Vol. 16 No 49 – December 3, 2017
Ex 20:16; Deut 5:20, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Cf. Ex 23:1-3 in the Sundry laws.
New Testament Usage:
The Greek verb for “bearing false witness” is PSEUDOMARTUREO, ψευδομαρτυρέω that means, “bear false witness, or give false evidence or testimony,” which is equivalent with the Hebrew ED SHEQER or SHAW ANAH, as it is used in the LXX of Ex 20:16 and Deut 5:20, for this Commandment. It is a compound word from PSEUDOMAI that means to, “lie or deceive,” and MARTUREO that means, “bear witness, be a witness, or testify.” Our word “martyr” comes from MARTUREO. Combined, it generally means, “to be a false witness,” or to “bear false witness,” usually in a legal context. Thus, it could be translated “to perjure.”
The emphasis of PSEUDOMARTUREO is on the act of deception or distortion. It is not contested that the one testifying is a “witness,” rather he is a “false” witness, because he is incorrect in his assertions. Whether he testifies as a MARTUS or a PSEUDOMARTUS, depends on whether or not he tells the truth.
The Noun cognate is PSEUDOMATURIA, ψευδομαρτυρία that means, “false witness or false testimony.” In classical literature, this term appears primarily in legal contexts and is translated “perjury” or “false witness.” It is used only in Mat 15:19 and Mat 26:59 that we will note below.
The first time this commandment is mentioned in the NT is in the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Mat 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-25, who wanted to know how to gain eternal life, which we have noted in the previous Commandments as the 7th adultery, the 6th murder, the 8th stealing, and the 5th Commandment, honoring your father and mother, are all mentioned by Jesus along with the 9th, “Do not bear false witness,” in this discussion.
As we know from Scripture, salvation never was, is, or will be based on keeping the commandments or doing good deeds, but is based on faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, Eph 2:8-9; Acts 8:37; 16:31; 19:34. It is not even based on “loving your neighbor,” Mat 19:19, as commanded under the Mosaic Law, Lev 19:18, that is also applicable to all believers in the Church Age, Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14; James 2:8.
This Commandment is also used in some Greek manuscripts of Rom 13:9, (yet most do not have it and is therefore not translated in the NASB). Here, in Paul’s discourse on civil obedience for the Church Age, he mentions several of the Commandments including, the 7th, “You shall not commit adultery,” the 6th, “you shall not murder,” the 8th, “you shall not steal,” and the 10th, “you shall not covet.” The manuscripts that include it place it after “you shall not steal.” Paul then states that “if you love your neighbor as yourself,” cf. Lev 19:18, the whole law is summed up in your life, as also noted in vs. 8b. He justifies this statement in vs. 10, by stating, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Other Scriptures that use the verb PSUEDOMATUREO included Mark 14:56-57, and there are others that use the Noun PSEUDOMATURIA, which includes, Mat 15:19; Mat 26:59.
In Mat 15:19, the noun is used as one of the evil emanations of the human heart that defile an individual.
Mat 15:19-20, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
The “evil thoughts” Jesus referred to here are not the only ones that can be present in the heart of individuals, as He gave only a few examples based upon the Ten Commandments. The general nature of these examples is also apparent in the use of the plural in this listing. Cf. Eccl 8:11; Jer 17: 9; cf. Mat 12:34.
Jer 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jesus was emphasizing two truths. One was the importance of the thought life. Before any of these sinful deeds are committed, they are conceived and planned in the mind. Second, in contrast to the teaching of the Pharisees, which emphasized external religion, Jesus showed that it is the internal condition of a man’s heart which is most important. Decent people will not eat with hands that are soiled. Jesus was not condoning filthiness; however, a dirty heart is far, far worse than eating with dirty hands.
Jesus implied that the heart is where the cleansing must be applied. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse the heart as it is applied by the Spirit when one first believes in Jesus Christ as their savior, Heb 9:22-28; 2 Peter 1:9, and after salvation, if he confesses his sins and walks in the light, 1 John 1:7, 9, by means of the Filling of the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:8b-9, 11, 15, 18.
In Mark 14:56-57, the verb is used and in Mat 26:59 the noun is used to continue the legal sense of false testimony. In both cases, we see those who desired to have Jesus executed, so they purposefully sought out false testimony that could be used to build a case against Him. In Mark 14:56-57, we see those that gave false testimony against Him.
Mat 26:59, “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death.”
Mark 14:56-57, “For many were giving false testimony against Him, and yet their testimony was not consistent. 57And some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him.”
Here the high priest and the Council, seeking to find sufficient reason to execute Jesus, brought many who gave false testimony about Him. The result was not the accumulation of overwhelming evidence but the confusion of many lies.
The hypocrisy of these Pharisees was that they applied the Law when convenient to meet their desired results, (e.g., trying to find two or more witnesses, Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; 19:15), but ignored other parts that were not expeditious.
Yet, even outside the court room, “lying,” PSEUDOMAI, is forbidden by the Word when comparing Mat 5:11; Acts 5:3-4; Rom 9:1; Col 3:9; Heb 6:18; James 3:14; 1 John 1:6; Rev 3:9.
Col 3:9, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”
1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Rev 3:9, “Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie– behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”
Mat 5:11, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.”
Having slanderous accusations or lies towards our fellow man are also prohibited in Titus 3:1-2; James 4:11; 1 Peter 2:1, cf. Ex 23:1; Prov 10:18; 12:17; 19:9; 24:28.
Titus 3:1-2, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”
James 4:11,”Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.”
1 Peter 2:1, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
Lying is not just in our words, but can also be in our actions.
Acts 5:3-4, “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land’.”
Paul used PSEUDOMAI to prove he was telling the truth in his witness and letters, and not lying, 2 Cor 11:31; Gal 1:20; 1 Tim 2:7.
Telling the truth demonstrates the God-like or Christ-like nature we are to adorn here on earth.
Heb 6:18, “In order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.”
Titus 1:1-2, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.”
Yet, the one who lies is of his father the devil and practices lying, PSEUDOS, “lie, lies, falsehood, or lying,” John 8:44; Rom 1:25; Eph 4:25; 2 Thes 2:9, 11; 1 John 2:27; Rev 14:5; 21:27; 22:15.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar (PSEUSTES), and the father of it, (lies).”
The Antichrist to come follows in Satan’s footsteps.
2 Thes 2:9-12, “That is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
For those who follow the lies of Satan and His cosmic system, and reject salvation in Jesus Christ, they will remain in their lies and deceptions, and not be given entrance to the eternal kingdom of God.
Rom 1:25, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Rev 21:27, “And nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Rev 22:15, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
The 10th Commandment.
Ex 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Deut 5:21, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The final commandment in the Decalogue, reemphasizes the individual’s rights of privacy, property, person, and possessions. This is the 6th of the horizontal commandments that primarily deals with man’s relationship with man. But as all the commandments tell us, they have to do with our relationship with God, first and foremost. The previous commands implicitly forbid all acts that would harm or injure your neighbor; this forbids all inordinate inner desires of having what belongs to your neighbor that would presumably gratify yourself.
The Hebrew begins with LO for “not” once again. In Deuteronomy, it includes the WAW for “and,” before LO, as the previous three commandments did also.
Both “covets” in the Exodus passage are the Verb CHAMAD, חָמַד in the Qal Imperfect, spelled TAHMOD, that means, “to desire or take pleasure in.” CHAMAD is used 18 times in the OT, and has a variety of nuances stemming from the notion of desire related to physical beauty, both in a good and evil way. The motive of the subject who desires something or someone, often determines whether the desires are sinful or pleasing to the Lord, YHWH.
In the negative way, as it is used in the Decalogue, it means, “to lust, to want somebody else’s property, a strong desire to possess something that belongs to somebody else, to yearn to have, and to want to have something very much inordinately, culpably, or without due regard for the rights of others.”
In this commandment, there is a list of 7 things that are not to be coveted that belong to your neighbor, with an 8th that is a catchall for any other property or goods belonging to others: 1) house, 2) wife, 3) land, 4) male servant, 5) female servant, 6) ox, 7) donkey, or 8) anything that belongs to him.
Seven is the number of “spiritual perfection” in the Bible. Therefore, if we do not covet what our neighbor owns, we can walk in God’s light and righteousness.
Eight is the number of “superabundance” in the Bible and here reflects God’s provisions for each individual that should not be coveted by another.
Therefore, we are to be content with what we have been given by God, and not sinfully desire the things others possess.
As you may have noticed, the first two prohibitions in this command are reversed between Exodus and Deuteronomy. Exodus first prohibits coveting “your neighbor’s,” REA, “house,” BAYITH, that can mean, “home or household, family, or even property,” and then prohibits coveting your neighbor’s “wife,” ISHSHAH. Deuteronomy reverses them.
The Catholic church believes these are two different commands, but as Keil and Delitzsch note, “The objects of desire do not point to two different commandments. This is evident at once from the transposition of the house and wife in Deuteronomy.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament).
In addition, even though the “wife” could rightly be included in BAYITH, “house,” she is called out separately, because she is the crown of the man, and a possession more costly than pearls, Prov 12:4; 31:10.
Nevertheless, this is one commandment with 8 examples of inordinate desire or lust.
In fact, Deuteronomy’s second “covet” related to the neighbor’s house or household, is the Hebrew Verb AWAH, אָוָה that also means, “to desire or lust for,” in the reflexive action Hithpael Imperfect. That means that this “lusting” comes from within, whereas CHAMAD emphasized lusting based on the beauty of the object. AWAH is used here in a morally or spiritually negative way for the inward desire to possess what your neighbor has.
As Keil and Delitzsch note, “The only difference between them being, that “the former (CHAMAD) denotes the desire as founded upon the perception of beauty, and therefore excited from without, the latter, (AWAH), desire originating at the very outset in the person himself, and arising from his own want or inclination,” (Schultz, as quoted in the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
Prov 21:10 tells us, “The soul of the wicked desires, (AWAH), evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”
Examples of this covetousness include:
Num 11:4, 34, the Israelites in the wilderness started “craving” the food of Egypt. This disregard for God’s deliverance and provision resulted in a plague that arrived simultaneously with the miraculous provision of quail.
Prov 23:3, warns of another kind of “craving” that is wrong. Here, the reader is warned against dining with a ruler who offers delicacies as a snare in disguise.
Prov 23:3, “Do not desire his delicacies, For it is deceptive food.”
The next difference we see is in Deuteronomy, where we are not to covet our neighbor’s, “field,” where SADEH, שָׂדֶה is added. Now that they were entering into the Promised Land to possess it, land property would be an issue. SADEH means, “field, territory, or countryside.” Now that they would own land and have fields, whereas in the wilderness they did not, they were prohibited from wrongfully desiring the land property of their fellow kinsmen.
The other prohibitions of lusting included the neighbor’s:
1.) Household workers, slaves, servants, or employees.
- “Male servant,” which is the Noun EVED, עֶבֶד meaning, “servant, slave, or one who is under the authority of another.” Workers or employees are also in view.
- “Female servant,” which is the Noun AMAH, אָמָה that means, “maid, handmaid, female slave, etc., and sometimes concubine.”
2.) Working animals.
- “Ox,” is SHOR, שׁוֹר meaning “a fully grown male bovine, ox, bull, steer, or cattle,” but can also mean a female or a calf.
- “Donkey,” is the Noun CHAMOR, חֲמוֹר. It is referred to as the “beast of burden,” because of the heavy loads it is able to carry. This is the animal Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, as prophesied in Zech 9:9.
3.) All other belongings.
- “Anything that belongs to your neighbor,” KOL ASHER LE REA.
Therefore, this commandment, like the prohibition against stealing, implies that God allows people to own things that belong to them and not to others.
The Conjunctions “or” in the English translations are for the Hebrew WAW to create groupings and differentials, as you can see.
The first time “covet” is used in the OT is Gen 2:9, of God’s creation of trees that are “pleasant to the sight,” yet the first sin of humanity entered because Eve “desired” the fruit which was “desirable to make one wise,” from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but was forbidden to be eaten by God, Gen 3:6. So, we see that coveting led to the first sin in mankind, and is the basis of all sin and crimes.
Unlike the other commandments, which focus on outward actions, this commandment focuses on thought; the mentality of your soul. It is an imperative against setting one’s desire on things that are the property or ownership of someone else. For example:
- As the 7th Commandment forbids the act of adultery. This commandment forbids the desire for adultery.
- As the 8th Commandment forbids stealing. This commandment forbids the desire for acquisition of another’s goods.
Therefore, coveting is the starting point of stealing, forbidden by the 8th Commandment, and, in the case of coveting someone else’s spouse, adultery, the 7th Commandment.
As we have previously noted, the NT describes Jesus as interpreting the Ten Commandments as issues of the heart’s desires, rather than merely prohibiting certain outward actions, cf. Mat 5:28. The 10th Commandment makes clear that a relationship with God and man is a matter of the heart, first and foremost. As such, the 1st and 10th Commandments deal with what is in the heart, while the other eight focus on outward actions that begin in the heart. And as we have seen, covetousness is about the heart. It is about desire.
Desire, coupled with the Old Sin Nature, (OSN), creates a pattern for sinning called the “lust pattern” of the sin nature. When someone has a desire for praise, the lust pattern of the OSN tempts the soul in various forms of asceticism. When someone desires pleasure, the lust pattern of the OSN tempts in various forms of lasciviousness.
See the doctrine and slides on the OSN, with its “Lust Patterns” of asceticism and lasciviousness and its trends of human good or sin and evil. http://gracedoctrine.org/diagrams-and-maps/
Jesus stated in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Covetous people will break any and all of God’s commandments in order to satisfy their desires, because at the heart of sin is the sin in the heart, Mat 15:19.
Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”
To covet is to feed inward desires for anything that God says is sinful, and this commandment highlights the twisted desires of mankind and the sin of discontentment.
All crimes and sin can be described generally in terms of the desire that triggered the chain of events. Whatever action it spawns, this illegitimate desire for something that belongs to someone else is the core of the problem and a threat to the community. Any action taken to fulfil such a desire is sin.
As I heard a homicide detective once say, “all crimes are motivated by one of three things, money, sex / relationships, or power.” Coveting is behind them all, as noted in 1 John 2:16; 2 Peter 2:10; 1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:5, cf. Gal 5:16.
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world”
2 Peter 2:10, “And especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, …”
1 Tim 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Heb 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…”
Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
This law / commandment goes deeper into the attitude or outlook of the offender than is found in any normal legislation of any nation, whether ancient or modern. In the ancient Near East, the concept of coveting occurs in expressions such as “to lift the eyes,” cf. Prov 6:17; 21:4, 30:13, but it is a crime that can only be detected and punished when the desire is translated into action.
All legal codes drawn up by secular governments do not attempt to probe the mind of one tempted to envy or begrudge the good of one’s neighbor. Neither does the code of Hammurabi, the Hittite code, nor the specific offenses referred to in the Egyptian Book of the Dead presume to condemn the secret desire to have what someone else has. It is only when the lustful desire has been carried out in unjust action that the culprit can be brought before a court of law.
But we have a God Who knows and reads our mind and probes our heart, 1 Chron 28:9; 1 Sam 16:7; Psa 7:9; 26:2; 139:1, 23; Prov 17:3; Jer 11:20a; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Rom 8:27; 1 Thes 2:4; Rev 2:23, and He forbids even the secret desire of the one who is tempted.
1 Chron 28:9, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”
1 Sam 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Therefore, the final commandment goes beyond all comparable law codes, and implies protection of the individual from himself! The prohibition against coveting strikes at the root of what motivates us to violate the rights of others. It warns us to look within, and deal immediately with the stirring motives which might lead us to sin.
As the Westminster Catechism puts it, “The tenth commandment requires full contentment with our own estate, not envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.”
The plain lesson of history is that there will never be enough. There will always be someone with more. Even if you stuffed yourself to satiation and beyond with every good you could think of, it would not be enough. As some have said, “Such a person is trying to fill a God-shaped void with what is not God.”
To be ruled by the desire to possess and to direct your life toward that desire is to make this world the ultimate end, and to have other gods instead of YHWH. It is to put you and your supposed needs at the center of the universe with all else circling around you. And anyone who has the misfortune to fall into your gravitational pull of covetousness, can only expect to be swallowed up by it. As such, covetousness involves breaking the first commandment.
Unfortunately, instead of having a thankful heart, the coveter desires what others have. It may or may not lead to an act, but even if there is no act, it is still wrong because our desire should be on the God who made us and redeemed us.
Heb 13:5, tells us to live free from the love of money. Do not trust in your wealth. Do not have excessive anxiety about wealth. Do not be devoted to wealth, and instead, be content because God will never “leave you or forsake you.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may order lesson:
#17-127, 17-128, 17-129
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!