Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees/a>, the Pharisees got together to test Jesus again. One of them, an expert in the Law, tested him with this question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All of God’s laws hang on these two commandments.”
What the story means to us today
All the commandments center around “love”
Jesus explains that all other commandments hang on the principle of love. We must first love God with all our being then love everyone else just as much as we love ourselves. Our society, culture, and every civilization in existence would be profoundly changed if everyone followed this simple principle.
Although we may never reach this idyllic state, it is imperative that as Christians, we strive to love everyone. Anything less than all-out love for others is hypocrisy.
Additional thoughts and considerations
Why are loving God and loving others more important than all the other commandments?
It would be inaccurate to view these commandments about love as more morally important than the other commandments. Instead, you should recognize that the other commandments are like subsets of “love God” and “love your neighbor”.
If mankind followed the commandments Jesus told us were most important, compliance with the other commandments would naturally follow. For instance, if we love God with all our hearts, we would not put other Gods before him, would make no graven images, would not take his name in vain, and would celebrate the Sabbath without complaint. Similarly, if we truly loved others as much as ourselves, we would not kill other people, commit adulteries, steal from them, lie about them, or covet what they possessed. As Jesus told the “expert in the Law”, all the other commandments hang on these two commandments.
The science and history behind the story
The “expert in the law”
The “nomikos” were especially learned in Scripture. In ancient Israel, Scripture applied to every aspect of their lives, including the foundation of their legal framework. Thus, the teacher of the Law was both a theologian and a legal expert.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ i 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ j 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
The NET Bible
22:34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. 22:35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 22:37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 22:39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 22:40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.
New King James Version
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.
34–36 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37–40 Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.
King James Version
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.