"With All Your Mind"
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Yeshua quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” 

Well, sort of… If we look at the way he quotes it, we notice something slightly different:

You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27) 

Is he misquoting it? Is he adding to the Torah? Did he have a right to do that? That’s forbidden in Deut. 4:2.

Well, let’s look a little more carefully. That was Luke’s version. Matthew only has “heart, soul, and mind” (22:37) –three elements, as in Hebrew, instead of Luke’s four, and we should expect that since numerous early-church sources tell us that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew anyway. The Shem-Tov version does follow the original Hebrew exactly other than using a slightly rearranged form of the single Hebrew term for “you shall love”.

But why “with all your mind” instead of “with all your strength”?

We’ll come back to that question after we look at the other two Gospels which include this quote (Mark and Luke). We saw above how Luke quoted it. Mark has it in a different order: “You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (12:30)

Both of them, it could be argued, were, unlike Matthew, more likely first written in Greek because of the audience they were aiming at. Both Mark and Luke were close friends of Paul’s, and he wrote all of his epistles to congregations in the diaspora which had substantial numbers of Gentiles in them. (As you can see, I am not convinced that he wrote the epistle to the Hebrews!) Greek was also the lingua franca, and so could be understood by a much wider audience, so though Hebrew is holier and follows the original thought-patterns from YHWH’s mind as communicated to men, Paul (and his companions Luke and Mark) were aiming for understandability, much as we would use English today if we wanted to be understood by as many people as possible worldwide.

That being said, we still have that extra word thrown in, which doesn’t appear in the Hebrew original. So what’s going on here?

Well, let’s look at places in the Hebrew Torah that do have the word “mind” in the English translation, and I think the answer will become clearer.

In Genesis 23:8, Abraham says, “If it be your mind…, hear me out.” The word there translated “mind” is nefesh, often rendered as “soul”, but the root meaning is “to desire” with the physical sense of inhaling or panting after something, for it is related to “being refreshed” as on the Sabbath (Ex. 31:17), as in catching one’s breath. So he is saying, “If it is your desire (aspiration or wish)…”  Nefesh is also translated “mind” in Deut. 18:6 and 28:65.

In Genesis 26:5, Esau’s wives “were a grief of mind to Yitzhaq and Rivqah.” The word for “mind” there is ruaH, which you may recognize as the one often translated “spirit”, but again related to breath, but this time to breathing out, exhaling, or blowing on something. I.e., these women were “exasperating” to our patriarch and matriarch.

The third instance of the English word “mind” in Torah is Leviticus 24:12, where “they put [someone] under guard so that YHWH’s mind might be shown to them.” The word there is actually peh, which actually means “mouth”! I.e., His mind is made known through what He says.

Next, Numbers 16:28, where Moshe says, “This is how you will know that YHWH is the one who sent me to do all these works, and not my own mind.” (Used the same way in Num. 24:13) The Hebrew word there is lev, which is most often translated “heart”.  

A related term is used in Deuteronomy 30:1, which speaks of “recalling [something] to mind.” The word there is levav, and you can see the connection to lev, but it has the nuance of “will or understanding” in many cases. But this is actually the word used in the original verse above, Deuteronomy 6:5, when it says “with all your heart”. “With all your soul” uses the second term above, nefesh
These same five Hebrew words continue to be translated as “mind” elsewhere throughout Scripture.

This shows us that “mind” is apparently not a single or separate Hebrew concept, but the terms rather focus on the various functions it fills. After all, a “mind” is not a physical entity that is easy to isolate like a brain, and even most words we think of as abstract have an underlying physical meaning in Hebrew. So there is a lot of overlap between the terms when translated.

Hebrews 8:1 quotes Jeremiah 31:33 (32 in Hebrew) as saying “I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts…” The Hebrew word here that is rendered “minds” in Greek is qirbam (root qerev)—their “innermost parts” or “the center of their being”.

Similar to this, the third and final term used in Deut. 6:5 for what we are to love YHWH with (translated “with all your strength”) is “me’odkha”. The most common form of that word, me’od, is used as the adjective “very” because it intensifies whatever word it is describing. (So the idea here is to love YHWH “with all your intensity”, i.e., enthusiastically, with everything you have in you.)

The concept of “mind” even in Greek takes numerous forms, but it is a more abstract language than Hebrew. The concept of a “soul” is often described as the whole conglomeration of our “mind, will, and emotions”. So when Yeshua’s Hebrew words were translated into Greek, they added some nuance—more shades or aspects to the Hebrew idea of “soul” or of “intensity”, including “mind”, so this was just added for clarification in a language where the distinctions between terms would be different.

Here are how some other Bible commentators put it: New Testament scholar Craig Bloomberg of Denver Seminary notes that Yeshua “quotes Deut 6:5, replacing ‘strength’ with ‘understanding.’ Neither form of the text implies a compartmentalization of the human psyche. Rather, both refer to wholehearted devotion to God with every aspect of one’s being, from whatever angle one chooses to consider it—emotionally, volitionally, or cognitively. This kind of ‘love’ for God will then result in obedience to all he has commanded (cf. Deut 6:1–3, 6–9). (Matthew, New American Commentary vol. 22, p. 335)

“Matthew employs three terms (heart … soul … mind), while four appear in Mark 12:30 (‘heart … soul … mind … strength’). The difference may be accounted for on the assumption that Mark combined the readings of two manuscripts of the Septuagint, while Matthew had a preference for the three–membered form of the Hebrew text. In either case no distinction may be drawn between the meanings of the individual terms. In Hebrew thought a person is not divided into various compartments, as is traditionally done in Greek philosophy, and together these terms summarize the totality of what a person really is. As one scholar notes: ‘Any one of them would have been sufficient (in terms of Hebrew anthropology) to denote the entirety of a man.’ The words of Jesus may be effectively translated ‘You must love the Lord your God in all that you think or feel or do.’” [Newman and Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, United Bible Society Handbook Series (New York, 1992, p. 695)]

That solves the initial mystery. But now to the real question: how DO we love Him with all of our mind?


To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are polluted and faithless, nothing is pure; rather, even their mind and conscience are polluted.” (Titus 1:15) And the sad truth is, that is true of all of us to one extent or another. All of us have messed-up minds. So we have a problem from the start: how can we even begin to love YHWH with our minds when our minds are, to some degree, "broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13)?

The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of Elohim: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he understand [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14) The kind of “natural man” being referred to is the “new normal”; it doesn’t mean “natural” in the sense of the untainted, pristine original. Its mind is now only a shadow of what the unfallen Adam’s mind was.

There are also other influences—“the world, the flesh, and the devil”--which reinforce the easy but unfruitful thought patterns that come from following a heart that is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) Sometimes the devil or his minions take more active control of a human mind, usually if “invited” through some act of rebellion which gives them a right to latch on in a more overt manner.

A man who had been demon-possessed was said to be “in his right mind” after Yeshua cast out the demons. (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35) He was now thinking clearly. Another verse that uses the same terminology is this one: “YHWH has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) So even if we do not have literal demons possessing us, we all experience things like fear which, though a spirit of a different kind, can be just as paralyzing and need to be “exorcised” just as much as the live, active, malicious spirits. And Yeshua said that even if an evil spirit is cast out, if it is not replaced by a better spirit—the holy one—it will only come back with reinforcements. (Mat. 12:45) So the first essential step is to have a literal change of mind.

But how do we do that?

Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

The first step is to accept YHWH’s offer of a new birth (Yochanan/John chapter 3)—a fresh start, a reset from that “natural man” to being a “spiritual man” (1 Cor. 2:15-3:1), one “born of the spirit”, for as Yeshua said, “It is the spirit that makes one alive; the flesh is of no benefit toward ascending higher”. (John 6:63) It is such a radical change that what we used to call being alive is now called “having been dead” (Eph. 2:1-5) in contrast. The “flesh” (i.e., muscle) is our natural strength, unaided by the kind of empowerment being “born of YHWH” brings. Many do experience this immediately as a “night and day” difference, particularly those who have already spent many years thinking mere “natural” thoughts. (But YHWH took hold of me in my youth, after only one or two years of being enamored by “the world”—an often-attractive, but also only “natural” agenda—and once I surrendered to His higher call, within one week my attitude and outlook had changed completely.)

Romans 12:1 contrasts two ways of letting our minds be "formed": They can be conformed to the world (from outside us) or transformed from within. After we are “reborn from above”, we still have to let the change that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has wrought in us "sink" deeply into our every thought pattern, "taking them all captive" to the obedience of the Messiah (2 Cor. 10:5).  

Just as, in Washington Irving's legend, Rip Van Winkle awoke as the citizen of a new nation without knowing what had transpired while he slept, we too have been made subjects of a new King, but every part of us has to be informed of our new nature and aligned with that truth. 

As when Yahweh calls people "stiff-necked", etc., His spiritual analogies often hold true physiologically as well. And now there is physical evidence that a mind can be renewed, because with the imaging available today, it has become clear that habitual thought patterns are literally carved into our brains. Psychologist William James said, "Nerve currents propagate themselves easiest through those tracts of conduction which already have been in use." But new ones can be formed, if reinforced with new habits of thought. That is what makes for a unique, purposeful life, not one on auto-pilot. "Memory...exists in the changed connections between different sets of neural networks." (, June 1995) 

The potential is vast, as seen in savants like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, who could look at a container of hundreds of items spilled on the floor, and accurately count them within seconds. The human brain as we normally see it is very much truncated from what it was before Adam ate the fruit that poisoned our DNA. But glimpses are seen in the parts of each person’s brain that are strong; it’s just that nobody is strong in every part of their brains. It is often said that we “don’t use 100%” of our brain capacity. That is true in some ways, though other parts of our brains are used in autonomic ways we do not often recognize, because they are not involved in “thinking” as such. But yes, everyone’s brain is less than it could be. Savants tend to be weaker in other areas, like the emotional and social; no one can have every advantage.  

Imagine if everyone could use every part of his brain to its full extent! But then, imagine how corrupted men would abuse such a gift. Imagine a Hitler who could use all of his potential! Now, my wife would not accept that as an excuse to be lazy in my thinking! But G.H. Pember, in Earth’s Earliest Ages, describes how YHWH deliberately put limits on fallen humanity to direct us to focus on what is most important during this age, but also to keep evil from getting out of control as it did before the Flood (when conditions probably did allow men to use somewhat more of their brains than we can now) and almost did again at Babel when those minds were pooled. He had to take away a lot of our brain power.

But once we are aligned with YHWH’s purposes, He can make exceptions to that rule and let our minds (or other parts of our bodies) be strengthened again for use in His service.

What we will be when resurrected may be like the composite of the best of everyone’s brains. But even before we receive our new bodies, we can receive new minds as we let Yahweh have His way! “He who raised Messiah from the dead can enliven your mortal bodies also through His spirit that makes its home in you.” (Rom. 8:11)

As new pathways are formed in our brains, we literally become new personalities—the ones we were always meant to be, of which our “old selves” were merely a dim reflection—and consequently we act differently.  

Choosing Which Way to Think

But even after this transformation, with Paul we can often say, “I find [there to be] a law, that, when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of Elohim after the inward man, but I see another law [at work] in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members… So with the mind I myself serve the law of Elohim, but with the flesh the law of sin…” (Rom. 7:25) I.e., our still-corrupted bodies continue to drag us down.  

The mind that is set on the flesh is at enmity against YHWH, because it is not subject to YHWH’s law; indeed, it cannot be.” (Romans 8:7) As Yeshua admitted, “The [human] spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mat. 26:41) But he told us the solution was to “be on your guard and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” I.e., it is not inevitable that we will just keep stumbling and falling into sin:

“We are not indebted to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” (8:12) We have no obligation to obey our old passions, though they still rear their bothersome heads. We now have a genuine choice: “If through the spirit [of YHWH] you put to death the deeds of the body, you can come alive.” (8:13)  

The vestiges of "the world" will continue to the end of this age, but things do not have to remain as they were. All is not just "vanity of vanities" anymore; there is a way out! The Kingdom of YHWH gives us an exception to the dead ends that the world always presents us with. “You have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but…the Spirit [of YHWH] itself bears witness with our spirit that we are [indeed] children of YHWH…The Spirit helps our infirmities.” (Romans 8:15-16, 26)

We do not only have natural, earthly options! We can choose to follow our old, in-turned ways or let Him pull us up to a higher pattern of responsible actions:

Take off your former way of life, the old person, which is [still] becoming more and more corrupt…, then be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new person, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, in agreement with YHWH.” (Eph. 4:22-24)

The law of gravity still holds true, but the law of aerodynamics can supersede it. Likewise, as we walk by the spirit, we will no longer be reacting in the fleshly way. This is not so much a command as a statement about how things work—which is, after all, what a "law" is. We are set free from the limitations that come with doing everything with our own power alone by another factor coming into play: “We have the mind of Messiah.” (1 Cor. 2:16) The new person has Messiah’s “DNA”. That includes his mind, so we can train ourselves to think the way he does. When we get a few truths straight, it’s amazing how clear other things can become.

This lifestyle of grace (supernatural empowerment) can disarm and displace the "elemental spirits" (Col. 2:8ff)—things that seemed to be written into the very foundations of the earth (but not since the very beginning, only since Adam upset the balance YHWH had built into creation). We can take it back further and draw on the original laws which will be restored one day. It is called “tasting the powers of the age to come”. (Hebrews 6:5) We can now feel free to give to those who can't repay (Luke 14:12-14), for we have a limitless Provider Who keeps giving, yet surprises us by bringing the supply from a different direction each time—often letting the expected sources disappoint us, so we'll remember that only He Himself is the real wellspring of living water. This liberates us from having to put unrealistic demands on others, for our expectation is only from Him. And we can greet each moment—not just the kind of moments we would prefer to have—with eagerness. We can, as Paul said, give thanks in everything! (1 Thess. 5:18) And that is a serious change of mind.

There are new options available to us, but with each crossroads we come to, each of us has to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Messiah…” (Phil. 2:5) Deliberately allow the new mind to take precedence, or else you will fall back into the default mode, which is really only spinning your wheels.

Taking it to Yet Another Level

How does Paul describe that mind that was in Messiah? In very practical terms: “Though he was in the image of Elohim [the first time such a man was seen since Adam disobeyed]… he emptied himself, taking on himself the form of a servant, and … the resemblance of [fallen] humanity.” (Phil. 2:6-7)  

The desired result is that we be “of one mind, doing nothing according to [a spirit] of trying to put oneself out front, being groundlessly proud, but with humble judgment, let each esteem others better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:2-3) The new self is not about self, though when you focus outward the results will benefit you as well, but indirectly. Use your mental power not to build your own ego, but to help others achieve noble goals though they are handicapped, as we all are in some way.  

We are called to be “like-minded” [“in agreement, cherishing the same views”] and “honoring Elohim with the same mind” [having the same passion, in unison and harmonious], “welcoming one another…” (Rom. 15:5-7) In short, He wants all those He loves to love each other so He doesn’t have to choose one over another. (See also Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 1:27; 4:2; 1 Peter 3:8 for more about being of “the same mind”.)

One way scientists have been looking at the mind in recent years has been to consider it to not be limited to the brain as such but spread throughout the whole body, which makes a lot of sense when we recall that the brain and neural network, which permeates the whole body, are all the same system. We might go further still and think of each cell sharing part of the mind, because the DNA in the whole body resonates together when it is all in balance, and operates as one unit. Not surprisingly, Paul uses the analogy of body parts to picture how we as individuals and collectively relate to the head (Messiah) and to each other. (1 Cor. 12:12-21; Col. 2:19)

When the whole number of those who believed were of one heart and one soul [psyche]” and did not consider anything their own but to be shared, the result was “great power” in their witness to Yeshua’s resurrection (it was clearly effective), and there was no one needy among them. (Acts 4:32ff)

All having the same opinion? Is this some Orwellian “Groupthink”—the kind seen at the tower of Babel? The idea of a “collective mind” is often abused, but it can work in a positive way as well. Unity is not uniformity; blood and lymph systems never touch one another, but both have the same goal: keeping the body healthy.

  Each part of the body emphasizes different things but all are working together.
Imagine if we all set transformed minds to working together toward a goal as big as Babel’s drive to “make a name for themselves”? And we do have a goal far bigger than theirs: to spread the knowledge of another Name which has always been reliable. (Prov. 18:10) But where there is an open door, “there are many adversaries”. (1 Cor. 16:9) That is why we need everyone’s mind involved in strategizing just as in a physical war.

So tie up the loose ends of your minds [don’t slack off], be sober [calm, collected, circumspect, serious], and keep your hope set all the way to the end on the favor to be conveyed to you when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13) That way we can make the most of our minds even while they are still imperfect, and help hasten the time when we will “know as we have been known”. (1 Cor. 13:12)