A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
(1): — In what sense is this a new commandment? This epithet distinguishes it from —
1. The Mosaic code. The law of Moses was mainly an embodiment of justice. It admitted the cultivation of mutual love, and even enjoined it. But this was not its salient characteristic. Whereas the gospel is preeminently and characteristically a law of love. Again, the love which Judaism recognized was inferior in quality. A Jew behoved to love his neighbour as himself. A Christian must love his brother so as to sacrifice himself if need be.
2. From all common worldly affection. There are —
(1) Instinctive affections, such as the parental, filial, etc.
(2) Elective affections, such as those of friendship, patriotism, etc.
(3) But none of these afford the highest exhibition, development, and gratification of man's social nature. In a manner far to surpass them Christian love is to be cherished. Christ has introduced among men an altogether new principle of social existence. This social aspect of the gospel will be fully displayed in heaven. Meanwhile it is intended to show itself in churches. The singularity of this affection will better appear if we consider a few of its distinctive features. Consider —
I. ITS SPIRITUAL BASIS. It is not founded upon any natural relationship or sentiment, but upon a common participation in the benefits of Christ's redemption. Observe —
1. How this circumstance connects us with the same loving Lord.
2. How it supposes in each of us the same spiritual experience.
3. How it guarantees in each and all the same elements of a pure and estimable character.
4. How it furnishes the prospect of our being united together in perfect blessedness forever and ever. Is there any other love which has such a profound and solemn basis as this?
II. ITS DISINTERESTED PURITY. III. ITS DEVOTED FERROUS. It should lead us, if need be, to die for our brethren, after the example of Christ.
IV. ITS PRACTICAL PURPOSES.
1. It supposes times of persecution and trial, and then it is serviceable to encourage and comfort us.
2. It relates to the exigencies of our spiritual cultivation, and is intended to supply the means of instruction and guidance.
3. It glances at the work which we are to do for Christ in the world, and it ensures strength, cooperation, and success. Apply specially to Church members. The Church ought to be the happiest circle of our acquaintance. Do we observe the new commandment? The way to promote it is to love Christ more. Thus to act is most important for the sake of our piety, our peace, and our usefulness.
(T. G. Horton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.