From Kolb-Wengert:Besides,175 if love is the perfect fulfillment of the law and satisfies the law, then there is no need for Christ as the propitiator. However, Paul teaches that we are acceptable on account of Christ and not on account of the observance of the law, because our observance of the law is imperfect. Thus because he clearly denies perfection to us elsewhere, we must not think that here he is speaking about the personal perfection of individuals. Instead, he is speaking about community in the church. For he says that love is a bond or unbroken chain in order to show that he is talking about linking and binding together the many members of the church with one another. In all families and communities harmony needs to be nurtured by mutual responsibilities, and it is not possible to preserve tranquillity unless people overlook and forgive certain mistakes among themselves. In the same way, Paul urges that there be love in the church to preserve harmony, to bear with (if need be) the crude behavior of the brothers [and sisters], and to overlook certain minor offenses, lest the church disintegrate into various schisms and lest enmities, factions, and heresies arise from such schisms.For harmony will inevitably dissolve whenever bishops impose excessive burdens upon the people or have no regard for their weakness. Dissensions also arise when the people judge the conduct of their teachers too severely or scorn them on account of some lesser faults, going on to seek other kinds of doctrine and other teachers. On the contrary, perfection (that is, the integrity of the church) is preserved when the strong bear with the weak, when people put the best construction on the faults of their teachers, and when the bishops [Page 156] make some allowances for the weakness of their peopleRobert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 155 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000).
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