“One of the Pharisees,
Asked Jesus a question,
To test him.
In the law
Is the greatest?’”
καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ” αὐτῶν νομικὸς πειράζων αὐτόν
Διδάσκαλε, ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ;
This is similar to Mark, chapter 12:28, but there the question was presented by a Scribe, not a Pharisee lawyer. However, in Luke, chapter 10:25, there was an unnamed lawyer who wanted to know how to gain eternal life. Here, Matthew has a lawyer (νομικὸς), who was a Pharisee, question Jesus (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ” αὐτῶν) to test him (πειράζων αὐτόν). He probably was someone skilled in the Mosaic law. He addressed Jesus in a very respectful tone calling him “Teacher” or rabbi (Διδάσκαλε). He wanted to know which commandment of the law was the greatest (ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ), since there were 613 commandments in late Judaism. Thus, it would seem like a legitimate question with so many commandments or laws.