Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Greatest Commandment in the Bible


My previous email was about “Laying Up Treasures With God.” Jesus ended the parable with these words:


No one can serve two masters;

for either he will hate one and love the other,

or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon.


This is written in a form called a “parallelism,” which Jesus used to highlight specific points. The following words are highlighted -- “love // loyal” and “hate // despise.” They are sandwiched between “serve and serve.”


Those who serve God, love God and are loyal to God.


Those who serve mammon, hate and despise God.


The Hebrew word “AHAVAH” is translated “love.” In Hebrew, “to love is to give.” This brings us to one of the most important teachings of Jesus. It is found in Matthew 22:34-40.



Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the Torah, tested him with this question: 


“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Torah?”


Jesus replied: 


“‘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 the Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”



The answer Jesus gave as the first and greatest commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5:


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, and with all your strength.


Instead of stopping there, Jesus connected another commandment to it, which is found in Leviticus 19:17-18.


You shall not hate your brother in your heart.

You shall surely correct your neighbor,

and not bear sin because of him.

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge

against the children of your people,

but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:

I am the Lord.


His Jewish audience knew the full contexts in which both commandments are found. They were, and still are, two of the most important commandments in Judaism. The point Jesus made was this:


The only way you can love God is to give to your neighbor as yourself.


In order to understand the last point Jesus made, one must be familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and language.


All the Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.


The Torah and the Prophets are two sections of the Jewish Scriptures and Hebrew letters “hang from a line” (see graphic above). English letters sit on a line. The point is, if the line is taken away nothing will be supporting them. The line is the foundation that is required for the words to exist.


Loving God and loving people

are the foundation that supports all Scriptures.”


God’s vision for all people is that they experience SHALOM -- “a social environment in which lives are complete, healthy, wholesome; relationships are harmonious and mutually beneficial; homes are safe; places are secure and restful; members are loyal and committed to each other and the community.”


God blessed and empowered people to make His vision a reality!


Bookmark our Bible Study Vocabulary Page.


Choose Lives 1st by Doing TOV,

Jim Myers


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