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The Greatest Commandment & Eternal Life

Yesterday, in the BHC Bible Study Blog, I wrote Comparing Parallel Accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures. Anytime parallel accounts, or things that look like parallel accounts appear in your Bible, they always present great opportunities to discover some very interesting, and sometimes, unexpected things. This will be true in the subject of this blog – The Greatest Commandment & Eternal Life.

If you want to have some fun – and exercise your powers of observation – get some paper and a pen (the old fashion way of studying). Below you will find three accounts that are often considered to be about the same event. In addition, the fourth column contains the verses that are quoted in the Gospels from the Torah (Old Testament). The parallel sections are numbered 1 – 9, and shaded areas indicate that there is no parallel. Compare the sections and note any differences.

#
Matthew 22:34-40
Mark 12:28-34
Luke 10:25-27
Torah
1
But the Pharisees heard that he silenced the Sadducees, were gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him:
And approaching, one of the scribes, hearing them debating, knowing that he had answered them well, asked him:
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying,

2
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
“Which is the first commandment of all?”
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

3
Jesus said to him:
Jesus said to him:
And Jesus said to him: 

4


“What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

5


And the lawyer answered and said:

6






“`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.


“The first is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’






‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, he Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
7
And the second is like it:
The second is this:


8




  


‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’





  

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’






  
and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’
Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord
9
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
And Jesus said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”



Now let’s compare notes and look at a few of the differences. They will be listed by section number.

#2 Notice that two different questions are asked. In Matthew and Mark the question is which commandment is the most important, but in Luke it is how one inherits eternal life.

#4 Jesus asks the lawyer a question.

#6 & #8 In Matthew and Mark Jesus answers the question, while in Luke the lawyer answers the question.

#6 In Matthew, Jesus uses the word mind and leaves out strength in quoting from Deuteronomy. In Mark, Jesus adds the word mind to the quote from Deuteronomy. In Luke, the lawyer answers the question just like Mark.

#6 Only Mark includes the quote from Deuteronomy 6:4 -- Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

#9 Notice how the three books close the section in different ways.

I hope you learned from this study – and enjoyed it!

Shalom,
Jim Myers

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