|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:13-15 The gospel is a doctrine according to godliness, 1Ti 6:3, and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin, that it lays us under the strongest obligation to avoid and subdue it. The apostle urges that all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If Christians, who should help one another, and rejoice one another, quarrel, what can be expected but that the God of love should deny his grace, that the Spirit of love should depart, and the evil spirit, who seeks their destruction, should prevail? Happy would it be, if Christians, instead of biting and devouring one another on account of different opinions, would set themselves against sin in themselves, and in the places where they live.
Verse 14. - For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (o( ga\r pa = no/mo e)n e(ni\ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται [Receptus, πληροῦται], ἐν, τῷ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν [Receptus, ἑαυτόν]); for the whole Law hath in one word been fulfilled, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Thus is very briefly enunciated what in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 13:8-10), written a short while after, the apostle more fully develops thus: "Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled (πεπλήρωκε) the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up (ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται) in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilment (πλήρωμα) of the Law." This passage of the Romans may be regarded as a lengthened paraphrase of the one now before us. From the comparison of the two, several things are made clear. We see from it what is meant by the πεπλήρωται, "hath been fulfilled." Some have been disposed to regard it as equivalent to ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται, "it is summed up." Not to urge that it is very doubtful whether the verb admits of this sense, it is enough to observe that in the parallel passage the verb πληροῦν, both in πεπλήρωκε, hath fulfilled, and the verbal πλήρωμα, fulfilment, means to fulfil in actual obedience; and that the perfect tense of the πεπλήρωται of this passage reappears in the πεπλήρωκε of the other. The sentence in Romans, "He that loveth his neighbour (τὸν ἕτερον) hath fulfilled the Law," that is, as the context shows, "the whole Law," makes it clear that, by the words before us, "the whole Law hath been fulfilled in one word," is meant that the whole Law hath been fulfilled in the fulfilling of the one word, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The whole Law is regarded as couched in that "one word." In the larger passage the Law, so far as it is explained, is represented as regulating our behaviour to our neighbours, for the apostle cites exclusively commandments of the "second table;" in addition to which, we observe that the immediately preceding context (vers. 1-7) is taken up with the discussion of duties to our fellow-men, sliding into what follows through the words, "Owe no man anything, save to love one another." This suggests the inference that when the apostle says, "He that loveth hath fulfilled the Law;" and at the close of the paragraph, "Love is the fulfilment of the Law," he has in view that part only of the Law which enforces the duties appertaining to human relationships, and not the whole Law as enforcing, together with these, the duties we owe to God; for "love," he says, "his the fulfilment of the Law, because it worketh no evil to his neighbour." And this might seem further to justify the like inference with reference to the passage before us; and here also the immediate context (ver. 13) points only to relations between man and man, making no reference to our relations towards God. And this inference we seem warranted in accepting. Only, we have to bear in mind that the apostle has already taken account of our spiritual relations to God, in stating (ver. 6) that in Christ Jesus the all-important and only thing is faith working through love. For the faith which he means is plainly the principle which unites the soul to Christ Jesus, and in him to God as our reconciled Father, through the vitalizing and actuating power of the Spirit of adoption. And precisely the same consideration presents itself with respect to the parallel passage in the Romans; for there, too, the apostle has been previously engaged in building up the gospel doctrine of Christ's redeeming us from the control of a condemning Law, which is also mere "letter," and can give no spiritual life; and of his handing us over to the law of the Spirit of life, whereby the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in them who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4). The apostle takes it for granted that it is with these views in their minds that his readers will receive what he here writes. Further, account is to be taken of the spiritual sense in which the apostle uses the terms "law" and "love." Under the term "law" he no longer intends the Law of Moses, either as a ceremonial institute or as a letter-Law regulating moral behaviour; but that higher and spiritual law, of which the precepts of the letter-Law are only incomplete hints or adumbrations - the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Likewise, by the term "love" he designates a very different thing from that principle of kindness, good nature, benevolence, which an Aristotle or Cicero, an Epictetus or Plutarch, could conceive and describe, and in their own practice exemplify; with St. Paul, as with St. John, it is a fruit of the Spirit, an emanation of Christ's life in the soul, organically and vitally ramifying out of filial love to God. They that were in the flesh could not please God. In order that we may fulfil the Law, the prime and indispensable requisite is that the Spirit of Christ be dwelling in us and leading us.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For all the law is fulfilled in one word,.... Not the ceremonial law, to which acts of mercy, kindness, and love are opposed, and from which they are distinguished; but the law of the decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and by him to the people of the Jews; and intends either only the second table of it, since only love to the neighbour is mentioned; or else the whole of it, both tables, since it is said, "all the law"; which by Christ is reduced to two heads, love to God, and love to the neighbour; and though the former is not here expressed, it is implied as a cause in the effect, for the love of God is the cause, and so the evidence of love to the neighbour; nor can there be the one without the other. The two tables of the law consist of , "ten words"; as the (s) Jews commonly call them, and we the decalogue, and yet they are fulfilled in one; that is, they are to be brought into such a compendium, reduced to such an head; or as the apostle in a parallel place says, they may briefly be comprehended in this saying, Romans 13:9. The Jews make the commandments of the law to be a very large number indeed, but at last reduce them to one, as the apostle here does,
"six hundred and thirteen commandments (they say (t)) were given to Moses----David came and reduced them to eleven, Psalm 15, Isaiah came and reduced them to six, Isaiah 33:15 Micah came and reduced them to three, Micah 6:8 Isaiah came and reduced them to two, Isaiah 56:1, Amos came and reduced them to one, Amos 5:4 but this being objected to, it is observed that Habakkuk came, , "and reduced them to one", Habakkuk 2:4 that is faith, as here the apostle reduces them to love:''
even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: these words are taken out of Leviticus 19:18 and which R. Akiba says (u), agreeably with the apostle, whose contemporary he was, is , "the grand general rule in the law"; or the grand comprehensive of the law: the object of love, the "neighbour", signifies not only, as there the Jews explain it, those of their own people, or proselytes to their religion; but all sorts of men, whether in a natural, civil, or spiritual relation; and whether those that do us good or do us ill, friends or enemies: the measure or rule of love is, "as thyself"; and designs not an equality of affection, but a likeness of effects; that is, to do the same kind acts of love to others, one would choose to have done to ourselves: and this is the fulfilling of the law; that is, so far as a man loves aright, so far he fulfils the law; not that he does it perfectly, for man in his fallen state is unable to do that, for the law is exceeding broad, and reaches to thoughts, desires, and inclinations, as well as to words and deeds; and besides, love said to be the fulfilling of it, is imperfect; hence then there can be no justification by works of charity, nor by any services of men, which at best are imperfect; nor are they done in their own strength, and without the grace of God; nor is there any that can be said to have fulfilled the law perfectly but Christ, and to him must we look for a justifying righteousness. These words contain a reason engaging to love one another, and to do all kind of offices of love to each other; since it is a main and principal thing contained in the law, and to which that may be reduced.
(s) Exodus 34.28. Vid. Targum Onk. & Jon. in ib. (t) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 151. 1.((u) In Jarchi in Leviticus 19.18.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. all the law—Greek, "the whole law," namely, the Mosaic law. Love to God is presupposed as the root from which love to our neighbor springs; and it is in this tense the latter precept (so "word" means here) is said to be the fulfilling of "all the law" (Le 19:18). Love is "the law of Christ" (Ga 6:2; Mt 7:12; 22:39, 40; Ro 13:9, 10).
is fulfilled—Not as received text "is being fulfilled," but as the oldest manuscripts read, "has been fulfilled"; and so "receives its full perfection," as rudimentary teachings are fulfilled by the more perfect doctrine. The law only united Israelites together: the Gospel unites all men, and that in relation to God [Grotius].
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