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The Two Greatest Commandments are Nothing New

Updated on March 22, 2013
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The Two Greatest Commandments are Nothing New

Sometimes, when I speak or write about keeping the Ten Commandments, someone opposed to the Law of God will comment that it's not necessary to it anymore because Jesus replaced it with the two commandments to love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-39). However, Jesus actually wasn't replacing the Ten Commandments or adding anything new. He was simply reiterating existing principles found in the Old Testament.

Loving God Supremely

The mandate to love God supremely is found in Deuteronomy 6:5; and it reads, "... thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. What's interesting about this mandate is that it comes right after the listing of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5. In other words, the mandate to love God supremely is meant to help sum the commandments up, not replace them. And the ones that it sums up are the first four. The ones that deal with our relationship with God. The ones that tell us to venerate God, avoid idolatry, not use the Lord's name in vain, and keep the Sabbath day holy. Similar circumstances surround the mandate to love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself

Leviticus 19:18 plainly states, "... thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". And like the Old Testament mandate to love God supremely, it is in the context of obeying the Law of God. All of the Ten Commandments can be found in Leviticus 19. The mandate to love your neighbor as yourself sums up the last six commandments, which deal with how we are to behave towards one another. The ones that tell us to honor our parents, not commit adultery, steal, murder, lie, and covet.

Not a Replacement

The two commandments to love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself were never designed to be a replacement for the Ten Commandments. I'm not even sure where people get that idea from. The Bible never uses the word, "replace", or anything like it, when speaking about the relationship between the two commands to love and the Ten Commandments. If people would read their Bibles more closely, they would see that Jesus was simply answering a question when referring to the two commands of love.

In Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked, "... which is the greatest commandment in the law?" (NIV). What is the Law? One of the definitions of the Law is the first five books of Moses (there are four biblical definitions of the word Law: 1) the first five books of Moses, 2) the Old Testament, 3) the Ten Commandments, and 4) the ceremonial law. Their application differs according to their context). Apparently, Jesus understood His question to mean, "Which is the greatest commandment in the first five books of Moses?" Because that is what he referred to when answering His question.

A Summary of the Law

Other New Testament scriptures make it apparent that the two commandments of love were meant to sum up, not replace, the Ten Commandments. For example, 1 John 5:3 states, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." How do we show our love for God (and our neighbors)? By keeping the Ten Commandments. It's right there!

Not to mention, approaching this from a logical standpoint, if the two commandments of love were not meant to sum up the Ten Commandments, and instead they were meant to replace them, what would that mean? In other words, how do you show your love to God and your neighbor when you don't have anything to define that love by? That would be like God telling us to love our neighbor and us asking God, "Well, how do I do that, God?" And then God answers, "You figure it out. I don't know. Go hug them and have tingley feelings inside." No!

The Law, a Safeguard

Jesus did not come to replace or do away with the Law. He said that, in His own words: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Matthew 5:17. The Law is actually a safeguard to help us maintain healthy relationships with God and others; and to keep us from ruining our lives by sin. Why would we want to do away with it?

Not to mention, Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Why would we want to keep doing that which killed Jesus—sinning? That also brings up another good point about the enduring nature of the Ten Commandments. If Jesus did do away with them, why did He then later die on the cross for them being broken? It doesn't make sense. If there wasn't any Law anymore, there wouldn't be any more sin; because sin is breaking the Law; and Jesus' wouldn't have to have died on the cross for our sins.

Jesus did not replace the Ten Commandments with two commandments of love. Those commandments are actually Old Testament principles that Jesus referred to. They sum up the Ten Commandments; and the Ten Commandments define what loving God and your neighbor is.

If you are confused about whether or not to obey God's Law, I hope this hub has been of help to you. One thing is for sure. God is not going to keep us out of Heaven for obeying the Ten Commandments. However, I can't say the same is true the other way around: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Revelation 22:14, 15.

All Scripture references are from the KJV Bible, unless otherwise noted.

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    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very nicely stated, X-Con. You explained this so well. It's very clear and easy for people to grasp. Great hub.

    • X-Con profile image
      Author

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      Careermommy - Thank you for your comment. And I'm glad it was easy to understand!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Liked your hub. I just do not get anyone who does not want to follow the 10 commandments,,, I mean why not? And if you are just plain filled with love why would you violate a commandment?

      Well done here.

    • X-Con profile image
      Author

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      Ericdierker - Agreed, my brother. Thank you for commenting!

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      As Christians we do not live under the law or the 10 commandments or any other part of the old testament.

      We have this new and totally different covenant with God (Jesus).

      We have only two, but all encompassing commands from Jesus.

      Matt 22: 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."

      Mark 12:29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

      Jesus changed them into the two He charged us with. But now instead of being under the punishment of the law-Death for breaking them. They are punished under the law of liberty and with mercy, Now we can be forgiven if we break one. a big difference from having to die for breaking one. We are not under the law but under grace and mercy. why would anyone want to be under the law when we have been

      given grace and mercy by Jesus

    • X-Con profile image
      Author

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      celafoe - Did you even read my hub?

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      yes I did 3 times

      yes He replaced them with 2 that included much more than the 10. He did this to bring us under grace, not the law. Because those that keep any part of the law are under all of it and must be judged by it (as are the jews today), not by the perfect law of Liberty and the grace of Jesus

      Gal 3:10 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

      NKJV

    • X-Con profile image
      Author

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      celafoe - The passage that you cited says nothing about the 10 Tem Commandments being replaced. It talks about justification through faith. We are justified through faith, not by keeping the Law; but that doesn't mean we should now stop keeping the Law. We just have to know why we keep it.

      Just think about it, did Jesus die on the cross so we could steal, lie, kill, and serve idols? Of course not.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 4 years ago from West By God

      Those who use one scripture versus the whole paragraph are spreading lies and bearing false witness. As I pointed out to a preacher a long time ago who did this very thing and then I showed him the whole paragragh the meaning that he was using was lost because the meaning of the whole paragragh meant something altogether different. Now he uses his work and words by what is meant in the paragragh and not in a single sentence which are called scriptures. I did write a hub about the Ten Commandments and what they mean. They are talking about our relationship with God (we are that God). For instance if you put someone else before you (as in Idol Worship) then you are not loving God. Many think this is heretical and untrue and they are talking and thinking about their own EGO, which isn't GOD. When you put someone else before you the commandments get messed up. You bring into your life that which you think about and focus on. Hence what Jesus says is true...be careful with your thoughts and also you shall reap what you sow. If you don't love one another then you cannot possibly love yourself because we are all one in the same. I believe Jesus talking about the New Covenant he was talking about these Ten Comandments as they have changed to HIS generation.

      celefoe, You stated: "As Christians we do not live under the law or the 10 commandments or any other part of the old testament."

      Then you are NOT a Christian. Jesus was NOT a Christian. God does not have a religion. God isn't a religion and no one can put God in a box and tell others that they need a certain password to let him out. God is LOVE period. That is the problem with Christians these days...they haven't a clue what LOVE really is. How can they love their neighbor as themselves if they don't even know what love is? Also not one person is nearer to God then another, no matter how much education they get.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      that is your false opinion and i reject it as not from God

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 4 years ago from West By God

      Tell us what is from God then, if you know everything celefoe? Who told you about God and what it is....man I can bet on that. First in the Bible God is all merciful and loving and then somewhere down the line HE becomes jealous and vengeful. You cannot love and hate at the same time. you cannot have 2 masters at the same time either.....and that isn't false opinion. You haven't really read that Bible that it was when it first began. I bet you are using that KJV version, which was modified for his kingship, not for God the one that is all Merciful and full of LOVE for his creatures. You may reject anything that you want, but it does not make it untrue or true.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      well its easy to see that most of your foolishness just pops into your head in the middle of the nite. (wonder where it comes from? satan maybe)

      wrong again, no man has taught me , that is the job of the Holy Spirit and I learn from Him.

      no, wrong again I do not use kjv ( the only truth you have said so far is about it)

      nothing you have said is based on scripture and therefore it has no value to me or any Christian..

      you sure bet a lot and you must lose all your money because you are batting zero here.

      I never said or implied that I know everything, that was another of your false assumptions. But i do not listen to anyone quoting other than scripture to discuss scripture and you have shown you do not have any scripture knowledge, just a lot of confusion and misunderstandings

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 4 years ago from West By God

      Celafoe, I am done with you. When you go to a person's profile page and try to find something that you can use against them....well that is Not Christ-like. You are not a true Christian. I did not read the rest of your rant and on't because you do not know the Love of God and are not truthful with yourself. Have a good day and don't trip on your EGO.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      goodbye, I have no time for those who want to denigrate scripture and Christianity

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 4 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      its a good thing, called understanding your advisary. good bye

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Great approach to this concept and truth of love and the Ten Commandments. Many people believe Jesus came to do away with these Godly statements, but as you mentioned, he only reinforced their application. WEll done. Voted up++

    • X-Con profile image
      Author

      X-Con 4 years ago from The Free World!

      teaches12345 - Thank you!

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