A New Commandment

How can Yeshua give a “new commandment” when the Torah forbids adding and subtracting from the commandments?

Concept of a newly released version of the Bible that supersedes a previous one. (Image: © FFOZ)

In the Messianic Era, men will live peacably with one another. Even the animals will dwell in peace. All of humanity will live in common fraternity. As the Messiah prepared to depart, He bequeathed the peace and love of the Messianic Era to His disciples. He gave them a “new commandment” that, if obeyed, would preserve the spirit of His presence among them: “Love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

I am giving you a new mitzvah: that you love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. With this all will know that you are my disciples: if love dwells among you. (Yochanan 13:34-35)

How can Yeshua give a “new commandment” when the Torah forbids adding and subtracting from the commandments? Moses said, “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

The commandment was new in as much as Yeshua Himself bound it upon His disciples, but the commandment was not a novel innovation. Rather, it expanded on Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Elsewhere, Yeshua taught His disciples that the other commandments of the Torah hung upon that central command. He considered the commandment of loving one’s neighbor second only to the command to love God.

Rather than loving one’s “neighbor” (which Yeshua defined broadly as one’s fellow human being), the new commandment refers to loving “one another,” that is, “the brethren,” specifically the other disciples of Yeshua. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Yeshua interpreted Leviticus 19:18 with a universal scope that embraced all of humanity. The love He called for in John 13:34, however, had a narrower focus—an intense devotion and affection for fellow believers.

Leviticus 19:18 calls upon us to love our fellow man as we love ourselves. Rather than loving others “as yourself,” the new commandment calls upon the disciple of Yeshua to love his fellow-disciple as the Master loved him. In other words, Yeshua calls upon us to love other believers with a love that transcends our love for fellow man. We are to love other believers as Yeshua loved us, sacrificially. He demonstrated His love for His disciples in service; setting aside His prestige, He took on the role of a servant, washed their feet, and offered His life in exchange for theirs. The Master’s type of love does not swim in sentimentality, nor does it demand internal, emotional affection; it calls for service, humility, deference, and self-sacrifice:

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

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