John Wesley's Understanding of the Law for the Practice of Neighborly Love


Bae, Myung-Ji

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This paper is a study on John Wesley's understanding of law for the practice of neighborly love. Loving neighbor is also connected with the ethics and morals of believers. In this sense, we need to understand the evangelical law. I looked at Wesley's understanding of law, which balanced and systematized the relationship between law and gospel. This law is not a covenant of works, but a new covenant of grace, understood through Christ. In other words, this is the law of love that to love God and to love neighbor. But sinful man can not fulfill this law of love by their own effort or merits. That is why it is necessary to have faith in what Christ accomplished and perfected on the cross. And finally, we too, in the likeness of Christ, fulfill the law of love through faith in what will be sanctified, that is, eschatological faith. This is Wesley's law of love that is established by faith. Wesley also brings the law of love through faith into practical spirituality. In particular, he practices love of neighbor to the poor, slaves, and prisoners, who were the lowest in 18th century England society. Wesley did not just preach them, more than that, he tried to meet their practical needs. As a result, this paper focuses on the work that systematizes and develops the theological basis for practicing love for neighbor by properly illuminating the relationship between Gospel and the law. And by examining the good example of Wesley's practice of neighborly love, today's churches and believers will find a proper way to make the healthier Christianity that can transform the world along with Christ’ new commandment.


I. Introduction
II. Wesley's Understanding on the Law
1. Old Testament Law (the Covenant of Works) vs. New Testament Law (the Covenant of Grace)
2. Moral Law as the Supreme Law of the Law
3. The Law of Love Fulfilled through the Eschatological Faith
III. Wesley’s Practice for the Law of Love
1. Work for the Poor
2. Slavery
3. Prison Reform
IV. Conclusion


  • Bae, Myung-Ji Seoul Theological University


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