on Romans 12 :10
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love - It is difficult to give a simple translation of the original: τῃ φιλαδελφιᾳ εις αλληλους φιλοστοργοι. The word φιλαδελφια signifies that affectionate regard which every Christian should feel for another, as being members of the same mystical body: hence it is emphatically termed the love of the brethren. When William Penn, of deservedly famous memory, made a treaty with the Indians in North America, and purchased from them a large woody tract, which, after its own nature and his name, he called Pennsylvania, he built a city on it, and peopled it with Christians of his own denomination, and called the city from the word in the text, φιλαδελφια, Philadelphia; an appellation which it then bore with strict propriety: and still it bears the name.
The word φιλοστοργος, which we translate kindly affectioned, from φιλος and στοργη, signifies that tender and indescribable affection which a mother bears to her child, and which almost all creatures manifest towards their young; and the word φιλος, or φιλεω, joined to it, signifies a delight in it. Feel the tenderest affection towards each other, and delight to feel it. "Love a brother Christian with the affection of a natural brother."
In honor preferring one another - The meaning appears to be this: Consider all your brethren as more worthy than yourself; and let neither grief nor envy affect your mind at seeing another honored and yourself neglected. This is a hard lesson, and very few persons learn it thoroughly. If we wish to see our brethren honored, still it is with the secret condition in our own minds that we be honored more than they. We have no objection to the elevation of others, providing we may be at the head. But who can bear even to be what he calls neglected? I once heard the following conversation between two persons, which the reader will pardon my relating in this place, as it appears to be rather in point, and is worthy of regard. "I know not," said one, "that I neglect to do any thing in my power to promote the interest of true religion in this place, and yet I seem to be held in very little repute, scarcely any person even noticing me." To which the other replied: "My good friend, set yourself down for nothing, and if any person takes you for something it will be all clear gain." I thought this a queer saying: but how full of meaning and common sense! Whether the object of this good counsel was profited by it I cannot tell; but I looked on it and received instruction.
on Romans 12 :10
Be kindly affectioned - The word used here occurs no where else in the New Testament. It properly denotes tender affection, such as what subsists between parents and children; and it means that Christians should have similar feelings toward each other, as belonging to the same family, and as united in the same principles and interests. The Syriac renders this, "Love your brethren, and love one another;" compare 1 Peter 2:17.
With brotherly love - Or in love to the brethren. The word denotes the affection which subsists between brethren. The duty is one which is often presented in the New Testament, and which our Saviour intended should be regarded as a badge of discipleship; see the note at John 13:34-35, "By this shall all people know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another;" John 15:12, John 15:17; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:7-8; 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:20-21. The apostle Paul in this place manifests his unique manner of writing. He does not simply enjoin brotherly love, but he adds that it should be kindly affectioned. It should be with the tenderness which characterizes the most endearing natural relationship. This he expresses by a word which is made for the occasion (φιλοστοργοὶ philostorgoi), blending love with natural affection, and suffering it to be manifest in your contact with one another.
In honour - In showing or manifesting respect or honor. Not in seeking honor, or striving after respect, but in showing it to one another.
Preferring one another - The word "preferring" means going before, leading, setting an example. Thus, in showing mutual respect and honor, they were to strive to excel; not to see which could obtain most honor, but which could confer most, or manifest most respect; compare 1 Peter 1:5; Ephesians 5:21. Thus, they were to be studious to show to each other all the respect which was due in the various relations of life; children to show proper respect to parents, parents to children, servants to their masters, etc.; and all to strive by mutual kindness to promote the happiness of the Christian community. How different this from the spirit of the world; the spirit which seeks, not to confer honor, but to obtain it; which aims, not to diffuse respect, but to attract all others to give honor to us. If this single direction were to be obeyed in society, it would put an end at once to no small part of the envy, and ambition, and heartburning, and dissatisfaction of the world. It would produce contentment, harmony, love, and order in the community; and stay the progress of crime, and annihilate the evils of strife, and discord, and malice. And especially, it would give order and beauty to the church. It would humble the ambition of those who, like Diotrephes, love to have the pre-eminence 3 John 1:9, and make every man willing to occupy the place for which God has designed him, and rejoice that his brethren may be exalted to higher posts of responsibility and honor.
on Romans 12 :10
12:10 In honour preferring one another - Which you will do, if you habitually consider what is good in others, and what is evil in yourselves.