Q42: What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?
A: The sum of the Ten Commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).
I. Sum of all the commandments is love.
A. Law chiefly concerned about the heart, the seat of love. See here.
B. Law’s scope is to unite men to God and to one another, for there is no such cement of heart as holiness.
II. Sum of the first table of law is love to God: ingredients, properties, warrant, and relation to other commands.
A. Ingredients: knowledge of Him in His Triune nature and attributes, comprehend Him we cannot, but apprehend Him as He is revealed we must; choosing Him for our chief good (Ps. 73:25); holding fast to Him (Josh. 22:5); chiefly desiring Him (Ps. 27:4; Phil. 1:23).
B. Properties: sincerity (Prov. 23:26); superlative (Lk. 14:26); intelligence (Mk. 12:33); an efficacious working love (1 Jn. 3:18; Rom. 13:10).
C. Warrant: this love is due to God because of His transcendent excellence, and absolute loveliness, and as the infinite source of all good (Matt. 19:17).
D. Relation to other commands: the chief duty (1 Cor. 13); the comprehensive duty of all (Rom. 13:10); universal, as whatever we do must be done in love (1 Cor. 16:13).
III. Sum of second table of law is to love our neighbor.
A. Neighbor, and love towards, defined: every man, including enemies.
1. All men are our neighbors (Lk. 10:25-37).
a. V. 29: “Who is…” the fundamental question.
(1). Jew lived in a circular world: self at center, surrounded by immediate relatives, kinsmen, claimants of Jewish descent and converts. “Neighbor” defined as “a brother to me and I to him.”
(2). Jesus’ day had many non-Israelites in Jerusalem: Samaritans, Romans, Hellenists.
(3). The theologian took issue with the second great commandment, expecting Christ to set the boundaries, but He instead applies the “Golden Rule.”
b. Vv. 34-35: Samaritan actions represent true sacrifice: money, possessions, risk of health, care.
c. Vv. 36-37: Second great commandment reaches beyond circle of friends and church, indicting all who raise protective barriers to live sheltered life, and calling us to show mercy to all unfortunate souls.
d. V. 37: Jesus’ message is here summed up (cf. Ja. 1:22).
2. All men includes enemies (Matt. 5:43-48).
a. V. 44: false teaching of v. 43 contradicted.
b. V. 45: illustration is common goodness. God is not dealing with them according to what they are or what they do to Him.
(1). God is governed by His own love, a disinterested love.
(2). Secret of loving others like this is to be detached from self. Our lives must not be governed by other people, thereby displaying the love of God (cf. Jn. 3:16).
c. V. 44: we manifest this love by blessing, doing good, and praying for them.
B. Love to neighbor defined: due esteem of him (1 Pet. 2:17), as all have gifts, natural or moral (Ja. 1:17); goodwill for them (Lk. 6:31), sorrowing when they sorrow, rejoicing when they rejoice (Rom. 12:15); being kind and doing them what good we can (Matt. 7:12; Ga. 6:10), as we are not born for ourselves but should endeavor to be useful to mankind as we are able (Ga. 6:10); delight in whatever good God has blessed them with, especially the saints (Ps. 16:3).
1. Love neighbor “as ourselves”: unfeigned, as no man feigns love to self; earnestly (cf. Matt. 24:12); constantly, and not contingent on their love to us (Matt. 5:44, 46).
2. An allowable self-love: bodies (Eph. 5:29; 1 Cor. 6:19), soul (Prov. 8:36).
a. Second table commandments respect ourselves first as we are the closest neighbor.
b. The hatred of evil men (Ps. 139:21) and “love thy neighbor” is reconciled in that their sin is hated, which is consistent with love towards them.
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Shortest way to obedience is to love the Lord. He that loves God will keep His commandments, for love is the fulfillment of the law.
B. Use, of testing.
1. There is no true religion where no heart religion. External obedience is to no avail if love to God is not its fount.
2. Love: Do we fail to love ourselves by ruining our bodies or souls? We will answer to God for this as both are His (Matt. 10:28). Do we love self and not others, or only some neighbors and not others? How is our love to the brethren (1 Jn. 4:20)?
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. If the saint who has the Spirit and grace cannot obey the law perfectly, know you too fail miserably and will be judged accordingly. Flee to the Rock cleft to hide the repentant from the fierce wrath of God Almighty.
2. Saints. Let us strive to love God with our whole being, every faculty, respecting His ways, and forsaking all to follow Christ. The loving of an enemy is the quickest way to win him as a friend (Rom. 12:14, 17, 20). Love is a duty above all. Let us consider the love of God in Christ to man and model it, loving in deed and in truth, not only in word or speech (1 Jn. 3:18).