rom 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 2 Th 1:3; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn 5)
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Rom 12:10)
- Through love, serve one another (Gal 5:13)
- Tolerate one another in love (Eph 4:2)
- *Keep fervent in your love for one another, covering a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8)
- Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pet 5:14)
About 10% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.
- Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
- Give preference to one another in honor (Rom 12:10)
- Be of the same mind toward one another and not haughty toward the lowly (Rom 12:16)
- Serve one another (Gal 5:13)
- Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Eph 5:21)
- Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Phil 2:3)
- Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pet 5:5)
- Instruct one another (Rom. 15:14)
- Greet one another with a kiss (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12)
- Wait for one another before beginning the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:33)
- *Teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col 3:16, Eph 5:19)
- Comfort one another concerning the resurrection and return of Christ (1 Th 4:18)
- Stimulate one another to love and good deeds and do not forsake assembling together but rather encourage one another (Heb 10:24-25)
- Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)
About 16% demonstrate how we serve one another.
- Do not judge one another or put a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Rom 14:13)
- Build up one another (Rom. 14:19)
- Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical intimacy (1 Cor 7:5)
- Have the same care for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
- Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
- Speak truth to one another (Eph 4:25)
- Don’t lie to one another (Col 3:9)
- Encourage & build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
- *Encourage one another daily (Heb 3:13)
- Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
- *Use your spiritual gifts in serving one another (1 Pet 4:10)