This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. – John 15:12
Meaning of John 15:12
The book of John is the most preferred book when preaching the Gospel to a non-Christian. It has many quotable and prominent verses, which are also relatable in daily life. The verse John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ is self-explanatory. Here, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the importance of love. While Jesus mentions that He is giving a new commandment to his disciples to love one another as he has loved them, it is also a summary of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. By loving one another, Christians can show our obedience to Jesus and our commitment to following His teachings. Also, love prevents him or her from committing crimes out of love for them and being selfless. According to the verse, love and willingness to put the needs of others before our own is showing kindness, compassion, and forgiveness even to those who may not deserve it.
Interpretations of John 15:12
The verse John 15:12 is one of the most used quotes in the Christian communities and churches to preach about love and tolerance. A few interpretations of John 15:12 are given below.
Interpretation #1 Jesus’ commandments replace Old Testament laws
In this version, the reader understands that the Bible has commandments in both the New and the Old Testaments. A few denominations consider the Old Testament as a historical record and not as the word of God. Such believers also follow and teach that love is a commandment given by God through Jesus, and Jesus has sole authority over everything. Hence, the verse, John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ according to New Testament following Christianity means that love is not just an option or a feeling, but a requirement for those who follow Jesus. He or she also believes that they are called to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as themselves.
Interpretation #2 Christians must love just as Jesus did
According to this interpretation, the readers may emphasize the sacrificial love of Jesus recorded in the book of John during His ministry. The verse John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ here, means that Jesus’ love was displayed selflessness, compassion, and a willingness to serve others. His love includes giving up His life on the Cross. He or she also understands that to love like Jesus also means to put the needs and well-being of others before their own. The reader is taught to be forgiving and show mercy to the people in their community as well as outsiders.
Interpretation #3 Only Christians know true love
As most church denominations emphasize love, as the summary of the book of John, he or she believes that Christians know and practice true love. In this interpretation, the readers understand that the Bible mentions love is a commandment and also evidence of true discipleship. And as Christians follow Jesus and His commandments, they share and experience true love. Thus, the verse ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ is taken as inspiration by the readers to love others in the same way as Jesus did, and they also believe that anyone outside the Christian community is not capable of showing sacrificial love. In other words, the reader also understands that if they demonstrate true love to others, they are a concrete example of faith and visible proof of the work of Jesus.
Interpretation #4 Love is the central theme of the Bible
In this interpretation, the reader understands and accepts that love is a central theme of Christianity. Hence, the verse John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ is not only considered a direct commandment from Jesus but also a challenge to prove their love to God. The love mentioned by Jesus is different from familial or marital love. Hence it means to live with peace and harmony in the community. According to Jesus, Christians are part of one Church called as the body of Christ. Loving one another in a community despite their differences, a believer reflects the love of God to the world. Thus, they can also support, encourage, and uplift one another during difficult times. Loving first also means being committed to building deep and meaningful relationships that are grounded in love, respect, and mutual care.
Interpretation #5 Christians must love beyond their comfort zone
According to this interpretation, he or she works on their differences and prejudices to love beyond their comfort zones. It also means to extend love to those who are different and even difficult to love. Here, the verse, John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ is believed to be Jesus asking His followers love to those who were outcasts, sinners, and rejected by society just as He loved His disciples. The reader understands that loving beyond our comfort zones means letting go of biases, prejudices, and preferences to love people with different looks and beliefs. Christians must seek opportunities to serve and bless those who are in need, forgive people who have wronged them, and choose love instead of hating and causing division. The churches also teach us to have radical love for Jesus as well as people, which means loving beyond our comfort zones with courage, humility, and a willingness to follow Jesus as an example.
Historical background of John 15:12
The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John between 90 A.D – 100 A.D. The Book of John is known for its emphasis on the divine nature of Jesus, as well as its unique perspective on the events of Jesus’ life. John 15 is a chapter that takes place during the Last Supper, which was the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. The Last Supper took place on the evening of the Jewish festival of Passover and can be dated back to 33 A.D. The verse is where John 15:12 is one of the reminders as well as a summary of the ten commandments where Jesus is asking His disciple to be prepared and continue loving everyone. The verse John 15:12 is a direct commandment from Jesus to love and remains as a central theme in Christianity.
Literary Devices of John 15:12
The verse John 15:12 is a central theme of the Bible. A few literary devices used in John 15:12 are given below.
Assonance – The verse John 15:12 has a few repeated vowel sounds, and some are in quick succession. For example, the sound of /i/, the sound of /a/, and the sound of /uh/ in ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’
Consonance – The verse also has rich use of consonant sounds in repetition, and few are in quick succession. For example, the sound of /s/, the sound of /m/, the sound of /t/, the sound of /n/, and the sound of /v/ in ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’.
Theme – The major themes of John 15:12 are love, compassion, and tolerance.
Anaphora – The word ‘love’ is repeated twice to emphasize the importance of the action as a commandment as well as proof of Christian living.
Pathos – The verse John 15:12 is also a good example of pathos as Jesus uses His emotions to speak these words about love, reminding them how much He loves His disciples and also asking them to love each other equally.