Great Commandment - Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself

Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself

Leviticus 19:18 represents but one of several versions of the Golden Rule. It is seemingly the oldest written version in a positive form.

Hillel the Elder, an elder contemporary of Jesus, formulated a negative form of the Golden Rule and when asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely to a gentile who wished to become a Jew, he answered, "What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary."

With these words Hillel recognized as the fundamental principle of the Jewish moral law the Biblical precept of brotherly love (Lev. xix. 18). Almost the same thing was taught by Paul, a pupil of Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel (Gal. v. 14; comp. Rom. xiii. 8); and more broadly by Jesus when he declared the love of one's neighbour to be the second commandment beside the love of God, the first (Matt. xxii. 39; Mark xii. 31; Luke x. 27). Akiva ben Joseph, a tanna of first and second century Judaism, called "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" the "greatest principle of Judaism".

C.S. Lewis also offers a substantial commentary on loving your neighbor. In his works, "Mere Christianity" He says “This is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.” By this, he means that loving your neighbor means that you want to be best friends with him, but it means that you wish him or her the best and not harm or evil.

In the New Testament the second commandment is referenced by and to Jesus in Matthew 7:12, 19:19, 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28, and by the apostle Paul in Romans 13:8-10 and Galatians 5:13-15:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." —Galatians 5:13-15

The Didache, an Early Christian treatise, begins with a "way of life" that quotes the Shema ("love God"), the second commandment ("love thy neighbour"), and the Golden Rule.

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