Matthew 22:40

ESV On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
NIV All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'
NASB Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.'
CSB All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands."
NLT The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'
KJV On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What does Matthew 22:40 mean?

Jesus has been asked by an expertly-trained Pharisee to name the greatest commandment in the law—meaning in all the Old Testament Scriptures (Matthew 22:34–39). Jesus has answered directly and simply that the great and first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5). He has added that the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).

Now Jesus concludes by saying that all the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands. In other words, the entire law and all the prophecies from God are designed, ultimately, to motivate and enforce love for God and love for other people. Put another way, God's greatest desire for any human being is that he or she love God and love others. Everything else we ever think about God, believe about God, say to God, or do for God, must be motivated by this core impulse. Ultimately, all the rules and directives in the Law flow from the ideas of loving God and loving others.

Jesus said something similar to this in the Sermon on the Mount, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). Treating other people as we would want to be treated is what it means to love others as we love ourselves. Most of the commands of the law about human relationships enforce that level of just and kind treatment.

Matthew does not include the response of the Pharisee who asked Jesus the question about the greatest commandment. Mark, though, shows the lawyer agreeing with Jesus:
"You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark 12:32–33).
Jesus tells the man that he is not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34). In other words, this specific Pharisee is close to believing in Jesus based on Jesus' teaching of the Law and their agreement on what God truly wants from His people. At this point, the Pharisees give up and stop asking Jesus questions. He has one more for them, however, in the following verses (Matthew 22:41–42).
What is the Gospel?
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