Who is my neighbor?

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The Lawyer asked, Who is my neighbor?
Jesus then told a story that illustrated the principle of what God means by “neighbor”.
The Law of Moses commanded:
1. Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
2. Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

These two commandments about loving God and your neighbor are the foundational principal of the Law of Moses. The two commandments are closely related because man is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26), and loving one who is like God is to love the source of that image, that is, God Himself (cp. Jn 14:9).

The lawyer wanted a legal definition of “neighbor” so he could apply the Law and probably limit his liability to non-neighbors, like the Jews had defined “work” for things on the Sabbath.

In answer to the lawyer’s question, Jesus appealed to Leviticus 19:18 regarding loving your neighbor and to common sense and gave a recount of an incident where a man fell among thieves where he was beaten and robbed and left to die.

In Jesus’ illustration three men saw the wounded man lying on the side of the road. Two of them were elite religious persons, a priest and a Levite who were the kind of people who were assistants to priests. Both of these men, who knew the Law by virtue of their occupation and were obligated to be an example of obedience to others, ignored the Law in Leviticus 19:18 about this needy man, because it would have cost them money. Because of covetousness, these two religious men did not do what the Law required. They ignored the law regarding their neighbor and hence disobeyed God by their failure to show love to their neighbor. Because covetousness is idolatry, they also disobeyed the first commandment of having a god of things they served before (more than) Jehovah.

Christians also are given a law against covetousness:
Colossians 3:5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. [CSB]

Obedience to the second law (Lev 19:18) puts away greed. The second law of loving our neighbor is basically looking for opportunity to do good to others.

Christians are God’s workmanship created unto good works:
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Christians are admonished:
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture [Lev 19:18], Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

Anyone that fails to love his neighbor is failing to love God, for man is made in the image of God
1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Anyone that fails to love God is disobeying the first and greatest commandment of the Law (Dt 6:5): thou shalt love the Lord thy God.

Because covetousness (greed) is at the very root of failing to love God, (For the love of money is the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10), Jesus then says,
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus continues in the same vein in
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus said these things, because one who is willing to forsake everything shows he loves God more than things.

Who is my neighbor?
Anyone who is in need.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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