In my previous posts in this series, I introduced the topic of mutuality as â€œa reciprocal relation between interdependent entitiesâ€ and suggested that mutuality between believers is related to maturity in Christ (“Considering Mutuality – Introduction“). Next, I described “individualism” and “collectivism” and suggested that “mutuality” stands apart from both (“Considering Mutuality – Individualism and Collectivism“).
In this post, I would like for us to consider where we find the concept of mutuality in Scripture. Unfortunately, because the data is so extensive, I will not be able to list all of the passages. Instead, I want to point out a few instances of mutuality in Scripture.
To begin with, the widespread use of the term “one another” in the New Testament points us toward the importance of mutuality. “One another” is the English translation of the Greek reciprocal pronoun á¼€Î»Î»Î®Î»Ï‰Î½ (allÄ“lÅn). A reciprocal pronoun indicates that more than one person is involved in both carrying out an activity and in the results of the activity. Thus, when Scripture indicates that we should “love one another,” “teach one another,” “exhort one another,” “serve one another,” etc., these are mutual activities in which more than one person is involved in both the activity and the result.
Second, consider the use of the Greek preposition ÏƒÏÎ½ (sÅ«n), either as a standalone preposition or as a prepositional prefix to verbs. This pronoun is usually translated “with” or “together with.” An important usage of this preposition is found in Ephesians 2:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV)
The highlight English terms are translations of Greek verbs with the ÏƒÏÎ½ (sÅ«n) prepositional prefix. We understand that we are not made alive, raised up, or seated along or on our own or by our own power, but these occur in mutual relation with Christ.
However, we find often find ÏƒÏÎ½ (sÅ«n) prefixed words indicating the same mutual relationship between believers. Consider just this one passage:
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6 ESV)
The highlighted words in the passage above are all single nouns prefixed with ÏƒÏÎ½ (sÅ«n) indicating a mutual relationship.
As a final example – although I could give many, many more – consider one of the primary forms of “teaching” between believers: the verb Î´Î¹Î±Î»ÎÎ³Î¿Î¼Î±Î¹ (dialegomai). While it is often used in the interaction between believers (i.e. Acts 19:9; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:9), and is sometimes translated “reasoned,” “talked,” or even “preached,” the term indicates less of a one-to-many teaching method than a many-to-many teaching method. Thus, even in teaching we find mutual relationships between believers.
So, in these examples, I’m demonstrated that mutuality – that is, followers of Jesus Christ living in interdependent relationships with one another -Â is not only present in Scripture, but mutuality is widespread in the New Testament. Therefore, we should take mutuality seriously as a means of relating to one another.