This evening we are discussing Romans 13. This section is part of Paul’s larger argument in Romans 12:1-15:13 concerning what the Christian life looks like. Romans 13:8-10 forms the heart of this discussion. It is here that Paul says that love of neighbor (Lev. 18:19) fulfills the law – “For love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” This teaching of Paul echoes the teaching of Rabbi Hillel the Elder (c.110BC – c.10AD) who taught “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” This is also found in Jesus’ teaching that the two great commandments are to love God and love your neighbor, for these are bases of the entirety of Scripture. Matt 22:36-40. In his book “On Christian Doctrine,” Augustine writes that any interpretation of Scripture which does not build up love is in error, and any interpretation that builds up love may not be correct, but cannot be in error. Bk. I, Ch. 36 Love, of course, forms the very heart of the Christian life, because God is love. 1 John 4:8.
But Love is not simply the focus of the Christian life but its ultimate concern. We are justified through faith. Rom. 5:1. However, as Paul points out, if we have a faith that is strong enough, sincere enough, and certain enough to bring about our eternal salvation, but we lack love, then it is as if we were never created and simply don’t exist. 1 Cor. 13:2b. Faith and love are not opposed, for it is only through our faith that we can know the true love of God, and thereby love our neighbor as ourselves. I have attached an excerpt from The Roots of Early Christian Mysticism where Olivier Clément looks at this interplay between faith and love and what it truly means to love your neighbor from the point of view of early Christian writers. pp.270-80. If you have time today, please read this excerpt.
Therefore, in preparation for tonight, think through what it looks like to have love govern all things. If love is the lens through which we interpret Scripture, how does that change our Bible readings? If love governs all of our actions, how does that change our behaviour? If love dictates our very thoughts, how does that change who we are?
SCHEDULE: We are only in Romans for a couple of more weeks. Please let me know what hymns you would like to study.
Dinner is at 6. Menu is beef stroganoff. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.1 Corinthians 13:4-8.