“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Paul now gives the reason for the command of verse 13 to love one another.
all the law
The phase “all the law” is different from the “whole law” in 5:3 where all separate precepts sum up the whole law. If a legalist chooses to keep the law, he must keep the “whole” law to be right with God.
In this verse Paul summarizes the essence of the law in one precept. Legalists must obey many precepts to keep the whole law but believers need to keep only the one law of love.
is fulfilled in one word,
The word “fulfilled” means completed. When we love our neighbor as ourselves, we carry out the intention of the law. If we keep the precept of love, the law stands fully obeyed.
Liberty is an opportunity to fulfill the principle behind the law.
even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself
The word “neighbor” literally means near one, close by. The idea is we are to love everyone in our circle. It is more inclusive than our English word.
This phrase is a quote of Leviticus 19:18. The principle of loving our neighbor was true under the Mosaic Law. Jesus supported this idea in Matthew 22:39. Paul also makes the point that love is the summary idea of the whole law.
Ro 13: 8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Love is the essence of all of God’s law.
We do not have to tell a teenager to comb his hair after he falls in love. His “love” will motivate him to do a lot of things that even his parents would not tell him to do.
People who pray for one another rarely prey on one another.