Galatians 5:14 KJV

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

What does one word mean in the above text?

4 Answers 4


The "Word" is an allusion to what the OT calls, "words", namely commandments, specifically

  • Deut 10:4 - Then He wrote on the tablets, like the first writing, the Ten Words [ie, commandments] which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.
  • Deut 10:13 - So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Words [ie, commandments]; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
  • Ex 34:28 - So he was there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words [ie, commandments].

Thus, in this context, "Word" means "commandment", hence our English term 'decalogue" = "ten words". In the instance of Gal 5:14, Paul quotes the word/commandment found in Lev 19:18 -

You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

  • Up-voted. Some have suggested the ten commandments could be called 'the ten sayings'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 12:29

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV)
ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται ἐν τῷ ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν

Paul makes a similar, more detailed statement in Romans:

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13)
8 μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν 9 τὸ γὰρ οὐ μοιχεύσεις οὐ φονεύσεις οὐ κλέψεις οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις καὶ εἴ τις ἑτέρα ἐντολή ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται ἐν τῷ ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν

Galatians has ἑνὶ λόγῳ, one logos where Romans has τῷ λόγῳ, the logos.

Paul's use of one logos and the logos can be taken as a double entendre. One meaning is one word or this word as found in the English translations. The second meaning is as a reference to Jesus, one Logos or the Logos. This is more explicit in Romans where Paul first speaks of the singular commandment, ἐντολή, which is fulfilled in the Logos.

Similar to the Fourth Gospel which states the Logos which became flesh, Paul has composed passages to personify Jesus as the logos.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one Logos, that is, Jesus Christ...
any other commandment are summed up in the Logos, that is Jesus Christ...

  • 1
    I like pointing out that Jesus is also called the Word. That's a big reason to use "logos" instead of some other word for "command."
    – trlkly
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 19:05

The Greek word λόγος is not equivalent to the English word word. Below quotes the first two meanings of λόγος from BADG. I stopped there because the context of Gal. 5:14 is law, thus fitting ②ⓑ settlement (of an account). This also fits the context "fulfilled" πεπλήρωται. A strong emphasis in the Law is restitution שולם.

λόγος, ου, ὁ (verbal noun of λέγω in the sense ‘pick’; Hom.+). ① a communication whereby the mind finds expression, word ⓐ of utterance, chiefly oral.... ⓑ of literary or oratorical productions:... ② computation, reckoning ⓐ a formal accounting, esp. of one’s actions, and freq. with fig. extension of commercial terminology account, accounts, reckoning ... ⓑ settlement (of an account) ... ⓒ reflection, respect, regard ... -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 598-601). University of Chicago Press.

Note the similar passage which expresses the idea of debt owed.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Rom. 13:8, ESV)

  • Note that other translations translate logos here (Gal 5:!4) as "command."
    – trlkly
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 19:01
  • Most the translations I looked at still had "word." One had "statement."
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 22:45

One word ἑνὶ λόγῳ; the word implies a command here; it is used as a metonymy. "Say the word and I will kill him". NET Bible "For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment". Mounce dictionary says the following on "word", logos.

word, spoken or written, often with a focus on the content of a communication (note the many contextual translations in NIV); matter, thing. "The Word" is a title of Christ (Jn 1:1), emphasizing his own deity and communication of who God is and what he is like a word, a thing uttered, Mt. 12:32, 37; 1Cor. 14:19; speech, language, talk, Mt. 22:15; Lk. 20:20; 2Cor. 10:10; Jas. 3:2; converse, Lk. 24:17; mere talk, wordy show, 1Cor. 4:19, 20; Col. 2:23; 1Jn. 3:18; language, mode of discourse, style of speaking, Mt. 5:37; 1Cor. 1:17; 1Thess. 2:5; a saying, a speech, Mk. 7:29; Eph. 4:29; an expression, form of words, formula, Mt. 26:44; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; a saying, a thing propounded in discourse, Mt. 7:24; 19:11; Jn. 4:37; 6:60; 1Tim. 1:15; a message, announcement, 2Cor. 5:19; a prophetic announcement, Jn. 12:38; an account, statement, 1Pet. 3:15; a story, report, Mt. 28:15; Jn. 4:39; 21:23; 2Thess. 2:2; a written narrative, a treatise, Acts 1:1; a set discourse, Acts 20:7; doctrine, Jn. 8:31, 37; 2Tim. 2:17; subject-matter, Acts 15:6; reckoning, account, Mt. 12:36; 18:23; 25:19; Lk. 16:2; Acts 19:40; 20:24; Rom. 9:28; Phil. 4:15, 17; Heb. 4:13; a plea, Mt. 5:32; Acts 19:38; a motive, Acts 10:29; reason, Acts 18:14; ὁ λόγος, the word of God, especially in the Gospel, Mt. 13:21, 22; Mk. 16:20; Lk. 1:2; Acts 6:4; ὁ λόγος, the divine WORD, or Logos, Jn. 1:1

  • I like the reference to how we sometimes use the same metonymy in English.
    – trlkly
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 19:04

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