The 'New' Part of Jesus Christ's 'New Commandment'

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The 'New' Part of Jesus Christ's 'New Commandment'

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The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version×
, NASB).

Did Jesus replace God’s previous commandments with just this one “new commandment”? Many teach that is exactly what He meant. But their reasoning doesn’t take into account all that Jesus said. Most of what He said was not new.

Moses had written almost the same words many centuries earlier (Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Jesus merely added some words that Moses could not have written because Jesus had not yet come. Those new words spoken by Jesus were “even as I have loved you”—referring to the perfect example of love He had set for them!

His example raised the bar of loving character higher than it had ever been before. He loved us to the point that He gave His own life for us. He explained—just two chapters later—”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
American King James Version×
).

But Jesus also illustrated through His example that love and obedience must go together. He explained, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
American King James Version×
).

We fulfill Jesus’ new commandment when we love each other to the same extent He did—by being willing to lay down our lives for others’ sake. That is the kind of love Jesus wants all of His true disciples to practice from the heart. And that is the point He was making in His “new” commandment.

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