What Are Jesus Christ’s Commandments?

Jesus is known in part for being a powerful, memorable, and persuasive teacher. Sometimes he rebuked people with his teaching; at other times, he comforted them. Jesus also spoke commands to people as he revealed truths about God, sin, salvation, love, and other important topics. Like the Old Testament has the 10 Commandments, people wonder what Jesus’ commandments were.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He said the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also spoke other commandments in the Gospels, though they aren’t listed from one to ten like the ones God gave to Moses.

What critics asked Jesus about the greatest commandment? Why does Jesus answer differently in Mark than in Matthew and Luke? What other commands did Jesus give Christians? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also, see How Old Was Jesus When He Was Baptized? to learn more.

New Testament
What does Mark mention that Matthew and Luke don’t? See below

The Two Greatest Commandments According to Jesus

In one scene, toward the end of his public ministry, Jesus rebuked and silenced his accusers. As people grew in amazement at Jesus’ teachings and his challenges to the religious authorities, those in power felt threatened and sought to trap him, hoping to arrest him and erase his influence (Matt. 22:29-33).

The Pharisees and Sadducees, two Jewish sects that often disagreed about important theological matters, joined together to test Jesus, their common nemesis. Looking to ensnare him, one of the conspirators, who was a lawyer, asked him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt. 22:36, ESV).

Jesus answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40).

The same passage in the Gospel of Mark adds “strength” to the list of ways people should love God. The same passage in Luke is identical to the story in Matthew’s Gospel (Luke 10:27).

Matthew 22:37Mark 12:30
You shall love the Lord your GodAnd you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heartwith all your heart
with all your soulwith all your soul
with all your mindwith all your mind
xwith all your strength

Also, see Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree? to learn more.

Love the Lord
How do Christians show love for Jesus? See below

The Greatest Commandment: Loving God

As the Pharisees and Sadducees undoubtedly knew, Jesus’s answer was directly from the Old Testament. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (ESV). Devout Jews recited this verse in the morning and the evening.

Bible translations render the last word in the list as either “might” (ESV, KJV, NASB) or “strength” (NIV, NLT, NKJV). This characteristic is found in Mark’s Gospel but not Matthew’s or Luke’s. The part of a person that isn’t on the list in Deuteronomy but is found in the Gospels is the “mind.”

Since most scholars of the Gospels believe Mark was written first, the question arises, why did Matthew and Luke omit “strength” from the list? Some argue that they thought it was implied in the three other items. Others argue that Jesus was an itinerant preacher who could have said both lists at different times.

Bible scholars teach that the point of the expression, no matter how many examples are on the list, is to love God with one’s entire being. New Testament scholar R.T. France writes, “The main point remains clear, that one is to love God with all that one is and has.” [1]

Jesus also said Christians demonstrate their love for God by keeping his commandments. John 14:15 reads, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (ESV).

The Second Greatest Commandment: Loving Your Neighbor

The lawyer for the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t ask Jesus to identify the second greatest commandment, but he told them what it was anyway. Loving one’s neighbors as oneself reflected the teaching of the Law and revealed what the religious leaders were guilty of not doing (Lev. 19:18).

The Gospel of John includes a similar passage in which Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14, ESV).

Paul reiterated this teaching when he writes, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10, ESV). James did, too, saying, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” (James 2:8, ESV).

Author Sam Storms writes, “Every syllable of every statute, every clause of every commandment that ever proceeded from the mouth of God was divinely designed to bring those who would obey into the greatest imaginable happiness of heart. Don’t swallow God’s law like castor oil. For when you understand His intent, it will be like honey on your lips and sweetness to your soul.” [2]

Also, see Who Walked On Water With Jesus? to learn more.

Jesus greatest commandment
What future command of Jesus does Paul mention? See below

Other Commandments Jesus Made

The New Testament includes several references to other commands that Jesus gave. Some are for all Christians, yet others are for specific people in certain situations. And yet there were other instances in which his commands weren’t for people but something else.

Jesus commands all believers to make disciples

In the passage traditionally called the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20a).

This command is for all believers.

Jesus gives commands to some believers for specific tasks

After he rose from the dead, Jesus commanded his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:4 reads, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about'” (NIV).

This command was only for Christians at that time.

Another example of a unique command is when Peter said that Jesus told him to preach the gospel: “And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42, ESV).

Similarly, Paul said that Jesus commanded him to preach the gospel: “At the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior” (Titus 1:3, ESV).

Jesus commands demons

Commanding someone or something implies that the speaker has authority. Jesus had authority over demons, so it’s not surprising that he gave them commands like in the story of the boy with the evil spirit.

Mark 9:25 reads, “And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again'” (ESV).

In Luke’s account of Jesus sending demons into a herd of pigs, he writes, “For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places” (Luke 8:29, ESV).

Jesus will command believers to rise in the end times

Paul mentions a future command that Jesus will give all Christians at the end of time. He says Jesus will come down from heaven and command believers who have died to rise again to new life.

1 Thess 4:16 reads, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (ESV).

Also, see Where Did Jesus Grow Up? to learn more.

[1] The Gospel of Matthew by R.T. France. p. 846.
[2] The Life-Changing Power of Knowing God by Sam Storms. p. 75.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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