In John 5:42 Jesus stated:

ἀλλʼ ἔγνωκα ὑμᾶς ὅτι ⸉τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε⸊ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς (John 5:42, NA28)

But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. (John 5:42, ESV)

Why they recited in the Shema:

וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ (Deut. 6:5, MT)

 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart (Deut. 6:5, ESV)

What is particularly disturbing is ἐν ἑαυτοῖς (in yourselves) = בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ (in your heart) except כָל makes it with all your heart. Making this parallel, Jesus wasn't denying they had some love for God, but they were more concerned about how they looked to other people rather than loving God with all their hearts, souls, and strength. Jesus challenged human nature's ability to fulfill the Shema.

Jesus often attacked self-righteousness. His statement implied that reciting the Shema should challenge and convict rather than produce self-righteousness. Here's one song that has the idea:

My One Thing (1st two verses)
Rich Mullins

Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they need just one thing more
And everybody seems to think they've got it coming
Well I know that I don't deserve You
Still I want to love and serve You more and more
You're my one thing

Save me from those things that might distract me
Please take them away and purify my heart
I don't want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing        
Cause what will I have when the world is gone
If it isn't for the love that goes on and on with ...

1 Answer 1


In John 5:41-44 we read:

41 I do not accept glory from men, 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you have not received Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe if you accept glory from one another, yet do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Note that the central thrust of Jesus' statement here is the love of Human praise in contradistinction to divine praise/approval. That is, the Jews were far more interested in human glory over divine glory.

I fully agree that Jesus appears to be alluding to the central statement of Jewish faith, the Shema (Deut 6:4, 5) in which the love of God should be the first and only priority of God's people.

This "love of God" includes both God's love for us, and, our love for God. Ssee 1 John 4 for an extended discussion of this, especially V16-19

And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.

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