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Essays by KT

"Paul's Idea of Community"

Affirming Diversity
Which Way Home
Mis experiencias con español
La figura de la madre
La redención
Manifestations of the Divine Brahma
The Six Models of the Church
Affirmative Action
A Friend Is
A persuadir
Aprovecha el día
Armas de fuego
Asperger's Disorder
ASDs: Autism
Black Friday
Book Intro
Big Boys Dont Cry?
Cancion del pirata
Cell Phones
Cathedral Within
Change the World
Child Care
Civil Society
Christian Family
Organ Donation
Deanne Bray
Drug Testing
Faith in Narnia
Fast Food?
Guns and Games
Grenz Review
The Odyssey
I Am
Jesus the Christ
Keep the Laws!
La ciencia
La inmigración
Louis Braille
Marriage Reflection
Mi lugar de refugio
My Life (Erikson)
My Special Place
Reflection -Marriage
Romance sonámbulo
Public-service values
Semana Santa
Spe Salvi
Teen Suicide
Un Santo legendario
Better World
The Four Loves
"Jesus Freak" Picture
Mona Lupe
Mother of Jesus
Holy Eucharist
Religión en Niebla
The U.S. Economy
Todo es regalo
Trip to NY ...
True Friends
Una lección
Unlikeliest Friends
Santo legendario
Vs. and Verses
What's the Diff?
Walsh Review
Means to be Human
Million dollars


December 11, 2010

Paul’s idea of community cannot be understood outside of the context of his life.  His ideas are not exclusive of the society in which he lived or his religious background, nor are they complete replicas.  In his preaching, he used the culture of the society as a base to teach the people.  His ideas were constantly being formed by his experiences, the society, and his missionary work.

Paul’s idea of community is also not exclusive of the other ideas he formed.  For example, his idea of freedom is a foundation for his idea of community.  Paul values Torah while also expressing that it does not save or provide freedom.  Rather, God saves; and God calls us to freedom and community.  Focusing merely on Torah includes the danger of becoming self-righteous and self-centered.  On the other hand, one who lives in the Spirit of Jesus experiences truth.  It gives one the freedom to be himself in the context of community.  Freedom in the Spirit helps to provide right relationship with God as well as with community.  It also calls one to live in such a way as to improve these relationships.

            Paul describes community and our relationship with one another in many ways.  He talks about ekklesia in his later writings as a participation in a heavenly reality.  Paul uses metaphors to describe community such as a family, a body, and a building.  He uses familial words to describe those in community and encourages all to view each other as part of a common family.  He uses the word agape to portray the responsibility each member has toward each other to make sacrifices out of love of the community.  This metaphor of a family shows our common participation in something beyond ourselves.

            Paul also uses the metaphor of a body to describe his view of community.  Just like there are many parts of the body with different functions, so too is there diversity among members working together.  No two members are identical in every aspect and each plays an important role in the community.  Also in accordance with the metaphor, when one part is affected, the whole is affected.  Therefore, the community shares in joy and suffering.  Each member is then called to play their part, using their gifts to benefit the community.  With this variety of roles and each part playing its own, the body becomes stronger.  So too does each member become a more defined individual when he participates in the whole.  Diversity and unity are equally important in the body as well as in the community.  Christ is the source of unity among the members.  Paul emphasizes this unity in Christ as being the goal.

Paul uses the metaphor of a building and describes Christ as being its foundation.  Members of the community work interdependently.  The gifts each member has been given are for the edification of the community.  Each member is to build each other up through love in Christ.  As one grows in maturity toward the likeness of God, they are also to encourage others in the community.  Maturity involves growth in virtues such as faith, hope and love.

As each individual is to contribute to the community, so too is the community to benefit the individual.  Growing closer to God also involves becoming more united with those around.  Both of these, uniting with God and uniting with others, are a living out of the gospel message.  Paul’s idea of community also involves expressions of their fellowship.  A person’s baptism signifies his incorporation into a community.  The laying on of hands expresses the community’s fellowship with God and their fellowship with the person for whom they are praying.  The common meal reminds each member of his relationship with one another as well as their relationship with God.  The exchange of kisses serves as a greeting to one another.  Another expression of fellowship is the sharing of possessions.  Members are to share with their community their abundance.

Paul’s idea of community was formed by many factors.  His idea differed from that of society; the ideas of his communities also differed from his idea.  Paul has a very developed idea of community.  It was not formed by unrealistic expectations, rather it is based off the gospel message and Jesus’ own words.  Paul’s idea of community is still just as applicable and challenging today as it was when he first developed his idea.

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