Original Research

The command to love the neighbour in Paul and the Synoptics

Heinz A. Hiestermann, Gert J. Steyn
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1627 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1627 | © 2016 Heinz A. Hiestermann, Gert J. Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 April 2016 | Published: 30 September 2016

About the author(s)

Heinz A. Hiestermann, Department New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Gert J. Steyn, Department New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

When sayings of Jesus are compared between the Pauline letters and the Synoptic Gospels in an attempt to locate parallels, Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:8–10 have frequently been put forward as possible parallels to the Synoptic renditions of the great commandment of Mark 12:28–34 (Mt 22:34–40; Lk 10:25–28). These Pauline and Synoptic texts all contain the command to love the neighbour, but the Synoptic texts have added the command to love God to the command to love the neighbour. Paul never quoted the great commandment. Consequently, a relationship between the verses is normally rejected. However, not all possibilities have been explored. In the search for parallels between Pauline and Synoptic Jesus traditions it has been overlooked that Paul and Matthew render the command to love the neighbour more than once. Matthew delivers the command to love the neighbour three times. Only once he has connected it to the command to love God. Matthew renders the single command to love the neighbour twice, resembling the Pauline use of the command. Using the criteria for validating parallels between Pauline and Synoptic Jesus traditions, including verbal agreement and the unique use of the command to love the neighbour by Paul and Matthew, it is argued that a connection between Romans 13:9 and Matthew 19:18–19 is likely.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The research explores the use of Leviticus 19:18b by the New Testament authors. It is argued that the command to love the neighbour was given high prominence in the early church, as it was used by the Synoptic authors and by Paul to summarise Jesus’ ethical teachings.


Keywords

Love Command; Rm 13:9; Mt 19:18-19

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