Lost in Translation

When Jesus was asked by a Teacher of the Law, “What is the greatest commandment,” he responded, “Love God…this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second _________________: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The blank is where the problem comes in.

In the Greek of the New Testament it’s an odd phrase. Translators render it “the second is equally important,” “the second most important,” or simply “the second.”

The impression they leave is that you have a Commandment Number 1 and a Commandment Number 2.

The problem is: Jesus wasn’t a linear, 1. 2. 3. guy. He tended to speak in riddles.

The phrase is literally translated, “the second is the same as the first.” The same as the first. As in two sides of the same coin.

You can’t separate loving God and loving people. Hmmmm. That makes things more difficult, don’t you think? And more interesting.

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