Matthew 22:40
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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(40) All the law and the prophets.—The words are coupled, as in Matthew 5:17; Matthew 7:12, to indicate the whole of the revelation of the divine will in the Old Testament. The two great commandments lay at the root of all. The rest did but expand and apply them; or, as in the ceremonial, set them forth symbolically; or, as in the law of slavery and divorce, confined their application within limits, which the hardness of men’s hearts made necessary. For the glowing assent of the scribe to our Lord’s teaching, and our Lord’s approval of him, see Notes on Mark 12:32-34.

22:34-40 An interpreter of the law asked our Lord a question, to try, not so much his knowledge, as his judgment. The love of God is the first and great commandment, and the sum of all the commands of the first table. Our love of God must be sincere, not in word and tongue only. All our love is too little to bestow upon him, therefore all the powers of the soul must be engaged for him, and carried out toward him. To love our neighbour as ourselves, is the second great commandment. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified; but there is a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty: we must have a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies. And we must love our neighbour as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves; in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of others. By these two commandments let our hearts be formed as by a mould.On these two commandments hang ... - That is, these comprehend the substance of what Moses in the law and what the prophets have spoken.

What they have said has been to endeavor to win people to love God and to love each other. Love to God and man comprehends the whole of religion, and to produce this has been the design of Moses, the prophets, the Saviour, and the apostles.

Mark Mar 12:32-34 adds that the scribe said, "Well, Master, thou hast said the truth;" and that he assented to what Jesus had said, and admitted that to love God and man in this manner was more than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices; that is, was of more value or importance. Jesus, in reply, told him that he was "not far from the kingdom of heaven;" in other words, by his reply he had shown that he was almost prepared to receive the doctrines of the gospel. He had evinced such an acquaintance with the law as to prove that he was nearly prepared to receive the teachings of Jesus. See the notes at Matthew 3:2.

Mark and Luke say that this had such an effect that no man after that durst ask him any question, Luke 20:40; Mark 12:34. This does not mean that none of his disciples durst ask him any question, but none of the Jews. He had confounded all their sects - the Herodians Matthew 22:15-22; the Sadducees Matthew 22:23-33; and, last, the Pharisees Matthew 22:34-40. Finding themselves unable to confound him, everyone gave up the attempt at last.

Mt 22:15-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute, the Resurrection, and the Great Commandment, with the Replies. ( = Mr 12:13-34; Lu 20:20-40).

For the exposition, see on [1343]Mr 12:13-34.

Ver. 34-40. Mark relates this history more fully, Mark 12:28-31. And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, 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 thy strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. Luke omits this history, only subjoins to our Saviour’s answer to the Sadducees, Luke 20:39,40, Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all. There are different opinions of interpreters concerning the design of this scribe, called by Matthew a lawyer, in coming to Christ with this question. Some think that he came upon the same errand with the others, to entangle him in his speech. Others, that he came merely out of a desire to be more fully instructed by him, and that tempting here signifies no more than trying him, not for a bad end, but as the queen of Sheba came to prove Solomon with hard questions, to have an experiment of his wisdom. Our Saviour’s fair treating him, and the commendation he gave him, together with his fair speaking to our Saviour, and commending his answer, induce me to think that he came on no ill design. Besides that, the opinion of some, that he came hoping to hear our Saviour vilify their ritual precepts in comparison of the moral precepts, seemeth to me not probable; for himself consents to what our Saviour saith, and addeth, that to love the Lord our God, &c., is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. His question was, Which is the first and greatest commandment? Matthew saith, the great; Mark saith, the first: they have both the same sense, and our Saviour puts them together, Matthew 22:38. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Mark adds, with all thy strength. It is to be found Deu 6:5, only there is not with all thy mind. Luke puts it in, Matthew 10:27. It is but the same thing expressed in divers terms, for with all thy soul is comprehensive of heart, mind, and strength. Mark adds a preface: Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: thou shalt love, & c. Those words only;

1. Stirred up the people’s attention.

2. Showed the reason of the following precept, which is fully expressed in Matthew.

If any ask, To which of the ten commandments is this to be referred? It is easily answered, that it is the sum of the four first, which comprehend our duty toward God. Our Saviour’s expressing them by loving God, shows us that the law, of God was not fulfilled in the observation of the letter of those commandments, but doing these things which God commands out of a principle of love, the highest degrees of love to God. They idly interpret this precept, who interpret it only an obligation upon us to love God as much as we are able in our lapsed state; the fall of man lost God no right of commanding, and telling us our duty. The law doth undoubtedly require of us love to God in the highest degree, to be showed by the acts of the whole man, in obedience to all his commandments, and that constantly. It is our only happiness that the law is in the hands of a Mediator, who hath thus perfectly fulfilled it for all those who believe in him, Romans 8:3, and accepteth of us the will for the deed. Thus the moral law is a schoolmaster that leadeth us unto Christ. Our Saviour justly calls this the first and great commandment,

1. Because God is to be served before our neighbour.

2. Nor can love to our neighbour flow from any other true principle than that of love to God, nor is our neighbour to be loved but for God’s sake, and in subordination unto him.

And the second is like unto it, commanding love also; so that, as the apostle saith, love is the fulfilling of the law. Thy neighbour, that is, every man, as thyself; doing as much for him as thou wouldst have him do for thee, and doing no more against him than thou wouldst willingly he should do against thee: as truly and sincerely as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets: there is nothing commanded in all the Old Testament but may be reduced to these two heads. This is the whole duty of man there commanded. The whole book of God is our rule, and we are obliged to every precept in it. Moses summed up all in the ten commandments, to which, truly interpreted, all the precepts of Scripture are reducible. Christ here brings the ten to two. The apostle brings all to one, telling us love is the fulfilling of the law. There is nothing forbidden in Scripture but what offends the royal law of love, either to God or man; there is nothing commanded but what will fall under it. Mark addeth, that the scribe applauds our Saviour, as having said the truth, and confessing that the fulfilling these two precepts was more than all sacrifices and burnt offerings; in which he agreed with Samuel, who long since told Saul that to obey was better than sacrifice; and it needs must be so, seeing that all the true value of sacrifices lay in the obedience by them given to the will of God. Christ tells the scribe he was not far from the kingdom of God. He who once rightly understands the law of God, and hath cast off that silly fancy of thinking to please God with ritual things, hath made a great proficiency under that schoolmaster, who, if rightly understood, will show him the need of another righteousness than his own wherein to appear before God.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Not that all that is contained in the five books of Moses, and in the books of the prophets, and other writings of the Old Testament, is comprehended in, and is reducible to these two precepts; for there are many things delivered by way of promise, written by way of history, &c. which cannot, by any means, be brought into these two general heads: but that everything respecting duty that is suggested in the law, or is more largely explained and pressed in any of the writings of the prophets, is summarily comprehended in these two sayings: hence love is the fulfilling of the law; see Romans 13:8. The substance of the law is love; and the writings of the prophets, as to the preceptive part of them, are an explanation of the law, and an enlargement upon it: hence the Jews have a saying (c), that "all the prophets stood on Mount Sinai", and received their prophecies there, because the sum of them, as to the duty part, was then delivered. Beza thinks, that here is an allusion to the "phylacteries", or frontlets, which hung upon their foreheads and hands, as a memorial of the law. And certain it is, that the first of these commands, and which is said to be the greatest, was written in these phylacteries. Some take the phrase, "on these hang all the law and the prophets", to be a mere Latinism, but it is really an Hebraism, and often to be met with in the Jewish writings: so Maimonides says (d),

"the knowledge of this matter is an affirmative precept, as it is said, "I am the Lord thy God"; and he that imagines there is another God besides this, transgresses a negative, as it is said, "thou shalt have no other Gods before me"; and he denies the fundamental point, for this is the great foundation, , "on which all hang":

and so the word is used in many other places (e). The sense is plainly this, that all that are in the law and prophets are consistent with, and dependent on these things; and are, as the Persic version renders the word, "comprehended" in them, and cannot be separated from them,

(c) Jarchi in Isaiah 48.16. & in Mal. i. 1.((d) Hilch. Yesode Hatorah, c. 1. sect. 6. (e) Vid. Abkath Rokel. l. 1. p. 3.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:40. Those two commandments contain the fundamental principle of the whole of the commandments in the Old Testament.

ταύταις] with emphasis: these are the two commandments on which, etc.

κρέμαται] depends thereon, so that those commandments constitute the basis and essential condition of the moral character of all the others, Romans 13:8 f.; Galatians 5:14. Comp. Plat. Legg. viii. p. 831 C: ἐξ ὧν κρεμαμένη πᾶσα ψυχὴ πολίτου. Pind. Ol. vi. 125; Xen. Symp. viii. 19; Genesis 44:30; Jdt 8:24.

καὶ οἱ προφῆται] so far as the preceptive element in them is concerned. Comp. on Matthew 5:17. Thus Jesus includes more in His reply than was contemplated by the question (Matthew 22:36) of the νομικός.

Matthew 22:40. . ὁ νόμος κρέμαται. Jesus winds up by declaring that on these two hangs, is suspended, the whole law, also the prophets = the moral drift of the whole O. T. is love; no law or performance of law of any value save as love is the soul of it. So Jesus soars away far above the petty disputes of the schools about the relative worth of isolated precepts; teaching the organic unity of duty.

Matthew 22:40. Κρέματαικαὶ οἱ προφῆται,[976] hangs[977]—and the prophets. The Latin Codices have pendet, et prophetæ—hangs, and the prophets: whence the Canterbury MS. has the reading κρέμαται καὶ οἱ προφῆται. The question was concerning the law: the reply concerns the law especially: see Matthew 22:36; Matthew 22:40. The Anglo-Saxon version has not καὶ οἱ προφῆται; and it might seem a gloss from ch. Matthew 7:12, because the verb κρέμαται is in the singular number, and the disputed clause follows afterwards. The fathers, however, have it, including even Tertullian, if the copies of him are not corrupt. And again, the Anglo-Saxon version frequently omits something which is found in the Latin. The matter requires further consideration, κρέμαται is an elegant verb. He who takes away either of these commandments, takes away the law.[978]

[976] E. M. reads καὶ οἱ προφῆται κρέμανται.—(I. B.)

[977] E. V. has “hang,” which agrees with the reading of E. M., q. v. supra.—(I. B.)

[978] Which comprises so many commandments.—V. g.

BDLZabc Vulg. Syr. and Hil. read κρέμαται. Orig. 3, 981b supports Rec. text, κρέμανται after προφῆται—ED.

Verse 40. - Hang all the Law and the prophets; i.e. all Scripture, which is comprised in these terms (comp. Matthew 5:17; Matthew 7:12); in other words, all the revelations which God has made to man in every age. The clause is peculiar to St. Matthew. It signifies that on love of God and love of man depend all the moral and religious, ceremonial and judicial precepts contained in the Law, all the utterances of the prophets, all the voices of history. Scripture enunciates the duty to God and our neighbour, shows the right method of fulfilling it, warns against the breach of it, gives examples of punishment and reward consequent upon the way in which the obligation has been treated. Thus the unity and integrity of revelation is demonstrated. Its Author is one; its design is uniform; it teaches one path, leading to one great end. Matthew 22:40
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