Will you scratch my back?

The phrase “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” usually means I will do something for you and then you return the favor.  Man is not meant to live an isolated life on an island.  We have relationships with each other.  And the burdens of life require us to assist one another.  Helping one another along the way.

I am a fan of the Andy Griffith show.  There is an episode in which Andy saves Gomer’s life.  The episode revolves around Gomer attempting to repay Andy, to return the favor.  He refers to Andy as the life-saver man.  And in the end the only way Andy can get Gomer to stop trying to repay him is to set up a scheme whereby Gomer saves Andy’s life.  And thus the debt is repaid.

In reality we each owe one another.  Think of the impact so many have had in your life.  It is impossible to repay this debt. Yet Galatians 6:2 encourages us to bear one another’s burdens.  We must help one another along the way.

One another. This is an interesting phrase.  It is found many times throughout the New Testament.  In the Greek language it carries with it the idea of reciprocity.  Reciprocal just means given or done in return.  I do for you and you do for me.  Mutual actions.  One another could be thought of as one and the other, two people helping each other.  You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

We would do well to examine these “one another” passages in the Bible and study the verbs associated with each reference.   There are about 100 “one another” references found in 94 verses in the New Testament. It is noteworthy that about 2/3 of these passages deal with two general themes.  One is unity and the other is love.


About 1/3 of these verses deal with the idea of unity.  These include verses like –

Mark 9:50 – have peace with one another

Romans 15:5 – be like-minded toward one another

How important is unity?  Paul pleaded with the Corinthians that there be no divisions among them.  A house divided cannot stand.  Unity is critical in the church and in the home.


Another 1/3 of these verses encourage us to love one another.  These are verses such as –

John 13:34 – that you also love one another

Romans 13:8 – Owe no one anything except to love one another

Can you summarize the entire Old Testament with one word?  Paul did just that in Romans 13:9.  Here by Inspiration Paul wrote, “…all is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”.  Love.  Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”


Other notable “one another” passages encourage humility toward one another.  Passages like –

We serve one another – Galatians 5:13

We give preference to one another – Romans 12:10

We have humility toward one another – 1 Peter 5:5


And there are many others such as –

We are to comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

And be kind one to another, forgiving one another – Ephesians 4:32


Now let us see what we have in just these few verses we have surveyed.  Unity, love, humility, comfort, kindness, and forgiveness.  The list paints a picture of a Christian.

Romans 12:5 makes a reference to our being members of one another.  This seems to summarize what we are discussing, namely that we owe a debt to each other. Later in Romans 13:7 Paul reminds us that no one lives to himself and no one dies to himself.  We are mutually responsible to one another.

One another.   Let us strive to improve our “one another” behavior.

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