Article Based On A Sermon given 9 December 2017

New Testament Brethren

by Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

If I'm totally honest, I don't really like the term; 'brethren'. It reminds me of 'The Plymouth Brethren' - now we have some brethren from Plymouth here; but not 'The Plymouth Brethren' or 'Exclusive Brethren', which is an offshoot of The Plymouth Brethren. But the term grates; it's been Babylonianized and the same with 'brothers'. You have Catholic brothers, and you think of monks. Or sisters, you think of a bunch of nuns, quite frankly, Catholic Nuns. As I say, it has been Babylonianized.

It's not just outside the Church that has Babylonianized the words like this. Do you remember the terminology; "We are family?" Remember how that actually came across in WCG? Just turn to Matthew 12:49, let's just have a look:

"And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren [there's the word again]! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:49-50)

The context of that verse, if you go back to Matthew 12:46:

"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren [literal brethren, physical brethren therefore] stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples..." (Matthew 12:46-49)

He pointed out that there were those that were doing the will of the Father. When you think of it, literal brothers share the same DNA. Not identical DNA, but they are of two parents. And the word 'brethren', (Strongs 80), actually in Greek means sharing the same womb, that's literally what it means. I and my brothers share the same DNA from my two parents. So anybody who has brothers and sisters, they share DNA. You know, you get somebody saying; "Isn't he like his dad?"

What I want to do today is examine the New Testament concept of 'brethren', because this verse points out that; "...the will of my Father which is in heaven..." (Matthew 12:50) is spiritual DNA. That's what we're looking at. It's that we are sharing the same spiritual DNA. We don't necessarily have exactly the same view as each other. There are differences, we are not just a bunch of yellow pencils, we are all slightly different. That's the same thing that actually happens within a family. We have very different characters, we have very different outlooks, and very different looks, quite frankly, between brothers and sisters.

As I say, I want to examine the New Testament concept of brethren, to take us back to the original idea. Because today, as was pointed out even in the previous split sermon, the concept is under threat. The word 'virgin' has been trashed. You tend to think of an airline!. Virginity is ridiculed, one parent families are virtually the norm I think. To live with both of your parents, the ones you share the DNA with, is a rarity today. 'Family' has been trashed. Step-fathers tend to be very common. Homosexuality accepted - in Australia recently 146 to 4 voted in favour of homosexual marriage.

At the moment I'm reading a book from the journals of the First World War. Les Smith, he was an artist in the First World War. He had a charmed life all the way through, but he was right on the very front line, right in the very middle of everything. But if these people knew what they died for, and there were thousands and thousands of them that died - millions of them died! If they realized what they died for today - it's scandalous. Transgender, which is just another form of homosexuality.

So what I would like to do today is examine the New Testament concept of brethren. To do that I'd like to first of all look at:

1) The Old Testament family values, because in the Old Testament it was tied to land and inheritance and that gave solidarity to the family unit. The family unit was absolutely vital within the society because that's how the land was distributed.

2) The Physical families. The physical families now, such as this verse here, physical families in the early Church. There are certain interesting things if you read very carefully about the families, there are certain quite interesting things come out.

3) The concept of Spiritual Brethren because that's what Christ used. He used what people understood physically about brethren and then applied it to the spiritual situation and it is a very meaningful application.

4) The Kingdom of God is the family of God. It is our destiny. That's what it's all about. That's what the entire gospel is about. It's about the family of God.

Old Testament Family Tribes (PLAY FROM 06:43)

So let's have a look therefore at the Old Testament family tribe. The family was vital as it was tied to land and inheritance. Interestingly, if you go over to Genesis 46:25 and just notice the group of people who went down into Egypt, and just have a look at that particular group:

"These are the sons of Bilhah...All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six [that's sixty-six]; And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten." (Genesis 46:25-27)

That's seventy people. Now if you read the rest of this chapter there are uncles and aunts and cousins. These uncles and aunts and cousins with their grandfather make up the family. The family wasn't just the nuclear family. Yes, you leave your father and mother and you cleave to your wife, which is very true; but there is the extended family as well. They live as separate units presumably, but there is still a link between them. They are shepherds therefore they work the land together and collectively. It is interesting that there was seventy people altogether within the family and the family consisted of the uncles, the aunts, and the cousins.

Let's turn over to Numbers 27:1 and we find here the daughters of Zelophehad who in fact had a problem and it says:

"Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher... [Verse 6] And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses, saying, The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren..." (Numbers 27:1,6-7)

Because the father only had daughters, and they feared they would lose the father's name, and would also lose the inheritance; because the sons are the ones who had the inheritance. They wanted to keep it within the family. So the family importance was vital, it was tied to the land, it was tied to the idea of inheritance; and therefore this is the entire society that was governed along the family lines and family basis. Numbers 27:7:

"... thou shalt surely given them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren, and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren [these are his brothers now]. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren. And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family [notice], and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the [Eternal] commanded Moses." (Numbers 27:7-11)

So important was this that if you go to the end of the Book of Numbers, in Numbers 36:3, another question comes up:

"And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes [these are the daughters that Zelophehad now] of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance." (Numbers 36:3)

In other words, the inheritance - being the land - would start being broken up, because obviously they had married husbands and they were husbands from a different tribe, and it would therefore be passed to that particular tribe. This was pointed out, and Numbers 36:6 says:

"This is the thing which the [Eternal] doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry." (Numbers 36:6)

If they didn't marry within their tribe, then the inheritance would not be taken with them. The instruction was for them to marry within the tribe. Numbers 36:10:

"Even as the [Eternal] commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad: For...the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their fathers brothers' sons: And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father." (Numbers 36:10-12)

It was so vital to keep the family unit intact. It was more than just the unit of husband and wife and children. It then went out from the grandchildren to the uncles and aunts and cousins and so on. So when we are looking at the concept of New Testament brethren, it has to rest on this understanding that they had from the Old Testament.

Let's look at another one and just remind ourselves. Go to Joshua 19:1. Here lots are being thrown, or however they did this - perhaps a bag or however they used to selected the lots. The various lots were then selected:

"And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families..." (Joshua 19:1)

It wasn't just according to the tribe. It was according to the families within the tribe. Each family had a certain inheritance that would be linked to that family and therefore passed down through the generations and passed back in the time of the Jubilee. In Joshua 19:10:

"And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid:" (Joshua 19:10)

Again, it was according to the families within the tribe. Joshua 19:16:

"This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages. And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families. [Verse 25] And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families." (Joshua 19:16-17,25)

So each of these lots that were cast was according to the families. You find it also in the Book of Ruth - how Boaz redeems. It wasn't just a case of redeeming the land, it was redeeming the land and the family of Naomi, and taking that responsibility on his shoulders.

So this was the actual basis. This is the kind of foundational basis that the information within the New Testament is in fact based on. It's the Old Testament information and understanding.

Physical Families of the Early Church (PLAY FROM 14:57)

So moving on now to the physical families of the early Church. It is interesting that in Acts 2:39 it talks about:

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

So here were these individuals, the Jews, that were coming up into an area of Jerusalem, the Temple area; and they realized what they had done was so wrong as far as Christ was concerned. They had just murdered the Christ, the Messiah. The thing that Peter pointed out; "...the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off..." (Acts 2:39) So, they took it back to their families. They took the information back to their families. I Corinthians 7:14:

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." (I Corinthians 7:14)

The children are sanctified. Again, this is family based; it is based on this Old Testament family idea which is tied to the land and the inheritance.

So when we are trying to recapture the true values, to go back to the original idea, to the original concept; we need to go back to this concept of the Old Testament family tribe. It then expands out into not just sharing the same DNA, but sharing the same DNA spiritually. Sharing the same spiritual DNA, sharing the same adherence to the very Word of God; which defines our transformation, into the very God Being that we are to become. Turn to Luke 1:35 it says:

"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee [he's talking to Mary now, before she conceived]: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:35-37)

So here, we notice that Mary had a cousin and again God the Father was working within the family structure. Interestingly, that after John died Matthew 14:13:

"When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart..." (Matthew 14:13)

Christ felt the need to go into the wilderness to get away and be by Himself, head space if you like, because John the Baptist was His second cousin. He wasn't just simply the Elijah to come at that time, he wasn't simply the prophetic foreguard, the one that came before; he was also actually a relative as well. He was a second cousin that had actually been murdered by order of Herod. {1} In Matthew 4:12 you find that:

"Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison [initially], he [Christ] departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:" (Matthew 4:12-13)

Bethsaida is in the top of Galilee and Magdalena which is where Mary Magdalene came from, is kind of half way down on the West side, on the left hand side. Between the two of them is Capernaum. Nazareth is about seventeen miles due west of Galilee. It wasn't on the shore of Galilee at all. So He moved the family from that area around Nazareth and then He moved them into Capernaum which is on the lakeside.

You think, well why did He do that? What was the reason for that? Let's turn over to Luke 6:12 and do a little bit of sleuthing. What I want to point out to you here is that over half the apostles were physical brothers. They are not just brethren in a spiritual sense; they were literal physical brothers of one another:

"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12)

Mr Armstrong makes a big point of this; "...he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12). So the decision He was about to make was a large decision. He had to get it right. He therefore spent the entire night in prayer. Luke 6:13:

"And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother [so Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers], James and John [James and John were brothers], Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes," (Luke 6:13-15)

James the son of Alphaeus and Simon Zelotes were also brothers. Matthew also could have been a brother of that family. James the elder and John were sons of Zebedee and Salome. James the less and Judas, who was not Iscariot. The trouble is, these people have different names. Joses, Jude, Joseph, Judas, and Thaddeus, are all the same person, which throws you for a bit. Simon Zelotes, or Simon the Canaanite as it is translated in some places, they were the sons of Alphaeus or Cleophas and Mary.

Turn over to Matthew 27:55 and let's just have a look and see why this is important. It mentions the mothers of the disciples. Mary, the mother of Christ and so on, but here it says:

"And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses [Joseph], and the mother of Zebedees children." (Matthew 27:55-56)

So I want you to notice from this verse, there is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Christ who is not mentioned there, but she was certainly there. Then there's the mother of Zebedee's children and then there's Mary the mother of James and Joses.

So if you remember that and rearrange the order slightly, and turn over to Mark 15:40 again what we're looking at is the comprehension of the New Testament concept of brethren, trying to get us back to the original idea. It says a similar kind of thing here:

"There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;" (Mark 15:40)

Now if we put them in the same order as we had them in Matthew 27, you have Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother who was not mentioned, but she was certainly there. Salome who was also mentioned, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses. So we have had in Matthew 27, the mother of Zebedee's children, and also Mary the mother of James and Joses. So the mother of Zebedee's children who were James and John - her name was Salome. In other words, you put it together like a puzzle. You start putting the different verses together. Now Luke 23:49 just says:

"And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things." (Luke 23:49)

It doesn't mention any names, but turn over to John 19:25; and you will see why I've spent a little bit of time on this. Once you start to understand what was going on as far as the families are concerned, it answers questions as to why when John was put in prison He left Nazareth and dwelt in Capernaum. It answers certain other questions as well:

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister [notice that], Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25)

Now putting them in the same order we had before, we've got Mary Magdalene. We've got His mother and we've got His mother's sister. That's Mary's sister and there was also Mary the wife of Cleophas. Now you wouldn't have two Mary's in the same family. So the link is - mother of Zebedee's children in Matthew 27:56 is the same as Salome in Mark 15:40, which is the sister of Mary. So, James and John were actual cousins of Christ. You put the scriptures together and you start to see a family link.

Now why did Christ leave Nazareth and then go to Capernaum and move His family there? Because He was the head of the family at that time. Again, because Bethsaida which is in the north of the Sea of Galilee and Magdalena, which is where Mary Magdalene came from, is halfway down. Halfway between these is Capernaum. Bethsaida was the area where Peter and Andrew, and Peter's wife, and Peter's wife's mother, were living as well. Their fishing partners were the sons of Zebedee, which were James and John.

So you get all these tie-ups between all these different individuals; and the closeness of the family, it was a very close family. Reading between the lines you start of see why Christ on the cross said to John; "...Behold thy mother!..." (John 19:27) and to His mother; "...behold thy son!" (John 19:26). It wasn't just a case of; here's this disciple that Jesus loved, it was the fact that he was a relative as well, he was a cousin, his mother was Mary's sister. Why does it say in John 19:25?

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister..." (John 19:25).

Because John was her son. Again, so often we read over things. We don't put any of the links together within this subject when we try to understand the New Testament concept of brethren. This concept goes very, very deep. It goes deep as far as the Old Testament family tribe tied to land and inheritance; and it also goes very deep as far as the early Church is concerned, because they were brethren. Andrew and Peter were brothers. James and John were brothers. James the Less, Joses or Judas, not Iscariot, but Judas and Simon the Zealot. Here in John 19:25 it says:

"...Mary the wife of Cleophas..." (John 19:25)

Who was Cleophas? Cleophas was the father of James the Less. Remember on the road to Emmaus, there were two individuals walking down the road to Emmaus, well one of those individuals, if you go back and check it in Luke 24:18:

"And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?" (Luke 24:18)

So he was one of these individuals. Who was the other one? Well the only place this is actually mentioned - and this is supposition - is in Luke 19; so was that individual Luke who was walking with him? It could well have been. Mark is the only one who mentions about the boy who fled away naked from arrest on the night of Christ's arrest. {2} The supposition is that this was actually Mark himself.

By tradition Cleopas was actually the brother of Joseph, the suspected father of Christ. He wasn't the father of Christ at all. He was no relation in that sense, but he was the father of the family. He was Mary's husband; but by tradition, Cleopas was the brother of Joseph.

Again, you get all these family links. You have Joseph of Arimathea. He was a rich tin merchant, supposedly the uncle of Mary. So he wasn't just the uncle of Mary, he was also the uncle of Salome as well. So you get this inter-relationship. So the understanding of family within the early Church was huge, they shared literal DNA in many cases.

The Concept of Spiritual Brethren (PLAY FROM 31:51)

In Matthew 23:5 it's talking about the Pharisees and it says:

"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." (Matthew 23:5-8)

So it's Christ's instruction. The reason why the concept of New Testament brethren was given to the disciples was that Christ was the one that gave it. It's interesting, in Luke 22:32 Peter was instructed by Christ that:

"...when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:32)

He wasn't just talking about brethren physically, with physical DNA. Andrew was his literal brother, but He wasn't just talking about that. He was talking about the spiritual DNA. He was talking about taking a concept which was fully understood at that time in a way that we do not fully understand today. We do not have the same kind of depth today.

But the links between cousins, and links between uncles and aunts and so on in the extended family was very great. It was based on an understanding of the Old Testament Laws, which was tying the land and the inheritance to the individual families. Land and inheritance wasn't something that was just kind of arbitrarily given. It was actually tied to the families, and the Jubilee returned it to the family. The laws protected it from even coming out of the tribe.

It is understandable therefore, why when we see the early Church, they behaved as a family, because that was the instruction that Christ had given them. Quite frankly, we need to certainly get back to this thinking, but not the literal application that the early Church did; not yet anyway. When the Church flees, it may well be that we do have something like this, and the same kind of thing. Here in Acts 2:42 it says:

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Acts 2:42-45)

So they lived as one family. They were literally brethren as far as the distribution of wealth was concerned. As I pointed out, that's not necessary now, but it may be in the future. It's been speculated within the Church, as long as I remember that, that is something that may be implemented when the Church flees.

Notice over in Acts 12:11 when Peter came out of prison and found himself free, what did he do?

"And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John..." (Acts 12:11-12)

This was John Mark, and probably the upper room where the last Passover was held. Therefore, the individual of whom Christ said; "...[you] shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him." (Mark 14:13). {3} That was probably John Mark's father. So again, you are looking at a literal family relationship that would be there.

"And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. [Verse 17] But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place." (Acts 12:12-13,17)

He knew where to go. Again, it's a family based atmosphere. We are to try and get back to that atmosphere. This is something that we should try and do. Over in Acts 15 and just notice how many times the word brethren is being used here; and understand that, in fact, it's referring to the spiritual brethren:

"And certain men which came down from Judaea [to Antioch] taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [Verse 3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [Verse 7] And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us... [Verse 13] And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: [Verse 22] Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:" (Acts 15:1,3,7,13,22)

And so on. You can go through this entire chapter and over and over again, the word 'brethren' is being used. I didn't count up how many times, but it must be almost a dozen times anyway. In Colossians 1:1, the introduction that Paul uses, it says:

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse..." (Colossians 1-2)

Again, the word is used continually and it is tied to the literal sharing of DNA, but it's the sharing of the spiritual DNA which is important. It's the sharing of that spiritual DNA which is taken into eternity. Turn over to I Timothy 5:1. Paul gives a quite clear command as far as the way in which this understanding of brethren should manifest itself in a minister. He says:

"Rebuke not an elder [elder literally in age], but intreat him as a father..." (I Timothy 5:1)

So again, it's a family relationship and these people would have known this. For this to be the case within the Church today, there are certain individuals that I can think of, that have never had a father; never had brethren. They would never really understand exactly how to conduct themselves based on this. But these people here did. They did have the family unit, and the family structure was intact. With our degenerations, we unfortunately struggle with it in many cases. I Timothy 5:1

"Rebuke not an elder [an older person within the Church], but intreat him as a father; [and the kind of respect that is due to a father] and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honour widows that are widows indeed." (I Timothy 5:1-3)

So these are the instructions from Paul to Timothy, and then it has been recorded within the book of I Timothy. It gives the approach that is necessary, and an approach that is springing from this concept of spiritual brethren and spiritual DNA. It is the New Testament concept of the word. Turn to Romans 12:9:

"Let love be without dissimulation [without pretence, with genuineness]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;" (Romans 12:9)

Turn over to Philippians 2:1 where we can connect these verses together:

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:1-3)

Again, this is the attitude of mind. The brotherly love, "...preferring one another;" (Romans 12:10). It's above loving your neighbour as yourself. It goes beyond that. It's a certain love that goes beyond 'as yourself'. Philippians 2:4:

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:3-5)

Christ had a family. He lived within a family of seven including Himself. Mary had at least seven children. Four boys were specifically mentioned and it mentions the word 'sisters', then that's six and then there's Christ Himself, which is seven.

The Kingdom of God (PLAY FROM 44:34)

The direction that all of this is going is towards the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the family of God. That family of God is our destiny. It's what we are here to learn. It's what we are here to rehearse. As far as the New Testament concept of brethren, to take us back to that original idea, so that we can in fact be part of that family of God. It's what God wanted originally, and what's been trashed so often in today's society. Let's turn over to John 1:11:

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were [begotten], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:11-14)

This power that is given to us is to become literally the sons of God. Which when you really understand it, is astounding! It is absolutely astounding! It gives meaning to what we are involved in when we wake up every morning. When we pray every day, what do we pray? We pray; "Our Father." That's the first words we say, or we should be saying. We should be recognizing who we are addressing; "Our Father." That means we are brothers and sisters, that we are brethren. It's brothers and sisters as understood when these verses were originally written, which is a close bond. Turn over to Ephesians 3:2:

"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:" (Ephesians 3:2-6)

The gospel being the Kingdom of God, and he then goes on to explain it down in Ephesians 3:14:

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father [remember when we get on our knees we pray; "Our Father"] of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named [the Kingdom of God, the family of God, this is our destiny], That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;" (Ephesians 3:14-16)

Again, it's the spiritual DNA that's necessary. We have the same DNA. Not identical, but it's coming from the same source. The same mother, the same Father, therefore we are brethren, therefore we are brothers. Ephesians 3:17:

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love [we have the same spiritual DNA as Christ had], May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height [as we are being converted]; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Again, spiritual DNA. The development within the very 'womb', as we currently understand it. Let's turn over to Romans 8:14 it says:

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God [it's a spiritual DNA, and as sons of God, we are brothers together, brethren]. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of [sonship], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" (Romans 8:14-16)

We read these words and it is so familiar, but they are astounding when you really understand what they are actually saying. They are truly astounding! Romans 8:17:

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8:17-19)

It goes on in Romans 8:29 and says:

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren [again reinforcing that fact of the manifestation of the sons of God]. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"(Romans 8:29-31)

The firstborn of many brethren, certainly. Let's turn over to II Corinthians 6:14:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (II Corinthians 6:14)

In other words; if the DNA is different, what are we doing being linked up to it? It's a different DNA; they are not part of the family. The family based on that family idea of inheritance and the land as far as the physical is concerned, and spiritually, it's the inheritance of the land, the inheritance of the Kingdom of God, the Government of God. We inherit all things. II Corinthians 6:15:

"And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people ["...I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:7)]. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:15-18)

That's the destination. That's what it's all about. That's why this concept is so important that we do try and get back to the original idea of the New Testament concept of brethren, even though it grates as far as I'm concerned to refer to brethren, 'exclusive brethren'. The word has been Babylonized. But it still expresses it, it expresses what we are - what we literally are because we share the same spiritual DNA, and that's the important thing.

So, God is a family. He wants a family and is in the process of generating a family. It is the gospel of the Kingdom of God. It's our destiny, it's the same spiritual DNA, and we are transformed through the same Word. It's the same Father, the same family. Turn back again to Matthew 12:46 where we started:

"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee [I'm sure that He went outside to see them, He simply used this occurrence to get a point across to those He was speaking to]. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren [who is it that shares the same DNA as I have]? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father [it's the spiritual DNA which is important] which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50)


Footnotes:

{1} John the Baptist was murdered by order of Herod not the Romans, Matthew 14.

{2} The lad who fled naked did so from fear of arrest the evening Christ was arrested not at the crucifixion itself, Mark 14:51-52.

{3} The individual who gave instructions to the upper room was carrying water, Mark 14:13. In Matthew 21:2 it was an ass and her colt that were loosed for His entrance into Jerusalem.