I grew up in the church and I’ve always heard the title “brother” as a prefix to almost every man in the church. As I became a teenager, I remember thinking that the prefix was merely an old fashioned way of addressing one another in the church. When I moved to seminary, I would hear the same title used for fellow church members in the churches that I visited. As I became a pastor of a church in Kentucky, I recall hearing the title of brother used to address one another. The first time I walked into the doors of the first church I served as pastor, the first man who greeted me said, “You must be Brother Josh.” I came to understand that the title was not merely an antiquated word thrown around in the community of the local church.
Your Brother May Not Be Your Brother
The title of brother actually means something. It’s a way of calling someone a fellow Christian – a brother in Christ. In Mark 3:12, it foretells of a time when “brother will deliver brother over to death.” It may be possible for a person to have a physical brother who isn’t their spiritual brother. Although you both share the same mother and father, you are worlds apart regarding the gospel. Cain and Abel were physical brothers, but they weren’t spiritual brothers. That same thing can be seen in the relationship between Jacob and Esau.
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard someone pray in what I refer to as KJV language. They start praying with thees and thous throughout their entire prayer. That’s a classic example of using antiquated language perhaps as a result of daily reading from the King James Bible. When we use the word brother it’s not the same thing as praying in KJV. When we use the word brother in the church, we’re actually calling another man a Christian. Consider Ananias who was given specific instructions by God to find Saul and pray over him to remove scales from his eyes. Ananias understood that this man was a terrorist, and he was fearful. However, he obeyed God. As he located Saul on the street called Straight, he called him “Brother Saul.” God had turned a God-hating, gospel-opposing, Christian-persecuting terrorist into a brother.