Love and Justice

  • Nicholas WolterstorffEmail author
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 5)


A common theme in twentieth century Christian ethics was that the agapic love for the neighbor that Jesus commands is to be understood as gratuitous benevolence, and that love, so understood, is in tension with justice. The author argues that this is a misinterpretation of Jesus’ love command, and that when agapic love is rightly understood, there is no conflict between love and justice. Jesus’ second love command is a quotation from Leviticus 19. When we look at the context of the command in Leviticus, we see that doing justice is not pitted against love but is instead an example of love. The author concludes by proposing that agapic love be understood as care rather than gratuitous benevolence. When we care about someone, we see to it that they are treated justly.


Agape Benevolence Care Jesus Justice Love Niebuhr Nygren 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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