St. Paul: Love is Regarding Others First

For St. Paul love always means having regard for others first and foremost. This “other-regard” is St. Paul’s definition of what it means to love.   In this St. Paul clearly follows the biblical distinction between love (which is always other oriented) and self-love (in which a person is most concerned about what benefits the self).   ” ‘Other-regard’ holds together a number of values often recognized as key in Pauline ethics, namely, love, love of neighbor, social humility, renunciation of status, etc. and provides a general label which encapsulates what Paul denotes as the essential content of the imperative…In these cases, notably regarding food, Paul presses for conformity not to specific rules of ethical practice (eating, not eating, etc.) but to the metanorm of other-regard…It is indeed this other-regard which requires that believers cease to judge  or  condemn the other, for holding an ethical stance they regard as inadequate or sinful, and instead adopt a stance of tolerance and acceptance.”   (David Horrell, Solidarity and Difference: A Contemporary Reading of St. Paul’s Ethics)

St. Paul “defines Christian love as self-giving: ‘through love become servants to one another (Gal 5:13).  The same definition that Paul gives in relationship to Christ’s love in [Galatians] 2:20 is replicated here in relation to Christian love, with love being defined in each case as self-giving service for the benefit of others.”  (James Dunn, The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul)

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