THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5
The list of commandments, known in Judaism and Christendom as“The Ten Commandments” (also the “Decalogue”), was given by God (Hebrew: elohiym) to the children of Israel through Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai on the mountain Sinai during their Exodus out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 19, 20;31:18;34:1, 28;Deuteronomy 5). Moses followed the giving of “The Ten Commandments” with the following statements underscoring the need for continuous emphasis of these commandments throughout their lives; and, more importantly, affirming what Jesus Christ, many years later, stated was the greatest and most important commandment (Matthew 22:36-40; cf. Deuteronomy 10:12; 30:6) — more on this at the end of this document.
Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you — a land flowing with milk and honey.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:3-7)
An illustration of “The Ten Commandments,” along with a depiction of Moses is portrayed in one form and another in and on the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. “The Ten Commandments” are and ever will be a key and historical component of the Jewish faith; and, the Christian faith, which wasthe underlying faith of the United States of America during its inception and its development.
Unfortunately, the Christian faith, along with all of its components, the chief of which is the Word of God, in its living form — Jesus the Christ (Messiah), and its written form — the Holy Bible (both Old and New Testaments), has been a declining influence over all facets of this nation from its inception to the present due to constant satanic attack.
Nevertheless, “The Ten Commandments” persist as the cornerstone of the moral foundation of Christian living, godly living required by God of those who have obtained eternal (life) salvation by having placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Even though there are those within Christendom who make the mistaken claim that Jesus Christ came to abrogate or supersede God’s moral law, “The Ten Commandments, ”as the primary guidepost for moral living by those who are Christians, remain.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
But to properly understand the relevance of “The Ten Commandments” to Christians, i.e., those who have obtained eternal life through faith in Christ, one must understand the redemptive plan of God for mankind, which includes God’s ultimate goal for a redeemed mankind.
In the first place one can never secure the eternal state with God byliving a righteous life (from start to finish), not because such would not be the certain outcome of such an existence; but because man in his “fallen state” is unable to accommodate and totally comply with God’s moral law, the base of which is outlined in “The Ten Commandments.”
The truth is that every person who has ever lived has broken God’s moral law, the end of which being spiritual death in “trespasses and sins,” thereby making it impossible to achieve eternal life, except by and through God’s grace — God’s unmerited favor toward man.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that [salvation] not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:1-5; 8-9)
But God’s grace toward man always had a purpose.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
In the second place, a Christian, by living a life of good works— in accordance with God’s moral law, will be able to achieve God’s ultimate goal for his redemption, the goal that God initially designated for man when God created man in God’s own image and likeness, to “have dominion” over God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
Thus, the purpose for man’s redemption is exactly the same as the purpose for his creation in the beginning. He was created to rule the restored earth, Satan’s intervention brought about his fall and disqualification, and man’s redemption (being brought about in exact accord with the pattern concerning how God restores a ruined creation in Genesis1:2b-25) will ultimately bring about a realization of the purpose for his creation in the beginning.
Man is going to rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels, for “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [without a change of mind]” (Romans 11:29). God is not going to change His mind concerning the reason He brought man into existence. (The Study of Scripture by Arlen L. Chitwood, Chapter 11)
The reader is encouraged to study God’s redemptive goal for mankind, particularly since it relates to the Fourth Commandment, by accessing the following Internet links:
The Ten Commandments
And God spoke all these words, saying:I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:1, 2)
I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 5:6)
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Deuteronomy 5:7)
The basis for a proper relationship between man and God may be found in this, the first of the commandments. Man must recognize the exclusivity of God, the Author of “The Ten Commandments” (as well as the entire Word of God [2 Samuel 23:2; Luke 1:70;John 16:13, 14;Acts 1:16; 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:19-21]), and that He alone, the Self-Existing One (Exodus 3:14), is the sole Deity and Creatorand Sustainer of the “heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16, 17) — the One who is without beginning and without end. This commandment, alongside the second commandment, completely rules out the possibility of polytheism (multiple gods) in one’s life.
It should also be noted that although God is One, He manifests Himself in three forms (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit [John 1:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 3:17]). This concept is recognized in and by the pluralistic form of His name, first introduced in chapter one of Genesis (Hebrew: elohiym).For more detail on the Trinity, please access the studies at http://bibleone.net/print_tbs24.html and http://bibleone.net/print_tbs10.html.
[See also: Deuteronomy 6:14; 2 Kings 17:35; Jeremiah 25:6; 35:15]
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,or that is in the earth beneath,or that is in the water under the earth;you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Although there is a similarity between the first and second commandments relevant to the concept of polytheism (multiple gods), this commandment carries the matter further and with greater intricacy. Not only should there be no acceptance of what may be considered another deity in one’s life, but there should be nothing in or under the atmosphere that one should place (in importance; priority) before God. For a person to do so would in effect be considered by God as the act of worshipping another — something or someone other than God.
In truth, the violation of this commandment, pertaining to the material (e.g., the love of money, the acquisition or consumption of material things, etc.) and the immaterial (e.g., position, pride, power, influence, beauty, etc.) is quite common throughout the world. All of which violates this commandment.
Finally, this commandment also appears to prohibit the formation of any image or likeness of anything above or on earth for the purpose of stimulating worship. This would include any image (photo or statue) of anyone — any Bible figure or other than a Bible figure.
[See also: Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 4:15-19; 27:15; Psalm 97:7]
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Deuteronomy 5:11)
This commandment covers a number of means in which a person can misuse the name “God” in vain (Hebrew: shav’, in a worthless, useless, irreverent, and profane or disrespectful manner). It of course applies to vulgarity of speech, i.e., using the term “God” in an inflammatory and accusatory manner while speaking, often linked with the word “damn.”
But it also applies to the simple mention of His name (e.g., “God,” “Oh God,” “Lord,” “My Lord,” “Jesus Christ,” etc.) in an exclamatory manner when one wishes to express surprise, admiration, or astonishment — a use of the name that has no real association with the events at hand and for no relevant reason. One would be wise to follow the instruction given in Matthew 5:34-36 (James 5:12) and Colossians 4:6 as it pertains to one’s conversation.
In addition to the misuse of the name of God within one’s speech, such can also be the case when it is associated needlessly or simply for show in one’s actions, projects, or other activities. Doing something “in the name of God,” when in actuality it is done for self-aggrandizement or contrary to clear Bible doctrine, is also taking His name “in vain.”
[See also: Exodus 23:1; Leviticus 19:12; Deuteronomy 5:11; Psalm 15:4;Ephesians 5:4;Colossians 3:8]
Remember the Sabbath day,to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
The fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) as a day of rest, is the one commandment that is exclusive for the children of Israel (Exodus 31:12-17), given as a sign to Israel as a “perpetual covenant” throughout its generations, so that Israel would continuously remember that it was God who sanctified (consecrated) them.
In the New Testament there is no indication that Christians are required to observe (although to “remember” is another factor) the Sabbath. Indeed, according to Acts 20:7, when “on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” it appears that Christians placed emphasis on Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 28:1; Mark 1:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) when it came to their fellowship meetings.
Yet, because the Sabbath emerged from God’s restoration of the earth (Genesis 1:2), which had previously been created by God, along with the remainder of the Universe, but due to Satan’s rebellion had become corrupted (from its original creation that was “not in vain” [Isaiah 45:18]); and, since God’s restoration of earth established an unchangeable pattern in which God would restore and reveal Himself through His Word to mankind, this commandment portends a definite truth that every Christian should remember and understand in order to achieve the salvation of his soul (not his spirit).
Suffice it to say that in the same manner in which God restored the earth as outlined in the Genesis account, He is presently restoring fallen man. And although one’s eternal (spirit) salvation is secured solely by faith in Christ (His payment for each person’s sin on the cross [2 Corinthians 4:21; Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9]), a salvation that can never be abrogated by man or God (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30), Scripture teaches that since he is a tripartite being (consisting of spirit, soul, and body [1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12]), he may or may not experience the salvation of his soul.
Scripture clearly differentiates between the salvation of the spirit and the soul, as well as the body. And although one’s eternal (spirit) salvation, which depends solely on the work of Another (Christ on the cross), during a Christian temporal life he may or may not, through works of righteousness (i.e., a life of faithfulness emanating from a position of faith) or works of unrighteousness, experience the salvation of his soul (James 1:21) — a salvation that a Christian is to “work out . . . with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), a salvation that only affects his position during Christ’s coming kingdom, His millennial (one thousand years) reign on and over the earth.
(I trust the reader will reserve judgment pertaining to this point of doctrine until he or she devotes time to the study of it in order to ascertain its validity, accomplished by reading Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, accessed at the following link: http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm.)
Nevertheless, since the Sabbath, the seventh day that God rested, portrays the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ (the “rest” that awaits for every qualified Christian [Hebrews 4:9-11]), the fourth commandment should be remembered by every Christian, for it represents a time that is highly significant to him, the time when he may reign with Christ, as part of His bride, over the earth (2 Timothy 2:11, 12a).
Furthermore, of secondary import, this commandment establishes that with the people of God there should always be a time when a Christian turns from the secular to the spiritual, to concentrate wholly upon God and what He has done, is doing, and will do in and with his life.
This is not to say that there should be any time when one forgets or excludes God and His influence in life; but, that there should be a special time (during each day and each week) that a Christian devotes entirely to God, e.g., the study of His Word, in fellowship with other Christians, in prayer, etc.).
[See also: Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 16:26; 31:15, 17; Hebrews 4:1-11]
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
God has established a first-mention principle with and in the very first words of Scripture, i.e., “In the beginning God,” which established the primary perspective that every person on earth should recognize and apply to their lives — always knowing that God was before all of creation and should always come first in one’s life.
In the same manner, as is recognized in this commandment (“the first commandment with promise” [Ephesians 6:2]), God established a first-mention relationship pertaining to themarital union intended for mankind, a union only between one man and one woman.
This type of unionalone(1) is cable of the propagation of the human race, (2) is suitable for the proper rearing of children, and(3) is crowned sacrosanct by means of its creation (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7, 18, 21-25), the violation of which is strongly castigated throughout Scripture (Genesis 19:5-24; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Judges 19:22; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Jude 1:7).
This commandment requires that one must honor (respectfully recognize, listen to, and support) one’s father and mother.
[See also: Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke18:20; Ephesians 6:2]
You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
You shall not murder. (Deuteronomy 5:17)
This commandment has often been mistaken to mean that one should not “kill” (as translated in the KJV of the Bible) at all. And should this be taken as the meaning, a literal view of it would refer to all situations, e.g., in self-defense, during war, even to eat. Not only does the study of Scripture clearly show this to be an invalid interpretation, but a review of the Hebrew word, ratsach, reveals the same.
Throughout Scripture there are numerous accounts where God has required men to kill others, men and animals.
In reality, the Hebrew word used in this commandment actually should be translated “murder.” Succinctly, a study of Exodus 21:12ff will clarify the meaning of this commandment.
[See also: Deuteronomy 19:11-13]
You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
You shall not commit adultery. (Deuteronomy 5:18)
This commandment is primarily forbidding sexual intercourse of a married person with other than the person’s marriage partner. It is based on the sacrosanct union between a man and a woman, which was ordained by God upon His creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1 &2). This could involve sexual misconduct between individuals, both of which are married to others; or, such conduct between a married and an unmarried person.
Yet, later in time sexual misconduct became evident and progressive among unmarried personnel, and was at times classified as “fornication.” However, the Greek word, porneia, uniformly translated “fornication” in the KJV, properly includes all lewdness and sexual irregularity. Adultery is strictly forbidden in both the Old and New Testaments, the guilt of which was extended by Christ, as He did in the case of other commandments, to the purpose or will to commit it as well as to the act itself (Matthew 5:27,28).
Suffice it to say that this commandment should apply to all sexual intercourse outside of God’s ordained marital relationship.
[See also: Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:19; James 2:11]
You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15)
You shall not steal. (Deuteronomy 5:19)
It really can’t be clearer than how it is stated. The commandant prohibits any type of theft, the taking of anything that rightfully belongs to another. It implicitly approves the right of owning property — the ownership and possession of that which is the just result of one’s labor; or, as a gift.
[See also: Leviticus 19:11,13; Matthew 19:18; Romans 13:9; 1Thessalonians 4:6]
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Deuteronomy 5:20)
Simply and emphatically stated, God forbids lying in any case or circumstance. It is imperative that only honest speech should characterize a Christian. While given under a mantle of court testimony, this commandment strictly prohibits God’s people to employ false communication, which is quite sinful.
[See also: Exodus 23:1; Deuteronomy 19:16; Leviticus 19:11; Zechariah 8:16; Matthew 19:18;Matthew 12:36, 37;Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9]
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. (Exodus 20:17)
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. (Deuteronomy 5:21)
This commandment prohibits avarice (greed, covertness), the desire for other persons, positions, or property. It is akin to and precedes the commandment pertaining to theft. Frankly, it is a sin that finds its root in pride; and, in the New Testament, it is called a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
[See also: Matthew 5:28; Luke 12:15; Acts 20:33; Romans 7:7; 13:9; Ephesians 5:3,5;Colossians 3:5;Hebrews 13:5]
Given the proliferation of satanic influence throughout the world at every level of society, which has dominated every culture since the fall of man as recorded in the book of Genesis, it is difficult to imagine a society totally in compliance with “The Ten Commandments,” where no one (from a street vendor to a politician to a President) would ever lie, steal, covet, or indulge in any illicit behavior — a civilization where everyone, without exception, would truly honor their Creator. Yet, this would be and is the requirement set by God Almighty, nothing less.
Subsequent to the transmission of the commandments to the people of Israel, Moses gave birth to what Jesus Christ called the “first and great commandment.” In fact, it would do well for this commentary to end with the following two points:
1) The New Testament account of Christ’s answer to a lawyer who was also a Pharisee and who posed the following question:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
2) A few passages from the epistles written by the apostle John pertaining to the relationship between adherence to the commandments and the love that is required by God of His children:
If you love Me [Jesus Christ], keep My commandments. . . .
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. . .
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
(John 14:15, 21, 23)
If you keep My[Jesus Christ] commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
(John 15:10, 12)
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
This is love, that we walk according to His [God’s]commandments. . . . (2 John 1:6a)
[See also: Deuteronomy 10:12; 11:13; 30:6; 2Kings 23:25; Matthew 10:37; 22:37; 23:37; Mark 12:30, 33;John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10;Luke 10:27; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6]