In the Great Commandment Jesus says to teach them “everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). But what did he command? We can look at everything he taught, but if you look at the word “command” and Jesus, it’s pretty strong that he pretty much only commanded one thing – Love one Another.
In his book Love Revolution Gaylor Enns, a man who was burnt out to non-functionality and was restored by this very truth, breaks down how the word is used by Jesus. Basically there are two Greek words for command–the word “commanded” which is entollomai and the word “command” which is entole. These words are used 87 times in the Scripture and here is the breakdown:
- 15x where commanded (entellomai) was used it was used for a situational action such as telling the disciples not to tell others that He was the Messiah (Mt 17:9). These were one time commands that were fulfilled for the moment.
- 40x the word “command” (entole) was used in conversation about the commandments in the Law of Moses (Mk 10:19)
But for 30x that the word is used in a way that is the startling reality. The “command” of Jesus 30x was used in the context of loving one another:
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn 13:34-35)
- “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you…this is my command: Love one another” (Jn 15:10, 12-14, 17)
- “He has given us this command: Whoever loved God must also love his brother” (1 Jn 4:19-21)
- As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 Jn 1:5-6)
Clearly the command of Jesus was to love one another.
Isn’t this the same as loving God and loving another? I don’t think so but let’s talk about that in the next post.
A Step Further in Love
Now you’re probably thinking, ‘this is the same thing Jesus spoke of to the one man: Love God, love one another.’ Actually, no. Not really. If you study the words of Jesus you will see that he only really had this one command – Love one another.
If you look at the context of this Scripture where Jesus talking about loving God and loving one another (Mt 22:37), Jesus was talking to those who were referencing the commands of the Old Covenant. They asked him specifically, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law,” clearly referencing the Law of Moses. So he answered him based on their question. The other time he answered this way was when he was talking to an expert in the law (Lk 10:25) It wasn’t a new statement from Jesus as another man mentioned this meaning before Jesus spoke this to him (Lk 10:27). Jesus was just answering this man in the context he was talking, questions in the context of the old covenant.
Loving God and loving one another were indeed the two commands of the old covenant. But under the new covenant it is the covenant of grace and truth (Jn 1:17). We are not under law anymore but under grace (Rom 6:14). When Jesus was asked a similar question but in the new covenant context he gave the new commands as this: believe on me (Jn 6:29 and also Jn 3:16) and love one another (Jn 13:34-35). This is restated plainly in 1 John 3:23 as well:
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of the his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded.”
If you look at these two commandments/commands you might say they are pretty similar. But actually they are very different. Under the old covenant of law it was about our love for God. But if you see the verses under the new covenant, we operate out of His love for us through Christ. The key is this:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (Jn 15:9). When we remain in the love of Christ, we are empowered to follow his command to love one another (Jn 15:12). As John later states this:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:10,19).
The old covenant was rooted in our faulty ability to love him. The new covenant is rooted in His love for us. The old covenant is a covenant of law, even in loving him with all our hearts, mind and souls. The new covenant is a covenant of grace and truth through Jesus, resting in and remaining in his love for us. The old covenant was about working towards loving God. The new covenant is about resting in God’s love. They are different covenants. The old is not lost or empty, but it was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
And the covenants have different fruit. The new covenant is a place of security and grace. The new covenant is motivated by being loved, remaining in His love, and reveling in His love for us. The new covenant finds expression in that our loving God and loving one another are not separate–it’s that the way we love God is by loving one another. It’s why 30 x he says this is his command (as opposed to the 2x he spoke of loving God/one anther in the Old Covenant context). It means engaging in humanity and loving them. And it’s why the Sermon on the Mount and his other teachings were primarily about how to love one another.
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of the his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded” (1 Jn 3:23).
It also affects how I approach God. Under the old covenant my approach would be to work to love God with all my heart, mind and soul. And while that is good, the new covenant approach is to discover how much God loves me. Completely different.
If there is striving, it is the striving to discover how great his love for me really is through Jesus Christ. And when I grow in my understanding of how great his love for me, then the natural fruit is praise, worship, thanksgiving, evangelism and loving others in the same way. Our life must first and foremost be rooted in his love for us (greater than our love for Him). This is remaining in his love, and discovering the goodness of God and how much he loves me. It’s night and day different that transforms our life of prayer and worship.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 Jn 4:10).
My work is also to believe on him. Not just for salvation but for all things. That’s the new occupation. It’s one of trust and the more we come to grow in how much God loves us, the more we will be motivated to trust him more. Trust Him is our new work.
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of the his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded” (1 Jn 3:23). How this looks:
- Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent”” (Jn 6:29).
- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).
It’s really startling actually because almost all of our Christian lives we are taught “Love God, love one another.” It creates a striving in our faith that belongs to the old covenant and its laws. And while this is good it is old covenant. Our new work is that as Christ has loved us, we are to rest in His love for us and love one another. It’s drastically different. And definitely a paradigm shift.