i] The marks of a Christian community, 12:3-13:14

d) Let love be practical


Having explained a believer's duties toward the civil authorities, 13:1-7, Paul goes on to speak of the duty to love one another, for "love is the fulfilling of the law", which law (the Mosaic law) gives shape to love.


i] Context: See 12:1-2.


ii] Background: See 1:8-15.


iii] Structure: This instruction toward love presents as follows:


Take on the obligation of love, v8a.


It fulfills the law, v8b.

Scriptural support, v9.


Love does no harm to the neighbor, v10a;

Love fulfills the law, v10b.


iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.


v] Interpretation:

Addressing the issue of the debt owed to secular government prompts Paul to speak of a debt that is never discharged; this is the debt of love toward one's neighbor. Referring to some of the specific neighborly commandments, Paul shows that they are all fulfilled in the single command to love. The command to love can be summarized in the negative as seeking not to harm a neighbor: seducing his wife, murdering him, stealing from him, coveting his possessions, ....... Paul says of the law of love that it is the "fulfillment of the law." The noun plhrwma, "fullness / fulfillment", probably means "complete"; love completes God's law, fully realizes its intent, sums it up.


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 13:8

The Law gives shape to obedience, the essential nature of which is love, v8-10: There is one debt which will always be outstanding, and this because it is impossible to clear. The obligation we must try to clear and never will, is our obligation to love. This love toward "one another" is a self-giving compassion toward the brotherhood. To show this compassion is to "fulfill the law"

ofeilete (ofeilew) pres. imp. "debt" - [to no one] owe [nothing]. The present imperative expresses continued action; "Do not owe anything to anyone." The double negative mhdeni mhden, "to no one nothing", is emphatic by position and use.

ei mh "except" - Serving to express a contrast by designating an exception. Possibly here "but", although "except" is better, as NIV.

to agapan (agapaw) pres. inf. "the continuing debt to love" - to love. The articular infinitive serves as the subject of the subordinate clause.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why love is owed to another.

oJ ... agapwn (agapaw) pres. part. "whoever loves" - the one loving. The participle serves as a substantive.

ton eteron "his fellowman / others" - the other. The other what? Most likely "his neighbor", Cassirer.

peplhrwken (plhrow) perf. "has fulfilled [the law]" - has fulfilled [law]. The perfect is gnomic; in the sense of realized its intent, completed it. "To love your neighbor is to fulfill the whole law", Barclay.


The thought expressed in v8b is now confirmed. Paul quotes some examples from the second table of the Ten Commandments and then quotes the summary of this table from Leviticus 19:18.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining how love fulfills the law.

to "the commandments" - the [you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet]. The singular article serves as a nominalizer gathering the listed sample commandments into a noun clause / quote, including the qualifying indefinite relative clause "whatever ....", subject of the verb "are summed up"

ei tiV [+ ind] - "[and] whatever" - [and] if any [other commandment]. Introducing an indefinite relative clause; "whatever other commandment there is", Berkeley.

en + dat. "-" - in [this word]. Locative; expressing space; "in this one sentence", Barclay.

anakefalaioutai (anakefalaiow) pres. pas. "are summed up" - it is summed up. The gathering up of a large number of details under a single statement or heading.

en + dat. "in [this one command]" - in [this word]. Locative; expressing space / sphere; "in this one sentence", Barclay.

ton plhsion adv. "[love your] neighbor" - [you shall love] the neighbor [of you]. It is worth noting that "neighbor" always referred to a fellow-Israelite, and so for us it refers to a fellow-believer. This does not mean we should not care for the rest of humanity. We must "do good to all men", but "love the brotherhood". We need to remember that God's special love is for his children, but none-the-less he sends "rain on the just and the unjust alike."

wJV "as [yourself]" - Comparative. The command that we love our brother as we love ourselves is not promoting self-love as such, rather it recognizes our selfishness and uses this self-interest as a gauge to define, in practical terms, our obligation toward others.


The golden rule in reverse. The exercise of love does not disadvantage a brother

ouk ergazetai (ergazomai) pres. mid. "does no harm" - [love] does not do, work [harm]. The present tense is best taken as gnomic. "Love toward a neighbor does not work evil." The commandments give shape to the law of love and therefore, perfect love perfectly fulfills the law (an impossible ideal).

tw/ plhsion adv. "to a neighbor" - to the one near = neighbor. The adverb is turned into a substantive by the nominalizer tw/; dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

oun "therefore" - Drawing a logical conclusion / inferential.

plhrwma (a atoV) "[love is] the fulfillment" - [love] a fulfillment. "Love, which is faith in action, fulfills (completes) what is involved in the law (law of Moses)", Dumbrell.

nomou (oV) gen. "of the law" - of law. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective; "love fulfills the requirements of God's law", NLT.


Romans Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]