What does Matthew 22:39 mean?
ESV: And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
NIV: And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
CSB: The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
NLT: A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
KJV: And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
NKJV: And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Verse Commentary:
The Pharisee who tested Jesus did not ask about the "two greatest commandments." He asked for Jesus' take on which was the single greatest (Matthew 22:34–38). Jesus, though, decides the second commandment is so essential that it must be mentioned along with the first one.

Both commands focus solely on what a person does with his or her affection and attention and actions. The greatest command is to love God with every aspect of our being. It comes from Deuteronomy 6:5. The second greatest commandment comes from Leviticus 19:18. Jesus says that it is similar to the first commandment, likely because it is about who and how we love: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The second greatest commandment assumes an obvious fact of human nature: that human beings naturally love and care for themselves. This perspective is the basis for what has come to be known as the Golden Rule. Jesus taught this in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1–2), and it helps to explain what it means to love another as we love ourselves: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12).

This first and second commandment were woven deeply into Judaism and Jewish life. It's unlikely that anyone was greatly surprised by Jesus' answer to what is the greatest commandment, but the fact that He gave it makes the answer meaningful for all time.
Verse Context:
Matthew 22:34–40 describes a question to Jesus from a Pharisee described as a lawyer. In this context, this means someone well-versed in the Old Testament. He asks Jesus which is the great commandment in the Law. Jesus upholds Deuteronomy 6:5, indicating that loving God with everything about us is the great and first commandment. Christ then volunteers that the second greatest is closely related: to love your neighbor as yourself. Every command or law from God is distilled from those basic principles. Luke 10:25–28 and Mark 12:28–37 also describe this challenge.
Chapter Summary:
Continuing a dialogue with hostile religious leaders, Jesus tells a parable comparing the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast which ends up being attended by those not initially invited. He answers trick questions about taxes, marriage, resurrection, and the Law of Moses. These responses are the source of common English idioms such as "render to Caesar…" and "many are called but few are chosen." Finally, Jesus asks how the Messiah can be both the son of David and the Lord of David. None can answer Him, so they stop challenging Him in public.
Chapter Context:
This chapter extends an exchange between Jesus and several groups of religious leaders in the temple. The previous chapter concluded with two parables about the failures of the religious leaders. This chapter begins with a third parable, about chosen guests who refuse to attend a wedding feast. Jesus then fields questions from several religious groups, who fail in their attempts to trip Him up. His wise and profound answers silence all of them. At this point, Jesus launches into a full-throated condemnation of the Pharisees in chapter 23.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/28/2024 7:12:25 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.