This is stated in the Bible, not actually directly, but when you think upon it does say that. In Matthew (22:37), Mark (12:30) and Luke (10:27), Jesus states that He is adding to the commandment. For He states two things that He calls the greatest commandments. It is also important to state that Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He came to fully the law and the prophets not to replace them. These means that the rules that were established in the Old Testament still have power, just in some areas modified since Jesus Himself by dying upon the cross took the need for sacrifices away.
So what I am going to do in this article is define “first” and then I am going to break down the three verses in which Jesus states to place God first. I will then discuss the implication for follow this commandment.
First – Merriam-Webster – preceding all others in time, order, or importance.
Dictionary.com – being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance; before some other thing; in preference to something else; rather; sooner.
To be first is to precede and have more importance than anything else.
Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Love – agapao – to love – I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem
Here is a quote from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
“The possibility of love for God stands under a radical Either/Or:…… (Matthew 6:24). To love God is to exist for Him as a slave for his lord (cf. Luke 17:7). It is to listen faithfully and obediently to His orders, to place oneself under His lordship, to value above all else the realization of this lordship (cf. Matthew 6:33). It also means, however, to base one’s whole being on God, to cling to Him with unreserved confidence, to leave with Him all care and final responsibility, to live by His hand. It is to hate and despise all that does not serve God nor come from Him, to break with all other ties, to cut away all that hinders (Matthew 5:29), to snap all bonds except that which binds to God alone.” (p.45 vol. 1)
All – holos – “whole” or “all;” all, the whole, entire, complete. NTD – “whole,” “complete,” “undivided,”…. In the NT mostly with a noun, and to express its totality.
Heart – kardia – (Latin cor, “heart”); the heart; lit: the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center. NTD – The use of this word in the Greek agrees with the OT use and concentrates on the heart as the main organ of psychic and spiritual life, the place in man at which God bears witness to Himself…..
2. That the heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of soul and spirit is attested in many different ways in the NT.
Soul – psuche – life, mind, soul; the soul, life, self. (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual. NTD – the “soul” is the part of the human trinity that was created by God to live beyond the body we now live within. In the Theological Dictionary fifty-two pages is spent discussing the various elements within the meaning in the word “psuche” and breaks it down to each usage within the NT, but this is key element it boils down to.
Mind – dianoia – imagination, mind, understanding; intellect, insight. In the NTD the use of this word is used to signify the actual using of the mind to formulate a thought or decision.
These words are all used by all three gospels and so have the same meaning.
So Jesus is stating that we are to use our complete and undivided attention with our heart, our inner self; our soul that which is destine to stand in the presence of God; and our thoughts, our mind. To give anything, our complete and undivided attention means it is to be first and thus presiding anything else in our lives even in the exclusion of those things that would become more important than God.
This is what many do not wish to do. They wish to place themselves and their desires before God. They say we must change the teaching of Jesus to fit their definition of what they wish the Bible to say. They say if we do not do this we are the ones in the wrong and the problem.
Here is the problem with that mentality. These are the words of Jesus Christ Himself, and per them we are to place God above all and we are to do it completely. Those that follow this and insist it be followed for it is what Jesus Himself taught are the ones being honest to the Bible and following just as Jesus desired all willing to do so to do. So those trying to change the Bible to allow them to live in sin are the real problem and so we need to stay steadfast to the Bible and continue to follow its literal meanings. For to do otherwise would not place God first, but lower than first which is not where Jesus stated He is ever to be.
Placing God first prepares us for the eternal life that is to come. For God will be the center for all that choose to follow Him and His Son. They command me follow without question, even to the far side of the universe in His service. If you do not place God first you live in sin, for it is counter to the words of Jesus our Savior.
NTD = Theological Dictionary of the New Testament