Revelations from the Word

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On these two commandments hang the Torah and the Prophets

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law? Jesus answered him: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. That is the first and the greatest commandment. And here is the second, which is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang [kremannumi] the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).

The Greek verb kremannumi means to suspend, to be suspended. In its literal sense, it designates the execution of criminals who were suspended on a gallows at the time of Jesus (Luke 23:39). In its metaphorical sense it indicates a dependence. Thus the Torah and the Prophets depend on the existence of the Ten Commandments, which constitute two distinct groups: "Loving God" (Deuteronomy 5:6-15) and "Loving one’s neighbour" (Deuteronomy 5:16-21). The first five books, the Torah in Hebrew and Pentateuch in Greek, and the Books of the Prophets are as if suspended on the two commandments of love.

The very nature of God is Love (1 John 4:8). It is therefore by love that He caused His people to come out of the slavery of Egypt so that they could worship Him freely. This is why God asked His people to listen to Him and love Him with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength (Deutzronomy 6:4-5). Loving God implies loving those whom He has also created, that is to say our neighbour, beginning with our family (Deuteronomy 5:16). The Torah is more a teaching than a law; it proves the love of God for His people by giving them limits (moral boundaries). And the Prophets reveal the plan of God for His people. When the people sincerely love their God, the Torah is not a burden and His plan is fulfilled for them.

God manifested His love for men by sending His Son to save them (John 3:16). And Jesus manifested His love for God and for men by obeying Him to the extent of death on the cross. Therefore by love, Jesus accepted being hung [kremannumi] on the wood of the cross (Acts 5:30), fulfilling, that is to say making perfect in that way, the Torah and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17), and lifting off every curse that disobedience to the Torah brings in its wake (Galatians 3:10). By accepting the perfect and complete work of Jesus on the cross, we are made capable of loving God and loving men as Jesus did. And so the whole of the Torah of God and all His plans are fulfilled in us through the intermediary of Christ.