The Great Commandment

MEMORY VERSE: “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” —I John 4:21


THESE two verses contain a summary of those commandments of Moses that pertain to man’s relationship to God. This passage indicates that one who would be pleasing to God must devote his whole being to him—his heart, his soul, his might—nothing is to be held back for devotion to other gods or to purposes other than doing the will of Jehovah, the true God. Our God, the great God and Creator, is not satisfied with half measures in our devotion to him. Our eternal happiness depends upon a full devotion to him of our whole being and everything which we control.

MARK 12:28-34

Moses’ summary of the commandments which set forth our proper relationship to and service of God, was quoted by Jesus when asked by a scribe, “Which is the first commandment of all?” (vss. 28-30) Jesus continued, saying, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”—vs. 31

The “second” greatest commandment summarizes man’s responsibility to man, as set forth in the Ten Commandments. This also is a quotation from Moses. (Lev. 19:18) This may well have been the first time that these two summarizing commandments by Moses had been quoted in one lesson. The Greek word translated “love” in these two commandments denotes the highest form of love. It is not merely an emotion, but a settled determination to render one’s whole being to God, and an unselfish effort to deal with our fellows as we would with ourselves.

The scribe who asked the question which brought forth this all-comprehensive reply by Jesus was well-pleased with what the Master said: “Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”—vss. 32,33

Jesus was pleased with this reply by the scribe, for usually, when presenting truths to the scribes and Pharisees the reception was not this favorable. But evidently here was a man with a good heart, and Jesus said to him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (vs. 34) As Jesus saw it, here was a man, who, if he maintained his present attitude might well become a full believer, and be among those called to joint-heirship with Jesus in the kingdom, to live and reign with him. For the time being no further questions were asked.

ROMANS 13:8-10

Paul wrote, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (vs. 8) Paul enlarges upon this truth by reminding us of the commandments which explain man’s proper relationship to man: “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”—vs. 9

What a simple truth this really is! Certainly we would not steal from, neither kill, those whom we love. How true it is that “love worketh no ill to his neighbor,” and it is because of this, Paul explains, that “love is the fulfilling of the law”—vs. 10

This is indeed simple to understand, but seemingly so difficult to practice in our daily association with our brethren in Christ. Let prejudice against another enter our hearts, and ofttimes it is most difficult to keep from enlarging upon their imperfections, or upon what we think are imperfections. And when this is done we are robbing a brother of his good name, and destroying his influence among his brethren in Christ. The only remedy for this sort of thing is to keep our hearts pure, and truly filled with the spirit of love.

And according to our memory verse, this true love is first of all for God, but it should not stop there. John wrote, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”—I John 4:21


Which are the two great commandments?

Explain how love is the fulfilling of the law.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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