1. A SUMMARY OF THE LAW The first thing we need to do is to go to God’s word and see where this phrase comes from. Often time when people quote this they are using the words of Jesus. So let’s start there. Look at Matthew 22. This same event is also recorded in Mark 12. Starting in Matthew 22:34 it says, “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.” So Jesus says here that the law of God can be summarized by these two commands, love God and love your neighbor. Right from the start, we find that, “love your neighbor as yourself,” is only a summary statement of something much larger, the law of God. Now in Matthew 19 and Luke 10, we have two similar usages. Matthew 19 has the story of the rich young man who asks, “what good deed must I do to have eternal life.” In Luke 10 you have a lawyer who stands up and asks, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” What is Jesus’ response to both? He points them to the law of God. To the rich man, he says, “Keep the commandments.” To the lawyer, he asks, “What is written in the Law?” With the rich young man, Jesus explains that to enter into eternal life he must keep the law. “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus gives him the second half of the Ten Commandments and then hits him with its summary, “love your neighbor,” obviously tying them all together. The rich young man in his self-righteousness says that he keeps all of those commands. But when Jesus tells him to sell all he has and follow him, he walks away sorrowful showing that even if he was following the second half of the Ten Commandments perfectly he was not following the command to “have no other gods before me.” Now go back to the lawyer in Luke. He responds to Jesus’ question about how he read the law by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He uses the two summary statements of the law, love God and love your neighbor. Jesus says, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But the lawyer knew that he did not keep these two and so it says he tried to justify himself by asking who was his neighbor. That’s when Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan. The conclusion is that his neighbor was anyone that needed mercy which, of course, is everyone. Did the lawyer do this? Obviously, he did not and Jesus had caught him. The idea that “love your neighbor” is the summary of the law is not only supported by the words of Jesus but also by the writings of Paul and James. In Romans 13, Paul says, “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In Galatians 5, Paul says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And James in chapter 2 we read, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” Finally, we must go to the law of God itself as recorded in the book of Leviticus. In 19:18, we have the one use of the phrase in the Old Testament, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” What is the immediate context that we find this phrase? In verses 9 -17 you have commands against, coveting, stealing, murder, and lying. The only commandment that we are missing out of the second half of the Ten Commandments is adultery. But if you read chapter 18, the one right before this, you have a whole chapter on adulterous relationships. So even in the immediate context of “love your neighbor as yourself” in the law are commands addressing all of the commandments. So, if we were lawyers in court we could rest our case. We have provided multiple witnesses that all testify to the same thing. We must conclude that when the phrase, “love your neighbor as yourself” is used biblically it is referring to the law of God. It is a summary, along with love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, of all that God commanded in his law.