Jesus’ Message, 2: “Love thy neighbour…”

Jesus is quoted as saying that the second most important commandment is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. This may be accurate, but not the whole story.

Because the phrase isn’t among the Ten Commandments, many Christians have the impression that it’s a Jesus original, expressing love towards the whole world. When you see it in its original context, though, it has a slightly different message. Jesus was quoting Leviticus 19:18 –

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”

Love thy neighbour - Leviticus 19:18

The commandment is for Jews to love their fellow Jews. It says nothing about loving gentiles. It certainly says nothing about loving the idolatrous pig-eating beard-shaving military occupation forces, no matter how St. Paul would later try to twist the teachings of Jesus to fit his own pro-Roman agenda.

Taken together, the two greatest commandments say “Think of and obey the God of Israel constantly, and look after your fellow Jews”.

Jesus was not preaching a universal message.

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