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St. Paul’s Teachings on Love & other Virtues: A Neglected Treasure

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1 St. Paul’s Teachings on Love & other Virtues: A Neglected Treasure
Fr. Felix Just, S.J. Loyola Institute for Spirituality Orange, CA March 1, 2009 Religious Education Congress Archdiocese of Los Angeles

2 Opening 2 Cor 13:11 “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Prayer of Thanksgiving

3 It’s all about Love Most important Christian Teaching?
God loves me; God loves you God adopts us as children We are beloved sons & daughters of God How do we respond to God’s Love? How do we love God? How do we love each other? How do we love ourselves? Do we say “Yes” to God?

4 Christian Morality / Biblical Ethics
Not only based on the Ten Commandments, but also focuses on the seven “Deadly Sins” and the opposing seven “Principal Virtues,” and other categories of virtues and vices. These teachings are found in books of the Old Testament and in the words of Jesus in the Gospels, but are especially prominent in the writings of St. Paul, for whom love is the most important virtue.

5 Preliminary Definitions
Virtue “An habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The moral virtues are acquired through human effort aided by God’s grace; the theological virtues are gifts of God” (CCC §1803) Vice “A habit acquired by repeated sin in violation of the proper norms of human morality. The vices are often linked with the seven capital sins. Repentance for sin and confession may restore grace to a soul, but the removal of the ingrained disposition to sin or vice requires much effort and self-denial, until the contrary virtue is acquired.” (CCC §1866)

6 Decalogue / Ten Commandments:
Two Main Lists in the Torah: Exodus 20:1-17 & Deuteronomy 5:6-21 1) No other Gods, idols 2) Revere God’s name 3) Keep holy the Sabbath 4) Honor your parents 5-6) Don’t murder, commit adultery 7-8) Don’t bear false witness, steal 9-10) Don‘t covet spouses/property See


8 Decalogue / Ten Commandments:
Quotations & Applications in the OT: Leviticus 19:1-18 “Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy…” Jeremiah 7:3-11 Stealing, murder, adultery, perjury Hosea 4:1-2 False swearing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery! Wisdom 14:21-31 Idolatry, murder, adultery, theft, etc. Many OT texts also discuss idolatry

9 Decalogue / Ten Commandments:
Quotations & Applications in the NT: Matthew 5:17-48 (“antitheses”) Murder, adultery, swearing falsely, revenge Mark 7:10, & Matt 15:4, 19 (“purity”) Theft, murder, adultery, greed, etc. Mark 10:17-22 (rich man; Mt 19:16-22; Lk 18:18-23) Kill, adultery, steal, false witness, honor parents Romans 13:8-10 Adultery, kill, steal, covet James 2:8-11 Adultery & murder

10 Commandments to Love God and Love Others
Shema / “Hear, O Israel…” Deut 6:4-5 – “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Most important Jewish “Creed” Quoted by Jesus: Mark 12: (full quote) Matt 22:37 (only Deut 6:5) Cf. Luke 10:27 (quoted by scribe)

11 Commandments to Love God and Love Others
“Love your neighbor as yourself ” Lev 19:18 Quoted often in the NT: Mark 12:31 & par. Matt 5:43 Matt 19:19 Rom 13:9 Gal 5:14 James 2:8 Var. “love one another…”

12 Seven “Deadly Sins” & Seven “Principal Virtues”
Capital/Deadly Sins: Principal Virtues: Pride, arrogance, superbia Humility, modesty, humilitas Avarice, greed, avaritia Generosity, charity, liberalitas Envy, jealousy, invidia Kindness, gratitude, humanitas Wrath, anger, ira Patience, compassion, patientia Lust, impurity, luxuria Chastity, purity, castitas Gluttony, voracity, gula Temperance, moderation, temperantia Sloth, laziness, acedia Diligence, fervor, industria See CCC §1866 (briefly lists the capital sins)

13 Seven Deadly Sins and Four Last Things Bosch 1485

14 “Deadly Sins” & “Principal Virtues”
The idea of listing seven major vices is based in part on a passage from Proverbs: “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family.” (Prov 6:16-19)

15 “Cardinal Virtues” & “Theological Virtues”
Seven main virtues are often listed not in contrast to the “deadly sins,” but as a combination of four “Cardinal Virtues” and three “Theological Virtues”: Cardinal Virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance Theological Virtues: faith, hope, love CCC §§ (discusses all seven virtues)

16 “Cardinal Virtues” Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance
Wisdom 8:7 – “If one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues ; for she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for people than these.” Cf. Sirach 25:5 – “How becoming to the aged is wisdom, understanding and prudence to the venerable!”

17 “Cardinal Virtues” Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance
“To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).” St. Augustine of Hippo, De moribus eccl As quoted in CCC §§1809

18 “Theological Virtues”
Faith, Hope, Love 1 Thess 1:3 – “We give thanks to God always for all of you… calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father” 1 Thess 5:8 – “…let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation.” (cf. Eph 6:13-17) All three also in 1 Cor 13; Gal 5:5-6; Col 1:4-5, 23 Compare Heb 10:39

19 “Theological Virtues”
Faith Heb 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Better translated “trust” or “entrusting oneself” Hope Rom 8:24-25 – “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.” Cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5

20 “Theological Virtues”
Love: Four Greek words: agape (charity); philia (friendship) eros (passion, desire); storge (natural affection) God’s love & Christ’s love for us Rom 8:35-39 – “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?… No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16)

21 OT Texts with Virtues and Vices:
The OT contains very few lists of virtues and/or vices, aside from the Decalogue; ethical discussions didn’t become popular until the 3rd cent. BCE and later. Isaiah 11:1-3a – Greek and Latin versions list seven traditional “gifts of the Spirit” (see CCC, §1831): wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

22 OT Texts with Virtues and Vices:
Exodus 34:6 – “God is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” Hosea 2:19-20 – righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, faithfulness Micah 6:8 – “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” Psalms and Proverbs, Wisdom and Sirach also mention other virtues and vices, but usually individually, not in lists. Prov 6:16-19 – mentioned earlier

23 Ethical Materials in the GOSPELS
Longer discussions of virtues and vices are not often found in the Gospels, but are much more frequent in the NT letters, esp. Paul’s. Beatitudes & Woes Matt 5:1-12 & 23:1-26; Luke 6:20-26 Love Enemies Matt 5:43-48 & Luke 6:27-36 Golden Rule Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31 “Evils from within” that “defile” people Matt 15:17-20 & Mark 7:20-23

24 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Galatians 5:13-26 Romans 13:8-14 Romans 12:9-21 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 Colossians 3:1-17 Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:1-10 1 Timothy 3:2-11; 6:3-12 2 Timothy 2:22-26 Titus 1:6-9; 3:1-3

25 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13 “LOVE is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends... And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”


27 How can we USE these texts?
Hear them in the Liturgy of the Word Read them on our own Study and reflect on their meaning Discuss them in Bible Study groups Meditate on them in our own prayer Focus on one element, one word per day Consider real-life examples and models Use them in “Examination of Conscience” Not just the “vice lists” but esp. the virtues!

28 1 Cor 13: LOVE LOVE is patient. Love is kind.
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not irritable or resentful. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

29 GOD is LOVE GOD is patient; God is kind;
God is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. God does not insist on his own way, God is not irritable or resentful, God does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

30 How well do I love? Am I patient? Am I kind?
Am I envious or boastful or arrogant or rude? Do I insist on my own way? Am I irritable or resentful? Do I rejoice in wrongdoing, or do I rejoice in the truth? Do I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things?

31 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Galatians 5:13-26 Romans 13:8-14 Romans 12:9-21 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 Colossians 3:1-17 Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:1-10 1 Timothy 3:2-11; 6:3-12 2 Timothy 2:22-26 Titus 1:6-9; 3:1-3

32 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Galatians 5:13-26 – “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh…

33 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Gal 5:13-26 (cont.) – “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things…” (These are nine traditional “fruits of the Spirit”; the Vulgate also includes goodness, modesty, and chastity, for a total of twelve.)

34 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Similarly Romans 13:8-14 “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

35 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Rom 13:8-14 (cont.) – “And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”

36 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Rom 12:9-21 – “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

37 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
1 Thess 5:12-22 – We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good both for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utter-ances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.


39 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Colossians 3:1-17 – If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. 6 Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. 7 By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.

40 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Col 3:1-17 (cont.) - 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. 9 Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

41 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Col 3:1-17 (cont.) – 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.

42 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Col 3:1-17 (cont.) – 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


44 Pauline Ethics: Virtues & Vices
Deutero-Pauline Texts with both Virt & Vice: Ephesians 4:25-32 Ephesians 5:1-10 1 Timothy 3:2-11 1 Timothy 6:3-12 2 Timothy 2:22-26 Titus 1:6-9 Titus 3:1-3

45 More VICE Lists: 2 Cor 12:20-21 – “I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder… I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.” Also Rom 1:18-31; 1 Cor 5:9-11; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:8-11; 2 Tim 3:1-5

46 More VIRTUE Lists: Romans 5:3-5 – “We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Also Eph 6:10-20; Rom 14:17; Phil 4:8-9; 2 Cor 6:3-10; 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 3:10-11a

47 Good Habits and Good Examples
Phil 4:8-9 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

48 “Household Codes” in the NT
Four later NT letters contain passages with instructions for particular groups of people within Christian “households” — how they should treat other members of their family. Colossians 3:18—4:1; Ephesians 5:21—6:9; Titus 2:1-10; and 1 Peter 2:18—3:7 These are similar to, yet also significantly different from, “codes of conduct” found in other Greco-Roman moral writings.

49 “Household Codes” in the NT
Col 3:18—4:1 Eph 5:21—6:9 Intro: for all (3:1-17) Intro: for all (5:21) Wives (3:18) Wives (5:22-24) Husbands (3:19) Husbands (5:25-33) Children (3:20) Children (6:1-3) Fathers (3:21) Fathers (6:4) Slaves (3:22-25) Slaves (6:5-8) Masters (4:1) Masters (6:9) How many different groups are addressed here?

50 “Household Code” in Col 3:18–4:1
Wives : be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord (3:18) Husbands : love your wives and never treat them harshly (3:19) Children : obey your parents in everything; it’s your acceptable duty in the Lord (3:20) Fathers : do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart (3:21) Slaves : obey earthly masters in everything, fearing the Lord. (3:22-25) Masters : treat your slaves justly & fairly; you also have a Master in heaven (4:1)

51 “Household Code” in Col 3:18–4:1
Pairs of Relationships: Wives / Husbands (3:18-19) Children / Fathers (3:20-21) Slaves / Masters (3:22-25; 4:1) Consider historical and cultural context: Compared to modern expectations? Compared to ancient Greco-Roman views? Recall that 3:1-17 is addressed to all !

52 Other NT Ethical Texts Hebrews 13:1-8, 16-17 James 2:8-13; 3:13—4:4
1 Peter 2:1; 3:8-9; 4:3-4, 15 2 Peter 1:5-11 1 John 2:1-11; 3:4-18; 4:7-21 Revelation 9:20-21; 21:8; 22:15

53 Prayer to the Apostle Paul for the Pauline Year
O Glorious St. Paul, Most zealous Apostle, Martyr for the love of Christ, Give us a deep faith, a steadfast hope, a burning love for our Lord, so that we can proclaim with you, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Help us to become apostles, serving the Church with a pure heart, witnesses to her truth and beauty amidst the darkness of our days. With you we praise God our Father: "To Him be the glory, in the Church and in Christ, Now and for ever." Amen.

54 More Pauline & Biblical Resources:
Questions? Comments? Thanks for coming! More Pauline & Biblical Resources: – website of Felix Just, S.J. – Vatican website (Holy See) – Basilica of St. Paul

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