In 1 Thessalonians 4:9–10 Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to pursue “brotherly love.” What is brotherly love? The noun used here (φιλαδελφία) was only used for literal family relationships before the Christian community began to use it as a metaphor for members of their community (EDNT, 4:434). The only exception appears to be 2 Macc 15:14, the word appears to refer to a fraternal relationship of all Israel. In 4 Macc 13:23, 26, 14:1 the word refers to the mutual love between seven brothers who all suffer instead of reject their Jewish traditions.
The Greeks considered the relationship between brothers to be of primary importance, Plutarch used the term “brotherly love” to describe the proper relationship between brothers.
Plutarch, De fraterno amore 2 …where there is an unanimous accordance amongst brothers, the family thrives and flourishes, and friends and acquaintance, like a well furnished choir, in all…
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