Moses and the Ten Commandments hold significant importance in biblical history. In the Book of Exodus, chapter 20, we find the account of Moses receiving the divine commandments from God on Mount Sinai. These commandments served as the moral foundation for the Israelites and continue to guide people's lives even today.
The Ten Commandments were initially given to Moses as a means of establishing a covenant between God and His chosen people. These commandments served as a guide to help the Israelites live righteous lives and maintain a healthy relationship with God and each other. While we often associate the commandments with the stone tablets that Moses shattered upon witnessing the people worshiping a golden calf, it is essential to recognize that the commandments go beyond the physical tablets.
Although the New Testament does not explicitly provide a comprehensive list of the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, it does reinforce the importance of these commandments in the life of a believer. Through the teachings of Jesus and His disciples, we discover that the principles embodied in the Ten Commandments are still relevant and applicable to us today. While there are instances where the commandments are summarized or referenced as a whole, their essence remains intact.
Studying the Ten Commandments allows us to reflect on our own lives and recognize the presence of sin. The commandments provide us with a moral compass, guiding us on how to use God's gifts for His greater glory.
Exodus 20:3-4, Deuteronomy 5:7
The first commandment emphasizes the exclusive worship of the Triune God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It calls us to place our ultimate devotion, dreams, and passions in God alone. Anything that takes the place of God in our hearts becomes an idol. The Holy Spirit works within us, nurturing a genuine fear, love, and faith in God above all else. Our relationship with God is sustained through His Word and the sacraments.
Acts 17:22-25 - Paul demonstrates the futility of worshiping the gods in Athens.
Luke 4:8 - Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"
Matthew 6:24 - Jesus clarifies that we can only serve one master, God.
Matthew 19:17 - Jesus proclaims the goodness and oneness of God.
Matthew 22:37-38 - Jesus emphasizes the first and greatest commandment as loving God above all.
Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11
The Second Commandment cautions against desecrating the holy name of the Lord and debasing His Word. It emphasizes the importance of praising only what He says and does as excellent and truthful.
Baptism, performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a remarkable gift that signifies our connection to God. We must recognize that the Lord's name surpasses all other names in heaven and on earth, and it carries with it His ability to rescue. It is considered wrong to use His name in a derogatory or disrespectful manner, to swear by it for deceptive or foolish motives, or to mislead others about His Word.
One comforting aspect is the assurance that we can call upon and petition the Lord's name at any moment, in any situation, and for any need. We declare His praise while we pray, and we express gratitude in His holy name, for it is the Lord who opens our mouths.
Matthew 5:33-37 - In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about oaths and integrity. The passage encourages honesty and sincerity in speech, emphasizing the importance of treating God's name with respect.
Matthew 6:9 - In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches His disciples to hallow or honor the name of God, emphasizing the reverence and sanctity of God's name.
Matthew 23:16-21 - Jesus criticizes those who swear oaths by the temple or heaven, highlighting that they are ultimately swearing by God. He exposes the futility of their oaths and reveals the hypocrisy within the religious organization.
James 5:12 - James affirms the teaching of Jesus found in Matthew 5:33-37.
Exodus 20:8, Deuteronomy 5:12-15
The Third Commandment calls upon us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. By dedicating ourselves to worship, we invite peace into our lives. It is through prayer and setting aside our labor that we allow God to work within us.
He has graciously bestowed upon us the gift of His Word, and we must revere Him by gratefully hearing and diligently keeping His Word. We honor His Word by incorporating it into our daily prayers. While some may believe that attending church is not essential to being a good Christian, it is akin to saying, "I do not need to eat to survive." Just as we cannot sustain ourselves without food, attending church is vital because God works within us through His gifts, helping us revere His Word and eagerly comprehend it.
Mark 2:27-28 - Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Here, Jesus emphasizes that the Sabbath is a gift from God for the benefit of humanity.
Luke 4:16 - It is mentioned that Jesus "came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read." This verse highlights Jesus' practice of attending the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Acts 17:2 - Paul, during his missionary journeys, "went in to them [Jews] and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures." This verse shows Paul's pattern of using the Sabbath as an opportunity for teaching and sharing the Gospel.
Hebrews 4:9 - It says, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." This verse suggests that there is a spiritual rest available to believers, which can be seen as a metaphorical application of the Sabbath principle.
Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16
The Fourth Commandment instructs us to honor and obey our parents and other authorities placed in our lives. God, in His wisdom, has provided us with parents, pastors, teachers, mentors, and other figures of authority for our benefit. They serve as emissaries of God's guidance and care. Through His orderly authority, God establishes harmony in our lives and surroundings, countering the chaos brought about by sin. We honor God by showing respect and reverence to our parents and those in positions of authority.
Matthew 15:4 - Jesus quotes one of the Ten Commandments: "For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'" Here, Jesus affirms the commandment to honor parents and condemns those who speak evil against them.
Mark 7:10 - Jesus reiterates the commandment: "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'" This verse emphasizes the importance of honoring parents and warns against disrespecting them.
Ephesians 6:2-3 - The apostle Paul writes, "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Paul encourages believers to honor their parents and highlights the promise of blessings and longevity associated with this commandment.
Colossians 3:20 - Paul instructs, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." This verse emphasizes the obedience of children to their parents as an act of pleasing God.
Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17
The Fifth Commandment serves as a reminder to refrain from harming, injuring, hating, or taking the life of another person. Instead, we are called to embrace kindness, patience, and forgiveness, even in the face of adversity. It is essential to recognize the intrinsic value of human life, which is a precious gift from God.
This commandment prohibits murder, abortion, euthanasia, or suicide. It condemns prejudice, intolerance, and mistreatment of those who are less fortunate. We must be mindful that our thoughts, words, and actions can inflict harm and even lead to the loss of life.
Matthew 5:21 - Jesus teaches, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.'" Here, Jesus affirms the commandment against murder and highlights the consequences associated with it.
Romans 13:9 - The apostle Paul writes, "For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Paul emphasizes that the commandment against murder is part of the broader principle of loving one's neighbor.
1 John 3:15 - John states, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." This verse expands the concept of murder beyond the physical act and includes hatred in the heart as a form of spiritual murder.
Revelation 21:8 - In this verse, murderers are listed among those who will face judgment: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18
The Sixth Commandment serves as a reminder to remain faithful and committed in marriage, upholding the sacred promise made between spouses. It prohibits indulging in wandering thoughts or engaging in any behavior that violates the sanctity of marriage. We are called to live a life free from sin, exercising self-control and discipline in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Marriage, sexuality, and family are blessings bestowed upon us by God. When we fail to adhere to the standards of sexual morality that God requires of both married and unmarried individuals, we transgress this commandment. God desires us to honor and protect the institution of marriage as a divine gift. In Christ, we find the freedom to live pure and virtuous lives, cherishing and valuing the husband or wife that God has granted us.
Matthew 5:27-28 - Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Jesus goes beyond the act of physical adultery and addresses the importance of purity of heart and thoughts.
Matthew 19:9 - Jesus teaches about divorce, stating, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." Here, Jesus acknowledges the seriousness of adultery within the context of marriage.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - The apostle Paul writes, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." This verse identifies various forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, and highlights that those who persist in such behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 - Paul lists "adultery" and "sexual immorality" as works of the flesh, warning that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Hebrews 13:4 - Paul writes, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." This verse emphasizes the sanctity of marriage and the consequences for those who engage in sexual immorality or adultery.
Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19
The Seventh Commandment admonishes us against the act of stealing, emphasizing the importance of respecting the property and belongings of others. It reminds us that we must not engage in swindling or deceitful practices to unlawfully acquire what others have worked hard for. Instead, we are called to extend a compassionate hand and provide for those in need, especially those who hunger for basic sustenance.
As Christians, we recognize that everything we possess is a blessing from God. He has entrusted us with these possessions as a demonstration of His grace and as resources to be used for His glory. When we resort to extreme measures to obtain what we desire, we betray this trust and deviate from the path that the Holy Spirit leads us on. Instead, we are called to refrain from stealing or cheating, and we should actively support others in maintaining what is rightfully theirs.
Matthew 19:18 - Jesus includes "You shall not steal" as one of the commandments when speaking to a rich young man.
Ephesians 4:28 - The apostle Paul writes, "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." This verse not only condemns stealing but encourages honest labor and generosity.
1 Corinthians 6:10 - Paul includes "thieves" among a list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, highlighting the seriousness of theft.
Luke 19:8-9 - In the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who repents, he declares to Jesus, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." This account demonstrates the transformation and restitution that should follow a life of dishonesty or theft.
1 Peter 4:15 - Peter exhorts believers, saying, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler." This verse underscores the importance of avoiding a lifestyle of theft and the consequences associated with it.
Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20
The Eighth Commandment calls us to uphold the truth and refrain from engaging in falsehoods or slanderous speech. We are called to be truthful in our words, never resorting to lies or bearing false witness against our neighbors. Instead, we should embrace the shield of innocence, protecting the honor and integrity of others.
Our reputation is a precious gift bestowed upon us by God. We must use our words to speak about individuals and situations in a manner that reflects the best possible understanding and interpretation, just as God extends His mercy and compassion to us through Christ, our Lord.
Matthew 19:18 - Jesus includes "You shall not bear false witness" as one of the commandments when speaking to a rich young man.
Ephesians 4:25 - The apostle Paul writes, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." This verse encourages believers to speak the truth and reject falsehood.
Colossians 3:9 - Paul instructs the Colossian believers, saying, "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices." This verse emphasizes the need to abandon lying and instead embrace truthfulness in relationships.
Revelation 21:8 - In describing the fate of the wicked, the apostle John includes "all liars" among those who will have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This verse underscores the seriousness of falsehood and its consequences.
James 4:11 - James admonishes believers, saying, "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law." This verse highlights the importance of refraining from spreading false accusations or gossip about others.
Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21
The Ninth and Tenth Commandments remind us to refrain from coveting or desiring what belongs to our neighbors. We are instructed not to covet our neighbor's home, spouse, servants, business, material possessions, or anything that rightfully belongs to them.
Rather than harboring envy or jealousy, we are called to seek the prosperity and blessings of our neighbors. These commandments emphasize contentment with the material blessings that God has graciously bestowed upon us.
As followers of Christ, we should extend our support and goodwill to our neighbors, rejoicing in their good fortune and offering assistance in times of need. Just as Christ served us, we are called to serve others.
By aligning our hearts with these commandments, we return to the essence of the first commandment, as a heart that fears, loves, and trusts in God finds true happiness in the blessings He provides.
Luke 12:15 - Jesus teaches, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." This verse warns against the dangers of coveting and emphasizes the importance of prioritizing spiritual matters over material possessions.
Romans 13:9 - The apostle Paul writes, "For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Here, coveting is mentioned as one of the commandments that believers should not violate but instead should demonstrate love for others.
Hebrews 13:5 - The writer of Hebrews encourages believers, saying, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" This verse encourages contentment and warns against the love of money and the pursuit of worldly possessions.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 - Paul warns, "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." This passage cautions against the desire for wealth and the potential harm it can cause to one's spiritual life.
Matthew 6:19-21 - Jesus advises us not to place our hope and security in material possessions but rather to focus on eternal treasures.
The New Testament offers various instances where the 10 Commandments are summarized or presented in broader terms. These references help us understand their significance in our daily lives:
1 Corinthians 7:19 - Paul emphasizes that obeying God's Law is important.
1 John 5:3 - John highlights that obedience to God's instructions is a characteristic of His children and not burdensome.
John 14:15 - Jesus teaches that loving Him entails keeping His commandments.
Matthew 22:37-40 - Jesus simplifies the commandments into the two greatest ones: to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Revelation 2:10 - Those who remain faithful to God's commands until the end will receive the crown of life.
Romans 7:12 - The Law is holy, righteous, and beneficial.
Studying and understanding the Ten Commandments is not merely an intellectual exercise, but a call to action. As we strive to live according to these commandments, we are called to examine our hearts, repent of our shortcomings, and seek God's forgiveness and transformation.
We can apply the commandments in practical ways by:
By aligning our lives with these principles, we contribute to the well-being of our communities, promote justice, and deepen our relationship with God and our fellow human beings.
The Ten Commandments continue to hold profound relevance in today's world. They provide a moral framework that guides us in our relationships with God and one another. By embracing these commandments and striving to live by their principles, we can experience personal growth, promote social harmony, and contribute to a more just and compassionate society.
God continues to use His Law, as revealed in Exodus 20, to help us recognize our need for forgiveness, which Christ achieved and provides through His Word and Sacraments. The Gospel calls us to turn to Christ, who fulfilled the Law, died for our sins, and conquered death through His resurrection. In Christ, we become precious children of the Lord.
Let us embrace these timeless truths and allow them to shape our lives for the better.