What is another way of saying “love your neighbor as yourself”, and what do we call this rule? See Mat 7:12. In what way does this second great command summarize the second half of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), even as the foremost commandment summarizes the first half? Cf. Exo 20:1-17. Although the 5th commandment to honor one’s father and mother may be thought of as loving one’s neighbor, why is it better categorized under the command to love God? Think: are parents just a neighbor? Is our responsibility to our parents no more than that to a neighbor, or is it more like our responsibility to God, so that to dishonor them and the authority God gave them in our lives is also to dishonor God and the authority He established? Cf. Rom 13:1-2 and consider the importance of the 5th commandment as the root of all civil authority through which God exercises His authority among men. Cf. 1Pe 5:1-5.
Should we think of the two great commandments Jesus gave in these verses as being distinct and mutually exclusive? In what way does the greatest commandment actually encompass the second? See Joh 14:15, 15:12, 1Jo 4:20 and think: can we love God without also loving our neighbor? In what way does the second also encompass the first? See Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14, 1Jo 5:2 and think: can we love our neighbor without also loving God? Can one who hates God truly love his neighbor? Cf. Pro 27:6.
Recall that Jesus has been asked by one of the Pharisees, a lawyer or expert in the law of Moses, which commandment of the many found in Scripture is the greatest. After enumerating the two all-encompassing commandments, how does He summarize what He means by them being the greatest? See Mat 22:40. As all the law and the prophets depend upon these two great commandments, what does this help us to understand about all that the law and the prophets are meant to teach us? Considering the breadth of the law and the prophets, what all is involved and how all-encompassing is loving God with all our heart and soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves? Consider that for one whose heart is pure—such as man as he was originally created and the man we long to be when our redemption is complete—loving God with all his heart and loving his neighbor as himself is the most basic, natural thing to do, for this is the inherent nature of a pure heart; what then do all the law and the prophets teach us about how corrupt our hearts must be to now require such extensive instruction in what ought to be instinctively simple? What does this help us understand about the inherent nature of sin and how bad it really is? See Gal 5:9. What does it also teach us about the greater purpose of the law and the prophets? Are they God’s provision for man’s sin because by following them he might be saved, or are they God’s provision for man’s sin because they demonstrate man’s inability to save himself because of the great sinfulness of sin? See Rom 3:20, 5:20 (NAS increase = literally super-abound), Rom 7:7-13, Gal 3:19-24. What then is the only remedy for man’s sin? See Rom 7:21-25a.
Note that the NAS “depend” in Mat 22:40 is more literally “hang” as in the KJV; what does this verbiage illustrate about what must happen to any religious law or teaching or command or ordinance or scruple or practice if it becomes separated from the great pegs of love upon which it is meant to hang? Cf. 1Co 13:8 and think: is the goal of our Christian walk to grow in our understanding of every commandment and observe it perfectly as a hoop that must be jumped through in order to obtain eternal life? Is it to attain such a level of spirituality that miracles of healing occur through us and we are able to prophesy and speak in tongues and become so separated from the world that we are willing to give all we possess to the poor and surrender our bodies to be burned? Cf. 1Co 13:1-3,8-10. Are not all of these things very good? But if they become separated from the greater law of love that makes them good in any given circumstance, what happens to such things even if they are meticulously observed? If such things fall to the ground, are they then of neutral value to our souls, or actually a detriment? Cf. Mat 23:1-4,23, Phil 3:17-19, as well as Paul’s example in Phil 3:4-7 and 1Ti 1:12-13. What does this help us further understand about the manner in which the commandments enumerated by Jesus are the foremost?