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The New Commandment refers to the admonition given by Jesus to His Twelve Apostles at the Last Supper, as recorded in the Gospel of John :

According to the Synoptic Gospels, a similar thought was expressed by Jesus two days previously when He spoke at the Temple in Jerusalemmarker and quoted what is often called the Shema (" the LORD thy God...") and the Great Commandment (" thy neighbour as thyself..."). In response to a lawyer's question, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?", Jesus answered: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Gospel of Matthew , parallels are and , see also Mark 12 and the Didache).

The "New Commandment", the Wycliffe Bible Commentary states, "was new in that the love was to be exercised toward others not because they belonged to the same nation, but because they belonged to Christ...and the love of Christ which the disciples had seen...would be a testimony to the world".

One of the novelties introduced by this commandment — perhaps justifying its designation as New — is that Jesus introduces himself as a standard for love. The usual criterion was "as you love yourself", as in the Ethic of Reciprocity, whereas this precept commands "as I have loved you", in which Jesus cites himself as the model.

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