Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 10:27

And he answered, " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself ."
New American Standard Version

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Adam Clarke Commentary

Thou shalt love the Lord - See this important subject explained at large, on Matthew 22:37-40; (note).

Thy neighbor as thyself - See the nature of self-love explained, on Matthew 19:19; (note).

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 10:27

Thou shalt love

Love to God and our neighbours

THE LAWYER’S QUESTION. No evidence of his having put it in a malicious spirit. Quite a fair question. Also a most intelligent question. He wished to try Christ’s pretensions and knowledge--a perfectly blameless, indeed praiseworthy wish. Yet, although the lawyer’s intellect was not at fault, his heart, in some measure at least, was. He did not feel, as he ought, the seriousness of the question he proposed, and his own personal interest in it. He put it too much to try Christ, too little to get instruction for himself.

II. CHRIST’S MANNER OF DEALING WITH HIM. He did not answer him, but made him answer himself-obviously, in order to turn his attention in upon himself.

III. THE LAWYER’S ANSWER A marvellously good answer. He joins to a precept in Deuteronomy another in Leviticus, and so replies to Christ’s question in words altogether appropriate and divine. Our Lord Himself had used the same words in the same way. He had found none better in which to sum all duty and the whole consequence of religion.

IV. CHRIST’S APPLICATION. Have we here Christ Himself teaching salvation through works, not through faith; through doing, not by belief? Yes, there is no doubt about it; His words are perfectly plain and decided--“Do, and thou shalt live.” But, do what? “Love,” etc. A safe kind ofteaching salvation through works I If by doing this, but only by doing this, man is to be saved through doing, then that only makes it clear as the sun that not by doing will any man be saved. Such a law condemns us all utterly. It is one thing to be a hearer of the law, even an intelligent and studious hearer of it, and quite another to be a doer of it. What it demands is obedience--strict, perfect, absolute obedience.

V. THE LAWYER’S DIFFICULTY. He secretly feels that salvation on such terms is not to be had, but he does not like to acknowledge this even to himself, and still less to Him whose words have found him out. He fights against the conviction. He wishes to justify himself, for he cannot bear the thought that Moses and his law--all that he had hitherto been accustomed to depend upon for eternal life--will fail him, and even turn against him. To justify himself, he puts to our Lord the question, “Who is my neighbour?” No question about God, or love to God. Why? Feeling that with respect to that his case was hopeless, he tries to get off on the second commandment, flattering himself there was at least some chance of acquittal on that count. The mere fact of his putting such a question showed him at fault. How could he have fulfilled the law of neighbourly love if he didn’t even know who his neighbour was?

VI. CHRIST’S DEFINITION OF A NEIGHBOUR. Again our Lord seeks to get the lawyer to answer himself, so as to condemn himself; He seeks to help him not only to the right answer to his question, but to convince him that the very question itself showed that he had not the love he spoke of, and not the love which he rightly said was demanded by the law. He seeks to do so by vividly setting before him, in a singularly beautiful parable, the nature of genuine and practical love, as exhibited by the Samaritan, in contrast with a merely formal respect for the law, as illustrated by the priest and the Levite. Then, when He has thus got his conscience to bear witness to the depth and breadth and exceeding comprehensiveness of the law, He again tells him to go and do it, to go and obey it as the Samaritan had done. This our Lord again tells him to do, not supposing that he really could do it, but indirectly to convince him that he has not done it, and to lead him to find out that it is not in his power to do it. Christ wishes through the law to draw him to Himself. (Professor R. Flint.)

The two great commandments

I. THE MANNER AND OCCASION OF THEIR DELIVERY (see Matthew 22:36, where our Lord Himself gave them). In the text He draws them from the lips of His questioner. Notice, also, that even these two great commandments were not on these occasions invented for the first time by our Divine Lawgiver (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). Words that had been lying dormant He brought to life.


1. One supreme affection is to rule over our whole being--the love of God. The intellect must seek truth with undistracted, fearless zeal; else we do not serve God with our whole mind and understanding. The bodily powers must be guarded and saved for the healthy discharge of all that Providence requires of us in our passage through life; else we do not serve Him with our whole strength. The affections must be kept fresh and pure; else we do not serve Him with our whole heart. The conscience must not have stained itself with secret sills, unworthy transactions, and false pretences; else we do not serve Him with our whole soul. There was an old barbarian chief who, when he was baptized, kept his right arm out of the water that he might still work his deeds of blood. That is the likeness of the imperfect religion of so many Christians. This is what they did who of old, in their zeal for religion, broke their plighted faith, did despite to their natural affections, disregarded the laws of kinship and country, of honour and of mercy.

2. The second of these commandments is like the first. It is the chief mode of fulfilling the first.

III. THEIR RELATIVE POSITION TO THE OTHER PARTS OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION, These two commandments are the greatest of all. On them the rest of God’s revelation depends. By keeping them we inherit the greatest of all gifts. “This do, and thou shalt live.” (Dean Staney.)

The sufficiency of these two commandments

It has been observed that sometimes when a man is told that religion and morality are summed up in the two great commandments, he is ready to say, like one who first beholds the sea,

“Is this the mighty ocean? Is this all?”

Yes, it is all; but what an all!

We know well here what is the view of the ocean. We look out from these shores on that vacant expanse, with its boundless horizon, with its everlasting succession of ebb and tide, and we might perhaps ask, What is this barren sea to us? How vague, how indefinite, how broad, how monotonous; yet, when we look closer at it, it is the scene on which sunlight and moonlight, shade and shadow, are for ever playing. It has been the chosen field for the enterprise, for the faith, for the charity of mankind. It is the highway for the union of nations and the enlargement of churches. It is the bulwark of freedom, and the home of mighty fleets, and the nurse of swarming cities. And so these two commandments. They seem at first sight vacant, vague, and indefinite; but let us trust ourselves to them, let us launch out upon them, let us explore their innermost recesses, let us sound their depths, and we shall find that we shall call forth all the arts and appliances of Christian love. We shall find that they will carry us round the world and beyond it. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, with all our strength--what new fields of thought and activity ought this to open to us when thoroughly studied! It is in proportion as the Bible teaches us the true perfections of God that it becomes to us the Book of God; it is in proportion as the gospel discloses to us those perfections in the most endearing and the most intelligible forms that it becomes to us the revelation of God in Christ; it is in proportion as our hearts and consciences are filled from the fountain of all goodness, that we are able to enter into the true spirit of God, who is worshipped in spirit and in truth. It is, or it ought to be, for the sake of these great commandments that we value and strive to improve the sanctifying and elevating influences of Christian worship, Christian civilization, Christian friendship, Christian homes, and Christian education. It is for the sake of better understanding what God is, and how He wishes us to serve Him, that we value these indications of His will which He has left us in the sure footsteps of science, in the manifold workings of history, of art, of poetry, and of all the various gifts and graces which He has bestowed on earth and on man. “Let no man,” says Lord Bacon, “let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety or ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well supplied, in the Book of God’s Word or the Book of God’s works.” That is at least one result of the endeavour to love God with all our understanding and with all our soul. And again, “to love our neighbour as ourselves”--what a world of Christian duty is here disclosed! How eagerly, for the sake of better serving our neighbours, should we welcome any one who will tell us what is the best and safest mode of administering charity, what is the best mode of education, what is the best means of suppressing intemperance and vice. How eagerly should we all cultivate the opportunities which God has given us, not for keeping men apart, but for bringing them together; how anxiously we should desire to understand the character of neighbouring nations, neighbouring Churches, neighbouring friends, so as to avoid giving them needless offence--so as to bring out their best points and repress their worst, making our own knowledge of our own imperfections and faults the measure of the forbearance which we should exercise to them. How eagerly should we rejoice in everything which increases the countless means that Christianity and civilization employ for the advancement and progress of mankind. These are some of the means of loving our neighbour as ourselves. (Dean Staney.)

The two great commandments

1. Let us now consider the first great commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” The great principle which animated the Jews was not love but fear; “Fear God and keep His commandments” with them comprehended the whole duty of man. Accustomed to see their enemies punished by the immediate interference of the Deity; and sensible of the sufferings inflicted on themselves for their idolatry and their incessant hankering after the imaginary gods of the heathens, they contemplated the true God rather as an object of fear than of love. Accordingly, in the Old Testament it is the power, the greatness, the holiness, the terrible justice of the Almighty, that is chiefly exhibited, because the Jews were not fitted for the guidance of higher motives. But, in the New Testament, the good-seas, the mercy, the loving-kindness of God are displayed in the most affectionate and attractive form. Every page beams with the benevolence of the Deity. What a beautiful picture of the goodness and mercy of God is exhibited in the parable of the prodigal son! As fear arises from contemplating the power and justice of God, so love is produced by meditating on His wisdom and goodness. But as it is a matter of the highest importance that we should be enabled to determine with certainty whether we really love God, it may be justly asked, What is the plainest and most undoubted proof of love to God? We answer, That which the Scripture declares it to be. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. “This,” says the Apostle John, “is the love of God, that ye keep His commandments.” There is another question still which requires our serious consideration, What are we to understand by loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind? The meaning is, that our desire to please God should be the highest and most vigorous principle, disposing us at all times to prefer our duty to God to every other consideration, and especially to the gratification of all our selfish passions.

II. We come now to the second great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neigh-bout as thyself.” It is scarcely necessary to observe that there is no inconsistency between loving God and loving our neighbour. It is perhaps of more importance to remark that we cannot sincerely and correctly observe the one without attending to the other, for they are parts of one whole. Accordingly, the Apostle John says, “If a man love not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?”

1. To love our neighbour is never to do him any injury; for, says the Apostle Paul, “love worketh no ill to our neighbour.” Consequently, we ought not to cherish any evil passion against him.

2. We ought also to be always anxious to do our neighbour all the good in our power.

3. But we are required to love our neighbour as ourselves. Then self-love must be a principle which God has implanted, and which He approves, otherwise He would never have recommended it as the standard of our benevolence. Self-love is a desire of happiness; and, if we have just views of happiness, it will never lead us astray. Self-love, too, is to be distinguished from selfishness. The selfish man is wrapped up in himself, and is terrified to do any good to his neighbour, lest he should diminish his own happiness. But the man who is guided by rational self-love knows that the more he goes beyond himself, the more good actions he does to others, the more he will increase and extend his own happiness.

III. Consider the observation which our Saviour made on the value of these two grand divisions of the moral law: “On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.” By the law and the prophets we are sure are meant the books which contain the law of Moses and the books written by the prophets. These books are here represented by our Saviour as being fixed and suspended to the two commandments and supported by them, so that if the two commandments were withdrawn, the law and the prophets being thus deprived of their necessary support, would fall to the ground, and lose their value and intended effect. (J. Thomson, D. D.)

Love to God and our neighbour


1. A principle Divinely implanted in the renewed hearts of believers.

2. It implies a high esteem of God.

3. It implies an earnest desire for communion with God and the enjoyment of Him.

4. Love to God is a judicious principle.

5. An active principle.

6. A supreme love. He must have our whole heart.


1. This grace, too, like the former, is a divinely implanted principle.

2. Loving our neighbour implies that we entertain benevolent dispositions towards him.

3. It implies that we speak well of him.

Love tries to conceal reports prejudicial to our neighbour. It imputes his faults, if it can, rather to inadvertence than to habitual premeditated wickedness. In a word, true love deals faithfully and closely with a man’s faults when it gets him by himself; but as tenderly as possible with them in the presence of others. To this let it be added, that love to our neighbour implies that we do him all the good offices in our power. What avail professions without performance, when it is in our power to perform kind actions? (James Foote, M. A.)

Condensed commandments

When the late Rev. Dr. Staughton, of America, resided at Bordentown, he was one day sitting at his door, when the infidel Thomas Paine, who also resided there, addressing him, said, “Mr. Staughton, what a pity it is that a man has not some comprehensive and perfect rule for the government of his life.” Mr. Staughton replied, “There is such a rule.” “What is that?” asked Paine. Mr. Staughton repeated the passage, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbour as thyself.” “Oh,” said Paine, “that’s in your Bible,” and immediately walked away.

The law of love

I. The law of love is not inferior to that of the ten commandments; in other words, love of God and man includes all which these teach at greater length. What saith the first commandment? “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Is not there even more than this contained in our text? Let love, to any object whatever, reign in a man’s heart, and his whole being revolts from the idea of doing any injury to the object of his affection. The law of love binds us to keep the first commandment. So with the second. It is obvious that they who have true love to the Lord God as the one spiritual King, eternal, immortal, and invisible, will loathe the attempt of the heathen idolaters to represent the attributes of Deity in the lineaments of a creeping thing, or of a beast, or of a bird, or of the physical nature of man. Or take the third. Does this tell any more than the simple direction, Love God? Could yonder wild blasphemer dare to call for God’s damnation on his own soul or on that of his fellow-man, to swear by the name of the Holy One, to thread his sentences with oaths, if he had ever learnt to love the great Jehovah whose name he thus dishonours? Take the fourth. If any Jew had spoken of this as a burdensome enactment, it would only have shown that he had not learned to love his God. Then, mark the fifth commandment--“Honour thy father and thy mother.” We need not say that this is love. What makes a happy home, with kindly trusting parents, and fond, clambering children, with a gleam of heaven shooting across the scene, and a warm glow resting on it all?--what but love? And is not the fifth commandment fulfilled in this? Then take the sixth, and say if it is possible that love can kill. See the skulking figure, with the deadly knife in his hand, with the restless glance of his suspicious eyes, as though he felt that he is watched: see him draw near the victim, who slumbers, all unconscious of danger and death, and say what would stop that murderous hand but love for his fellowman? So with the seventh. Lust breaks through this rule, which love would keep; for lust is selfishness, while love forgets all self. So, briefly, with the eighth. Love would prevent a man from “ whatsoever cloth, or may, unjustly hinder his own or his neighbour’s wealth or outward estate.” Again, take the ninth. What would stop the voice of slander, and hush the tale of shame, and seal the lips of the liar whose malignant tongue knows no restraint, and stop the story of slander, which circulates so easily over a parish or a nation--what, but this selfsame love? And, once more, look at the tenth commandment. What would check the growth of coveting, and withdraw one man’s eye from another’s scant possessions--what but love? Ahab could not have done the deed of Jezreel if his soul had contained the slightest love for Naboth. Thus we see that all the commandments are embraced in love; and, in the same way, it would be easy to show that on its twofold rule hang all the law and the prophets.

II. But, further, the law of love is superior, because--

1. It is positive.

2. It is exhaustive.

3. It begins at the heart.

4. It leads us directly and at once to feel our need of the Spirit of God. (A. H.Charteris, D. D.)

The love of God


1. It is the most sublime virtue.

2. It confers on us the highest dignity.

(a) We obtain the freedom of the children of God.

(b) We reach by it our perfection, it being the bond of perfectness Colossians 3:14).

(c) We enter into the most intimate relation with God, being in a manner deified.

3. The greatest beauty of our holy religion.

4. In the love of God we find true happiness.

(a) renders man infinitely rich by the possession of God;

(b) fills the heart with the sweetest delights;

(c) causes heavenly peace, which cannot be disturbed either by tribulations or by the sting of the passions;

(d) sweetens what is most bitter--all sufferings, and especially death.


1. He is the most perfect Being.

2. He is our greatest benefactor.

3. He is infinitely merciful. (Eberhard.)


How we may be convinced that we love God

1. He requires a love of faithfulness and obedience.

2. He requires a love of subjection and dependence. Do you possess this love? God is your sovereign Lord, you are His servant, and, as such, you should submit to His dispositions.

3. A love of preference. Do you love God more than all else?

4. A love of equality. Do you love whatever God loves, and hate whatever He hates?

5. A love of attention and complacency. Does it afford you delight to reflect on God, to converse with Him by prayer, &c.?

6. A love of zeal.

7. A love of desire. Do you long for the possession of God?


1. We should often call to mind certain eternal truths, and ponder over them. Such truths are the following.

2. We should banish from our heart all impure flames of sensual passion.

3. We should endeavour to have a great devotion. (Segaud.)

Of the love of God

I. THE NATURE OF THIS LOVE. We may describe love in general to be an affection or inclination of the soul toward an object, proceeding from an apprehension and esteem of some excellency or some conveniency therein (its beauty, worth, or usefulness), producing thereon, if the object be absent or wanting, a proportionable desire, and consequently an endeavour to obtain such a propriety therein, such a possession thereof, such an approximation or union thereto, as the thing is capable of; also a regret and displeasure in the failing so to obtain it, or in the want, absence, and loss thereof; likewise begetting a complacence, satisfaction, and delight in its presence, possession, or enjoyment; which is moreover attended with a good-will thereto, suitable to its nature; that is, with a desire that it should arrive unto and continue in its best state; with a delight to perceive it so to thrive and flourish; with a displeasure to see it suffer or decay in any wise; with a consequent endeavour to advance it in all good, and preserve it from all evil. The chief properties of the love, we owe to God are these: 1, A right apprehension and firm persuasion concerning God, and consequently a high esteem of Him as most excellent in Himself and most beneficial to us.

2. Another property of this love is an earnest desire of obtaining a propriety in God; of possessing Him, in a manner, and enjoying Him; of approaching Him, and being, so far as may be, united to Him.

3. Coherent with this is a third property of this love, that is, a great complacence, satisfaction, and delight in the enjoyment of God in the sense of having such a propriety in Him; in the partaking those emanations of favour and beneficence from Him; and, consequently, in the instruments conveying, in the means conducing to such enjoyment, for joy and content are the natural fruits of obtaining what we love, what we much value, what we earnestly desire.

4. The feeling much displeasure and regret in being deprived of such enjoyment in the absence or distance, as it were, of God from us; the loss or lessening of His favour; the subtraction of His gracious influences from us: for surely answerable to the love we bear unto anything will be our grief for the want or loss thereof.

5. Another property of this love is, to bear the highest goodwill toward God; so as to wish heartily and effectually, according to our power, to procure all good to Him, and to delight in it; so as to endeavour to prevent and to remove all evil, if I may so speak, that may befal Him, and to be heartily displeased therewith.

II. To the effecting of which purposes I shall next propound some MEANS conducible; some in way of removing obstacles, others by immediately promoting the duty. Of the first kind are these ensuing:

1. The destroying of all loves opposite to the love of God; extinguishing all affection to things odious and offensive to God; mortifying all corrupt and perverse, all unrighteous and unholy desires.

2. If we would obtain this excellent grace, we must restrain our affections toward all other things, however in their nature innocent and indifferent. B. The freeing of our hearts also from immoderate affection to ourselves; for this is a very strong bar against the entrance, as of all other charity, so especially of this; for as the love of an external object doth thrust, as it were, our soul outwards towards it; so the love of ourselves detains it within, or draws it inwards; and consequently these inclinations crossing each other cannot both have effect, but one will subdue and destroy the other. These are the chief obstacles, the removing of which conduces to the begetting and increasing the love of God in us. A soul so cleansed from love to bad and filthy things, so emptied of affection to vain and unprofitable things, so opened and dilated by excluding all conceit of, all confidence in itself, is a vessel proper for the Divine love to be infused into: into so large and pure a vacuity (as finer substances are apt to flow of themselves into spaces void of grosser matter) that free and moveable spirit of Divine grace will be ready to succeed, and therein to disperse itself. As all other things in nature, the clogs being removed which binder them, do presently tend with all their force to the place of their rest and well-being; so would, it seems, our souls, being loosed from baser affections obstructing them, willingly incline toward God, the natural centre, as it were, and bosom of their affection; would resume, as Origen speaks, that natural filter (that intrinsic spring, or incentive of love) which all creatures have toward their Creator; especially, if to these we add those positive instruments, which are more immediately and directly subservient to the production of this love.

They are these:

1. Attentive consideration of the Divine perfections, with endeavour to obtain a right and clear apprehension of them.

2. The consideration of God’s works and actions; His works and actions of nature, of Providence, of grace.

3. Serious regard and reflection on the peculiar benefits by the Divine goodness vouchsafed to ourselves.

4. An earnest resolution and endeavour to perform God’s commandments, although on inferior considerations of reason; on hope, fear, desire to obtain the benefits of obedience, to shun the mischiefs from sin.

5. Assiduous prayer to Almighty God that He in mercy would please to bestow His love on us, and by His grace to work it in us. These are the means which my meditation did suggest as conducing to the production and growth of this most excellent grace in our souls.

III. I should lastly propound some inducements apt to stir us up to the endeavour of procuring it, and to the exercise thereof, by representing to your consideration the blessed fruits and benefits (both by way of natural causality and of reward) accruing from it; as also the woful consequences and mischiefs springing from the want thereof. (I. Barrow, D. D.)

Love renders all our services acceptable

It is not so much the thing done, as the spirit in which it is done, which is of such great moment. For love is an affection of the heart and will, and we know that very small tokens, the merest trifles, will evince it; and that, when it is evinced, it has a peculiar power of winning its way both with God and man. Suppose a great fortune laid out in building churches, or relieving the poor, under the pressure of servile fear, and with the design of expiating sin, or a great philanthropic enterprise inaugurated and maintained from ambitious motives; can it be supposed that such acts, however it may please Him to bless the effects of them, go for anything with God as regards the doer of them. And, on the other hand, suppose some very simple, commonplace action, something not going at all beyond the circle of routine and daily duty, done with a grateful, affectionate feeling towards God, and from a simple desire to please Him, and to win His approval--can it be supposed that such an action, however trifling in itself, does not go for something, nay, for much, with God? The love of Him with all the heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, is “the first and great commandment.” One movement of that love gives to the commonest action the fragrance of a sacrifice; while, without one movement of it, the costliest offering must of necessity be rejected. “If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” (Dean Goulburn.)

Love may be cultivated

How shall we cultivate this charity? Now I observe, first, love cannot be produced by a direct action of the soul upon itself. You cannot love by a resolve to love. That is as impossible as it is to move a boat by pressing it from within. The force with which you press on is exactly equal to that with which you press back. The reaction is exactly equal to the action. You force backwards exactly as much as you force on. There are religious persons who, when they feel their affections cooled, strive to warm them by self-reproach, or by unnatural efforts, or by the excitement of what they call revivals--trying to work themselves into a state of warm affection. There are others who hope to make feeble love strong by using strong words. Now, for all this they pay a price. Effort of heart is followed by collapse. Excitement is followed by exhaustion. They will find that they have cooled exactly in that proportion in which they warmed, and at least as fast. It is as impossible for a man to work himself into a state of genuine fervent love as it is for a man to inspire himself. Inspiration is a breath and a life coming from without. Love is a feeling roused not from ourselves, but from something outside ourselves. There are, however, two methods by which we may cultivate this charity.

1. By doing acts which love demands. It is God’s merciful law that feelings are increased by acts done on principle. If a man has not the feeling in its warmth, let him not wait till the feeling comes. Let him act with such feelings as he has; with a cold heart if he has not got a warm one; it will grow warmer while he acts. You may love a man merely because you have done him benefits, and so become interested in him, till interest passes into anxiety, and anxiety into affection. You may acquire courtesy of feeling at last, by cultivating courteous manner. The dignified politeness of the last century forced man into a kind of unselfishness in small things, which the abrupter manners of to-day will never teach. And say what men will of rude sincerity, these old men of urbane manners were kinder at heart with real good-will, than we are with that rude bluffness which counts it a loss of independence to be courteous to any one. Gentleness of manner had some influence on gentleness of heart. So in the same way, it is in things spiritual. If our hearts are cold, and we find it hard to love God and be affectionate to man, we must begin with duty. Duty is not Christian liberty, but it is the first step towards liberty. We are free only when we love what we are to do, and those to whom we do it. Let a man begin in earnest with--I ought; he will end, by God’s grace, if he persevere, with the freeblessedness of--I will. Let him force himself to abound in small offices of kindliness, attention, affectionateness, and all those for God’s sake. By and by he will feel them become the habit of his soul. By and by, walking in the conscientiousness of refusing to retaliate when he feels tempted, he will cease to wish it; doing good and heaping kindness on those who injure him, he will learn to love them. For he has spent a treasure there, “And where the treasure is, there will be the heart also.”

2. The second way of cultivating Christian love is by contemplating the love of God. You cannot move the boat from within; but you may obtain a purchase from without. You cannot create love in the soul by force from within itself, but you may move it from a point outside itself. God’s love is the point from which to move the soul. Love begets love. Love believed in, produces a return of love; we cannot love because we must. “Must” kills love; but the law of our nature is that we love in reply to love. No one ever yet hated one whom he believed to love him truly. We may be provoked by the pertinacity of an affection which asks what we cannot give; but we cannot hate the true love which does not ask but gives. Now, this is the eternal truth of Christ’s gospel, “We love Him because He first loved us.” “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” “God is love.” (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Is it necessary to understand God in order to love Him?

It is said that it is impossible to love God; and the reason alleged is, He is beyond our understanding. The very description of His being Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, are terms that daunt us. “I cannot form any conception of such vastness as this. I can measure the mountains, but these even make me falter as I give out the lengths and heights of their measurement. How much more so, when the measurement is simply immeasurable? When it is vast, infinite, is it not also vague? I cannot understand, and therefore I will not love.” But is that true? Men and women, is it true that I cannot love where I cannot understand? Go into the midst of your own homes, and watch the face that looks up from her work to glance at you. The toil of your business, the anxiety of your duties, or, if you are scientific, the vastness of those lucubrations which are occupying your time, the splendid calculations, the measureless periods and vast issues which you are considering, occupy your mind; but is the very smallest tittle of these in any degree comprehensible by her who sits beside you? Is it not rather true, in the words of our own laureate, that “Though she cannot understand, yet she loves.” She loves, and though she knows that your mind is expatiating in vaster fields than her intellect can follow, yet still that very vastness of your knowledge and comprehension, in comparison with hers, gives her no uneasy sense of a vague might which she cannot love, but rather gives her a sweet sense of confidence in might which she cannot fathom. Or, the child that leaps to greet you on the threshold of your home--are you going to discredit the reality of its little love, because it cannot penetrate the mysteries of the Stock Exchange, or understand the fluctuations of shares and of bills? You know perfectly well that it is very possible, nay, daily life proves it certain, that there are hundreds among us who give out a full unalloyed love, even where their comprehension is staggered by the vastness of that which they cannot understand. So is it surely with God. This great world, this limitless heaven above us, those stars, whose distances we have not calculated, these worlds hung in dizzy space, do they give us such an overwhelming sense of His vastness as to make it impossible for us to love Him? Do they not rather, if we understand that not a little flower blows, nor little stream trickles to its valley below, but does so under His guidance, and is directed by His hand, give us the vastest confidence in Him, whose boundless nature is so great, that, fall where we will, we cannot fall out of the embrace of His love? No, it is false to say you cannot love where you cannot comprehend. (Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

Love the law of life

What a strange and startling command, to be ordered to love! If self-dictation over the heart is impossible, as we suppose, who is the master that can pretend to command us to love him? What tyrant, in his most imperious moment ever dreamed of such a demand? Yet God assumes the entry even of this last refuge. It is a rule of His dominion that He shall be loved. Love of God--love of our neighbour: these constitute the sole titles of admission to the kingdom, the sole claims on life. We may plead a hundred other obediences, but no other is of any avail whatever. One command, and one only, has been given, “Theft shalt love.” One thing then certainly Christ, our King, presumes to do; He presumes to have the entire command of our affections. What can justify such a claim?

I. WHO IS IT WHO DEMANDS LOVE OF US? It is our Maker, who made us not by any binding necessity, nor yet for any play or pastime of His own, but solely because the very core of His innermost Being is Fatherhood: He is God because He is the Eternal Father; the Fatherhood is His Godhead. Fatherhood is the love which passionately delights in seeing its own life’s joy reproduced in another. Sonship is that love which passionately delights in recognizing that its life is owing to another, belongs to another, is dedicated to another. Love, then, is a natural necessity between human parent and child; and love, therefore, belongs by the same necessity to our Divine relationships. God has undeniable right to this demand; but--

II. WHO ARE WE THAT WE SHOULD LOVE GOD? We go our own way; we follow our own tastes; we have joys and sorrows, friends and foes of our own. All this fills up our days and occupies our minds; and where is there any room for the love of a far-away invisible God? We are here on earth to find out what love means: and all true love begins in the love of God who loved us. At whatever risk, at whatever cost, we must attain to this love. How, then, to put some meaning into it? We must secure and foster the condition of our sonship; and what does this signify? It signifies this: that the entire movements of our lives must set outward, away from ourselves. (Canon Scott Holland, M. A.)

Love to God

These words never came from men. Earth never could have heard them if they had not come down from heaven.

I. HERE WE SEE THE VERY HEART OF GOD. He is Love who speaketh thus.

II. This is the first and great commandment; BECAUSE ALL ELSE FLOWS FROM IT.




Loving God with the heart




Morality and religion

You will observe there are several “ands” in the passage, and that all the earlier ones, though very useful, are merely additions; but here [“AND thy neighbour”] is an equalising copulative, a word which brings two sentences together as the two sides of an equation, and which will not permit you to take the first part of the sentence as the declaration of the Saviour, but which requires you to take it in its wholeness. It is not enough to “love the Lord thy God,” nor is it enough to “love thy neighbour as thyself,” you must do both; and therefore that “and” stands as none of the others do, and as almost no other such single common word does in the great realm of literature. The love of God is put first in order, probably from the dignity of the personage spoken of; it is in the order of importance, but not of time. We do not first love the Lord our God with all our heart, and then learn to love our neighbour as ourselves. We learn to love our neighbour, and from that point, through practice, we come to a condition in which we love our God. So then, these two members or sides of this wonderful sentence, this charter of human life, may be said to represent religion and morality. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God”--that is, thou shalt worship Him, reverence Him, acknowledge Him and look up to Him, in every inflection of experience-this stands appropriately for religion; and the other--“Thou shelf love thy neighbour as thyself”--stands appropriately and properly for morality.

I. WHAT, THEN, IS THE SPHERE AND FUNCTION OF MORALITY its educating force; its final intent? Morality includes--

1. Duties to oneself, personal duties, sustenance, defence.

2. Social duties--the duties of the family and the neighbourhood.

3. The relations in which we stand to the larger community represented by the Government in all its forms. Here, then, I pause in the discussion, having shown in the first place what moralities are--namely, that they are in their highest and best sense, these duties which men owe to themselves, to their households, to civil society, to their social relations in this world and in time; and also, that morality, in one form and at each stage, prepares for the next higher development of it and the next advance in growth; and likewise, interiorly, that every true morality tends to develope itself in a higher class of faculties. So that, finally--

II. EVERY MORALITY THAT DOES NOT GO ON TO A SPIRITUAL FORM IS STOPPED AND DWARFED. Men say, “I am not a religious man, but still I do about as well as I know how.” Is that rational? What would you say of men who should voyage to a distant country, and make only those provisions which were necessary for them while they stayed at home? Death cuts men in two, and leaves the bottom here, and there is no top to go there. Do not understand me as saying that morality is of no use. It is very useful; it is the seed-ground of immortality; and I go further and say, it is better that you should have that, even if you have no religion, than that you should have no religion and not that either. Therefore when I preach that you must be born again, when I preach that the new life in Christ Jesus, wrought by the power of God, must be in you, do not think that I undervalue the lower forms by which you come to the possibility of these things, They are of transcendant importance, but do not believe that they are enough. Straw that never ripens its grain is straw, plants that throw out leaves and do not blossom are mere grass and herbs and not flowers. Trees and vines that bring forth no fruit are not fruit vines, nor fruit trees. (H. W. Beecher.)

Loving God with the mind

Christ claims that God is to be loved with all our nature. They who love God, then, with the heart only, do sin. You are to love God with all your mind, with your brain, and thought, and power; with reason and with argument; with learning and knowledge. No pretence that you love God with your heart absolves you from loving Him with your mind. Did it ever strike you that being ignorant is disservice to God; so much withdrawn from the Almighty? To the degree that you refuse to study the sublime in nature: to that degree I have no pity for your ignorance. It is a failure in your service; a coldness in your love to God. If you love God with all your mind you will do what you do when you love a great author. You may say, “Of all authors I think Shakespeare the greatest; but I have never read one of his plays, never studied one of his sonnets.” Indeed I what do you do, then, to show your love to Shakespeare? “Oh, I talk about him.” He who loves an author well, turns his pages again and again; weighs his words and marks their construction. If he reads the “Merchant of Venice,” he studies it attentively, and proposes to himself to go back to his labour of love again and again. I don’t know who is your darling; but I know it is the anther with whom you are most familiar. And that is what loving God with all your mind is. The three great volumes of God which you should study are before every one of you: Nature, History, and the Bible. (George Dawson.)

The second great commandment

Practically a new chapter was opened in the history of morals when Jesus announced that within this solitary principle of duty, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” room could be found for every commandment in the Second Table of the Decalogue.

1. The affection which fulfils the whole law is an ethical principle, and not simply an instinctive or generous affection.

2. The neighbour-love which fulfils God’s law possesses a compass as wide as the species, and is thereby raised above every rule of moral obligation which obtained popular currency before Christ.

3. This neighbour-love which fulfils the law forms an express counteractive and equivalent to selfishness as a motive of conduct.

4. This golden rule will carry us a great deal further than the merely negative virtue of working no harm, which, in its terms, is all that the Decalogue calls for. (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

The Saviour’s great rule

There are fundamental truths which lie at the bottom, the basis upon which a great many others rest, and in which they have their consistency. There are teeming truths, rich in store, with which they furnish the mind; and like the lights of heaven, are not only beautiful and entertaining in themselves, but give light and evidence to other things, that without them could not be seen or known. Our Saviour’s great rule, that we should love our neighbours as ourselves, is such a fundamental truth for the regulating human society, that I think that by that alone one might without difficulty determine all the cases and doubts in social morality. Truths such as this we should endeavour to find out and store our minds with. (W. Locke.)

The sum of duty like the ocean

When a man is told that the whole of religion and morality is summed up in the two commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor, he is ready to cry, like Charoba in Gebir at the first sight of the sea, “Is this the mighty ocean? is this all?” Yes! all; but how small a part of it do your eyes survey! Only trust yourself to it; launch out upon it: sail abroad over it; you will find it has no end; it will carry you round the world. (British Weekly.)

Loving God with the mind

I have known people love God with the heart, and yet talk as if the works of God were not worth studying. What is the use, they say, of studying God in his works? Ah! he who loves a woman well, loves the very trinkets she wears. Whoso loves a man well, loves every hair of his head. All, everything, even the smallest thing, is glowing with preciousness, and is made glorious by the deep love of the heart. For a man, therefore, on the plea of loving God with his heart, not to love Him with his mind, is to offer but a part. Who are you, that you should look upon Nature in her beauty, and behold the green fields and the trees, every leaf of which is full of the life of God, every blade of grass a passing mystery, a consummate divineness--who are you that you should turn from that volume and say, “I love God with my heart and not with my mind.” There is no excuse for you if you know nothing about Nature. Do you say you have no time for these things? One flower from your table, if you will study it, will be more than a garden; one rose is worth more attention than all your furniture. No time? You can find plenty of time to study your own foolish garments; and have you no time to study the garments of God? Whoso shall watch the sun, and ask a few questions about his rising, shall find that one hour of study shall make him more instructed than before in regard to the great works of God. Therefore, a part of loving God with the mind is to study God’s works. It is not “necessary to salvation,” as it is called, but it is necessary to large love, for God is not loved with the mind by stupid people. (George Dawson.)

Thy neighbour as thyself

Fraternal charity


1. From the urgency with which this commandment is enjoined upon us by Jesus Christ.

2. From man’s relation to God: he being his Maker’s image and likeness. The essence of Christian brotherly love consists in loving our neighbour for God’s sake; not only from reverence for the Divine commandment, but from sacred reverence and love for God’s own nature which is reflected in man.

3. From God’s view of charitable works. He considers them as done to Himself.

II. THE VALUE OF CHARITABLE WORKS FOR OUR OWN TEMPORAL AND ETERNAL WELFARE. The rewards or effects of fraternal charity are as follows--

1. An abundance of Divine blessings, by which God restores a hundredfold what, from love towards Him, we give to His poor children.

2. Divine mercy, which opens its treasures principally to the merciful.

3. An exceedingly great reward in eternity. (P. Beckx.)

Of the love of our neighbour

I. THE OBJECT OF THIS DUTY. Our neighbour, i.e., every man with whom we have to do, especially every Christian.


1. Loving our neighbour “as ourselves” doth import a rule directing what kind of love we should bear and exercise toward him; or informing us that our charity doth consist in having the same affections of soul, and in performing the same acts of beneficence toward him as we are ready by inclination, as we are wont in practice to have or to perform toward ourselves, with full approbation of our judgment and conscience, apprehending it just and reasonable so to do.

2. Loving our neighbour as ourselves imports also the measure of our love towards him; that it should be commensurate with, and equal in degree to that love which we bear and exercise towards ourselves. This is that perfection of charity to which our Lord bids us aspire, in the injunction, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” That this sense of the words is included, yea, chiefly intended, divers reasons will evince; feral. The most natural signification and common use of the phrase doth import thus much; and any one at first hearing would so understand the words.

2. It appeareth by comparing this precept with that to which it is annexed, “of loving God with all our heart and all our soul”; which manifestly designeth the quantity and degree of that love; consequently the like determination is intended in this precept, which is expressed to resemble that, or designed in like manner to qualify and bound our duty toward our neighbour.

3. If the law doth not signify thus much, it cloth hardly signify anything; not at least anything of direction or use to us; for no man is ignorant that he is obliged to love his neighbour, but how far that love must extend is the point wherein most of us do need to be resolved, and without satisfaction in which we shall hardly do anything; for as he that oweth money will not pay except he can tell how much it is; so to know the duty will not avail toward effectual observance of it, if its measure be not fixed.

4. Indeed, the law otherwise understood will rather be apt to misguide than to direct us; inducing us to apprehend that we shall satisfy its intent, and sufficiently discharge our duty, by practising charity in any low degree or mean instance. Also--

5. The former sense, which is unquestionable, doth infer and establish this: because similitude of love, morally speaking, cannot consist with inequality thereof; for if in considerable degrees we love ourselves more than others, assuredly we shall fail both in exerting such internal acts of affection, and in performing such external offices of kindness toward them, as we do exert and perform in regard to ourselves; whence this law, taken merely as a rule, demanding a confused and imperfect similitude of practice, will have no clear obligation or certain efficacy.

But, farther, the duty thus interpreted is agreeable to reason, and may be justly required of us.

1. It is reasonable that we should love our neighbour as ourselves because he is as ourselves, or really in all considerable respects the same with us. This explained.

2. It is just that we should do so, because he really no less deserves our love. Justice is impartial, and regards things as they are in themselves; whence, if our neighbour seem worthy of affection no less than we, it demands accordingly that we love him no less.

3. It is fit that we should be obliged to this love, because all charity beneath self-love is defective, and all self-love above charity is excessive.

4. Equity requires it, because we are apt to claim the same measure of love from others.

5. It is needful that so great charity be prescribed, because none inferior to it will reach divers weighty ends designed in this law; viz., the general convenience and comfort of our lives in mutual intercourse and society.

6. That entire love which we owe to God our Creator, and to Christ our Redeemer, exacts from us no less a measure of charity than this.

7. Indeed the whole tenour and genius of our religion imply an obligation to this pitch of love on various accounts.

8. Lastly, many conspicuous examples, proposed for our direction in this kind of practice, do imply this degree of charity to be required of us.

III. AN OBJECTION ANSWERED. If, it may be said, the precept be thus understood, as to oblige us to love our neighbours equally with ourselves, it will prove unpracticable, such a charity being merely romantic and imaginary; for who doth, who can, love his neighbour in this degree? Nature powerfully doth resist, common sense plainly doth forbid that we should do so: a natural instinct cloth prompt us to love ourselves, and we are forcibly driven thereto by an unavoidable sense of pleasure and pain, resulting from the constitution of our body and soul, so that our own least good or evil are very sensible to us: whereas we have no such potent inclination to love others; we have no sense, or a very faint one, of what another doth enjoy or endure; doth not, therefore, nature plainly suggest that our neighbour’s good cannot be so considerable to us as our own? especially when charity doth clash with self-love, or when there is a competition between our neighbour’s interest and our own, is it possible that we should not be partial to our own side? Is not, therefore, this precept such as if we should be commanded to fly, or to do that which natural propension will certainly hinder? In answer to this exception I say, Be it so, that we can never attain to love our neighbour altogether so much as ourselves, yet may it be reasonable that we should be enjoined to do so; for laws must not be depressed to our imperfection, nor rules bent to our obliquity; but we must ascend toward the perfection of them, and strive to conform our practice to their exactness. But neither is the performance of this task so impossible, or so desperately hard (if we take the right course, and use proper means toward it) as is supposed; as may somewhat appear if we will weigh the following considerations.

1. Be it considered that we may be mistaken in our account, when we do look on the impossibility or difficulty of such a practice, as it appeareth at present, before we have seriously attempted, and in a good method, by due means, earnestly laboured to achieve it; for many things cannot be done at first, or with a small practice, which by degrees and a continued endeavour may be effected; divers things are placed at a distance, so that without passing through the interjacent way we cannot arrive at them; divers things seem hard before trial, which afterward prove very easy. It is impossible to fly up to the top of a steeple, but we may ascend thither by steps; we cannot get to Rome without crossing the seas, and travelling through France or Germany; it is hard to comprehend a subtle theorem in geometry, if we pitch on it first; but if we begin at the simple principles, and go forward through the intermediate propositions, we may easily obtain a demonstration of it. If we would set ourselves to exercise charity in those instances whereof we are at first capable without much reluctancy, and thence proceed toward others of a higher nature, we may find such improvement, and taste such content therein that we may soon arise to incredible degrees thereof; and at length, perhaps, we may attain to such a pitch, that it will seem to us base and vain to consider our own good before that of others in any sensible measure; and that nature which now so mightily doth contest in favour of ourselves, may in time give way to a better nature, born of custom, affecting the good of others.

2. Let us consider that in some respects and in divers instances it is very feasible to love our neighbour no less than ourselves.

3. We see men inclined by other principles to act as much or more for the sake of others, than they would for themselves--instances of patriots and friends.

4. Those dispositions of soul which usually with so much violence thwart the observance of this precept, are not ingredients of true self-love, by the which we are directed to regulate our charity, but a spurious brood of our folly and pravity, which imply not a sober love of ourselves.

5. Indeed, we may farther consider that our nature is not so absolutely averse to the practice of such charity, as those may think who view it slightly, either in some particular instances, or in ordinary practice. Man having received his soul from the breath of God, and being framed after His image, there do yet abide in him some features resembling the Divine original. This shown by our natural sympathy with distress and misery, by our admiration of pure benevolence, and contempt of sordid selfishness, &c.

6. But supposing the inclinations of a depraved nature do so mightily obstruct the performance of this duty in the degree specified, yet we must remember that a subsidiary power is by the Divine mercy dispensed to us, able to control and subdue nature, and raise our faculties far above their natural force.

7. There are divers means conducive to the abatement of this difficulty, the issue of which may be safely referred to the due trial of them.

1. Let us carefully weigh the value of those things which immoderate self-love affects in prejudice to charity, together with the worth of those which charity sets in balance to them.

2. Let us also consider our real state in the world, in dependence on the pleasure and providence of Almighty God; the thought that we are members of one commonwealth, and of the Church, under the government and patronage of God, may disengage us from immoderate respect of private good, and incline us to promote the common welfare.

3. There is one plain way of rendering this duty possible, or of perfectly reconciling charity to self-love; which is, a making the welfare of our neighbour to be our own; which if we can do, then easily may we desire it more seriously, then may we promote it with the greatest zeal and vigour; for then it will be an instance of self-love to exercise charity; then both these inclinations conspiring will march evenly together, one will not extrude nor depress the other.

4. It will greatly conduce to the perfect observance of this rule if we studiously contemplate ourselves, strictly examining our conscience, and seriously reflecting on our unworthiness and vileness. If we do so, what place can there be for that vanity, arrogance, partiality, and injustice, which are the sources of immoderate self-love?

5. Lastly, we may from conspicuous examples and experiments be assured that such a practice of this duty is not impossible. (L Barrow, D. D.)

Love to man the offspring of love to God

I hold that the power to love man always grows in proportion to the love that you have to give. That is the New Testament thought upon the subject. That is what our Lord meant when He added--and remember He added it scrupulously, because He wished, as it were, to link it with the former--“The second is like unto it--Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Not like it in being arepetition of words cast in the same form, but like it in this, that, as child is like parent, so the duty of loving the neighbour resembles the duty of loving God, and springs from it, is caused by it, is necessitated by it. Look at it, and say, is it not true? Whenever a great man dies, there is immediately an anxiety possessing the public mind to be possessed of little tokens of his life. What do those anxieties mean? Do they not mean that our love for the one that has gone makes us love everything that his hand has touched? All that bears the impress of his hand we love. The fabulous sums given for autographs are the proof of this, that the love for any single being passes on to all that he has made. Surely that is true. Not one man stands before the world who has learned to love God but has loved that which is made by God. You look now into the face of human-kind--they are not an accidental brotherhood, the outgrowths of Creation, the evolutions of a law merely. They may be that, but they are far more--they are the offspring of God--they are made in His image. You see His likeness everywhere. Man is the autograph of God, and loved by those who love God. Nay, more--go to your homes and learn that you always loved that which was loved by those whom you loved. Why is it that you treasure that little drawer with all those sweet tokens in it--a little knot of ribbon, a small bunch of hair, a faded leaf, a pair of little shoes; what is it that makes you draw them forth and weep silent tears alone? Because these are expressions of a love which has gone. There were hands that handled those little shoes and placed them upon the tiny feet, and hands and feet have grown cold now. There in the little rough work where the small sketch is seen, the hand that traced it will trace no more--it is tracing fairer scenes in the presence of God. All that has caused anxiety, all that has caused care and toil, commends itself as a thing to be loved, because it was loved by one who has gone. So also is it when you regard humanity as the work of God. You must regard humanity, from the Christian point of view, as the redeemed work of God. Upon every son of man there is the mark of blood, and it is the blood of Christ that redeemed him. That blood is the pledge of the love which suffered, and although humanity be utterly contemptible at times, though you despise its meanness, though you turn away with disgust and loathing from its equivocations and falsehoods, yet at the moment you read, like the Israelites of old, the mark of blood there on their foreheads, you know that, not for their own sakes merely, but for the sake of Him who hung upon the cross to consecrate humanity in redemption to Himself, they must be loved by you. (Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

Love is the secret of obedience

There was once a catechist preaching in China, and as he was teaching, a Chinese coolie came in and said, “What is that in your hand?” The missionary said, “It is a measure, and it is like your measures, it has got ten divisions” (the Chinese do not divide into twelve inches, but ten). “What do you measure” said the coolie. “I measure longs and shorts--long hearts and short hearts. Sit down and I will measure you.” The coolie sat down, and the catechist began to measure. He took the first commandment, “Thou shalt have none other gods but Me.” “Is your heart shorter than that commandment, or longer?” The Chinese man said, “Oh, I am afraid it is very short.” As the catechist went through all the Ten Commandments the poor man found his heart was too short, and did not come up to any of them. The catechist said, “You see your heart is too short. How shall we make up the deficiency? who will supply what is wanting?” Then he talked to him about Jesus Christ; how He would make up his shortcomings; how Christ’s obedience was as if he had kept the whole law himself. So, perhaps, some child will say, “I cannot do God’s commandments.” Do not say “I cannot”; it is not a good thing to say “I cannot.” There was a poor man, and his hand was all withered and powerless; and Christ said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” Could he? Not before Christ told him; but when God told him to “stretch out his hand,” He gave him power. When God tells you to do those things you cannot do of yourselves, He gives you power. “God’s biddings are God’s enablings.” Supposing you got a piece of cold iron, and I said, “Make me a pretty thing out of that.” You would say, “I cannot bend that cold iron; melt it, and something might be done.” Your heart is like a piece of cold iron, and what will melt it? Love, that will make your heart soft, and then you can keep “God’s commandments.” God says at the beginning of the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord Thy God.” Which is the important word there? “Thy God.” If you cannot say “My God,” you cannot keep His commandments. If you keep these commandments, you will become happy, holy, and useful. (British Weekly Pulpit.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 10:27". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: do this, and thou shalt live.

On another occasion, a lawyer (not the same as this) was given this very reply by Jesus to the effect that loving God and loving one's neighbor fulfilled all the law and the prophets, saying, "On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40). Significantly, both there and here, the attainment of eternal life depends absolutely upon keeping perfectly the entire law of God. Salvation has never been possible except on the basis of doing God's will, all of it; but of course, this has always been impossible for every man, save one alone, the God-man, Jesus Christ our Lord; he kept the law, all of it, in uttermost perfection; and the man who would be saved must be saved as Christ, in Christ, and completely identified with him, such a thing being achieved by membership in Christ's spiritual body of which he is the head. Membership in that body is free to all mankind upon their fulfilling the preconditions of faith, repentance, and baptism (into the one body, 1 Corinthians 12:13); but the grounds upon which God accounts man as righteous must be identified as the perfect faith and obedience of the Son of God.

The full scope of this marvelous truth does not come into view in this passage; but the manner of Jesus' referring the lawyer back to all the commandments in the law and the prophets most certainly points toward it. In his conversation with the rich young ruler, Jesus reiterated the principle in view here, namely, that eternal life depends upon keeping the commandments of God (Matthew 19:17; Luke 18:20). This mountain fact sends every man to Christ for salvation; only he kept God's commandments perfectly. Every soul seeking salvation must: (1) keep perfectly the sum total of God's commandments, or (2) accept identity with Christ, absolutely, who did observe all of the Father's commandments. Only Christ can save; for only he fully obeyed. The lawyer who asked the question of how to win eternal life, seeing the true answer, quailed in Jesus' presence, and then sought to justify himself on a technicality.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he answering said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God,.... This was part of their phylacteries, which they recited every day; See Gill on Matthew 22:37, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:28, Mark 12:29

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Thou shalt, etc. — the answer Christ Himself gave to another lawyer. (See on Mark 12:29-33).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

[And with all thy mind.] In this answer of the man there are these two things observable:

I. That our Saviour brings in this clause, which in so many terms is not in Moses, where the rest are: where the Greek both of the Roman and Alexandrian edition render with all thy might. But wherein is mind? I pass by other copies, wherein though there is some varying, yet there is not this which is now before us.

Our Saviour hath the same clause elsewhere, but not in the same order; with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: here it is, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. What shall we say therefore? shall we suppose it writ to this sense in the Hebrew in their phylacteries? This we can hardly think. Was it added by the Greek interpreters, and so the evangelists take it from thence? we see it is not so. What then? doth might signify both strength and mind? Here, indeed, the hinge of the question turns. That it denotes strength, no one doubts; yea, and the Rabbins suppose it denotes Mammon too, with whom the Syriac and Targumist agree: but still, where doth it signify the mind?

1. Take such a Gloss as is frequently in use amongst the allegorizing doctors: With what measure he shall mete to thee, do thou praise him exceedingly. Where we see they play with the sound of words, which is a very common thing with them to do...

2. To this we may add, if we think fit, what they commonly require in all religious services; viz. the preparation and the intention of the mind...Moses' words, therefore, are rendered by the evangelists not strictly and according to the letter, as they are in him, or were in the parchments in the phylacteries; but both according to their full sense and tenour, as also according to the common and received interpretation of that nation.

"R. Levi Bar Chajothah went to Caesarea, and heard them reciting their 'Shemaa' [or their phylacteries] Hellenistically [i.e. in Greek]" &c. Now, whether the clause we are now handling was inserted there, it would be in vain to inquire, because not possible to find...

The second thing observable in this man's answer, is, that he adds, "And thy neighbour as thyself": which indeed was not written in the schedules of their phylacteries: otherwise I should have thought the man had understood those words of our Saviour, How readest thou? as if he had said, "How dost thou repeat the sentences of the phylacteries?" for he reciteth the sentence as it was in their phylacteries, only adding this clause, "And thy neighbour," &c. Now the usual expression for the recitation of their phylacteries was They read the 'Shemaa'; which also is so rendered by some when indeed they commonly repeat them without book. He that read the Book [of Esther] orally: i.e. as the Gemara explains it, "Without book," or "by heart." It is queried, "Why they repeat those two sections every day? R. Levi saith, Because the ten commandments [of the decalogue] are comprehended therein." And he shews further how they are comprehended, saving only (which is very observable) the second commandment. Afterward indeed they confess, "It was very fitting they should every day repeat the very decalogue itself; but they did not repeat it, lest the heretics should say, that only those commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai." However, they did repeat those passages wherein they supposed the decalogue was summed up.

Whether, therefore, this lawyer of ours understood the words of our Saviour as having respect to that usage of repeating their phylacteries; or whether he of his own accord, and according to his own opinion, would be giving the whole sum of the decalogue, he shews himself rather a textual than a traditional doctor, although the word lawyer, seems to point out the latter rather.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

And he answering (ο δε αποκριτειςho de apokritheis). First aorist participle, no longer passive in idea. The lawyer‘s answer is first from the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 11:13) which was written on the phylacteries. The second part is from Leviticus 19:18 and shows that the lawyer knew the law. At a later time Jesus himself in the temple gives a like summary of the law to a lawyer (Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 22:34-40) who wanted to catch Jesus by his question. There is no difficulty in the two incidents. God is to be loved with all of man‘s four powers (heart, soul, strength, mind) here as in Mark 12:30.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Thou shalt love, etc

See on Mark 12:30. Luke addsstrength.


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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God — That is, thou shalt unite all the faculties of thy soul to render him the most intelligent and sincere, the most affectionate and resolute service. We may safely rest in this general sense of these important words, if we are not able to fix the particular meaning of every single word. If we desire to do this, perhaps the heart, which is a general expression, may be explained by the three following, With all thy soul, with the warmest affection, with all thy strength, the most vigorous efforts of thy will, and with all thy mind or understanding, in the most wise and reasonable manner thou canst; thy understanding guiding thy will and affections. Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind1; and thy neighbor as thyself.

  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. See Deuteronomy 6:4,5.

  2. And thy neighbour as thyself. See Leviticus 19:18. Having made himself conspicuous by standing up, the lawyer had to give the best answer he knew or sully his own reputation for knowledge. He therefore gives the two great laws which comprise all other laws.

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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’

Luke 10:27

When we turn to consider the first and great commandment, we discover on all sides tendencies to partial, one-sided conceptions of the duty which it inculcates. But no condition can quit us of the obligation to give unto God the love of our hearts. We, as English folk, are not perfect as a people. We might surely endeavour to cultivate some happy mean in feeling and worship between the tropics and the Arctic regions of piety. We do know something in this country of the religion of St. Paul and St. James, but too little of the religion of John, the religion of the heart for God.

I. How is personal love possible?—But some one may say, ‘How is this to be won? How is a personal devotion to, and affection for, God at all possible?’ Surely the answer is plain. When in the impulse of a similar doubt the Apostle Philip exclaimed to his Master, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,’ we note the Divine reply: ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ The Incarnation has revealed to us the possibility of loving God with all our hearts. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ It may be with you and with me just as it was with Mary Magdalene, when she poured that precious ointment upon His Head. It was the expression of a faith intensely personal. He asks for our personal love on the ground that we have no such Friend in the world, ‘the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’

II. Love’s constraining power.—When St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians these inspiring words, ‘the love of Christ constraineth me,’ he meant not the love that he felt for Christ, but the love which Christ felt for him. His own love was no doubt consequent upon that, a mere matter of course about which he cared not to speak, so inferior a thing did it seem to him. It was the Master’s care for him, for others, for a world steeped in misery and degradation, that seized upon his very soul, that called forth all his energies, that explained everything in his devoted career.

III. Love the root of Christian character.—Let me ask one other question, for the answer to it shows why it was, why it is, that God asks for the love of our hearts. What is it that really determines character? It is not what you do that mainly determines what you are, because it is possible to do so many good things from bad motives. It is love that lies at the root of Christian character—God’s love, the love of what is good. This love of God is the only absolutely pure motive. Christ cares for us and for what we are more than He cares even for the work that we do. The Son of Man has but one test question for every disciple who claims His salvation—the simple question, ‘Lovest thou Me?’

—Archdeacon H. E. J. Bevan.


‘I bore with thee long weary days and nights,

Through many pangs of heart, through many tears;

I bore with thee, thy hardness, coldness, slights,

For three-and-thirty years.

Who else had dared for thee what I have dared?

I plunged the depths most deep from bliss above,

I, not my flesh, I, not my Spirit spared;

Give thou Me love for Love.’



What a strange and startling command, to be ordered to love! We can understand obedience in a thousand matters; we can allow and justify an order to do this or to do that; we might even go so far as to concede the right to dictate what we should think and believe, so ignorant are we of the reality of things, so dependent on the condescension of wiser and holier men; but love! Love surely is the one thing we cannot but retain in our own possession.

One thing then certainly Christ our King presumes to do: He presumes to have the entire command of our affections.

I. Let us consider Who it is that demands love of us.—It is our Maker. He made us, not by any binding necessity, nor yet for any play or pastime of His own, but solely because the very core of His innermost being is fatherhood; He is God, because He is the eternal Father; the Fatherhood is His Godhead. Now perhaps we see daylight. Love is a natural necessity between human parent and child; and love therefore belongs, by the same necessity, to our Divine relationships. For out upon us that mighty fatherhood of God has poured forth its abounding treasure; into our souls His fullness has flowed; underneath us, without fail, now and always, His everlasting arms uphold us; our very characters are only alive in the illuminating fire of His immediate and anointing Spirit.

II. But who are we that we should love God?—What possible meaning has this love to us? We go our own way, we follow our own tastes, we pick our way along the world; we have joys and sorrows, friends and foes of our own; we make interests; we laugh and cry; we fail or we succeed. All this fills up our days and occupies our minds; and where is there any room for the love of a far-away, invisible God? Yes; it is a strange, hard, surprising request. It falls oddly on our ears; it sounds thin and alien and unfamiliar. Yet on it the issues of our lives hang; God has no other test, no other appeal.

III. We must secure and foster the conditions of our sonship; and what does this signify? It signifies this, that the entire movement of our lives must set outward, away from ourselves; for we are sons, and sons, as they draw their life from another, so too find their glory and delight in devoting their lives to another. The first act of sonship then is faith. Faith is the first motion of the soul away from itself, away from its own interest and self-seeking, back to God the mighty Giver. Faith then is the germ of love.

—Rev. Canon H. Scott Holland.


‘It is love that the heart cries for, and the only real answer to the poor sinful man or woman wanting to reach the life eternal is to show them God with love in His eyes, to show them God with His heart yearning for them. That is what Christ did. He bade men thus penitent to go away and keep the law, but He knew they never could do that until they had first got God for their friend; therefore He showed them God.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Ver. 27. With all thy heart, and, &c.] Serviendum Deo toto corde; id est, amore summo, more vero, ore fideli re omni: Hoc non sit verbis. Marce, ut ameris, ama. (Martial.)

Here some weak Christians are troubled, as conceiting that they love their children, friends, &c., better than God. But it is answered, 1. When two streams run in one channel (as here nature and grace do) they run stronger than one stream doth. When a man loves God and the things of God, grace is alone; nature yields nothing to that. 2. We must not judge by an indeliberate passion. (Dr Sibbs on 1 Corinthians 2:9) The love of God is a constant stream; not a torrent, but a current, that runs all our lifetime, but runs still, and without noise, as the waters of Shiloh and of Nile, nullas confessus murmure vires, that runs smoothly. (Claudian.)

With all thy strength] That is, saith a divine, in our particular places. A magistrate must execute justice for God’s sake, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

27.] The first part of this, together with Deuteronomy 11:13 ff., the Jews had written on their phylacteries, and recited night and morning: but not the second; so that Kuinoel’s idea that Jesus pointed to the phylactery of the lawyer, will not hold.

Meyer thinks the man answered thus, because he had before heard our Lord cite these in connexion, and with an especial view to asking the question τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον; It may have been so;—but I should rather believe the same spirit with which he began, to have carried him on to this second question. The words θέλ. δικ. ἑαυτ. seem to imply this, but see below.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 10:25"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 10:27". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

сказал в ответ Законник обобщил требования закона (Лев. 19:18; Втор. 6:5) точно так же, как в другом случае это сделал Христос (см. пояснение к Мф. 22:37-40).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

27.Thou shalt love—All the being of man is, by this law, to be given up to the work of loving God: the immortal, the animal, the intellectual, the moral, all in their highest vigor and to their utmost strain. These are syllables easily spoken; and the lawyer utters them in the routine professional style. These two passages of the law may be found in Deuteronomy 6:5, and in Leviticus 19:18.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he answering said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” ’

The reply of the Scribe possibly mirrors a standard reply on the subject which was prevalent in Judaism, although we have no actual evidence of the use of the latter part in this way prior to the time of Jesus unless the relevant parts of the Testaments to the Patriarchs are to be seen as this early. But it is equally possible that he may have heard Jesus give this same reply to similar questioners (see Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:37, and compare Luke 18:18) and cites back His own words. In that regard it was probably Jesus standard reply on the question of the meaning of, and response to, the Law, and one given by Him many times. The text cited comes from an unknown version, and differs from citations in Mark and Matthew. Those are, however, made on different occasions. Here it may, however, simply be a translation of the words of Luke’s source.

The Scribe points first to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5), which was repeated twice daily by every pious orthodox Jew, and was borne by many on the forehead in a leather pouch at the hour of prayer, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.” That was seen to be at the heart of the Law. Then he pointed to Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” If the latter was not seen as a recognised reply for one of the reasons suggested above he may have introduced it in order to lead up to his next question. But the probability was that it was a standard reply and that his real test was to be as to how Jesus would define one’s neighbour. Would He restrict it to those who ‘lived rightly’ among the Jews or would He include some of the outcasts and sinners that He was prone to mix with? His concentration was all on who was to be seen as his neighbour. Perhaps in his self-satisfaction he had convinced himself that his love for God was demonstrated by his life.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 10:27. This answer of the lawyer showed intelligence; he gives the sum of the whole law. But his knowledge of the-law exceeded his self-knowledge. In fact he shows, by adding from Leviticus 19:18 : and thy neighbor as thyself, that he had some conception of our Lord’s teachings. For in addition to Deuteronomy 6:5, which he quotes first, the Jews had written upon the phylacteries and recited night and morning, not this passage, but Deuteronomy 11:13, etc. Hence it is incorrect to suppose that our Lord pointed to the man’s phylactery, when He said: ‘How readest thou.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 10:27. Lk. here puts into the mouth of the lawyer an answer combining as co-ordinate the religious and the ethical, which in the later incident reported in Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, is ascribed to Jesus. The unity of these interests is, as Holtz. (H. C.) remarks, the achievement and characteristic of Christianity, and one may legitimately doubt whether a man belonging to the clerical class in our Lord’s time had attained such insight. Divorce of religion from morality was a cardinal vice of the righteousness of the time, and we see it exemplified in the following parable: priest and Levite religious but inhuman. In Lk.’s time the conception of religion and morality as one and inseparable had become a Christian commonplace, and he might have been unable to realise that there was a time when men thought otherwise, and so without any sense of incongruity made the lawyer answer as he does. But, on the other hand, it has to be borne in mind that even in our Lord’s time there were some in the legal schools who emphasised the ethical, and Mk. makes the scribe (Luke 12:32-33) one of this type.— , etc.: Deuteronomy 6:5 is here given, as in Mark 12:31, with a fourfold analysis of the inner man: heart, soul, strength, mind.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

love. App-135.

LORD = Jehovah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12. Leviticus 19:18). App-98. B. a.

with = ont of; Greek. ek. App-104.

and. Note the Figure of speech Polysyndeton. App-6.

soul. Greek. psuche. App-110. Luke 10:1.

strength. Greek. ischus. App-172.

with all thy mind. All the texts read en (App-104.) instead of ek. (App-104.)

and thy neighbour, &c. Leviticus 19:18.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God ... - precisely as Christ Himself had answered another lawyer. See the notes at Mark 12:29-33.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30,31,33,34; Hebrews 8:10
and thy
Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:13; James 2:8; 1 John 3:18
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 34:31 - with all;  Psalm 9:1 - with my;  Ezekiel 18:9 - he shall;  Matthew 5:43 - Thou;  Matthew 22:39 - Thou;  Mark 12:29 - Hear;  Romans 7:10 - GeneralRomans 10:5 - That the man;  1 Corinthians 13:13 - the greatest;  Galatians 5:14 - Thou;  Titus 3:5 - by works

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 10:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".