A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.—There is no reference in the context to the Ten Commandments, and we are not therefore to seek the meaning of the “new commandment” in any more or less full contrast with them. They also taught that a man should love his neighbour as himself; and the fulfilment of the law is love. The contrast here is between what our Lord had said unto the Jews and what He now says to the disciples. He had said, and says again, “Whither I go ye cannot come.” To the Jews he added, “Ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins” (John 7:34-35). For those who believe in Him, He has no such decree of separation, but a new and different commandment, by which His spiritual presence would be at once realised and proved. Love to one another, and therefore sacrifice of self for another’s good, would be, in the truest sense, a realisation of His presence in their midst. (Comp. Note on 1John 2:8.)
For the meaning of the word “commandment,” comp. Note on John 10:18.
As I have loved you.—More exactly, Even as I loved you. (Comp. Note on John 13:1.) The punctuation of our version is to be maintained. It is not, as it has sometimes been read, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you . . .” The earlier clause gives the principle of the new commandment. The latter clause repeats this, and prefaces the repetition by words referring to His own acts of love, which should be an example for them. The word “as,” or “even as,” does not refer to the degree of His love, but to the fact; and the special instance of love then present to the mind was the feet-washing upon which the whole of this discourse has followed.
‘AS I HAVE LOVED’
John 13:34 - John 13:35.
Wishes from dying lips are sacred. They sink deep into memories and mould faithful lives. The sense of impending separation had added an unwonted tenderness to our Lord’s address, and He had designated His disciples by the fond name of ‘little children.’ The same sense here gives authority to His words, and moulds them into the shape of a command. The disciples had held together because He was in their midst. Will the arch stand when the keystone is struck out? Will not the spokes fall asunder when the nave of the wheel is taken away? He would guard them from the disintegrating tendencies that were sure to set in when He was gone; and He would point them to a solace for His absence, and to a kind of substitute for His presence. For to love the brethren whom they see would be, in some sense, a continuing to love the Christ whom they had ceased to see. And so, immediately after He said: ‘Whither I go ye cannot come,’ He goes on to say: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’
He called this a ‘new commandment,’ though to love one’s neighbour as one’s self was a familiar commonplace amongst the Jews, and had a recognised position in Rabbinical teaching. But His commandment proposed a new object of love, it set forth a new measure of love, so greatly different from all that had preceded it as to become almost a new kind of love, and it suggested and supplied a new motive power for love. This commandment ‘could give life’ and fulfil itself. Therefore it comes to us as a ‘new commandment’-even to us-and, unlike the words which preceded it, which we were considering in former sermons, it is wholly and freshly applicable to-day as in the ages that are passed. I ask you, first, to consider-
I. The new scope of the new commandment.
‘Love one another.’ The newness of the precept is realised, if we think for a moment of the new phenomenon which obedience to it produced. When the words were spoken, the then-known civilised Western world was cleft by great, deep gulfs of separation, like the crevasses in a glacier, by the side of which our racial animosities and class differences are merely superficial cracks on the surface. Language, religion, national animosities, differences of condition, and saddest of all, difference of sex, split the world up into alien fragments. A ‘stranger’ and an ‘enemy’ were expressed in one language, by the same word. The learned and the unlearned, the slave and his master, the barbarian and the Greek, the man and the woman, stood on opposite sides of the gulfs, flinging hostility across. A Jewish peasant wandered up and down for three years in His own little country, which was the very focus of narrowness and separation and hostility, as the Roman historian felt when he called the Jews the ‘haters of the human race’; He gathered a few disciples, and He was crucified by a contemptuous Roman governor, who thought that the life of one fanatical Jew was a small price to pay for popularity with his troublesome subjects, and in a generation after, the clefts were being bridged and all over the Empire a strange new sense of unity was being breathed, and ‘Barbarian, Scythian, bond and free,’ male and female, Jew and Greek, learned and ignorant, clasped hands and sat down at one table, and felt themselves ‘all one in Christ Jesus.’ They were ready to break all other bonds, and to yield to the uniting forces that streamed out from His Cross. There never had been anything like it. No wonder that the world began to babble about sorcery, and conspiracies, and complicity in unnameable vices. It was only that the disciples were obeying the ‘new commandment,’ and a new thing had come into the world-a community held together by love and not by geographical accidents or linguistic affinities, or the iron fetters of the conqueror. You sow the seed in furrows separated by ridges, and the ground is seamed, but when the seed springs the ridges are hidden, no division appears, and as far as the eye can reach, the cornfield stretches, rippling in unbroken waves of gold. The new commandment made a new thing, and the world wondered.
Now then, brethren, do not let us forget that, although to obey this commandment is in some respects a great deal harder to-day than it was then, the diverse circumstances in which Christian individuals and Christian communities are this day placed may modify the form of our obedience, but do not in the smallest degree weaken the obligation, for the individual Christian and for societies of Christians, to follow this commandment. The multiplication of numbers, the cessation of the armed hostility of the world, the great varieties in intellectual position in regard to the truths of Christianity, divergencies of culture, and many other things, are separating forces, But our Christianity is worth very little, if it cannot master these separating tendencies, even as in the early days of freshness, the Christianity that sprang in these new converts’ minds mastered the far more powerful separating tendencies with which they had to contend.
Every Christian man is under the obligation to recognise his kindred with every other Christian man-his kindred in the deep foundations of his spiritual being, which are far deeper, and ought to be far more operative in drawing together, than the superficial differences of culture or opinion or the like, which may part us. The bond that holds Christian men together is their common relation to the one Lord, and that ought to influence their attitude to one another. You say I am talking commonplaces. Yes; and the condition of Christianity this day is the sad and tragical sign that the commonplaces need to be talked about, till they are rubbed into the conscience of the Church as they never have been before.
Do not let us suppose that Christian love is mere sentiment. I shall have to speak a word or two about that presently, but I would fain lift the whole subject, if I can, out of the region of mere unctuous words and gush of half-feigned emotion, which mean nothing, and would make you feel that it is a very practical commandment, gripping us hard, when our Lord says to us, ‘Love one another.’
I have spoken about the accidental conditions which make obedience to this commandment difficult. The real reason which makes the obedience to it difficult is the slackness of our own hold on the Centre. In the measure in which we are filled with Jesus Christ, in that measure will that expression of His spirit and His life become natural to us. Every Christian has affinities with every other Christian, in the depths of his being, so as that he is a great deal more like his brother, who is possessor of ‘like precious faith,’ however unlike the two may be in outlook, in idiosyncrasy, and culture and in creed, than he is to another man with whom he may have a far closer sympathy in all these matters than he has with the brother in question, but from whom he is parted by this, that the one trusts and loves and obeys Jesus Christ, and the other does not. So, for individuals and for churches, the commandment takes this shape-Go down to the depths and you will find that you are closer to the Christian man or community which seems furthest from you, than you are to the non-Christian who seems nearest to you. Therefore, let your love follow your kinship, and your heart recognise the oneness that knits you together. That is a revolutionary commandment; what would become of our present organisations of Christianity if it were obeyed? That is a revolutionary commandment; what would become of our individual relations to the whole family who, in every place, and in many tongues, and with many creeds, call on Jesus as on their Lord, their Lord and ours, if it were obeyed? I leave you to answer the question. Only I say the commandment has for its first scope all who, in every place, love the Lord Jesus Christ.
But there is more than that involved in it. The very same principle which makes this love to one another imperative upon all disciples, makes it equally imperative upon every follower of Jesus Christ to embrace in a real affection all whom Jesus so loved as to die for them. If I am to love a Christian man because he and I love Christ, I am to love everybody, because Christ loves me and everybody, and because He died on the Cross for me and for all men. And so one of the other Apostles, or, at least, the letter which goes by his name, laid hold on the true connection when, instead of concentrating Christian affection on the Church, and letting the world go to the devil as an alien thing, he said: ‘Add to your faith,’ this, that, and the other, and ‘brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity.’ The particular does not exclude the general, it leads to the general. The fire kindled upon the hearth gives warmth to all the chamber. The circles are concentric, and the widest sweep is struck from the same middle point as the narrow. So the new commandment does not cut humanity into two halves, but gathers all diversity into one, and spreads the great reconciling of Christian love over all the antagonisms and oppositions of earth. Let me ask you to notice-
II. The example of the new commandment, ‘As I have loved you.’
That solemn ‘as’ lifts itself up before us, shines far ahead of us, ought to draw us to itself in hope, and not to repel us from itself in despair. ‘As I have loved’-what a tremendous thing for a man to stand up before his fellows, and say, ‘Take Me as the perfect example of perfect love; and let My example-un-dimmed by the mists of gathering centuries, and un-weakened by the change of condition, and circumstance, fresh as ever after ages have passed, and closely-fitting as ever all varieties of human character and condition-stand before you; the ideal that I have realised, and you will be blessed in the proportion in which you seek, though you fail, to realise it!’ There is, I venture to believe, only one aspect of Jesus Christ in which such a setting forth of Himself as the perfect Incarnation of perfect love is warrantable; and that is found in the old belief that His very birth was the result of His love, and that His death was the climax of that love. And if so, we have to turn to Bethlehem, and the whole life, and the Cross at its end, as being the Christ-given example and model for our love to our brethren.
What do we see there? I have said that there is too much of mere sickly sentimentality about the ordinary treatment of this great commandment, and that I desired to lift it out of that region into a far nobler, more strenuous, and difficult one. This is what we see in that life and in that death:-First of all-the activity of love-’Let us not love in words, but in deed and in truth’; then we see the self-forgetfulness of love-’Even Christ pleased not Himself’; then we see the self-sacrifice of love-’Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ And in these three points, on which I would fain enlarge if I might, active love, self-oblivious love, self-sacrificing love, you have the pattern set for us all. Christian love is no mere sickly maiden, full of sentimental emotions and honeyed words. She is a strenuous virgin, girt for service, a heroine ready for dangers, and prepared to be a martyr if it be needful. Love’s language is sacrifice. ‘I give thee myself,’ is its motto. And that is the pattern that is set before us all-’as I have loved you.’
I have tried to show you how the commandment was new in many particulars, and it is for ever new in this particular, that it is for ever before us, unattained, and drawing faithful hearts to itself, and ever opening out into new heroisms and, therefore, blessedness, of self-sacrifice, and ever leading us to confess the differences, deep, tragic, sinful, between us and Him who-we sometimes think too presumptuously-we venture to say is our Lord and Master.
Did you ever see in some great picture gallery a copyist sitting in front of a Raffaelle, and comparing his poor feeble daub, all out of drawing, and with little of the divine beauty that the master had breathed over his canvas, even if it preserved the mere mechanical outline? That is what you and I should do with our lives: take them and put them down side by side with the original. We shall have to do it some day. Had we better not do it now, and try to bring the copy a little nearer to the masterpiece; and let that ‘as I have loved you’ shine before us and draw us on to unattainable heights?
And now, lastly, we have here-
III. The motive power for obedience to the commandment.
That is as new as all the rest. That ‘as’ expresses the manner of the love, but it also expresses the motive and the power. It might be translated into the equivalent ‘in the fashion in which,’ or it might be translated into the equivalent ‘since-’ ‘I have loved you.’ The original might bear the rendering, ‘that ye also may love one another.’ That is to say, what keeps men from obeying this commandment is the instinctive self-regard which is natural to us all. There are muscles in the body which are so constructed that they close tightly; and the heart is something like one of these sphincter muscles-it shuts by nature, especially if there has been anything put inside it over which it can shut and keep it all to itself. But there is one thing that dethrones Self, and enthrones the angel Love in a heart, and that is, that into that heart there shall come surging the sense of the great love ‘wherewith I have loved you.’ That melts the iceberg; nothing else will.
That love of Christ to us, received into our hearts, and there producing an answering love to Him, will make us, in the measure in which we live in it and let it rule us, love everything and every person that He loves. That love of Jesus Christ, stealing into our hearts and there sweetening the ever-springing ‘issues of life,’ will make them flow out in glad obedience to any commandment of His. That love of Jesus Christ, received into our hearts, and responded to by our answering love, will work, as love always does, a magical transformation. A great monastic teacher wrote his precious book about The Imitation of Christ. ‘Imitation’ is a great word, ‘Transformation’ is a greater. ‘We all,’ receiving on the mirror of our loving hearts the love of Jesus Christ, ‘are changed into the same likeness.’ Thus, then, the love, which is our pattern, is also our motive and our power for obedience, and the more we bring ourselves under its influences, the more we shall love all those who are beloved by, and lovers of, Jesus.
That is the one foundation for a world knit together in the bonds of amity and concord. There have been attempts at brotherhood, and the guillotine has ended what was begun in the name of ‘fraternity.’ Men build towers, but there is no cement between the bricks, unless the love of Christ holds them together, and therefore Babel after Babel comes down about the ears of its builders. But notwithstanding all that is dark to-day, and though the war-clouds are lowering, and the hearts of men are inflamed with fierce passions, Christ’s commandment is Christ’s promise; and though the vision tarry, it will surely come. So even to-day Christian men ought to stand for Christ’s peace, and for Christ’s love. The old commandment which we have had from the beginning, is the new commandment that fits to-day as it fits all the ages. It is a dream, say some. Yes, a dream; but a morning dream which comes true. Let us do the little we can to make it true, and to bring about the day when the flock of men will gather round the one Shepherd, who loved them to the death, and who has bid them and helped them to ‘love one another as’-and since-’He has loved them.’Leviticus 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other's feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other's welfare. See 1 John 3:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 6:2; 2 Peter 1:7. In all these places the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, "As I have loved you, that ye also love one another." His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John 15:13; "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." So in 1 John 3:16 it is said that "we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for Christians, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.Leviticus 19:18; often pressed in the New Testament, John 15:17 Ephesians 5:2 1Jo 4:21 1Jo 2:7 saith, it is no new commandment, ; see also 2Jo 1:6. It is therefore called a new commandment, either because of the excellency of it, as new seemeth to be taken, Psalm 33:3 Isaiah 65:17 Matthew 26:29; or because it is expounded in the gospel in a new manner, pressed more plainly and in new arguments, and urged by a new example of their Lord and Master.
love one another: as brethren in the same family, children of the same Father, and fellow disciples with each other; by keeping and agreeing together, praying one for another, bearing one another's burdens, forbearing and forgiving one another, admonishing each other, and building up one another in faith and holiness: and this he calls "a new commandment"; that is, a very excellent one; as a "new name", and a "new song", denote excellent ones; or it is so called, because it is set forth by Christ, in a new edition of it, and newly and more clearly explained, than before; and being enforced with a new argument and pattern, never used before,
as I have loved you; and to be observed in a new manner, not "in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit": besides, though this commandment, as to the matter of it, is the same with that of Moses, Leviticus 19:18; yet it takes in more, and "new" objects; since by "neighbour" there, seems to be meant "the children of their people", the Jews; and so they understood it only of their countrymen, and of proselytes at furthest, whereas this reaches to any "other" person; see Romans 13:8; and as the measure, as well as the motive is new, for it is not now "as thy self", but "as I have loved you", the Jew has no reason to object as he does (m), to its being called a "new commandment": and its being "new", carries in it a reason or argument, why it should be observed, as does also the following clause;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another; than which, nothing can, or should, more strongly engage to it: as Christ has loved his people freely, notwithstanding all their unworthiness and ungratefulness, so should they love one another, though there may be many things in them observable, which are disagreeable; as Christ loves all his children without any distinction, so should they love one another, whether poor or rich, weaker or stronger, lesser or greater believers; and as Christ loves them not in word only, but in deed and in truth, so should they love one another with a pure heart fervently, and by love serve one another.A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 13:34. Commandment now of the departing Lord for those who, according to John 13:33, are to be left behind, which He calls a new one, i.e. one not yet given either in the Decalogue or otherwise, in order the more deeply to impress it upon them as the specific rule of their conduct. The novelty lies not in the commandment of love in itself (for see Leviticus 19:18, comp. Matthew 5:43 ff; Matthew 19:19; Matthew 22:37-38), nor yet in the higher degree of love found in καθὼς ἠγάπ. ὑμ., so that the requirement would be, that one should love one’s neighbour not merely ὡς ἑαυτόν, but ὑπὲρ ἑαυτόν (Cyril, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and many, including especially Knapp, Scr. var. arg. p. 369 ff.), since καθώς does not indicate the degree or the type (see below), and since, moreover, the O. T. ὡς ἑαυτόν does not exclude, but includes the self-sacrifice of love. The novelty lies rather in the motive power of the love, which must be the love of Christ which one has experienced. Comp. 1 John 3:16. Thereby the commandment, in itself old, receives the new definiteness (αὐτὸς αὐτὴν ἐποίησε καινὴν τῷ τρόπῳ, Chrysostom), the definiteness of loving ἐν Χριστῷ, and therewith the new moral absolute character and contents, and is given forth with this specifically N. T. definition, founded on faith in Christ, a new commandment. Comp. Luthardt, Ebrard, Brückner; also Baeumlein, Hengstenberg, and Godet, who, however, take along with this the circle of Christian love (ἀλλήλους) as a point of novelty. Grotius treats this in a similar way to these last-named commentators, when he, as also Kölbing (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1845, p. 685 ff.), regards Christian brotherly love, in its distinction from the general love of one’s neighbours, as the new commandment which is prescribed. Nevertheless, this distinction rests simply upon the fact that Christian brotherly love must be mutually determined and sustained by the personal experience of the love of Christ, or else it is destitute of its peculiarly Christian character; hence it is always this point alone which forms the substantial contents and the distinguishing moment of the new commandment as such, as none could be more intensely and truly conscious of it than John himself, especially whilst he wrote the καίνην and the καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς. Opposed to the sense of the word are the interpretations: a commandment which contains all laws of the N. T., in opposition to the many laws of the O. T. (Luther); praeceptum illustre (Hackspan, Hammond, Wolf), mandatum ultimum = Testament (Heumann); further: ὁπλοτέρην ἐν ἅπασιν, a youngest commandment (Nonnus); further: a commandment that never grows old, with ever youthful freshness, as though ἀεὶ καινήν were expressed (Olshausen); further, a renewed commandment (Calvin, Jansen, Maldonatus, Schoettgen, Raphel, and already Irenaeus), or even one that renews the old man (Augustine); further: a commandment unexpected by you (Semler, on the presumption of the dispute about precedence which had just taken place, Luke 22:24 ff.). According to De Wette, καινήν refers to the fact, that in the commandment lies the principle of the new life brought by Christ. Thus, therefore, καινὴ ἐντολή would be here a new moral principle (comp. Galatians 6:2), opposed to the O. T. principle of righteousness. That that is the new ἐντολή (comp. already Melanchthon) is, however, not expressed by these simple words. Against the sense, finally, and without any indication in the text, is Lange’s view: a new διαθήκη which is the institution of the Supper which Christ here founded. This, besides, is opposed to the obvious parallel passages, 1 John 2:8.
ἵνα ἀγαπ. ἀλλ.] The contents of the commandment are set forth as the purpose of the ἐντ. καιν. διδ. ὑμ.
καθὼς ἠγάπ. ὑμ.] is to be separated only by a comma from ἀλλήλ., containing the agens of the ἀγαπ. ἀλλ., and then, by means of ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς, κ.τ.λ., the ethical purpose of the ἠγάπ. ὑμ. which belongs here is added; the emphasis, however, lies on ἀγαπᾶτε ὑμᾶς, καὶ ὑμεῖς. Hence: that ye may love one another, in conformity with the fact that I have loved you, and, indeed, have loved you with the design that you also, on your part, etc. That here καθώς, however, does not express the degree, but the corresponding relation, which constrains to the ἀγαπ. ἀλλ., appears with logical necessity from the subjoined sentence denoting purpose ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κ.τ.λ. (without an οὕτως, which Ewald interpolates in his explanation). It is similar to our wie denn (as then) (comp. on John 12:35; 1 Corinthians 1:6; Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 6:12), stating the ground, as ὡς also is very frequently used in the classics (Klotz, ad Devar. p. 766; Ast, Lex. Plat. iii. p. 584). To take the sentence καθὼς … ἀλλήλους as a parallel to the preceding ἵνα ἀγαπ. ἀλλ., whereby καθὼς ἠγ. ὑμ. is emphatically placed first (so many commentators, from Beza to Hengstenberg and Godet), would cause no difficulty in the case of Paul, but does not correspond to the simple style of John elsewhere.
ἠγάπησα] Aorist; for Jesus sees Himself already at the end of the work of His loving self-devotion. Comp. John 13:1. Further, John 13:34 is not to be explained in such a manner that Christ imparts a new legislation, in opposition to the Mosaic (Hilgenfeld, comp. above, Luther). He, indeed, does not say νόμον καινόν. The ἐντολὴ καινή belongs rather to His πλήρωσις of the law (Matthew 5:17), especially in respect of Leviticus 19:18, and does not exclude, but includes, the other moral precepts of the law.
 So also Calovius, who, however, mingles together many other interpretations of various kinds.
 This agens can be the love evinced by Christ only on the ground of faith; hence John fully accords with the Pauline view of faith, which is operative through love, but does not (against Baur, N. T. Theol. p. 397) place love immediately in the position which faith holds with Paul.
 Comp. in Paul love as the fulfilment of the law; see also Weiss, Joh. Lehrbegr. p. 166.John 13:34. ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους: “one another,” not “all men,” which is a different commandment. So, rightly, Grotius: “Novum autem dicit quia non agit de dilectione communi omnium … sed de speciali Christianorum inter se qua tales sunt,” and Holtzmann: “Es ist die φιλαδελφία im Unterschied von der allgemeinen ἀγάπη”. The necessity of love among those who were to carry on Christ’s work had that night become apparent. It was “new,” because the love of Christ’s friends for Christ’s sake was a new thing in the world. Therefore the kind rather than the degree of love is indicated in the clause καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς κ. τ. λ.34. A new commandment] The commandment to love was not new, for ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Leviticus 19:18) was part of the Mosaic Law. But the motive is new; to love our neighbour because Christ has loved us. We have only to read the ‘most excellent way’ of love set forth in 1 Corinthians 13, and compare it with the measured benevolence of the Pentateuch, to see how new the commandment had become by having this motive added. There are two words for ‘new’ in Greek; one looks forward, ‘young,’ as opposed to ‘aged;’ the other looks back, ‘fresh,’ as opposed to ‘worn out.’ It is the latter that is used here and in John 19:41. Both are used in Matthew 9:17, but our version ignores the difference—‘They put new wine into fresh wineskins.’ The phrase ‘to give a commandment’ is peculiar to S. John; comp. John 12:49; 1 John 3:23.
as I have loved you] These words are rightly placed in the second half of the verse. They do not mean ‘love one another in the same way as I have loved you;’ but they give the reason for the fresh commandment—‘even as I have loved you.’ S. John states the same principle in the First Epistle (John 4:11) ‘If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’ Comp. John 15:13.John 13:34. Ἐντολὴν καινήν, a new commandment) The commandment is called new, not so much in respect to the Old Testament, as in respect to the school of Christ; on account of the new measure [standard] established, concerning a love which goes so far as that even life is to be laid down for those who ought to be, or who are, the objects of that love; with which comp. 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Previously the following after Jesus in His several steps had guided the disciples, and this by implication comprised love [such as He now gives as a new commandment]: but they cannot follow Him now that He is departing from them; therefore the sum of their duty is prescribed to them in this commandment. Comp. as to prayer, ch. John 16:24, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full;” as to giving them the appellation, ‘friends,’ John 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you;” as to the hatred of the world, ch. John 16:4, “These things (as to persecution) have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” Thence it is that it is called the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Thus it is that the commandment heard from the beginning, and the new commandment, are opposed to one another, 1 John 2:7-8, “I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning; again a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and you:” (John 13:10) “He that loveth his brother,” etc. Ἐντολή, a commandment [precept, charge, injunction], is moreover the term applied to it, in this sense: inasmuch as it is enjoined, not on slaves, but on freemen. Moreover, at the same time a most sweet taste of its newness is added to this commandment, resulting from the perception of the glory, the mention of which goes before. Moses before his death, more than ever previously, in Deuteronomy, recommended the love of God; so Jesus, before His departure, gives to the disciples a new commandment, that they should cherish mutual love. Thus the second law and the new commandment may be compared with one another.—ἀγαπᾶτε—ἀγαπᾶτε, that ye love—that ye love) This sentiment is twice set forth: first simply, then afterwards with Epitasis [Some augmentation, or emphatic addition, or explanation added. See Appendix on this figure]. A similar instance is that one, “peace [I leave with you:” then with Epitasis], “My peace” ch. John 14:27. Comp. Genesis 48:5, “Thy two sons—(are) mine: as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine; Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the Lord, etc.: wait, I say, on the Lord;” Psalm 37:20, “They shall consume; into smoke they shall consume;” Psalm 47:7, “Sing praises, etc., sing praises with understanding;” Psalm 68:24, “Thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God in the sanctuary;” Psalm 118:16, “The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly;” Ezekiel 7:2, “An end, the end is come.”
 = “The Second giving of the law,” just as the “New commandment” here—E. and T.Verses 34, 35. -
(2) The demand which this glorification would make on the mutual fidelity and affection of the disciples. Verse 34. - A new commandment I give unto you (with the purpose and scope) that ye love one another; even as (or, seeing that) I loved you, that ye (also) love one another. The interpretation of this verse largely depends on the meaning given to the καθὼς, if, as many translate it, "even as I loved you;" or, "after the manner and type of my love to you;" then an amply sufficient explanation arises of the novelty of the ἐντολή. So new a type of love is given that, as the Greek expositors generally have urged, there is a deeper intensity in the love than can be found in the Mosaic principle, Love thy neighbor as thyself." In this commandment, which embraces the whole law, self-love is assumed, and is made the standard for the love of neighbor. This ἐντολή, on the other hand, would be based on a new principle, and measured by a higher standard, and even mean more than love of self altogether. Christ's love to his disciples was self-abandoning, self-sacrificing love. This view of the passage is urged by Lucke, and really removes all necessity for the varied translations of the καινή, such as "illustrious" (Hammond); "last" (Heumann); "one that is always new" (Olshausen); "renewed commandment," a "renewing commandment" (Augustine and Maldonatus); "the institution of the Eucharist" (Lange). But it is doubtful whether the ideal image of a perfect love constitutes the novelty, and whether the double ἵνα and the transposition of the second ἵνα be found in the simple style of John. If, however, καθώς ἠγάπησα be taken as "seeing that," or "since I loved you" (see John 17:2), Christ's love becomes not so much the manner or type, as the motive, ground, and principle of love to one another. As if he had said, "I have loved each of you unto death; in loving one another you are loving me, you are loving an object of my tender love. The desire of mere imitation, however strong, is not equal to the demand I make, while the bestowment of the 'new' principle of life arising from a response to my love is." For the first interpretation speaks John's own use of the idea (1 John 3:16). There is a third interpretation, which makes καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς a sentence parallel with the δίδωμι. "Even as up to this moment, and up to my death, and to the uttermost, I have loved you, I give," etc., "in order that ye may love one another, and, inspired by me, may imitate my love one towards another" (Westcott). This is an endeavor to combine both interpretations. Alford suggests that the "newness" of the commandment consists in its "unicity," its being the prime injunction of the new covenant, and the first-fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13.). Tholuck sees the expression of self-renouncing love - the love of the highest to the sinful, the love which is more blessed to give than to receive, the all-embracing love.
See on Matthew 26:29.
The word for a single commandment or injunction, but used also for the whole body of the moral precepts of Christianity. See 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 3:2. See also on James 2:8. This new commandment embodies the essential principle of the whole law. Compare also 1 John 3:23. Some interpreters instead of taking that ye love one another, etc., as the definition of the commandment, explain the commandment as referring to the ordinance of the Holy Communion, and render, "a new commandment (to observe this ordinance) I give unto you, in order that ye love one another." It is, however, more than improbable, and contrary to usage, that the Holy Supper should be spoken of as ἐντολὴ a commandment.
With its usual telic force; indicating the scope and not merely the form or nature of the commandment.
Rev., better, even as. Not a simple comparison (ὥσπερ), but a conformity; the love is to be of the same nature. There are, however, two ways of rendering the passage. 1. "I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another with the same devotion with which I loved you." 2. "I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another, even as up to this moment I loved you, in order that you may imitate my love one toward another." By the first rendering the character of the mutual love of Christians is described; by the second, its ground. The Rev. gives the latter in margin.
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