7 occurrences in 7 dictionaries

Reference: Brother


Signifies in Scripture the son of the same parent or parents, Mt 1:2; Lu 6:14; a cousin or near kinsman, Ge 13:8; 14:16; Joh 7:3; Ac 1:14; one of the same stock or country, Mt 5:47; Ac 3:22; Heb 7:5; a fellow-man, and equal, Mt 5:23; 7:3; one beloved, 2Sa 1:26; Christians, as sons of God, Ac 9:30; 11:29. In Mt 12:46-50; 13:55-56; Mr 3:31-35, the brothers of Christ are so mentioned, in connection with his mother and sisters, as almost to require us to believe they were children of Joseph and Mary, younger than Jesus. Yet this is not quite certain, as it may be that the James, Joses, and Judas in Mt 13:55, are the nephews of Christ alluded to in Mt 27:56; Lu 6:15-16; Joh 19:25; Cleophas and Alphaeus being probably the same.

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(1.) In the natural and common sense (Mt 1:2; Lu 3:1,19).

(2.) A near relation, a cousin (Ge 13:8; 14:16; Mt 12:46; Joh 7:3; Ac 1:14; Ga 1:19).

(3.) Simply a fellow-countryman (Mt 5:47; Ac 3:22; Heb 7:5).

(4.) A disciple or follower (Mt 25:40; Heb 2:11-12).

(5.) One of the same faith (Am 1:9; Ac 9:30; 11:29; 1Co 5:11); whence the early disciples of our Lord were known to each other as brethren.

(6.) A colleague in office (Ezr 3:2; 1Co 1:1; 2Co 1:1).

(7.) A fellow-man (Ge 9:5; 19:7; Mt 5:22-23,24; 7:5; Heb 2:17).

(8.) One beloved or closely united with another in affection (2Sa 1:26; Ac 6:3; 1Th 5:1). Brethren of Jesus (Mt 1:25; 12:46,50; Mr 3:31-32; Ga 1:19; 1Co 9:5, etc.) were probably the younger children of Joseph and Mary. Some have supposed that they may have been the children of Joseph by a former marriage, and others that they were the children of Mary, the Virgin's sister, and wife of Cleophas. The first interpretation, however, is the most natural.

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Includes, besides sons of the same parents, cousins and near relatives, as a nephew (Ge 13:8; 14:16; De 25:5-6 margin). One of the same tribe (2Sa 19:12). Of the same or a kindred people (Ex 2:11; Nu 20:14). A friend (Job 6:15). A fellow man (Le 19:17). "A brother to (i.e. a fellow on a level with) the dragons" or "jackals" (Job 30:29). As the outer pagan world knew believers by the name "Christian," so they know one another by the name "brethren" (Ac 11:26; 26:28; 1Pe 4:16; compare Mt 25:40; Ac 11:29). The Jews distinguished a "brother" as an Israelite by birth, and a "neighbor" a proselyte, and allowed neither title to the Gentiles. But Christ applied "brother" to all Christians, and "neighbor" to all the world (1Co 5:11; Lu 10:29-30). The arguments for the "brethren" of Jesus (James, Joses, Simon, and Judas) mentioned in Mt 13:56 being literally His brothers, born of Joseph and Mary, are:

(1) their names are always connected with Mary, "His brethren" is the phrase found nine times in the Gospels, once in Acts (Ac 1:14);

(2) nothing is said to imply that the phrase is not to be taken literally. But:

(1) "My brethren" is found in the wide sense (Mt 28:10; Joh 20:17).

(2) If Joseph had been their father, they would have been some one time at least designated in the usual mode "sons of Joseph." The statement that. His "brethren did not believe in Him" (Joh 7:5) may refer to His near relations generally, excepting the two apostles James (who is expressly called "the Lord's brother," Ga 1:19) and Jude (Jg 1:1). In Ac 1:14 His "brethren," as distinct from the apostles, may refer to Simon and Joses and other near relatives. It is not likely there would be two pairs of brothers named alike, of such eminence; James and Jude. His brethren are, most probably, the writers of the epistles.

(3) It is expressly stated that Mary, wife of Cleophas and sister of the Virgin Mary (Joh 19:25), had sons, of whom James and Joses are named (Mt 27:56; Mr 15:40). How unlikely that two mothers of the same name, Mary the Virgin and her sister, should have sons also bearing the same names.

(4) If the Virgin had had sons of her own, Jesus would not have given her in charge to John (Joh 19:26), who was not a relative.

(5) It is a fitting thing that in Jesus the line of David should have its final consummation. The naming of Jesus' brethren with His virgin mother so often may be because Jesus and she took up their abode at the home of Mary, the Virgin's sister, after Joseph's death; for that he soon died appears from his name being never mentioned after Luke 2. Hence the cousins would grow up as brothers. The very difficulty implies the absence of collusion or mythical origin in the gospel narrative.

Firstborn son (Mt 1:25) does not imply that any sons were born of the Virgin afterwards, but that none were born before Him. Ex 13:2 defines "the firstborn" "whatsoever openeth the womb": whether other children followed or not. "Knew her not until" does not necessarily imply he even then knew her; compare Ge 28:15, "I will not leave thee until I have done," not meaning He would leave Jacob even then. The main truth asserted is the virginity of Mary up to Jesus' birth. What was afterward is not dearly revealed, being of less consequence to us.

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Besides the ordinary use of the word in its literal sense, it is applied to cousins and nephews, Ge 14:14; Le 10:4; and to kinsmen generally. Ex 2:11; 2Ki 10:13; 2Ch 22:8. Also employed where there is a moral likeness. Job 30:29; Pr 18:9. See BRETHREN.

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The Hebrew word is used in various senses in the Old Testament, as,

1. Any kinsman, and not a mere brother; e.g. nephew,

Ge 13:8; 14:16


Song 4:9

2. One of the same tribe.

2Sa 19:13

3. Of the same people,

Ex 2:11

or even of a cognate people.

Nu 20:14

4. An ally.

Am 1:9

5. Any friend,

Job 5:15

6. One of the same office.

1Ki 9:13

7. A fellow man.

Le 19:17

8. Metaphorically of any similarity, as in

Job 30:19

The word adelphos has a similar range of meanings in the New Testament.

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BROTHER. 1. A brother by the same mother, a uterine brother, Mt 4:21; 20:2. A brother, though not by the same mother, Mt 2:3. A near kinsman, a cousin, Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3. Observe, that in Mt 13:55, James, and Joses, and Judas, are called the ???????, brethren, of Christ, but were most probably only his cousins by his mother's side; for James and Joses were the sons of Mary, Mt 27:56; and James and Judas, the sons of Alpheus, Lu 6:15-16; which Alpheus is therefore probably the same with Cleopas, the husband of Mary, sister to our Lord's mother, Joh 19:25.

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