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One-Anothering vs. Accountability

Last Updated: April 2, 2024

In a recent video, Mike Emlet from CCEF looks at the subject of Christian accountability. What is it? How do you practically do it? How do you not base an accountability relationship on “works” but at the same time not condone perpetual sin?

I really appreciate Dr. Emlet’s take on accountability. He encourages us to broaden our definition beyond seeing accountability as a social restraint on sin (i.e. “I won’t sin because I’ll have to tell my accountability partner later”). Accountability can easily devolve into a checklist mentality: a regular reporting of our victories or defeats.

Emlet would like us to see accountability defined broadly: embracing all the “one-anothers” of the Bible. He also wants us to define accountability more positively: pointing one another to Jesus vs. simply avoiding sin.

All the One-Anothers in the New Testament

The New Testament uses the word ἀλλήλων (allēlōn) which means “one another” and carries the idea of mutuality or reciprocity. This word is used many times in the New Testament to describe the relationships we are meant to have in the body of Christ.

Positive Commands:

  • Earnestly love one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34-35; 15:12,17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,11-12; 2 John 1:5)
  • Wash one another’s feet (John 13:14)
  • Be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
  • Be devoted to one another with genuine brotherly affection (Romans 12:10)
  • Outdo one another in showing preference and honor to each other (Romans 12:10)
  • Be of the same mind and live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16:15:5)
  • Mutually edify one another (Romans 14:19)
  • Welcome, accept, and receive one another as Christ accepted you (Romans 15:7)
  • Admonish and instruct one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Greet one another with a holy kiss / kiss of love (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14)
  • Wait for one another when you come together to eat (1 Corinthians 11:33)
  • Have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
  • Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Patiently bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13)
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Esteem one another as more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:3)
  • Encourage and comfort one another with eternal truths (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11)
  • Strive to do what is good to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  • Consider one another, how to motivate each other unto love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Have fellowship with one another by walking in the light (1 John 1:7)

Negative Commands:

  • Seek honor from God, not just from one another (John 5:44)
  • Do not judge or condemn one another (Romans 14:13)
  • Do not bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:15)
  • Do not provoke or be jealous of one another (Galatians 5:26)
  • Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Do not slander one another (James 4:11)
  • Do not grumble and complain against one another (James 5:9)
  1. David Frazier

    This is great stuff! The blog, and Mr. Young’s reply. Thanks. It was very timely as well, as I am in first year Koine Greek for my MA in Biblical Counseling. This blog has been extremely helpful to me and God’s ministry.

  2. When I moved to Brazil, I had such difficulty finding a Portuguese equivalent to the word “accountability.” Every time I met a bi-lingual person I asked him for a translation. Everyone was stumped. One day I was reading Roland Allen’s fifty year old book, “Missionary Methods, St Pauls our Ours,” and noticed the word accountability was never used. The expression was “mutual responsibility,” and with that I found my translation.

    Mutual Responsibility, the one anothers.

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