Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind – Matthew 22:37
Meaning of Matthew 22:37
The meaning of the verse, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ is that God wants his believers to love Him with every part of their being. In the previous verses, a lawyer asked Jesus what the primary commandment in the law was. This was meant to catch Jesus off guard and prove that he was not the son of God. There are other instances where Israel’s religious leaders continuously ask Jesus hard questions in order to prove him wrong. Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s question was that loving God faithfully and fully was the most important commandment of all.
Interpretations of Matthew 22:37
Matthew 22:37 is commonly quoted in churches when the concept of love is taught. However, the verse is also often misquoted and taken out of context. Here are some interpretations of the verse.
Interpretation #1 God demands his people to love him
The interpretation of the verse, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ is that God demands his followers to love him above everything else. The reader believes that Jesus is commanding Christians to give God the first priority over everything, including their family, friends, job, life, etc. God needs his followers to dedicate their life to being faithful to him and loving him more than anything or anyone. The reader also understands that rather than asking, Jesus is directing the readers to love them unconditionally, which also may mean they don’t have to love the people around them.
Interpretation #2 God is emotionally dependant
The meaning of the verse, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ is that God is emotionally dependent on His believers’ love and devotion. Hence, the reader believes that God needs people to love Him and prioritize him to earn security and safety. The verse also implies that the commandment of loving God is important to Him to keep the believers from going away to other faith or becoming an atheist. The reader hence understands that God cannot survive without His followers’ love, commitment, and loyalty.
Interpretation #3 With Love, other commandments are invalid
The interpretation of the verse, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ is that the commandment of loving God above all else invalidates the main commandments given in The Bible. The Old Testament consists of the Ten Commandments that God had given to the people of Israel through his servant Moses along with many of the laws and punishments for breaking the law. The Ten Commandments were supposed to be followed through, and anyone who broke even one commandment was subjected to severe punishment and even destined for hell if they didn’t repent. However, Jesus, in this verse, says that loving God is more important than any other commandment, which makes the other ten commandments pointless and debatable.
Interpretation #4 Without love for God, a person is poor
In this interpretation, the reader believes that a person is poor without having love for God. He or she believes that when a Christian loves God above all else, God is pleased with them and also blesses them abundantly. Additionally, in the spiritual sense, a person is not blessed with spiritual gifts if they do not love God wholeheartedly. These include knowledge and wisdom like Solomon, success like David, etc. The material blessings, as per the reader, include a steady income, home, and savings. Hence, not loving God makes a person poor both materialistically and spiritually.
Interpretation #5 A Christian should put their love for God first
The interpretation of the verse, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ is that every Christian should prioritize their love for God over everything else. The reader believes that God loves his followers more than anything and wants them to do the same towards him. Christians are also taught to give utmost importance to charity, helping the poor, caring for the needy, family, etc. These actions mean showing God’s love to the people around them. Hence, the commandment of loving God is more important than all those acts of love in order to live a good Christian life and be an example in their church and community.
Historical background of Matthew 22:37
The Gospel of Matthew is the first book in the New Testament of the Bible and one of the three Gospels. It talks about how Messiah, Jesus, comes to His people and chooses a group of disciples, teaches the mob through different events, how Israel becomes divided and how Jesus condemns hostile Israel. The twenty-second chapter is filled with Pharisees and Sadducees questioning and testing Jesus with various questions about laws, taxes, and marriage. The thirty-seventh verse in particular, is about questioning Jesus about the greatest commandment and his answer to it.
Literary Devices of Matthew 22:37
The verse of Matthew 22:37 is a commonly quoted verse in churches and Christian groups. The verse is also a statement from Jesus about love and law and has some significant literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The primary theme of Matthew 22:37 is trust, encouragement, and unconditional love.
Alliteration – The verse has successive use of consonant sounds at the beginning of the words, making it a good example of alliteration. For example, the sound /th/ in ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God’ and the sounds of /w/ and /th/ in ‘with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’.
Consonance – The verse Matthew 22:37 also has consonant sounds in succession in the entire verse, making it a good example of consonance. For example, the sound of /l/ and /d/ in ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God’ and the sound of /l/ and /th/ in ‘with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’.
Assonance – There is one vowel sound used in succession in verse, making it a good example of assonance. For example, the sound of /o/ ‘in the Lord thy God with all thy heart’.
Symbolism – In the verse Matthew 22:37 heart symbolizes emotions; the soul is a symbol of spiritual devotion, and the mind represents moral values.