A thought on the meaning of neighbour

I’m a bit puzzled on the commonly accepted definition of “neighbour”. A lot of people take the parable of the Good Samaritan to mean that a neighbour can be anyone, even a hated outsider. But I always have interpreted the idea that the neighbour was “the man who helped him” as meaning that a neighbour is someone who treats you with kindness and charity, and I thought this was the important part. Am I missing something?

Everyone is our neighbour. We are called to treat everyone with kindness and charity :slight_smile:


Believe it or not, even your enemies are considered your neighbours. Peace!

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We Christians belive that, but not other faiths. For the jews only another jew and the Muslims think that o ly another Muslim is their bro.

Another interpretation: we’re the victim, God is the good Samaritan who saved us despite His having no obligation to do so.

If you look at the parable at “face value”, especially what the term “Good Samaritan” has come to mean then there is a question. Now if you know that a “Samaritan” at that time was an outsider, someone that a Jew won’t associate with, then the parable makes more sense, especially for Jesus’s audience. For our time, replace “Samaritan” with “Muslim” or “atheist” and you have a better understanding on what Jesus was trying to teach.

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The Samaritan was identified as the neighbor, because he showed mercy on the victim. But that means the victim was the recipient of love, which should make him the neighbor. We’re to likewise show mercy to others as Jesus states. It seems to me then that anyone in need is our neighbor, and we’re called to love each other.

We have Christ living in us. That’s what makes us, Christians, so special from others. We’re truly blessed indeed. Praise GOD for His goodness!

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IN FULL CONTEXT - A Jewish Lawyer asks Rabbi Jesus - “How do I inherit Eternal Life?” … Jesus asks: “What’s your answer?”… Lawyer says, “Love God and Love Neighbor” … Jesus says, “Yes, that’s it! Do that and you’ll be Saved!” … Lawyer asks: “Who’s my neighbor?” - It is THEN that Jesus tells of the man beaten, the priest and Levite who passed him by, and the Samaritan (no friend of the Jews) who helped the man. "Who is Neighbor? asks Jesus. … Lawyer says: The one (Samaritan) who helped . THIS IS an important reminder for all - which can be found in other portions of Scriptures including JUDGEMENT DAY - … That our Fundamental Duty is to OBEY God’s Command of Love IF we want to enter into God’s Kingdom.

I see the difficulty. The commandment to love your neighbor suggests that the Samaritan regarded the robber’s victim as his neighbor. Why then did Jesus turned the relationship around by asking who was neighbor to the robber’s victim?

To that question, there are some good answers in this collection of biblical commentaries on the single verse Luke 10:36, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”


Here are a few excerpts:

Which … was neighbour?—a most dexterous way of putting the question: (1) Turning the question from, “Whom am I to love as my neighbour?” to “Who is the man that shows that love?” (2) Compelling the lawyer to give a reply very different from what he would like—not only condemning his own nation, but those of them who should be the most exemplary. (3) Making him commend one of a deeply hated race. And he does it, but it is almost extorted. For he does not answer, “The Samaritan”—that would have sounded heterodox, heretical—but “He that showed mercy on him.” It comes to the same thing, no doubt, but the circumlocution is significant.

Jesus in this beautiful narrative showed him who and what a neighbor was, and he did this in a way that disarmed his prejudice, deeply affected him in regard to his own duty, and evinced the beauty of religion. Had he “at first” told him that a Samaritan might be a neighbor to a Jew and deserve his kindness, he would have been at once revolted at it; but when, by a beautiful and affecting narrative, he brought the “man himself” to see that it might be, he was constrained to admit it.

There is a certain subtle discernment in the form of the question. The point under discussion was as to whom the Jew should look on as his neighbour. It is answered indirectly by the narrative, which showed who had proved himself a neighbour to the Jew. The Samaritan had shown himself a better interpreter of the commandment than the orthodox scribe. He had recognised a neighbour even in the Jew. The Jew therefore should recognise a neighbour even in the Samaritan.

Well, we are commanded to hate no one, so, to a Christian there is no “hated outsider”. We are all God’s children.

In this parabole I really like how Jesus turns the question upside down. The man had asked him : “and who is my neighbour ?” and Jesus asks him in return : “Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour…?” It reminds me that I’m not called to decide for myself who is or is not my neighbour so that I can act accordingly ; I’m called to do the best I can for the people who cross my path.


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