Galatians 5:14
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
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(14) This verse is another of the marked points of contact between this Epistle and that to the Romans. The theme of it is worked out at length in Romans 13:8-10.

Thy neighbour.—In the original command this appears to mean “thy fellow Israelite.” Our Lord, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, had given it a wider signification, and in the same wider sense it is used here.

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.For all the law is fulfilled ... - That is, this expresses the substance of the whole law; it embraces and comprises all. The apostle of course here alludes to the Law in regard to our duty to our fellow-men, since that was the point which he particularly enforces. He is saying that this law would counteract all the evil workings of the flesh, and if this were fulfilled, all our duty to others would be discharged. A similar sentiment he has expressed in Romans 13:8-10; see the notes at that passage. The turn here in the discussion is worthy of particular notice. With great skill he changes the subject from a doctrinal argument to a strain of practical remark, and furnishes most important lessons for the right mode of overcoming our corrupt and sensual passions, and discharging our duty to others.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor ... - See this explained in the note at Matthew 19:19.

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].

The whole will of God, containing our duty towards men, is reducible to this one thing, love; for whatsoever God hath commanded us to do towards men, is but a brauch from this root, and must flow from love as its principle. Or, the whole will of God concerning man is fulfilled in this one thing of love; where love to God is not excluded, but supposed, as the root of our love to our neighbour; for our neighbour is to be loved for God. Thus Romans 8:8: He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law: and 1Jo 4:20, the apostle proveth, that a man cannot love God unless he loveth his brother: and 1 Timothy 1:5: The end of the commandment is charity. Yet what the papists would conclude from hence, (viz. that it is possible for a man to fulfil the law because it is possible for him to love his neighbour), doth by no means follow; for the apostle {1 Timothy 1:5} telleth us, this love must proceed out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. Mr. Calvin observeth well, that the apostle here mentioneth love to men as the fulfilling of the law, in opposition to the false teachers; who made the fulfilling of the law to lie in the observance of the ceremonies of the law, whereas the great thing which the law of God requireth is love, out of a pure heart, good conscience, and faith unfeigned. So that he who believeth with a faith unfeigned, and, out of that principle, with a pure heart and a good conscience, loveth his neighbour as himself, shall be by God accounted to have fulfilled the law; for love is the end of the law.

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.

{13} For {h} all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(13) He sets forth the love of our neighbour, as a mark unto which all Christians ought to refer all their actions, and to that he cites the testimony of the Law.

(h) This particle all must be limited to the second table of the ten commandments.

Galatians 5:14.[234] Reason assigned for the ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ἈΓΆΠΗς Κ.Τ.Λ. just said: for the whole law is fulfilled in one utterance; that is, compliance with the whole Mosaic law has taken place and exists, if one single commandment of it is complied with, namely, the commandment, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” If, therefore, ye through love serve one another, the whole point in dispute is thereby solved; there can no longer be any discussion whether ye are bound to fulfil this or that precept of the law,—ye have fulfilled the whole law. “Theologia brevissima et longissima; brevissima quod ad verba et sententias attinet, sed usu et re ipsa latior, longior, profundior et sublimior toto mundo,” Luther, Ὁ Πᾶς ΝΌΜΟς (comp. 1 Timothy 1:16; Acts 19:7; Acts 20:18; Soph. El. 1244; Phil. 13; Thuc. ii. 7. 2, viii. 93. 3; Krüger, § 50. 11. 12) places the totality of the law in contradistinction to its single utterance. The view of Hofmann, that it denotes the law collectively as an unity, the fulfilment of which existing in the readers they have in the love which they are to show, falls to the ground with the erroneous reading, to which it is with arbitrary artifice adapted; and in particular, ὁ πᾶς νόμος means not at all the law as unity, but the whole law:[235] comp. also 2Ma 6:5; 3Ma 6:2 et al.; Herod. i. 111. In point of fact, the phrase does not differ from ὅλος ὁ νόμος, Matthew 22:40. Without alteration in the sense, the apostle might also have written πᾶς γὰρ ὁ νόμος, which would only have made the emphasis fall still more strongly on πᾶς.

πεπλήρωται] As to the reading, see the critical notes. The perfect denotes the fulfilment as complete and ready to hand, as in Romans 13:8. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Baumgarten, Semler, Morus, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Wieseler, and others, have correctly explained πληροῦσθαι of compliance with the law; for the explanation comprehenditur (Erasmus, Castalio, Luther, Calvin, Rambach, Michaelis, Zachariae, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Winer, Usteri, Olshausen, Reiche, and others), that is, ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται (which, however, in Romans 13:9 is distinguished from πληροῦσθαι), is at variance with the universal usage of πληροῦν τὸν νόμον in the N.T. (comp. ἐκπιμπλάναι τ. νόμον, Herod. i. 199; so also Philo, de Abrah. I. p. 36). See Galatians 6:2; Matthew 3:15; Romans 8:4; Romans 13:8; Colossians 4:17. The thought is the same as in Romans 13:8, ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκε, and Romans 13:10, πλήρωμα νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη. Grotius interprets πληρ. in the same way as in Matthew 5:17 : “sicuti rudimenta implentur per doctrinam perfectiorem.” This interpretation is incorrect on account of πᾶς, and because a commandment of the Mosaic law itself is adduced.

ἐν τῷ] that is, in the saying of the law; see Winer, p. 103 [E. T. 135].

ἀγάπησεις] Leviticus 19:18. Respecting the imperative future, see on Matthew 1:21; and as to ἑαυτόν used of the second person, see on Romans 13:9; Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 447. On the idea of the ὡς ἑαυτ., see on Matthew 22:39. Comp. Cic. de Legg. i. 12: “Nihilo sese plus quam alterum homo diligat.” The neighbour is, for the Christian who justly (Matthew 5:17) applies to himself this Mosaic commandment, his fellow-Christian (comp. Galatians 5:13, ἀλλήλοις, and see Galatians 5:14), just as for the Jew it is his fellow-Jew. But how little this is to be taken as excluding any other at all, is shown not only by distinct intimations, such as Galatians 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 2 Peter 1:7, but also by the whole spirit of Christianity, which, as to this point, finds its most beautiful expression in the example of the Samaritan (Luke 10); and Paul himself was a Samaritan of this kind towards Jews and Gentiles.

The question, how Paul could with justice say of the whole law that it was fulfilled by love towards one’s neighbour, is not to be answered, either by making νόμος signify the Christian law (Koppe), or by understanding it only of the moral law (Estius and many others), or of the second table of the Decalogue (Beza and others; also Wieseler; comp. Ewald), or of every divinely revealed law in general (Schott); for, according to the connection of the whole epistle, ὁ πᾶς νόμος cannot mean anything else than the whole Mosaic law. But it is to be answered by placing ourselves at the lofty spiritual standpoint of the apostle, from which he regarded all other commandments of the law as so thoroughly subordinate to the commandment of love, that whosoever has fulfilled this commandment stands in the moral scale and the moral estimation just as if he had fulfilled the whole law. From this lofty and bold standpoint everything, which was not connected with the commandment of love (Romans 13:8-10), fell so completely into the background,[236] that it was no longer considered as aught to be separately and independently fulfilled; on the contrary, the whole law appeared already accomplished in love, that is, in the state of feeling and action produced by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22 f.; Romans 15:30), in which is contained the culminating point, goal, and consummation of all parts of the law.[237] The idea thus amounts to an impletio totius legis dilectione formata, by which the claim of the law is satisfied (Galatians 5:23). The view of Hofmann, that here the law comes into consideration only so far as it is not already fulfilled in faith; that for the believer its requirement consists in the commandment of love, and even the realization of this is already existing in him, so that he has only to show the love wrought in him by God—simply emanates from the erroneous form of the text and the wrong interpretation of Galatians 5:14 adopted by him. That the apostle, moreover, while adducing only the commandment of love towards one’s neighbour, does not exclude the commandment of love towards God (comp. Matthew 22:37 f.), was obvious of itself to the Christian consciousness from the necessary connection between the love of God and the love of our neighbour (comp. 1 John 4:20; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:3). Paul was induced by the scope of the context to bring forward the latter only (Galatians 5:13; Galatians 5:15).

[234] Hofmann reads the verse: ὁ γ. πᾶς νόμος ἑν ὑμῖν πεπλήρωται· ἀγαπήσεις κ.τ.λ. A form of the text so destitute of attestation (Tertullian alone has in vobis instead of ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ), that it is simply equivalent to a (very strange) conjecture. Also the omission of ἐν τῷ is much too feebly attested. In the text, followed above, A B C א agree.

[235] [This is an approximate rendering of the passage, the meaning of which is not, to me at least, very clear. Hofmann seems to have been conscious of this want of clearness, for in his revised edition just issued he has considerably altered his mode of expression, but still leaves the matter somewhat obscure.—ED.]

[236] Especially the precepts as to cultus, in the apostle’s view, were included among the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, Galatians 4:3.

[237] Therein lies the essence of the so-called tertius usus of the law, the further development of which is given in the Epistle to the Romans. Comp. Sieffert, in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. p. 271 f.

Galatians 5:14. πεπλήρωται. MS. authority is decisive in favour of this perfect against the present πληροῦται. The perfect is likewise adopted in the parallel passage Romans 13:8, ὁ ἀγαπῶν νόμον πεπλήρωκεν. For the very existence of love in the heart attests the completion of a previous inward act of the will.—ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ. The single precept which follows embodies in itself the whole duty to man.—τὸν πλησίον. The language of Leviticus 19:18 is here invested with the comprehensive force which Christ attached to the word neighbour by his teaching.

14. ‘You would go back to bondage; there is a servitude which constitutes liberty. You desire to be under the law; there is a law—the law of love—to which ye will do well to submit yourselves; for all the requirements of the law are met by the fulfilment of one precept—Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Similarly in Romans 13:8-10, ‘He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law … Whatever other commandments there are, all are summed up in this precept, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself … love is the fulfilling of the law.’

thy neighbour] This term in the original precept (Leviticus 19:18) had reference only to the Jewish people, but our Lord enlarged its scope so as to include everyone whom it is in our power to benefit or injure, i.e. all men. It is so explained in the Church Catechism—‘My duty towards my neighbour is to love him as myself, to do unto all men &c.’

Galatians 5:14. Πληροῦται, is fulfilled) Romans 13:9, note.

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. Galatians 5:14All the law (ὁ πᾶς νόμος)

More correctly, the whole law. Comp. Matthew 22:40.

Is fulfilled (πεπλήρωται)

Has been fulfilled. Comp. Romans 13:8. The meaning is not embraced in, or summed up in, but complied with. In Romans 13:9, ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται is summed up, is to be distinguished from πλήρωμα hath fulfilled (Romans 13:8) and πλήρωμα fulfillment (Romans 13:10). The difference is between statement and accomplishment. See on do the law, Galatians 5:3.

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