What Is The Greatest Commandment? A Bible Study

What Is The Greatest Commandment? A Bible Study May 28, 2014

There is much debate about what the greatest of all the commandments are.  What would you consider is the greatest commandment?  What does the Bible say about this?

The Ten Commandments

When God gave Moses and the children of Israel the Ten Commandments, it seems that God prioritized the commandments.  The first four dealt with the relationship between God and humans and the last six dealt with humans relating to one another.  This seems to indicate that our first priority is obedience to God above all and God is rightly placed at the very beginning with the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before [or besides] me” (Ex 20:2).  There were so many false, pagan gods in the ancient world and there still are today. Many of these are gods that have been created by false religions like Islam, Hinduism, and other religions outside of Christianity.  The most important commandment to Israel was to have no other gods before the One, True God because He alone is God and there are no others.

Jesus’ New Commandment

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Since Jesus is God and only God can give commandments, this new commandment must be important.  It was because Jesus was going away after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.  He was leaving them but was going to send them the Helper, a Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Before Jesus went away, He thought it was a monumental occasion to reveal His new commandment and that commandment was that the disciples should love one another.  Now that is nice of course but why was this so important?  Jesus tells us why when He said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Here is a proof, and evidence to show who Jesus’ own disciples are…they would have a love for one another that all people could see to enable them to know who Jesus’ real disciples were compared to the phonies…those who are playing church. This love is not just brotherly love though…they must love one another as Jesus said, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  What type of love was this Jesus had for them?  Well, He died for them.  That is a self-sacrificing, totally consuming sacrifice done in His love for them.  Love was not simply something Jesus showed them or told them but He displayed this love on the cross at Calvary.  They must have this same love for one another.

Jesus’ Two Greatest Commandments

Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The Pharisees asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment of all in the Law.  They wanted to trip Him up, as always, but Jesus gave them an answer that they could not argue with for they knew the Ten Commandments and knew the first commandment.  Jesus clearly says that there is one, single greatest commandment and that is that we are to “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind.”  Jesus clarifies the point by saying “This is the great and first commandment.”  It is similar to the first commandment to have no other gods before the One, True God but this commandment actually sums up all of the first four commandments relating to God.

Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

This can easily be broken when we put anything or anybody ahead of worshiping and loving God.  God doesn’t want competition and there should be none because God is the Creator of all things.  As I have heard before, the human heart is an idol factory; we idolize athletes, money, actors/actresses, ourselves, family, jobs, and hundreds of other things.

Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

We even create gods in our own image after our own likeness when we say things like “Well, my god is a god of love and would never send anyone to hell.”  That is idolatry and even if it’s not a carved image it is an image shaped or formed by our own minds and God doesn’t want us to worship or create any other gods beside Him, Who alone is God.

So the greatest commandment of all given to mankind is to love the Lord God with all of our being (heart, soul, and mind).  There is no greater commandment because there is nothing greater in all the universe than God for He created it and created us.   Someone that created something is always greater than what they created and so even as great as the universe is…and it is indescribable…there is nothing greater than God and nothing more deserving and worthy to be worshiped than God and Him alone.


Jesus concluded that the second greatest commandment was that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus said that by the love we have for one another, everyone would know that we are His disciples and if you are not a disciple of His, then the wrath of God remains on you and you cannot be His disciple without repentance and trust in Him.  Trust in Him today and make Him your highest priority and seek first His kingdom and He will give you all the things that you need (Matt 6:33) but first and foremost, you need eternal life and you can be saved today by believing in the only name that we must be saved by (Acts 4:12) and that is Jesus Christ and no other.

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

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