Grace Bible Church

Preaching the Living Word through the Written Word












Mt 22:34-40, 1/11/15

Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming

Pastor Daryl Hilbert




A.    The Pharisees began to ask questions of Jesus in order to “trap” (pagideuō - lit. a hunting term to lay a snare or trap. Fig. catch someone off guard, entrap) Him with His words (Mt 22:15).

B.    The first entrapment regarded whether Jesus believed in paying poll taxes (Mt 22:15-22). If Jesus said, “no,” then the Herodians (political non-religious party of the Jews) would charge Him with treason against Rome (Mt 22:16). If He said, “Yes,” then the Pharisees would accuse Him of disloyalty to the Jewish nation. Jesus answered saying, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.” (Mt 22:21). The result after hearing His wisdom was that the Pharisees left and went away (Mt 22:22).

C.    The second entrapment came by way of the Sadducees and regarded the resurrection (Mt 22:23-33). They concocted a hypothetical situation of a Jewish family of seven brothers. Each brother died so that each one had to become the kinsman-redeemer to the wife and inheritance (cf. Mk 12:19). They wanted to know which of the seven brothers would be the woman’s husband in the resurrection. Jesus answered them saying they did not understand the resurrection because in the resurrection there would be no marriages (Mt 22:30). The result was that he “silenced” (phimoō - lit. muzzle, fig. speechless) the Sadducees (Mt 22:34).




A.    Having silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees conspired to have a lawyer of the Law (nomikos - expert of the Law of Moses, an expert Pharisee) “test” (perazō - examine as in a trial, and/or entrap) Him (Mt 22:34-35).

B.    The question was “which is the “great” (megas - comparative cf. “foremost of all” Mk 12:28) commandment in the Law” (Mt 22:36)

C.    The Pharisees had wrangled over the Law to determine which commandment(s) was the greatest in the Law. However, their quest had been complicated by the addition of the traditions of men. They divided the commandments into heavy and light commandments, the heavy commandments being the most binding (cf. Pal. Talmud, Ber. 1:4; Yeb. 1:6.). They had never come to an agreement on an absolute division and ranking. Therefore, it could be assumed that they thought that Jesus had His own ranking. This was especially probable due to Jesus’ new perspective on the Law revealed by His teaching. Asking Jesus which was the greatest commandment could uncover an unorthodox ranking, giving cause against Him.


III.  JESUS’ ANSWER (Mt 22:37-40)


A.    Jesus answered that the greatest commandment was Dt 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

B.    This commandment, he stated was the “great” (hā megalā - with the article) and “foremost” (prōtos - first or foremost) commandment (Mt 22:38).

C.    Though they did not ask for it, Jesus added the second greatest commandment from Lev 19:18, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

D.    Then Jesus clarified and summarized the whole Law and the Prophets saying that they “depend” (kremannumi - hang, as a door hangs on its hinges, so the whole OT hangs on these two commandments) on these two commandments (Mt 22:40).

E.    In Mark’s account (Mk 12:32), we have the reply of the lawyer, who agreed with Jesus’ answer (which included the Shema - Dt 6:4). In fact, this lawyer had the right perspective of Law. He viewed that loving God superseded the sacrifices or any external formalities (1Sa 15:22; Hos 6:6). To this Jesus replied, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mk 12:34).

F.     The result was that no one attempted to trap Him again with more questions.




A.    They Did not Love  God - The religious leaders, who were claiming that loving God was the greatest commandment were doing anything but loving God. In fact, they were attempting to trap Him for the purpose of condemning Him in the person of Jesus Christ They were exalting the greatest commandments but were doing the exact opposite (Ps 69:4 cf. Jn 15:18; 23-25).

B.    They Played Russian roulette - The greatest commandment taught that true love for God was anything but mere cold formalism. But because of their formalism, they used their 613 commandments to play Jewish Roulette with the Son of God. If He was unfortunate enough to choose the wrong commandment, He would be condemned.

C.    The Lawyer was not Far from the Kingdom - The Pharisees were very far from the kingdom because they thought that their works along with being God’s chosen people would save them. The Lawyer was a little closer to salvation then the Pharisees. He knew that loving God was better than sacrifices. He needed to come even a little further in understanding that all are sinners because they do not love God with all their heart and that no amount of sacrifices will ever make up for his sin. He needed to place His faith in Christ’s sacrifice for sin on the cross because no one is justified by the Law (Ro 3:20, 28; Ep 2:8-9 cf. Col 2:14).




A.    The Believer is to love Christ - Are we to love God with our whole being though we are not under the Law? Yes. Though the believer is not under the Law, he is under its moral obligations. Since loving God is the pinnacle of man’s moral obligations, the concept is repeated in the NT (Ro 8:28; 1Pe 1:8; Jm 1:12; 2:5). However, there is an emphasis in the NT on loving the second member of the Godhead, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 21:15-17; Phm 1:5; Ep 6:24; Re 2:4). Loving Christ is obeying His Word (Jn 14:15).

B.    The Believer is to love Christ with His whole being - When Mt 22:37 tells us to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, it is using language to refer not to individual parts but with man’s total being. If we were to look at each individual part mentioned, we are to love the Lord Jesus Christ with the intention, purpose and treasure of our heart (Mt 6:21; Ac 8:22; He 4:12). We are to love the Lord Jesus Christ with the proper emotions, attitudes, and worship of our soul (Mt 26:38; Lk 1:46). We should love the Lord Jesus Christ with the thoughts, intellect, and wisdom of our minds (Ro 12:2; 1Co 2:16; Col 3:2). We should love the Lord Jesus Christ with both physical and spiritual strength in faithful obedience and service (Ep 6:10; 1Pe 4:11).




A.    God is the Most Glorious Being - God is an all-wise, truthful, and righteous God. He would not tell man to love something or someone with his whole being that is imperfect or unworthy. Therefore, when He tells man to love Him with his whole being, it is because God is the most perfect Being worthy of man’s total love. God is the most glorious Being, the Chief Good, and the greatest conceivable Perfect Being. It is the believer’s ultimate blessing to know and love the most glorious Being, God. It is the greatest commandment because God is the most glorious Being.

B.    God’s Nature is Love - God’s Law is a revelation of His own nature and character. If loving God is the greatest commandment and the second is loving man created in His image, then love is central to God’s Law. Since the basis of the two greatest commandments is love and God’s nature is revealed in His Law. Then, we can conclude that God’s nature is love. It is the greatest commandment because God’s nature is love.

C.    God’s Law is Based on Love - Since God’s nature is love and the Law is based on God’s nature, then the Law is based on love. In other words, the Law was not given to man because God is a tyrant and desires to ensnare and punish man. The Law was given because it is what is best for man based on God’s love (cf. Ro 7:12). It is because sinful man cannot keep the Law that He needs the death of Christ to atone for his violation of God’s Law (Col 2:14). It is the greatest commandment because God’s Law is based on love.

D.    God Desires a Relationship of Love - God, being a God of love, desires a relationship with man. God has loved man and given Himself totally to man on the cross, the only proper response of man is to give himself and love God with his whole being. It is the greatest commandment because God desires a relationship of love with man.




Grace Bible Church · 4000 E. Collins Rd ·  PO Box #3762 · Gillette, WY · (307) 686-1516