Skip to main content

What is the greatest commandment?

Quick Answer: People often believe they should try to love God with all their strength and try to love others as they love themselves. However, this misunderstanding results from misinterpreting a conversation between Jesus and a Pharisee (Matthew 22:34-40). An expert in the Law came to Jesus and asked Him what were the greatest commands in the Law. Jesus answered that the greatest commandments in the Law are to love God with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. But Jesus was referring to the greatest commands in the Law, and we believers are not under the Law. Instead, we are led internally by God’s Spirit and the new covenant laws written on our hearts today.

Diving Deeper: The greatest commands in the Law are loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30). However, we believers are not under the Law. We live under the new covenant. This is why Jesus gives His disciples the “new command” of loving one another as Christ has loved them (John 13:34-35). So, while Jesus taught that the greatest commandment in the Law was to love God with all our strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30), we have a new motivation for loving today: God’s love for us and God’s love poured within us (Romans 5:5).

Jesus presented to the Pharisees an impossible standard of loving God with all of one’s strength in Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30. But Jesus had a better way of loving in mind for new covenant believers. This is why Jesus issued a new command: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

Under the Law, the greatest commandment was loving God perfectly and with all your strength. Under the new covenant, the greatest commandment is to receive and believe in God’s love and to transmit this love to others. In short, we love one another by believing in God’s great love for us first (1 John 3:23; 5:3; 4:19).

This new love command takes the pressure off of us to love God perfectly and replaces it with the “easy and light” call of the Gospel (Matthew 11:28-30). You can believe in the sheer magnitude of Christ’s love for you and then give it away freely. Now that’s great news!

Let’s Make It a Conversation!
1. Have you ever tried to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? How did it go?
2. React to this statement: Trying to love God perfectly is living under the Law.
3. React to this statement: Loving others is not burdensome when we focus on God’s love for us.

what is the greatest commandment? Check out:
101 Bible Questions: And the Surprising Answers You May Not Hear in Church is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

Tags: , , , , , ,