John 13:34 -"I give you a new commandment--to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (NET)

Mat. 22:39- "The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself."

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    I do not understand you question. In John we have a sermon of Jesus to the disciples. In Matt we have Jesus answering the Scribe who posed a question. The answers are very similar and quote the same passage of the Torah. Please clarify your question.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 22:28
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    The new command has a different standard. Where the old is based on how you love yourself, the new is based on how Jesus loves you. So if you're having a bad day and don't have much love for yourself, the old allows you to have the same lack of love for your neighbor. The new establishes a higher standard: how Jesus loves you. Commented May 8, 2020 at 6:06

4 Answers 4


I THINK I see where you're going with this. The "new" commandment Jesus gave was both not-new because we already knew we were supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves, but new because now we have an objective example to look at. Jesus was the ultimate example of HOW to love your neighbor as yourself, so loving each other as he loves us is stating the same old commandment in a new way. If there's another question in there, you'll have to be more specific. :)

  • I think this is the best answer so far.
    – Austin
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 7:47

The connection of καινὴν to the concept of love is not relational to time but more to the idea of something that is new in type or in kind, something that is of a type that has not been seen or used before.

  1. The Old Commandment from Leviticus 19:18 is to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

a. Love is the platform of forgiveness. Example: You have been wronged. Perhaps you neighbor has stolen your cow. A natural response is to respond to the wrong. So, you hold a grudge – this is the emotional response. You desire to avenge the wrong – this is the pragmatic response. Love says these are not acceptable responses. Harboring a grudge against the offender is to hate him for the offense. Why is this destructive?

  • It leaves no room for a restored relationship and for restored trust.
  • It is contrary to love. The only way peace can be restored is through the exorcise of love. Love then must be a social standard for peaceful co-existence.

Vengeance is the return of evil for the wrong suffered – steal his cows, burn his crops, pollute his water. This serves only to escalate the situation. It is a purely emotional response. This is not the same thing as seeking legal satisfaction/arbitration. Satisfaction was provided for in the Law itself. The legal process regulated and established justice in the matter.

b. The standard of quality was "AS yourself." How would you wish to be treated if you had wronged your neighbor in the same way? The standard is rooted in the reality and nature of God. How do you want God to respond to you when you wrong him?

  1. Under the New Covenant we are given a higher standard of love to govern our relationships to one another. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, "Love one another AS I have loved you." This is a higher quality of love than that of loving your neighbor as yourself. Ἀγαπᾶτε represents a love that is sacrificial, one that seeks the highest standard of good another's sake.

a. Love is still the standard of forgiveness.

  • Love your neighbor = walking in light, walking as Jesus walked. This satisfies the commandment of God, 10.

  • Love as = forgiving as God forgives you, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13.

b. This quality of love in contrast to that of the Old Commandment can be seen in the commandment of Luke 6:30, "If anyone takes what belongs to you do not demand it back." c. In I John 2:9 John says that the refusal to love = walking in darkness.


The commandment is in a discipleship context as the next verse indicates:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35; NRSV).

Because of the discipleship context, I suggest that the newness of the commandment pertains to this.

Two thoughts:

(1) The newness is relative to what Rabbi Jesus has instructed previously to his disciples. He has not taught this previously.

(2) The newness is relative to what other rabbis have taught to their disciples. A common——or at least a not uncommon——interpretation of "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18) may have been to love one's neighbor not more than oneself. For example, it is said that Rabbi Akiva (c. 50–132 CE) taught that "love your neighbor as yourself" is the great principle in the Torah (https://www.sefaria.org/Sifra%2C_Kedoshim%2C_Chapter_4.12?lang=bi), yet it is also said that he taught "your life takes precedence over the life of the other" in the hypothetical situation of where two people are on a journey and there is only enough water for one person to live (https://www.sefaria.org/Bava_Metzia.62a.2?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en). In this situation Rabbi Akiva would say that you should drink the water and not give it to your neighbor. Compare this teaching with the apostle Paul's observation in Rom. 5:7 that rarely someone would die even for a righteous person.

Rabbi Jesus in contrast is teaching that to "love your neighbor as yourself" is to love your neighbor even more than oneself, that is, even to the point of death (cf. 15:12–13). If Rabbi Jesus was allowed in the conversation about this hypothetical "desert" scenario he would surely say that one should give the water to one's neighbor. The life of the other takes precedence as it says "Love your neighbor as yourself." It is this kind of love that this rabbi envisions for his disciples to have for one another that would distinguish them as his disciples instead of as disciples of another rabbi (13:35).


When God created everything in Genesis 1, He then put it under his authority with two commands. When God created the nation of Israel, He put it under new commands. When God created the church (a new creation) in Christ, Christ put it under authority with a New Commandment.

Hebrews 8:13 says, " In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." In John 13:34, Jesus gave us a new commandment, replacing the old. We were set free from the law, and placed under the authority of a new commandment.

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