34. But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the
Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35. Then one of them, which was a Lawyer, asked him a question,
tempting him, and saying,
36. "Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
37. Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38. This is the first and great commandment.
39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour
40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Jerome: The Pharisees having been themselves already confuted (in the
matter of the denarius), and now seeing their adversaries also overthrown,
should have taken warning to attempt no further deceit against Him; but
hate and jealousy are the parents of impudence.
Origen: Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, to shew that the tongue
of falsehood is silenced by the brightness of truth. For as it belongs
to the righteous man to be silent when it is good to be silent, and to
speak when it is good to speak, and not to hold his peace; so it belongs
to every teacher of a lie not indeed to be silent, but to be silent as
far as any good purpose is concerned.
Jerome: The Pharisees and Sadducees, thus foes to one another, unite
in one common purpose to tempt Jesus.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or the Pharisees meet together, that their numbers may
silence Him whom their reasonings could not confute; thus, while they array
numbers against Him, shewing that truth failed them; they said among themselves,
Let one speak for all, and all speak, through one, so if He prevail, the
victory may seem to belong to all; if He be overthrown, the defeat may
rest with Him alone; so it follows, "Then one of [p. 761] them, a teacher
of the Law, asked him a question, tempting Him."
Origen: All who thus ask questions of any teacher to try him, and not
to learn of him, we must regard as brethren of this Pharisee, according
to what is said below, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of mine, ye have done it unto me." [Matt 25:40]
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 73: Let no one find a difficulty in this, that
Matthew speaks of this man as putting his question to tempt the Lord, whereas
Mark does not mention this, but concludes with what the Lord said to him
upon his answering wisely, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
[Mark 12:34] For it is possible that, though he came to tempt, yet the
Lord's answer may have wrought correction within him.
Or, the tempting here meant need not be that of one designing to deceive
an enemy, but rather the cautious approach of one making proof of a stranger.
And that is not written in vain, "Whoso believeth lightly, he is of a vain
heart." [Eccl. 19:4]
Origen: He said "Master" tempting Him, for none but a disciple would
thus address Christ. Whoever then does not learn of the Word, nor yields
himself wholly up to it, yet calls it Master, he is brother to this Pharisee
thus tempting Christ. Perhaps while they read the Law before the Saviour's
coming, it was a question among them which was the great commandment in
it; nor would the Pharisee have asked this, if it had not been long time
enquired among themselves, but never found till Jesus came and declared
Pseudo-Chrys.: He who now enquires for the greatest commandment had
not observed the least. He only ought to seek for a higher righteousness
who has fulfilled the lower.
Jerome: Or he enquires not for the sake of the commands, but which is
the first and great commandment, that seeing all that God commands is great,
he may have occasion to cavil whatever the answer be.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But the Lord so answers him, as at once to lay bare the
dissimulation of his enquiry, "Jesus saith unto him, Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Thou shalt love," not 'fear,' for to love is more than to fear; to fear
belongs to slaves, to love to sons; fear is in compulsion, love in freedom.
Whoso serves God in fear escapes punishment, but has not the reward of
righteousness because he did well unwillingly through fear. God does not
desire to be served servilely by [p. 762] men as a master, but to be loved
as a father, for that He has given the spirit of adoption to men.
But to love God with the whole heart, is to have the heart inclined
to the love of no one thing more than of God. To love God again with the
whole soul is to have the mind stayed upon the truth, and to be firm in
the faith. For the love of the heart and the love of the soul are different.
The first is in a sort carnal, that we should love God even with our flesh,
which we cannot do unless we first depart from the love of the things of
this world. The love of the heart is felt in the heart, but the love of
the soul is not felt, but is perceived because it consists in a judgment
of the soul. For he who believes that all good is in God, and that without
Him is no good, he loves God with his whole soul. But to love God with
the whole mind, is to have all the faculties open and unoccupied for Him.
He only loves God with his whole mind, whose intellect ministers to God,
whose wisdom is employed about God, whose thoughts travail in the things
of God, and whose memory holds the things which are good.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: Or otherwise; You are commanded to love
God "with all thy heart," that your whole thoughts -- "with all thy soul,"
that your whole life -- "with all thy mind," that your whole understanding
-- may be given to Him from whom you have that you give. Thus He has left
no part of our life which may justly be unfilled of Him, or give place
to the desire after any other final good [marg. note: alia re frui]; but
if aught else present itself for the soul's love, it should be absorbed
into that channel in which the whole current of love runs. For man is then
the most perfect when his whole life tends towards the life [marg. note:
al. bonum] unchangeable, and clings to it with the whole purpose of his
Gloss., interlin.: Or, "with all thy heart," i.e. understanding; "with
all thy soul," i.e. thy will; "with all thy mind," i.e. memory; so you
shall think, will, remember nothing contrary to Him.
Origen: Or otherwise; "With all thy heart," that is, in all recollection,
act, thought; "with all thy soul," to be ready, that is, to lay it down
for God's religion; "with all thy mind," bringing forth nothing but what
is of God. And consider whether you cannot thus take the heart of the understanding,
by which we contemplate things intellectual, and the "mind" of that by
which we utter thoughts, walking as it were with the mind through each
expression, [p. 763] and uttering it.
If the Lord had given no answer to the Pharisee who thus tempted Him,
we should have judged that there was no commandment greater than the rest.
But when the Lord adds, "This is the first and great commandment," we learn
how we ought to think of the commandments, that there is a great one, and
that there are less down to the least. And the Lord says not only that
it is a great, but that it is the first commandment, not in order of Scripture,
but in supremacy of value.
They only take upon them the greatness and supremacy of this precept,
who not only love the Lord their God, but add these three conditions. Nor
did He only teach the first and great commandment, but added that there
was a second like unto the first, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:"
But if "Whoso loveth iniquity hath hated his own soul," [Ps 11:5] it is
manifest that he does not love his neighbour as himself, when he does not
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 30; see Rom 13:10: It is clear that every
man is to be regarded as a neighbour, because evil is to be done to no
man. Further, if every one to whom we are bound to shew service of mercy,
or who is bound to shew it to us, be rightly called our neighbour, it is
manifest that in this precept are comprehended the holy Angels who perform
for us those services of which we may read in Scripture.
Whence also our Lord Himself would be called our neighbour; for it was
Himself whom He represents as the good Samaritan, who gave succour to the
man who was left half-dead by the way.
Aug., de Trin., viii, 6: He that loves men ought to love them either
because they are righteous, or that they may be righteous; and so also
ought he to love himself either for that he is, or that he may be righteous.
And thus without peril he may love his neighbour as himself.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: But if even yourself you ought not to
love for your own sake, but because of Him in whom is the rightful end
of your love, let not another man be displeased that you love even him
for God's sake. Whoso then rightly loves his neighbour, ought to endeavour
with him that he also with his whole heart love God.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But who loves man is as who loves God; for man is God's
image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honoured in his statue. For this
cause this commandment is said to be like the first.
Hilary: Or otherwise; That the second command is like [p. 764] the first
signifies that the obligation and merit of both are alike; for no love
of God without Christ, or of Christ without God, can profit to salvation.
It follows, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 33: "Hang," that is, refer thither as their end.
Raban.: For to these two commandments belongs the whole decalogue; the
commandments of the first table to the love of God, those of the second
to the love of our neighbour.
Origen: Or, because he that has fulfilled the things that are written
concerning the love of God and our neighbour, is worthy to receive from
God the great reward, that he should be enabled to understand the Law and
Aug., de Trin., viii. 7: Since there are two commandments, the love
of God and the love of our neighbour, on which hang the Law and the Prophets,
not without reason does Scripture put one for both; sometimes the love
of God; as in that, "We know that all things work together for good to
them that love God;" [Rom 8:28] and sometimes the love of our neighbour;
as in that, "All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself." [Gal 5:14]
And that because if a man love his neighbour, it follows therefrom that
he loves God also; for it is the selfsame affection by which we love God,
and by which we love our neighbour, save that we love God for Himself,
but ourselves and our neighbour for God's sake.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 26, 30: But since the Divine substance is
more excellent and higher than our nature, the command to love God is distinct
from that to love our neighbour. But if by yourself, you understand your
whole self, that is both your soul and your body, and in like manner of
your neighbour, there is no sort of things to be loved omitted in these
commands. The love of God goes first, and the rule thereof is so set out
to us as to make all other loves center in that, so that nothing seems
said of loving yourself.
But then follows, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," so that
love of yourself is not omitted.
41. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42. Saying, "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?" They say
unto him, "The Son of David." [p. 765]
43. He saith unto them, "How then doth David in spirit call him
44. 'The Lord saith unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till
I make thine enemies thy footstool?'
45. If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"
46. And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any
man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Jews tempted Christ, supposing Him to be mere man;
had they believed Him to be the Son of God, they would not have tempted
Him. Christ therefore, willing to shew that He knew the treachery of their
hearts, and that He was God, yet would not declare this truth to them plainly,
that they might not take occasion thence to charge Him with blasphemy,
and yet would not totally conceal this truth; because to that end had He
come that He should preach the truth.
He therefore puts a question to them, such as should declare to them
who He was; "What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?"
Chrys., Hom. lxxi: He first asked His disciples what others said of
Christ, and then what they themselves said; but not so to these. For they
would have said that He was a deceiver, and wicked. They thought that Christ
was to be mere man, and therefore "they say unto Him, The Son of David."
To reprove this, He brings forward the Prophet, witnessing His dominion,
proper Sonship, and His joint honour with His Father.
Jerome: This passage is out of the 109th Psalm. Christ is therefore
called David's Lord, not in respect of His descent from him, but in respect
of His eternal generation from the Father, wherein He was before His fleshly
Father. And he calls Him Lord, not by a mere chance, nor of his own thought,
but by the Holy Spirit.
Remig.: That He says, "Sit thou on my right hand," is not to be taken
as though God had a body, and either a right hand or a left hand; but to
sit on the right hand of God is to abide in the honour and equality of
the Father's majesty.
Pseudo-Chrys.: I suppose that He formed this question, not only against
the Pharisees, but also against the heretics; for [p. 766] according to
the flesh He was truly David's Son, but his Lord according to His Godhead.
Chrys.: But He rests not with this, but that they may fear, He adds,
"Till I make thine enemies thy footstool;" that at least by terror He might
Origen: For God puts Christ's enemies as a footstool beneath His feet,
for their salvation as well as their destruction.
Remig.: But "till" is used for indefinite time, that the meaning be,
Sit Thou for ever, and for ever hold thine enemies beneath thy feet.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: That it is by the Father that the enemies are put
under the Son, denotes not the Son's weakness, but the union of His nature
with His Father. For the Son also puts under Him the Father's enemies,
when He glorifies His name upon earth. He concludes from this authority,
"If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?"
Jerome: This question is still available for us against the Jews; for
these who believe that Christ is yet to come, assert that He is a mere
man, though a holy one, of the race of David. Let us then thus taught by
the Lord ask them, If He be mere man, and only the Son of David, how does
David call Him his Lord?
To evade the truth of this question, the Jews invent many frivolous
answers. They allege Abraham's steward, he whose son was Eliezer of Damascus,
and say that this Psalm was composed in his person, when after the overthrow
of the five kings, the Lord God said to his lord Abraham, "Sit thou on
my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Let us ask how Abraham could say the things that follow, and compel
them to tell us how Abraham was born before Lucifer, and how he was a Priest
after the order of Melchisedech, for whom Melchisedech brought bread and
wine, and of whom he received tithes of the spoil?
Chrys.: This conclusion He put to their questionings, as final, and
sufficient to stop their mouth. Henceforward accordingly they held their
peace, not by their own good-will, but from not having aught to say.
Origen: For had their question sprung of desire to know, He would never
have proposed to them such things as should have deterred them from asking
Raban.: Hence we learn that the poison of jealousy may be overcome,
but can hardly of itself rest at peace.