The 10 Commandments - An Overview

What is the 10 Commmandments?

The Ten Commandments are recorded in two locations in the Old Testament. While Christians today are living under the truth and grace of the New Testament, the Old Testament principles are still valid. Christians are still obligated to obey the heart of what the Ten Commandments represent. This was summed up by Jesus’ words to the Pharisees when they asked Him what the greatest commandment was: “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.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Apostle Paul repeated this teaching in his letter to the Romans: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)

The first account of the Ten Commandments is found in Exodus 20, and the second is found in Deuteronomy 5. They were given to the Israelites by Moses who had received the revelation from God. The first was written by the finger of God upon two stone tablets. They were then given to the Israelites while camped at the base of Mt. Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. The second was spoken by Moses to the people just prior to their entrance into the Promised Land. These Ten Commandments, along with other regulations pertaining to daily worship and living, made up what is called the Law of Moses. This Law then became the spiritual foundation for the entire community of Israel.

The Pharisees and Scribes certainly had a vested interest in the Law of Moses. Their entire life and livelihood was centered on both the interpretation of and strict adherence to it. Yet when the Word became flesh and walked among them, the Pharisees became both afraid and angry. They became afraid because Jesus more completely and accurately interpreted and fulfilled everything the Law represented. And they became angry because Jesus exposed their hypocrisy.

To the Pharisees, it appeared as if Jesus was trying to override the regulations and rituals that had been the religious traditions throughout hundreds of generations of Israelites. But Jesus Himself stated that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) He came to destroy two of mankind’s greatest enemies on earth: the works of the flesh that could not make man righteous, and the power of death that could not be broken by obedience to the Law.

Written by: Amy Miller