Old Testament New Testament Bible Scripture

What are the Ten Commandments?

Question: "What are the Ten Commandments?"

The Ten Commandments are ten laws in the Bible that God gave to the nation of Israel shortly after the exodus from Egypt. The Ten Commandments are essentially a summary of the 600+ commandments contained in the Old Testament Law. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The second six commandments deal with our relationships with one another. The Ten Commandments are recorded in the Bible in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21 and are as follows:

(1) “You shall have no other gods before me.” This command is against worshipping any god other than the one true God. All other gods are false gods.

(2) “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This command is against making a idol, a visible representation of God. There is no image we can create that can accurately portray God. To make an idol represent God is to worship a false god.

(3) “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” This is a command against taking the name of the Lord in vain. We are not to treat God’s name lightly. We are to show reverence to God by only mentioning Him in respectful and honoring ways.

(4) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” This is a command to set aside the Sabbath (Saturday, the last day of the week) as a day of rest dedicated to the Lord.

(5) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” This is a command to always treat our parents with honor and respect.

(6) “You shall not murder.” This is a command against the premeditated murder of another human being.

(7) “You shall not commit adultery.” This is a command against have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse.

(8) “You shall not steal.” This is a command against taking anything that does not belong to us without the permission of the person to whom it belongs.

(9) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” This is a command against testifying against another person falsely. It is essentially a command against lying.

(10) “You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” This is a command against desiring anything that does not belong to you. Coveting can lead to breaking one of the commandments listed above: murder, adultery, and theft. If it is wrong to do something, it is wrong to desire to do that same something.

Recommended Resource: Engraved on Your Heart: Living the Ten Commandments Day by Day by Bill Hybels.

Related Topics:

Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?

What day is the Sabbath, Saturday or Sunday?

What is the location of the real Mount Sinai?

Why was Moses not allowed to enter the Promised Land?

What happened to the Ark of the Covenant?

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What are the Ten Commandments?