2) ...in the New Covenant (A)

3.3.2 The object of Christian love in the light of the New Covenant (A)

At the end of the last section the question was asked concerning why Paul speaks so rarely about our love (agapê) for God. The most common answer to this question is that:

“Paul prefers the term πίστις [faith], for this highlights the attitude of receptivity characteristic of man’s whole relationship with God. This contains an important element of truth, but is cannot be a complete explanation.p.142

However, John speaks frequently of man’s love for Christ, and for the Father but is just as insistent on man’s relationship of receptivity.

The basic answer to our question is to be found rather in the fact that the perspecive in which Paul sees agapê is determined not by the biblical concept of Covenant in general (that of a recoprochal relationship between God and man), but by that particular aspect of the New Covenant which consititues its very novely, and which brings to the general concept of reciprocity a completely new dimension—that of dyamic union. For Paul, the immediacy of the Christian’s relationship with God consistes not so much in the fact that God is the object of his love (though this is presupposed), as in the fact that he is its source.p.142

So Paul is no as concerned about the object of agapê as about its source. It’s value is independent of its object. “This is because at the well-spring of all christian love man is immediately united with God.”p.143

Genuine, authentic, Christian love for one’s neighbour that is totally selfless is only possible when God is in posession of the person and the person is wholly surrendered to God.

“To say that the Christian’s love for his neighbour is ‘part’ of his love for God, or that the Christian loves his nieghbour ‘for the sake of his love for God’, is to misunderstand Paul and to overlook the completlely new dimension which the New Covenant has brought to the relationship between God and man.p.143

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Paul’s primary concern is not so much that the Christian loves his neighbour, or loves God, but that the Christian “loves (and must love) with a heart that God’s own love has transformed.”p.144

This differs immensely from a contemporary attitude that a love for the needy and destitute is of more value because of the object of the love. Paul never urges the churches to start community aid programs in the cities, although no doubt he would see this as a good and Christian enterprise.p.144

Updated 2009-10-20 (build:62) by Andrew Fountain