Love God and Love one another
A new commandment – This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Lev_19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare. See 1John_3:23; 1Th_4:9; 1Pe_1:22; 2Th_1:3; Gal_6:2; 2Pe_1:7. In all these places the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John_15:13; “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So in 1John_3:16 it is said that “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for Christians, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.