Love your neighbour

Jesus said:

Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength; and Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Luke 10:27 (NLT)

This is the first commandment. In this article, we will be focused on the second part of the commandment, to love your neighbour.

These two commandments, to love God and to love our neighbour, are regarded as the Great Command from Jesus to His followers and – also, if they would listen – to the whole of mankind.

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The importance of these commandments is that they are echoed in all four Gospels – in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.   Not everything is repeated by all four Apostles in their Gospels – but the most important messages do tend to be repeated.   It is of no surprise, and of great significance, that this is one of the few messages repeated in all four.

However, they are not repeated in the same way – or in the same context – by all four Apostles. 

Gospel Parallels

In my research, I came across an interesting little website called The Synoptic Gospel Parallels (http://www.gospelparallels.com/).   This highlights the parallels between the four books of the Gospels, and it makes interesting study in its own right.  

If you study the parallels for the Great Commandment, you find that Matthew, Mark and Luke are similar:

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.   This is the first and great commandment.   And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.   On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV)

“And you shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.   This is the first commandment.   And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.   There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (NKJV)

It’s interesting to note that the passage in Matthew and Mark were relating a time when Jesus was being quizzed by the religious leaders and teachers of the day whilst in the Temple in Jerusalem.   It is Jesus, Himself, who tells of the greatest commandments in His own words.   However, Luke was telling of a time when they were travelling to Jerusalem – they hadn’t reached there yet – when they were approached by an expert in religious law, who asked Jesus, “what should I do to inherit eternal life?”   Jesus answers him, saying: “What does the Law of Moses say?

And it’s the religious lawyer who answered: “love the Lord your God ..,” not Jesus.   Being a religious expert, his answer was truly amazing.   He not only had tremendous knowledge of the Law – the Old Testament – but he also had tremendous insight.   He knew, without it explicitly saying in the Old Testament that not only did he have to love God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind and all his strength; but that he should also love his neighbour.   These two commandments are not linked together in the Old Testament.   And not only that, they are not linked in the Old Testament with eternal life.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

You will note, also, that in Deuteronomy, it does not say, “with all your mind,” whereas the religious lawyer did include the mind.   Jesus, Himself, introduced the mind, but this was later when He had arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem.

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV)

The command to love your neighbour is earlier in the Bible, in Leviticus, and it is not explicitly linked with Deuteronomy 6:5.   It is Jesus who links the two.   Perhaps Jesus had used these two verses from the Old Testament on other occasions during His travelling ministry, but we are not told as much; but this is, perhaps, where the religious lawyer – and Luke perhaps – may have heard the two linked together prior to Jesus’ conversation with the religious leaders in the Temple at Jerusalem?   Of course, we will never know.  

But, whilst Luke writes about a completely different occasion on which the phrase, “love your neighbour,” was used to the occasion that Matthew and Mark write about, John writes somewhat differently again.   According to John, Jesus says:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 (NKJV)

Jesus felt this was such an important commandment for His disciples to grasp, that after He had washed their feet, on the night He was betrayed, as they shared the Passover supper together, He gave them this commandment.   Jesus knew that He was soon to die, and He had some especially important things to tell His disciples – and one of the most important was to love one another.

Now that we are His disciples, we should take heed of His Words – to love one another and love our neighbour.   It is the second most important command.  

James, John and Peter, who were three of Jesus’ disciples and spent three years truly following Him, were keen in their writings to emphasise the importance of this command to love each other, as they each write in their own accounts:

“Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” James 2:8 (NLT)

“Now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.   Love each other deeply with all your heart.’” 1 Peter 1:22 (NLT)

“And this is His commandment: We must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He commanded us.”   1 John 3:23 (NLT)

It is known that James, Peter and John were the three disciples that were the closest to Jesus, and accompanied Him where others did not.   Being the closest, they would undoubtedly have wanted to share the most important teachings with us – and to love your neighbour, and love one another, is one of the most important commandments in the whole of the Bible.

It is also repeated in several other places in the New Testament:

“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”   Galatians 5:14 (NLT)

The Bible’s Commandments

To bring into context, once again, the wisdom of the religious lawyer who asked Jesus, “what should I do to inherit eternal life?” you should consider carefully – and in context – what Jesus asked him in return: “What does the Law of Moses say?

Basically, Jesus was asking him what the commandments of the Old Testament were.   The New Testament hadn’t yet been written.   Of course, he knew that this man would have been an expert in the Old Testament laws – he was a lawyer, after all.

What you may not realise is that there are 613 commandments in the Old Testament!   Not just ten – we always think of the Ten Commandments – but, yes, there are 613 in all.   There are 248 positive commandments – things that you should do or must do; and there are 365 negative commandments – things that you should avoid or must not do.   If you want to read all 613, you can find them on the website: https://www.gospeloutreach.net/613laws.html.

Of course, the Ten Commandments are those which are considered to be the most important of all.   And Jesus sums up all the laws and the commandments – including the Ten Commandments – in two most important commandments – to love God and love your neighbour.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.   This is the first and great commandment.   And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.   On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV)

He said: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”   All the laws and commandments hang on these two laws.

… [Read more below – jump to page 10 in the booklet that opens]

You will find out more about:

  • Who is your neighbour?
  • How do you love your neighbour?
    • Don’t do any wrong to anyone
    • Look after fellow Christians
    • Share each other’s burdens
      • Grieve and cry; laugh and dance
    • Be charitable

If you have any questions – do contact us and let us know.

See you soon, Be Blessed.

To read more, click the link below to VIEW RESOURCE. This will take you to an online copy of the booklet that corresponds to this section. You can access this free of charge online.

A pdf copy, which you can download to keep and read offline, is available for all those who sign up as Mercy & Mission Mates for a minimum of £4.32 a month, and anyone can buy extra copies from our website or on Amazon Kindle.

External Resources

Other articles from various sources:

So what does it meant to love your neighbour?

What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbour as Yourself?

Who were the Samaritans? An explanation of the tension between them.

If you find any resources (or produce any resources) you would like to see here – please let us know.

Ministry Mates

Certificate of Completion

A Certificate of Completion is awarded to those who complete the Discipleship Programme. 

In order to qualify for a certificate, you must answer the questions asked at the end of each module, and send them to us at Misfits Ministries. 

Module 2 Questions

  1. Who do you consider to be your neighbour?
  2. What are the four ways to love your neighbour?
  3. Which do you do well?
  4. Which do you struggle with?
  5. What changes will you make as a result of reading ‘Love Your Neighbour?’
Email your answers to disciple@misfitsministries.co.uk. Thank You, see you soon, God Bless.

Chosen Discipleship Groups – Go Deeper

Additional material and resources are available to those who are running Chosen Discipleship Groups to follow the Discipleship Programme.

You might also consider subscribing to the following reading plan on YouVersion prior to discussing this module:

Love Your Neighbor: Outreach, One Step at a Time | Devotional Reading Plan | YouVersion Bible