The Church as God’s Community

St. Paul Preaching

Like Jesus and James, Paul identifies the love of neighbor as the perfect summation of God’s commandments, because ‘love does no harm to the neighbor.’ (Rom. 13:8-10). Paul thus emphasizes a communal understanding of righteousness; it is not only a matter of being right with God but also a matter of being in right relationship with others (1 Cor. 8:1-3; Rom. 14:17)…Paul shows little or no concern for the perfection (teleiōsis) of individuals, but is constantly concerned that his churches mature as communities…Envy and rivalry foster a spirit of competition that seeks the good of the individual at the expense of the community (Gal. 5:13)…In his view, the paradigm of God’s saving action as revealed in the faith and love of Jesus demands of the strong in the community not to dominate or assert their will, but in service and humility to place themselves at the disposal of the weak (1 Cor. 8:7-13)…And since in antiquity the relationship between brothers is the supreme paradigm for fellowship (koinōnia), kinship language also encourages the patterns of equality and reciprocity that are Paul’s moral concern.  (The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul, edited by James D.G. Dunn, pg 204, 206)