Love Your Neighbor


Writing for Plough magazine, Gerhard Lohfink claims that “the topic of love for
neighbor is widely misunderstood.” He goes on to explain what it meant in the
context of Jesus and the early Christian community: “In the Bible, the command
‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’ does not refer to the individual ‘I’ in the
modern sense. Rather, the ‘I’ here means one’s family. … Accordingly, here
‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ means: The help and solidarity that everyone in
Israel owes his own relatives, especially his direct family, should be extended to
all Israelites. The boundaries of one’s own family should be broken through so as
to include the whole people of God as brothers and sisters—including strangers,
and even those whom one’s family and relatives consider enemies. That is what
Leviticus 19 is saying. This thought is light years away from the individualistic
self-love so widely advocated today” (Gerhard Lohfink, “Did the Early Christians
Understand Jesus?,” Plough, March 30, 2016,