Matthew 22:34-40 The First And Second Great Commandments.
First the Pharisees had been silenced in their attempt to trap Jesus (vv. 15-22), then the Sadducees (vv. 23-33). So now the Pharisees, through a presumably learned lawyer, take another run at Jesus, again to test him (vv. 34-35). The lawyer asked Jesus what was the great commandment in the law (v. 36). “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (v. 37) It all begins in the heart, by which the bible means a person’s core, the deepest part of a person’s being, the real person (Cf. Prov. 23:26). Then there is one’s soul, which is both our life, and that immaterial part of us that will survive with the dissolution of the body, and before we receive our resurrection bodies (Cf. Dt. 10:12; 30:6). Matthew then has ‘mind’, whereas Deuteronomy then has ‘strength’. “The Hebrew expresses totality. For this reason the New Testament sometimes renders it with ‘mind and strength’ (Mark 12:30 Cf. II Kgs 23:25).” (NGSB. 250) Luke 10:27 has both. The totality of all a person is, and thinks, is what is conveyed here.
“This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” (vv. 38-39) This second commandment also comes from the law, namely Leviticus 19:18. In the law this command is sandwiched between two important ancillary truths directly related to the command. The first is that we are not to take vengeance ourselves, but instead we are to love our neighbour (Cf. Dt. 32:35). The other is, we are to love our neighbour as ourselves because it is our covenant LORD who commands us. Paul affirmed this also, and added that “therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:9-10). “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (v. 40). With respect to the second commandment, Jesus made this point early on in his ministry (7:12). These commands not only summarize the whole of the law, but the law and the prophets, that is the whole of the scriptures. These commands do not replace everything else, they summarize, which gets back to the question asked. Jesus did not come to destroy, but to fulfill (5:17).