Galatians 5:14

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. [a]

Galatians 5:14 Meaning and Commentary

Galatians 5:14

For all the law is fulfilled in one word
Not the ceremonial law, to which acts of mercy, kindness, and love are opposed, and from which they are distinguished; but the law of the decalogue given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and by him to the people of the Jews; and intends either only the second table of it, since only love to the neighbour is mentioned; or else the whole of it, both tables, since it is said, "all the law"; which by Christ is reduced to two heads, love to God, and love to the neighbour; and though the former is not here expressed, it is implied as a cause in the effect, for the love of God is the cause, and so the evidence of love to the neighbour; nor can there be the one without the other. The two tables of the law consist of (Myrbdh trve) , "ten words"; as the F19 Jews commonly call them, and we the decalogue, and yet they are fulfilled in one; that is, they are to be brought into such a compendium, reduced to such an head; or as the apostle in a parallel place says, they may briefly be comprehended in this saying, ( Romans 13:9 ) . The Jews make the commandments of the law to be a very large number indeed, but at last reduce them to one, as the apostle here does,

``six hundred and thirteen commandments (they say F20) were given to Moses----David came and reduced them to eleven, Psalm xv, Isaiah came and reduced them to six, ( Isaiah 33:15 ) Micah came and reduced them to three, ( Micah 6:8 ) Isaiah came and reduced them to two, ( Isaiah 56:1 ) , Amos came and reduced them to one, ( Amos 5:4 ) but this being objected to, it is observed that Habakkuk came, (txa le Ndymexw) , "and reduced them to one", ( Habakkuk 2:4 ) that is faith, as here the apostle reduces them to love:''

even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:
these words are taken out of ( Leviticus 19:18 ) and which R. Akiba says F21, agreeably with the apostle, whose contemporary he was, is (hrwtb lwdg llk) , "the grand general rule in the law"; or the grand comprehensive of the law: the object of love, the "neighbour", signifies not only, as there the Jews explain it, those of their own people, or proselytes to their religion; but all sorts of men, whether in a natural, civil, or spiritual relation; and whether those that do us good or do us ill, friends or enemies: the measure or rule of love is, "as thyself"; and designs not an equality of affection, but a likeness of effects; that is, to do the same kind acts of love to others, one would choose to have done to ourselves: and this is the fulfilling of the law; that is, so far as a man loves aright, so far he fulfils the law; not that he does it perfectly, for man in his fallen state is unable to do that, for the law is exceeding broad, and reaches to thoughts, desires, and inclinations, as well as to words and deeds; and besides, love said to be the fulfilling of it, is imperfect; hence then there can be no justification by works of charity, nor by any services of men, which at best are imperfect; nor are they done in their own strength, and without the grace of God; nor is there any that can be said to have fulfilled the law perfectly but Christ, and to him must we look for a justifying righteousness. These words contain a reason engaging to love one another, and to do all kind of offices of love to each other; since it is a main and principal thing contained in the law, and to which that may be reduced.


F19 Exod. xxxiv. 28. Vid. Targum Onk. & Jon. in ib.
F20 T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 151. 1.
F21 In Jarchi in Lev. xix. 18.

Galatians 5:14 In-Context

12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!
13 For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Footnotes 1

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