|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:28-34 Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty, Christ will guide in judgment, and teach his way. He tells the scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes all, is, that of loving God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the ruling principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every other duty. Loving God with all our heart, will engage us to every thing by which he will be pleased. The sacrifices only represented the atonements for men's transgressions of the moral law; they were of no power except as they expressed repentance and faith in the promised Saviour, and as they led to moral obedience. And because we have not thus loved God and man, but the very reverse, therefore we are condemned sinners; we need repentance, and we need mercy. Christ approved what the scribe said, and encouraged him. He stood fair for further advance; for this knowledge of the law leads to conviction of sin, to repentance, to discovery of our need of mercy, and understanding the way of justification by Christ.
Verse 31. - Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. God is to be loved above everything - above all angels, or men, or any created thing. But after God, amongst created things, our neighbor is above all to be loved. And we are to extend to our neighbor that kind of love with which we love ourselves. Our love of ourselves is not a frigid love, but a sincere and ardent love. In like manner we should love our neighbour, and desire for him all those good things both for the body and for the soul that we desire for ourselves. This is what our Lord himself teaches us. "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, even so do unto them." There is none other commandment greater than these. St. Matthew (Matthew 22:40) says, "On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the prophets." There is no commandment greater than these, because all the precepts of the Divine Law are included in them. So that our Lord here teaches us that we ought continually to have these two precepts in our minds and before our eyes, and direct all our thoughts and words and actions by them, and regulate our whole life according to them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the second is like,.... "Unto it", as in Matthew 22:39 and so it is read here in two ancient copies of Beza's, and in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions;
namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This commandment stands in Leviticus 19:18 and respects not an Israelite only, or one of the same religion with a man's self, or his intimate friend and acquaintance, or one that lives in the same neighbourhood; but any man whatever, to whom affection should be shown, and good should be done to him, and for him, as a man would have done to and for himself; as much as lies in his power, both in things temporal and spiritual; see the note on Matthew 22:39.
There is none other commandment greater than these; in the whole law, moral or ceremonial; not the sabbath, nor circumcision, nor the phylacteries, nor the fringes on the borders of the garments, nor any other.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. And the second is like—"unto it" (Mt 22:39); as demanding the same affection, and only the extension of it, in its proper measure, to the creatures of Him whom we thus love—our brethren in the participation of the same nature, and neighbors, as connected with us by ties that render each dependent upon and necessary to the other.
Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself—Now, as we are not to love ourselves supremely, this is virtually a command, in the first place, not to love our neighbor with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And thus it is a condemnation of the idolatry of the creature. Our supreme and uttermost affection is to be reserved for God. But as sincerely as ourselves we are to love all mankind, and with the same readiness to do and suffer for them as we should reasonably desire them to show to us. The golden rule (Mt 7:12) is here our best interpreter of the nature and extent of these claims.
There is none other commandment greater than these—or, as in Mt 22:40, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (see on Mt 5:17). It is as if He had said, "This is all Scripture in a nutshell; the whole law of human duty in a portable, pocket form." Indeed, it is so simple that a child may understand it, so brief that all may remember it, so comprehensive as to embrace all possible cases. And from its very nature it is unchangeable. It is inconceivable that God should require from his rational creatures anything less, or in substance anything else, under any dispensation, in any world, at any period throughout eternal duration. He cannot but claim this—all this—alike in heaven, in earth, and in hell! And this incomparable summary of the divine law belonged to the Jewish religion! As it shines in its own self-evidencing splendor, so it reveals its own true source. The religion from which the world has received it could be none other than a God-given religion!
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