The Division Of The Law In The New Testament
The Lord Jesus
The Summary of the Law
Did the Savior in His lifetime treat the Decalogue as the sum of the moral law and thus above the ceremonial and judicial laws? I believe that the answer is yes and I am indebted to Dr. Ross’ discussion on pp. 154-160 on this question. It is generally accepted that the Savior summarized the law in two commandments: 1) the Love Of God and 2) the love of neighbor. We read
Matt. 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The first commandment comes from the Shema, which religious Jews to this day recite every day (Deut. 6:4-5). There, we are told that there is but one God and that we should love this one God with everything that we have. This summarizes the first four commandments which are about 1) the exclusivity of that one God, 2) the right worship of that one God, 3) the honoring of that one God and 4) the public worship of that God. The first four commandments are expressions of what it means to love God with everything that we have and are.
The second commandment, given by the Savior, is that of loving our neighbor. The commandment is ancient and given by God to Israel all the way back in Leviticus:
Lev. 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
And there is a similar commandment in v. 34 of the same chapter:
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
It is interesting to see the connection that the LORD makes in v. 34 between what He did for the Israelites, and in turn what the Israelites should do to other people. To “love your neighbor as yourself” summarizes the second table—commandments 5 through 10. 5) We are to obey our parents. 6) We are not to harm our neighbor. 7) We are not to commit adultery against our neighbor. 8) We are not to steal from our neighbor. 9) We are not to bear false witness against our neighbor. 10) We are not to covet anything that is our neighbor’s. The one who does these things loves their neighbor.
The Lord, in Mark 10:19, lists the commandments of God, referring to the second table of the Decalogue:
You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder , Do not commit adultery , Do not steal , Do not bear false witness , Do not defraud , Honor your father and mother .’”
“To defraud” here refers to the tenth commandment about coveting. Ross writes, “it could be as Wessel suggests, ‘a substitute for the commandment against coveting, fraud being a manifestation of coveting.’” Here we learn that the commandments of God, referred to by the Lord Jesus, are the second table of the Decalogue. He did not refer to any laws about sacrifices or feasts, but rather...