10 Commandments Related to the Church Age

11 19 17 Do Not Steal 7th commandmentThe Doctrine of the Ten Commandments
Related to the Church Age

In this study, we will note each of the Ten Commandments, (also known as the Decalogue, which is part of the greater Mosaic Law given to Israel in the Pentateuch that also includes the Ordinances, and the Judgments), to understand them in relation to the Church Age in which we live today. The term “commandments” is found in and represents an integral part of both the Mosaic and Christian systems, but with widely different significance.

Although they can be applied by all members of the human race in a moralistic society as protection under Divine Establishment principles, commandments, (including the Ten Commandments), are addressed in the Scriptures to the Jew and the Christian, but not anyone unsaved, (Jew or Gentile). The reason is, Divine commandments serve only to direct the daily life of those who are in right relation to God.

The Ten Commandments were first given to the nation of Israel directly by God under His Divine counsels. They are found in the books of Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:1-21. The Divine counsels for Israel given to Moses remained in effect for the Israelites until the death and resurrection of Christ. That time period is what theologians call the Age of Israel, the Age of the Law, and/or the Jewish Dispensation.

These Divine counsels fall into three major divisions:

  1. The Commandments, Ex 20:1-17, which directed Israel’s moral actions.
  2. The Judgments, Ex 21:1 – 24:11, which governed Israel’s social activities.
  3. The Statutes or Ordinances, Ex 24:12 – 31:18, which guided Israel’s religious activities.

These three forms of Divine requirement were interrelated and interdependent, that is, one could not function fully apart from the other two. Therefore, the modern notion that the Mosaic Commandments are still in force, but that the Judgments and Ordinances have been abolished, can be contemplated only when a lack of understanding exists regarding the form and nature of the Mosaic commandments. When you understand Scripture such as Num 15:32-36, you see that the penalty of death was Divinely imposed for the breaking of the Ten Commandments. Regarding the severity in the penalty for transgressions of the Mosaic Law, it is written in Heb 10:28, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

“L.S. Chafer noted, “That the entire Mosaic system is not now in force is evident from the fact that not all its conditions are applicable, for example; The Sabbath enjoined by the Mosaic Law is superseded for the present age by the Lord’s Day, and the promise of long life in the Promised Land, which God had bestowed on Israel, has no relation to the Church, (as we have noted in Eph 6:3). In fact, scriptures directly declare that the Commandments of Moses are to be abolished and done away for the present age, John 1:17; Rom 6:14; 7:1, 3-4; 2 Cor 3:6-11; Gal 3:23-25.”

If you fear that the voiding of the Commandments of Moses involves the loss of their great principles of righteousness, please note that every truth contained in the Mosaic system of morals, except the Sabbath day, has been restated and is adapted to grace and not to law. In fact, the first of the Ten Commandments of Moses appears nearly fifty times in, and adapted to, the new relationship of the believer with God in the Church Age under grace. Therefore, most of the Ten Commandments have been restated in the New Testament and are applicable to the Church in living the unique spiritual life for the Church Age, yet under grace and not under law. In the Church Age, we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, which begins with the Ten Commandments and then goes much further in regards to the societal and spiritual life of the Israelite during the Age of the Law, also known as the Jewish Dispensation.

Because Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law, we are no longer under the Mosaic Law. The relationship which the nation Israel held to YHWH should not be confused with the high and holy relationship which Christians now hold toward God by reason of being in Christ. Therefore, things like the laws of separation between clean and unclean, of ceremonial defilement, of Sabbath observance, etc., are set aside during the Church Age by Jesus Himself in the pursuit of his ministry to reach the sinner.

Jesus said in, Mat 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John (the Baptist),” indicating that a new reality had entered the scene and was replacing the old order, Mark 1:15; cf. 2 Cor 5:17.

Gal 3:10-12, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them.’ Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’ However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, ‘He who practices them shall live by them’.”

Gal 4:9-11, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”

Gal 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”

Rom 6:14, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace.”

Gal, 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery, (the Law).”

Eph 2:15, “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”

Rom 7:6, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”      

Rom 10:4, more strongly than any other passage, raises the question of the place of the law and its continuing validity for the Christian.

Rom 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Cf. Luke 24:44

Here we are confronted with the affirmation that the law no longer determines our relationship with God. Many think this opens up a life style of antinomianism, the rejection of any and all laws and regulations, especially absolute norms, for the moral life.

For Paul, the Law “was our custodian until Christ came,” Gal 3:24. Its temporary function has now been accomplished; and Christ is therefore also the terminus, the cessation of the Law. He is the end of the law for righteousness “for everyone who believes.” For it is only in the response of faith to Christ, in the humble submission to God’s righteousness, Rom 10:3, that the bondage of the law, (consisting of its revelation of sin and its inability to help us beyond it), can come to its end. Cf. Mat 5:17-20; Rom 5:20.

Rom 5:20, “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

In Fact, all the Mosaic Law is fulfilled by the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16-24.

Yet, regarding the Ten Commandments, as noted above, most of them have been restated in the New Testament and therefore, are applicable to the Christian way of life.

God’s purpose for the Decalogue in regard to Israel is given in Exodus Chapter 19, and 20:1-2, called The Preamble to Israel’s Constitution. In vs. 3-6, we have the specific purpose of the Law.

Ex 19:3-6, “Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel”.”

We see in Deut 10:1-5 tablets rewritten.

From the mountain, God spoke some of the most significant words found in the Old Testament, words which Moses was to proclaim to the Israelites. Here we note several principles:

1.) Israel’s history is proof of God’s faithfulness to His covenant, for He distinguished the Israelites from the Egyptians, delivering them and making them the special object of His care.

2.) Israel’s deliverance was for the purpose of being brought to God, so that the nation could be His prized possession and to serve Him as a priestly nation. God purposed to bless the nations by establishing Israel, His servant, as a mediatorial people, who would be a “light to the Gentiles,” sharing with the nations the way of entering into fellowship with God.

3.) In order to maintain this privileged status, Israel had to keep God’s covenant, (as defined by the Law). Israel’s calling was to a position of both privilege and of responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. Thus, in order to enjoy fellowship with God and to serve Him as His representative to the nations, Israel must reflect His holiness and purity. Israel was thus given the commandments, so that Israel would be distinct from the nations and God-like, so that they could fulfill their priestly calling.

4.) The Law was Israel’s corporate covenant with God and her constitution as a nation. Repeatedly, the Law which God gave Israel through Moses was referred to as a covenant, Ex 19:5; 24:7-8; 34:10, 27-28; Deut 4:23; 5:2.

The three principle covenants of the Old Testament were:

  • The Abrahamic covenant, Gen 12:1-3. The promise of an eternal people.
  • The Davidic covenant, 2 Sam 7:11-16; 1 Chron 17:10-14. The promise of an eternal kingdom with an eternal King.
  • The Mosaic (or Sinaitic) covenant. The giving of the Law for Israel.

The Mosaic covenant is different from the other two covenants. This was a covenant which was provisional, and which was to be replaced by a “new covenant,” which would be an eternal covenant, Jer 31:31-34; cf. Isa 55:3; 61:8; Ezek 37:26.

The Mosaic covenant was never given as a means of earning righteousness by Law-keeping. The covenant was given to the Israelites after God had delivered them from Egypt. The Law could not be kept, except by God’s grace, and provisions were made, (the sacrificial system), for men when they would fail to abide by the Law. The New Covenant was promised because the Mosaic covenant could not be kept by Israel, Jer 31:31-34.

Therefore, the Law, (in its broadest form; found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible), was intended to serve as a record of God’s faithfulness to His promises and to His people. The Ten Commandments, along with the rest of the laws of God, were given to serve as the covenant between God and His people, and as their national constitution, by which the nation would be guided and governed.

Next, we note that there are four things to observe about the Decalogue.

1.) The first thing is that the Ten Commandments, and the entire Law, was a direct revelation from God. God dictated these words, they were not mediated through any man.

2.) The second thing to notice about the Ten Commandment is that they are all, with two exceptions, negatives. Why negatives? Because they are given in legal format and they were designed to expose sin.

They utilize a construction in the Hebrew known as the “absolute negative.” There are two kinds of construction in Hebrew, the “relative negative” and the “absolute negative.” The relative negative would mean, “do not do that,” as you would say to someone. The relative means, “just do not do it now, but maybe you can later.” But if you said, “never do that,” you would be using the absolute negative. In other words, under no condition will you ever do this thing. The absolute negatives are given because legal format is designed to expose sin.

3.) The third thing to notice about the Ten Commandments is that they are based on mental attitude, not overt activity. This is explained in the Tenth Commandment. Look at Deut 5:21. That is not an overt activity.

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, etc.”

All of this is an inner mental attitude, which proves that the entire complex of the Ten Commandments is mental. This is what Jesus was trying to explain in the Sermon on the Mount, Mat 5. At that time, the Pharisees had made the Law totally external, yet Jesus says, “No, you misunderstand this, you totally misunderstand this.” The legalists, (Judaizers), decided they were going to get saved by keeping the Law, so they had to make the Law easy enough so that they could get saved. Therefore, the Pharisees said look, “Do not murder, because if you do, the policeman might get you.” That is basically what they said and Jesus came along and said isn’t that sweet, “You have heard it said that ‘you shall not murder’, and that is when He launched into this, “if you hate your brother you have already murdered him.” What Jesus was trying to show them was, you cannot externalize these things; they begin on the inside, in your mind, in the mentality of your soul.

4.) The fourth thing to notice about the Decalogue is that it is given in itself in treaty format in the suzerain manner, (a treaty between a powerful king and his vassals). The whole book of Deuteronomy is outlined in treaty format, and this little block of material in the Ten Commandments is a treaty within a treaty, because here it begins, “I am the LORD, your God,” that is part of the preamble, “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage,” that is what I have done for you, the historical prologue; and the rest of it is the stipulations. Therefore, the Ten Commandments are not just a moral code; they are a code that is controlling a relationship that is legally defined. It is not an absolute code that just anybody obeyed. No, the Ten Commandments are given for the people within this covenant; the whole thing is set in a covenant format.

Not only was the Law God’s corporate mandate for the people of the nation Israel, but it was also God’s personal revelation to individual saints. In addition to the public, corporate role of the Law as Israel’s collective covenant and constitution, the Law also had a private role to play in the life of the Old Testament saint. This role of the Law is readily seen in the Psalms, specifically, Psalms 19 and 119. Notice the crucial role the Law has in the life of the individual saint, as reflected by the psalmist in Psalm 19:

Psa 19:7-11, “The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. 10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.”

Some of the Specific Ways Which the Law Applied to the Individual Saint:

  • The Law was seen as a source of personal edification, through which God spoke personally to the individual saint: Restoring his soul, Psa 19:7; Making the simple wise, 19:7; Rejoicing his heart, 19:8; Enlightening his eyes, 19:8; Providing guidance, Psa 119:105; Reviving him, 119:154; and Convicting him of sin, 119:80, 126, 133; Psa 19:11-14.
  • The Law was a revelation of God’s character, Psa 119:138, 156.
  • The Law was a promise of future salvation, Psa 119:166, 174. The psalmists never view the Law as the standard they must keep in order to be saved. In fact, they viewed salvation as something which the Law anticipated, but did not produce itself. Thus, the Psalms look forward to a future salvation, one which the Law itself will not bring about.
  • The Law was a consolation to the sufferer, but it was not viewed as a means by which one could earn blessings or avoid adversity, cf. Psa 119:67, 71, 75. Rather than seeing the Law as the means to keep him from suffering, the psalmist saw suffering as God’s means of bringing him to the Law.
  • From the Law, the psalmist learned that he could neither understand nor apply this revelation apart from God’s grace, Psa 119:68, 73, 124-125, 144, 169. The psalmist understood that the Law required God’s grace to understand and to apply.
  • The Law was simple, yet profound. It would not be grasped quickly and easily, but only through study, prayer, and meditation, Psa 119:114, 123, 147.

The New Testament Perspective of the Mosaic Law:

1.) There is great continuity between the NT and the Old in terms of their perspectives of the Law. Paul defended the Law as that which was “Holy,” “righteous,” “good,” and “spiritual,” Rom 7:12, 14.

2.) Paul also speaks in demeaning terms regarding the Law, yet only in contrast to the New Covenant, which was implemented by the death of our Lord. In 2 Cor 3, Paul contrasts the glory shown forth at the giving of the Law with the greater glory associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is not a contrast between what is evil and what is good, but rather between what was good and that which is far better. For example:

  • In the first covenant, God’s majesty and might were manifested to all, but a select few could draw near. In the New Covenant, all who wished could draw near, but only a few beheld His majesty, (transfiguration).
  • The first manifestation of God on Mount Sinai portrayed the marvelous truth of the holiness of God, and the separation which that demands. The second manifestation of our Lord on Mount Calvary revealed the marvelous grace of God, by which He drew near to men and by which we may draw near to Him.

Therefore, we must be careful to keep both the holiness and the grace of God in perspective.

1.) There are some that stress the grace of God to the point of diminishing the truth of His holiness, and of our need for purity.

2.) There are others who so emphasize the holiness of God so that men despair of ever having intimate fellowship with Him.

The barriers which were of necessity constructed to keep men from God at the giving of the old covenant have all been taken away by the institution of the New Covenant. The veil which kept men from the presence of God has been torn in two. The barrier of our sins has been broken down. This is because the holiness which the Law requires has been fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the penalty of death which the Law pronounces on every sinner has been born by the same Savior, on the cross of Calvary. As a result, God gives greater glory to the New Covenant than the Old.

3.) In this regard, the Law was also viewed by the apostles as that which was prophetic; it foreshadowed the better things to come, Col 2:16-17; Heb 10:1, and that which was provisional and preparatory, Gal 3 – 4.

  • We are now the kingdom of priests, having been given that holy task which Israel was given and failed to fulfill.
  • Therefore, we should understand that the standards for God’s kingdom of priests would be the same. The means of reaching this standard is not that of human effort at Law-keeping. It never was, and it never will be. We can never fully meet this standard, but in Christ it has been met and given to us. We can never achieve it on our own in this life, but since Christ lives in us, we can expect evidences of righteousness, because He is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure.

4.) Finally, when Paul speaks absolutely disparagingly of “the Law,” it is not of the Law as given by God and properly interpreted and applied, but the Law as interpreted and applied by the Judaizers, who sought to pervert the Law into a system of works-oriented righteousness.

Therefore, the Law is spoken of in the New Testament:

1) As being holy, righteous, good, and spiritual;

2) In demeaning terms in contrast to the better New Covenant;

3) Prophetically of Christ’s work and accomplishments;

4) Disparagingly, in the way it was applied by the Judaizers.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Commandments

1st commandmentThe 1st Commandment:

Ex 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Deut 5:7, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

“Gods,” is the Hebrew Noun ELOHIM, ‏אֱלֹהִים‎ that is also used for the One true God in vs. 2 and elsewhere in the OT. The “IM” ending makes it a plural noun speaking of the many other “gods” that existed in ancient societies, Ex 20:23, such as Egypt, Philistia, Canaan, Amor, Sidon, Moab, Milcon, Ammon, Syria, Babylon, etc., and ones that would come with the Greek and Roman empires. Whether these societies believed in one or many gods (Pantheon), they all were false gods put before the One true God of Israel.

When ELOHIM is used of the One true God of Israel, it is singular in meaning, (as it sometimes is used for singular pagan gods of other nations), yet, subtly pointing out the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as in the great SHEMA of Israel in Deut 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Before Me,” is the Preposition AL, ‏עַל‎ with the Noun PANIM, פָּנִים‎ that literally means “face.” This word can also function as a Preposition and literally means, “facing,” and is often translated “before” or “in front of.” Likewise, it can mean in the presence of. Therefore, it means, “in opposition to Me,” as well as, “in My presence.”

This is not an admission that other gods exist. The simple fact is there are no other gods beside God, Isa 45:21; 45:6; cf. 42:8. So, if any are worshipped, they are nothing more than man-made fallacies.

This commandment not only means other gods being worshipped to the exclusion of God, but also prohibits other gods from being considered to be in the presence of God. As noted above, most religions of that day had a pantheon, a divine assembly that ruled the realm of the gods, the supernatural, and ultimately, the human world. In their systems, there would typically be a deity who was designated head of the pantheon, and he, like the other gods, would have at least one consort; female partner. Therefore, this commandment forbids Israel to think in these terms. God is not the head of a pantheon, and he does not have a consort. Therefore, there are no gods in His presence, meaning above Him or worshipped alongside of Him.

 Therefore, this first mandate, upon which all of the subsequent commandments are based, means that God was to be their only object of worship, and they were to live in blessed fellowship with Him as their glory and their guide. Unfortunately, Israel often disobeyed this very first command by worshiping the idols of other nations. This eventually resulted in her being exiled to Assyria and Babylonia.

Therefore, this was a mandate for pure monotheism that presented a theology completely at variance with the pagan nations all around them. Though the Israelites had grown up in a grossly polytheistic culture in the land of Egypt, where idols were erected to a large array of imaginary deities, (some of which were bulls, hawks, vultures, crocodiles, snakes, and beetles), nothing could have been more opposing to the cultures of the then Gentile world than the statement that there is only one God, the living and sovereign Lord of all creation who also sustained all things in their order.

The delusion of polytheism began in the antediluvian culture and was continued post flood as demonstrated at the Tower of Babel which was a monument to the greatness of the human race, irrespective of God. The various representations of deity, embodied in anthropoid statues or birds or beasts or crawling creatures, flourished especially in Egypt, from where the Israelites had emerged as the only ethnic unit that retained a knowledge of the One true God. As such, the One true God was in polar opposition to the beliefs, practices, and customs connected with the polytheistic superstitions of the ancient Gentile world. The Jews lived in a world of blind and superstitious nations that worshiped many gods. As such, Israel was to bear witness of the true and living God, Psa 115, and invite their neighbors to trust Him.

Conclusion: This commandment prohibits every species of mental idolatry, and all inordinate attachment(s) to earthly and sensible things.

New Testament Usage:

We see this command reiterated it the NT, when Jesus railed against Satan after his third temptation in Mat 4:10; Luke 4:8; Cf. Rev 14:7.

Mat 4:10, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY’.”

Our Lord also reminded the Pharisees of the greatest commandment given in the Law, Mark 12:29, the “Great SHEMA.”

Mark 12:29, “Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD’.”

Mark 12:32 (NKJV), “So the scribe said to Him, ‘Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He’.”

Other passages include:

1 Cor 8:6, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

Eph 4:6, “One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

1 Tim 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

James 2:19, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”

Having other gods before God, means to worship falsely any other man-made god, whether it be of human image or animal or of creation. Worshiping the One true God was still a shocking thing in Paul’s day to the Gentile world. Paul spoke of this in Rom 1:21-23.

Rom 1:21-23, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

false gods and idolsIn ancient times and even today, there have been made many wooden, metallic, or clay images of false gods like totem poles, the Buddha, or various paintings of presumed deified beings that people pray to and worship. Even inside “Christianity,” there are many statues of “saints” that are erected and prayed to by their followers, which are nothing less than false pagan idols.

Finally, there can be many other things or objects in your life that become a false god to you, when you trust and rely upon its presumed power to protect you. This can include, but is not limited to, your President or country, a bottle or drug, money, hobbies, sporting events or sports stars, entertainment stars, etc., as our Lord stated in Mat 6:24; Luke 16:13; cf. Gal 1:10; James 4:4.

Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Gal 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Committing adultery against God is worshipping or prioritizing other things in life rather than God, including false pagan god worship.

For us today, Alexander Maclaren puts the 1st Commandment like this, “For what is it but the declaration that at the center of things is throned, not a rabble of godlings, nor a stony impersonal somewhat, nor a hypothetical unknowable entity, nor a shadowy abstraction, but a living Person, who can say ‘Me,’ and whom we can call on as ‘You,’ and be sure that He hears?” (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture)

He goes on to say, “The first commandment enjoins, or rather blesses us by showing us that we may cherish, supreme affection, worship, trust, self-surrender, aspiration, towards one God. After all, our God is that which we think most precious, for which we are ready to make the greatest sacrifices, which draws our warmest love; which, lost, would leave us desolate; which, possessed, makes us blessed.” (Ibid)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2nd commandmentThe 2nd Commandment:

Ex 20:4-6, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Deut 5:8-10, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 9You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

This prohibition is in regard to the making and worshipping of false gods. They were instructed to not make images of other “gods” or worship or serve them, Deut 4:15-20. The word “make” is the verb ASAH, ‏עָשָׂה‎ that means, “to make something out of something.” It is used of God for His creative acts of the earth, sun, moon, plant life, etc. in Genesis as the Creator. Therefore, by way of comparison and contrast, we are not to be creators of other gods.

This commandment also discusses the “mode” rather than the “object” of worship. It has two parts: the precept, vs. 4-5a, and the penalty or blessing, vs. 5b-6.

The emphasis remains upon monotheism as absolutely essential for the salvation of the covenant nation Israel. The Lord clearly spelled out to them that there was to be absolutely no concession to popular sentiment in favor of cultic images of any kind, whether in heaven above or on earth below, or even in chthonic deities residing beneath the earth itself, (for example those described in Greek mythology).

No likeness or representation of these man-invented deities could be tolerated, for this meant betrayal towards their Divine Lord and Redeemer.

There was not to be even an image of God. Why? Because, an image degrades God and damages men. The worship of God was to be spiritual, not material. His uniqueness, Ex 20:3 requires unique devotion.

Idol” is the Hebrew Noun PESEL פֶּסֶל and is the most general term for the manufactured image, (usually of wood, stone, silver, or gold), of a god used in the OT. Cf. Isa 40:20; 44:15-17; 45:20; Nah 1:14; Hab 2:18-20This word comes from the verb PASAL meaning, “to hew or to cut,” which was done to create an idol. The Greek equivalent is EIDOLON, εἴδωλον that means, “idol or image.”

This is reemphasized in the second phrase, “or any likeness,” which is WE KOL TEMUNAH, literally “and all likeness,” that carries the negative LO from the beginning of the sentence. So, we have two common words for “idol,” PESEL and TEMUNAH, the use of the two synonyms suggests, “any sort of idol,” is prohibited.

An idol is a substitute for God and therefore not a god, for there is only one true and living God. In the OT, idols were formed by mankind in the image of any object created by God, including a man, woman, animal, bird, fish, the sun, the moon, stars, or anything else peoples’ wicked imaginations could conceive, Lev 26:1; Deut 4:16-19, for they were an abomination to God, Deut 27:15.

Idolatry is an entire elaborate religious system and lifestyle running counter to what God desired and desires true worship to be. The attractions of idolatry were very powerful and tended to draw even the Israelites away from true worship and covenant obedience to YHWH in most generations.

The presence of these idols were indicative of the sin and rebellion of the people, Deut 4:16, 23, 25; 2 Chron 33:7. Interestingly, while God was giving Moses this commandment, the people down below were already breaking it. Psa 106:19-21.

Psa 106:19-21, “They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped a molten image. 20Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt.”

King Manasseh placed an Asherah pole, representative of the Canaanite goddess of love, in the Temple, resulting in Jerusalem’s eventual destruction by the Lord, 2 Kings 21:7.

Even things that represent God and His plan were banned, for example a Micah, (not the prophet of renown), set up detestable idols in a shrine in Dan, apparently in order to represent the presence of God, Judges 17:5. We also see that Hezekiah had to destroy the Bronze Serpent used by Moses in the wilderness because of false worship towards it, 2 Kings 18:4.

2 Kings 18:4, “He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.”

God calls them dead, deaf, and dumb as they have no life, strength, or power, Jer 10:14; Hab 12:18-20, and they could not save, Isa 45:20.

In vs. 5, we have a figure of speech called hendiadys, when two expressions are used to convey a single idea. The phrase “worship and serve” means, “to offer religious adoration, veneration, and reverence to someone or something.” This is prohibited regarding any other god, and is held only for the One true God of Israel.

Worship” is the Verb SHACHAH, שָׁחָה in the Causative Reflexive Hithpael, Imperfect that means, “to bow down, to worship, to prostrate.” The Hithpael means the subject is willingly bowing to the ground in worship of a false god and the Imperfect means an incomplete or ongoing action. Cf. Ex 23:24; Deut 4:19; Josh 23:7; 2 Kings 17:35.

Ex 23:24, “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.”

Deut 4:19, “And beware, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”

When some prostrates themselves before a god, it represents the powerlessness of the worshiper, who lies prone before the being possessing power and authority over them.

Serve,” is the other prohibition in this commandment, which is the verb ABAD (avadh), עָבַד that means, “to work, serve, or be a slave to.” It is in the Causative Passive Hophal stem, Imperfect. The Hophal is always translated as a completed action, yet with the imperfect, it is a repetitive action. The causative passive means they are led to worship these false gods due to their apostate mental attitude towards the true God of Israel. So, we could say, “caused to serve or be enslaved to” the false gods “over and over again.” Cf. Deut 12:2, 30; Joshua 24:2, 14.

Deut 12:2, You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.”

Deut 12:30, “Beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?”

Joshua 24:14, “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.”

Israel was not to serve pagan gods, Deut 7:16; 11:16; 28:14; 29:18; Josh 23:7; 2 Kings 17:35; Jer 25:6, but only the Lord, Ex 4:23; 7:16; 8:1; 10:26, and they were to be judged if they neglected this command, Deut 8:19; 30:17; Josh 23:16; 24:20; 2 Chron 7:19, 22, because He was “a jealous” God, Ex 34:14; Deut 5:9; 6:15; 32:16, 21; Josh 24:19.

Ex 34:14, “For you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

God is a “jealous God,” not in the sense that He is envious of other gods; for He knows that all other “gods” are figments of the imagination and do not really exist. The word “jealous” expresses His love for His people because He wants the very best for them. Just as parents are jealous over their children, and spouses over their mates, so God is jealous over His beloved ones and will not tolerate competition, Zech 1:14; 8:2. Therefore, He is zealous that devotion be given exclusively to Him. This is not as an envious egotism of any sort, but rather a firm insistence upon exclusive commitment to the Lord Himself. Because of His deep love, the Almighty insists that no other loyalty or attraction to any rival suitor of the believer’s heart ever be tolerated.

Such idolatry also involved serving Baal, Judges 2:11; 3:7; 10:6, 10, serving idols 2 Kings 17:12; 21:21; Ezek 20:39, and serving the Asheri, Deut 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; 1 Kings 15:13; 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7; 23:4; 2 Chron 15:16.

Baal was the lord of Canaanite religion and seen in the thunderstorms. He was worshiped as the god who provided fertility. His worship was as diverse as the communities in which he was worshiped. Each locality had its own Baal, who was named after the city or place to which he belonged, such as Baal-peor, Num 25:5; Deut 4:3; Psa 106:28; Hosea 9:10, Baal-hermon, Judges 3:3; 1 Chron 5:23, and Baal-gad, Joshua 11:17; 12:7; 13:5. Baal was considered the owner or possessor of the land on which his followers lived.

Baal was both the sun-god and storm-god. He was worshiped as sun-god when the people wished to express thanks and gratitude for light and warmth and fertility. Worship of Baal as storm-god took place to appease the destructive nature of Baal, demonstrated by drought and storms that devastated the vegetation of the worshipers. The efforts to appease Baal whenever adverse conditions prevailed culminated in the sacrifice of human beings, usually the firstborn of the one offering the sacrifice. The victims were burnt alive, a practice in the Old Testament termed “to pass through the fire,” 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel, under the leadership of Ahab of the household of Omri, was led to worship Baal as the state god, 1 Kings 16:31. The prophets Elijah and Elisha delivered the condemnation of God concerning Baal worship and tried to rid the land of the idolatry, 1 Kings 18:17-40; 2 Kings 1:9-16. The worship of Baal infiltrated the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The reform movement of Hezekiah was reversed when Manasseh became king, 2 Kings 21:2-16, as he reinstated Baal worship, along with worship of Assyrian gods and other gods.

The conflict between Baal worship and the worship of the Lord God is described in the Book of Hosea. The judgment of the people of God for their idolatry, and their restoration is given in Hosea 2. The Bible writers affirmed the supremacy of Yahweh and condemned the worship of any other gods beside Yahweh.

Baal Images:

Baal Images 3


Asherim is the plural of the fertility goddess, Asherah, the mother of Baal, whose worship was concentrated in Syria and Canaan. According to ancient mythology, Asherah, the mother goddess, was the wife of El and mother of seventy gods, of whom Baal was the most famous. Asherah was the fertility goddess of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. She was called “Lady Asherah of the Sea.” Her worship included the wooden object that represented her and the Asherim pole. Cf. Deut 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; 1 Kings 15:13; 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7; 23:4; 2 Chron 15:16.

Deut 12:3, “And you shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall obliterate their name from that place.

Asherah Images:

Asherah Images 2

Dagon Images:

dagon images 5


The Lord foretold that Israel would turn away from Him to serve pagan gods, Deut 31:20. He warned that pagan wives would entice Israel to serve pagan gods, Deut 7:4, and anyone who enticed an Israelite to commit such sins, Deut 13:6; 17:3, would be put to death, cf. 13:9; 17:5. At the time of the conquest, Israel promised not to serve pagan gods, Josh 24:16, but to serve only the Lord, vs. 18, 21, 24, and they did so throughout the days of Joshua and the elders who outlived him, Josh 24:31; Judges 2:7. However, during the period of the judges, Israel frequently turned away from the Lord to serve pagan gods, Judges 2:11, 13, 19; 3:6f; 10:6, 10, 13; 1 Sam 8:8, which resulted in judgment; but when they repented and returned to serving the Lord, Judges 10:16, He gave them deliverance. As judgment for false god worship, Israel would be exiled and serve pagan gods in a foreign land, Deut 28:36, 64; 29:26; Jer 16:13.

The Lord commanded that Israel’s kings serve only Him; and if they turned away from Him to serve pagan gods, 1 Kings 9:6, He would cut off the nation, vs. 7. Israel did turn away from the Lord to serve pagan gods, Jer 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 22:9; 35:15, which resulted in their exile and in serving the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar.

As noted above, pagan worship included serving the sun, moon, stars, and the hosts of heaven. Israel was not to serve these, Deut 4:19. Yet, King Manasseh worshiped and served them, 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chron 33:3, and the people followed his example, Jer 8:2.

This commandment was accompanied by both a warning and a promise of blessing.

Ex 20:5b, is the warning, “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

Notice the last phrase of the warning, “of those who hate Me.”  The word “hate” the Hebrew verb SANE, ‏שָׂנֵא‎ that means, “an emotional attitude of one towards someone or something which is abhorred, disdained, or opposed, and with which a person desires to have no relationship or amiable reconciliation.”

In other words, idolatry is a demonstration of one’s hate, abhorrence, disdain, and/or opposition towards the One true God of Israel. It is someone who has no desire to have a relationship with God.

In fact, God hates the abominable acts people perform in idolatry or false pagan worship, which He absolutely prohibits in the worship and service of Him.

Deut 12:31, “You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.”

The Law, as given in Lev 18:21; 20:2-5, described child sacrifice as a capital offense and was tantamount to murder.

Lev 18:21, “Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.

molech images 2

God’s judgment or Divine discipline on the people and nation of Israel for participating in these heinous acts meant that not only would that generation be punished, but subsequent generations as well; “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations.” That means they, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren could suffer as a result of breaking this commandment.

On the other hand, God promises blessings in Ex 20:6, But showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” We previously noted this general promise of blessing by God to those who would follow His commandments.

The blessing here is for God to show His, “lovingkindness,” which is the Noun CHESED, ‏חֶסֶד‎ that means, “kindness, mercy, grace, loyalty, faithfulness, goodness, or steadfast love.” In other words, God will uphold His end of the bargain, (Mosaic Covenant), by protecting and providing abundantly for Israel, if Israel upholds her end by keeping the Law.

This is reiterated in Deut 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

To love God is to keep His commandments. Obeying His man-dates is the expression of love towards God. For the OT saint, it meant following the Mosaic Law as best they could. For the Church Age, it means obeying the mystery Doctrines for the Church Age with its 300+ mandates.

Remember, keeping His mandates does not provide you with salvation, but salvation is demonstrated through the keeping of His mandates. Cf. Acts 13:39; Rom 3:20-21, 27-28; James 2:18-20.

New Testament Usage:

This commandment is also reiterated in Mat 4:10, by our Lord when tempted by Satan, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY’.” Cf. Luke 4:8.

He was quoting Deut 6:13; 10:20; 13:4.

Deut 6:13, “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship (ABAD) Him and swear by His name.”

Deut 13:4, “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve (ABAD) Him, and cling to Him.”

Present-day religious pluralism, “You worship your god and I’ll worship mine, because both are right,” is both unbiblical and illogical. How can there be more than one god? If God is God, He is infinite, eternal, and sovereign, and cannot share the throne with another being who is also infinite, eternal, and sovereign.

Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

1 Cor 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

Gal 5:20, the prohibitions against, “…idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions.”

Col 3:5, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

Idolatry is the Greek noun EIDOLOLATREIA, εἰδωλολατρεία, used in 1 Cor 10:14; Gal 5:20; Col 3:5; 1 Peter 4:3, that is held to be a Christian formation, as it is not found prior to the Christian period. It is a compound word from EIDOLON, “image,” and LATREIA, “service.” It is linked to monetary greed in Ephesians and Colossians. It is defined as: The worship of idols or false gods, blind admiration of or devotion to something or someone, excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something, and an active rejection of God by willful participation in sin, including allegiance sworn to sin rather than to God.

In 1 Cor 10:10-22, the idol worship of the pagan nations was not only illogical and unbiblical, but it was intensely immoral, (temple prostitutes and fertility rites), inhuman, (sacrificing children), and demonic.

Paul also notes the powerlessness of idols in 1 Cor 12:2, “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.”

John warned against worshipping idols, 1 John 5:21; Rev 2:14, 20; 9:20.

1 John 5:21, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Rev 9:20, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.”

Paul was riled up in his soul to witness the truth about God and Christ to the Athenians because of their idol worship, Acts 17:16.

Paul further defines idolatry as false worship related to demonism and a false communion table in 1 Cor 10:21, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Therefore, idol worship amounts to demon worship.

In Rev 2:14, 20, when the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira were rebuked, it was because their eating of sacrificial meat to idols was done in the worship of those idols. Cf. Num 25:1-5; 31:6. As opposed to the great discussion in both 1 Cor 8 and 10, regarding things sacrificed to idols and the mature believer’s attitude towards them and their fellow man. To the mature believer there are no idols that exist, so it is ok to eat the meat sacrificed to them, as long as that eating does not cause an unbeliever or immature believer to sin by judging your eating. If so, the mature believer is to abstain for the sake of the brother, but not for the sake of the idol.

The idols that entice God’s people today are things like money, recognition, success, material possessions, (cars, houses, boats, collectibles, etc.), sex, knowledge, or even other people.

Therefore, like the people of Israel during the Jewish Dispensation, the Church during the current Age of Grace is to not make, serve, or worship any other gods, in image or fashion. Therefore, this commandment warns us against having the wrong object of worship and against worshiping the wrong way.

Isa 42:8, “I am the Lord: that is my name; and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven (carved) images.”

Jesus said of the Church Age in, John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (That is, not in or by an image).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3rd commandmentThe 3rd Commandment:

Ex 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

Deut 5:11, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

The 3rd Commandment must be understood in line with the two preceding, as of equal breadth and equally fundamental. The 1st dealt with internal worship, the 2nd external worship, now with the 3rd we have the profession of the mouth in true adoration of God. As the 2nd Commandment concerned the issue of exercising power over God, so the 3rd turns its attention to exercising God’s power over others or selfishly towards self-interest. Therefore, this commandment is not confined to the use of the name of God in oaths, whether false or trivial, No! It includes much more.

“You shall not take,” is the Hebrew negative Particle LO and the Qal Imperfect of NASA, ‏ָנשָׂא‎  for “take” that means, “to lift, to bear, to carry,” or sometimes “to forgive.” Here the context is the “use of” your words, beginning with the swearing of a false oath utilizing God’s name as a guarantee that you are actually speaking the truth, when in reality you are not. So, it means the lifting up of the voice in some form or fashion against God as noted in the next phrase.

The “name,” SHEM, שֵׁם, that you should not use in such falsehood, is the name of, “the Lord,” YHWH, יְהָוה, “your God,” ELOHIM, אֱלֹהִים.

The “name” of God stands for so much more than the mere pronouncing of His title of address. Unlike modern English, “name” is not restricted to “label.” It refers to one’s reputation or character. One’s name is a reflection of oneself. So, to use someone’s name is the equivalent of having their “power of attorney,” cf. John 14:13-14. As such, we see in Scripture that the “name” of the Lord includes:

1) His nature, being, and very person, Psa 20:1; Luke 24:47; John 1:12; cf. Rev 3:4.

2) His teaching or doctrine, Psa 22:22; John 17:6, 26.

3) His moral and ethical teaching, Micah 4:5.

No doubt, perjury and profane swearing are included in the breadth of this prohibition, but it reaches far beyond them. The name of God is the declaration of His being and character. We take “His name in vain” when we speak of Him unworthily that includes many glib and formal prayers, any mechanical, route, or self-glorifying worship, etc.

Ezekiel said that when the Israelites went into captivity, making the Babylonians believe that their gods were mightier than YHWH, the Israelites had “brought shame on (God’s) holy name,” Ezek 36:19-21. Thus, at the heart of this commandment is the call for the covenant partner to do nothing that would portray God as anything less than absolutely holy, to do nothing that would seek to use Him for their own ends, and to do nothing that would cause the world to see Him as less than He is.

In addition, it is not that the Israelites could not use the name of YHWH, even to swear an oath, Deut 6:13; 10:20, but they could not use His name if they were lying, swearing falsely, deviously entering into a contract with someone, or doing anything that would impugned the name of the Lord. This is found in the context of the phrase, “in vain.”

In fact, over the years, some have taken this commandment to mean you could not “swear” in a court of law using the name of God as your guarantor. But that is not the case. NASA is not the official word for “swear” in Hebrew. That word is SHABA, and SHABA is what Moses would have written had he meant “swear,” cf. Gen 21:23-24. Therefore, it does not mean that this commandment is against oaths. Certain people have come to this over the ages and say the Bible says, “Thou shalt not raise up the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” and this means if I go into a court, I cannot put my hand on the Bible and swear. Yet, that is absolutely not what this commandment says. This is not “swear,” SHABA, it is NASA, which means to lift or raise up and includes the application of oaths done falsely or with deceit, but it includes a far greater area than just a formal oath.

In addition, the later Israelite tradition of never speaking the name YHWH or replacing it with KURIOS in the Greek translation is not to be applied from this or any other verses. It is hard to see how refusing ever to use a name is equivalent to honoring it. On the contrary, we should observe that Deut 10:20, actually mandates the use of God’s name, YHWH, in taking an oath before any tribunal. Failure to do so is therefore an act of disobedience toward the God who commanded it.

Deut 10:20, “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear (SHABA) by His name.”

Therefore, this commandment does not exclude legitimate oaths, for they appear frequently, e.g., Deut 6:13; Psa 63:11; Isa 45:23; Jer 4:2; 12:16; Rom 1:9; 9:1; 1 Cor 15:31; Phil 1:8; Rev 10:5-6.

“In Vain,” is the Preposition LE that means here, “with or in,” and the Noun SHAW, שָׁוְא, (shav), that means, “worthlessness, falsehood, vanity, emptiness, evil, ruin, uselessness, deception, without result, fraud, deceit, etc.” The primary meaning of the word is deceit, lie, or falsehood. Literally, this sentence reads, “You shall not lift up (use) the name of the Lord your God in a deceitful manner.”

We will note this word again in the 9th Commandment found in Deut 5:20, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” in regard to lying in a court of law, which is forbidden.

In the 3rd Commandment, it refers to claiming God as your witness that what you say is true, when in fact it is not. The prohibition involves using the name of God to cover a lie, such as, “May God strike me dead,” or “God is my witness.” It also covers the attachment of God’s name to some project or action that someone would like to see undertaken or adopted by claiming that “It is God’s will.”

The same construction, LE SHAW we have in Ex 20:7, is also seen in Jer 18:15, regarding idols and false god worship.

Jer 18:15, NASB, “For My people have forgotten Me, they burn incense to worthless gods and they have stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, not on a highway.”

This passage should read, “For My people have forgotten Me, in vain they burn incense, (to false gods), and they have stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, not on a highway.”

Worshipping idols is declared worthless and a waste of time in Jeremiah. As we previously noted, idols have no power or strength to do anything. But when people fall away from worshipping and serving the One and only God, they forget about Him and fall into reversionism following false pagan god worship.

Seeing the similar use of SHAW, “vain,” in our verse and Jeremiah, we could say that “taking the name of the Lord in vain,” also has a connotation of false pagan god worship, either to the exclusion of the worship and service of the true God of Israel or in conjunction with Him.

In addition, when the Israelite would come to offer his sacrifice to God, if he did not truly believe its meaning and significance in his heart, He was doing it in vain, because it had no true meaning to him.

The same goes for you and I of the Church Age, we can confess our sins and pray all we want, but if we do not understand or believe in what we are doing, it is just a waste of time, cf. 1 John 5:14-15. Likewise, if you try to worship or serve God without the filling of the Holy Spirit, it is dissipation, Eph 5:18. Or if you go to church and perform all the rituals, thinking the ritual performance, (your good works), is what will save you, you are wasting your time.

Therefore, as the 1st Commandment states, God was and is the One true and only God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt and entered into a personal covenant relationship with the

Israelites, Ex 20:1-3. As such, they were not to enter into a relationship with other false gods, the 2nd Commandment, vs. 4-6. This meant that they were to have a very personal commitment of heart, soul, and life style to God Himself. We find the essence of the Covenant of grace expressed in Lev 26:12, “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.” Cf. 2 Cor 6:16. As such, to misuse or speak flippantly the name of the Almighty YHWH, the covenant-keeping God, manifested an impious disrespect toward the Lord Himself, Cf. Lev 18:21; 19:12; 20:3.

Lev 19:12, “And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.”

Lev 18:21, “Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.”

“Walking with God,” and “being His people,” involves more than affirming a proposition in theology or a matter of mere theory. It implies a personal heart commitment between the Redeemer and His redeemed. More than living to please the Lord and measure up to his standards of conduct, this Covenant includes a very personal commitment of heart, soul, and life style to God Himself.

Therefore, the Israelites were not to use His name for any idle, frivolous, or insincere purpose, cf. Lev 19:12. This is a directive against using God’s name in a manipulative way, (e.g., His name is not to be used in vulgarity, profanity, magic, or incantations). For example, the Moabite King Balak attempted to hire Balaam to magically curse the Israelites in the name of the Lord, Num 22-24. People should not use His name for selfish or evil purposes, cf. Psa 139:20, thereby seeking to usurp His authority. Therefore, in ancient, as well as in modern times, God’s name was not to be invoked for some purely selfish human purpose.

Psa 139:20, “For they speak against You wickedly, and Your enemies take Your name in vain.”

J. Vernon McGee noted in, “Thru The Bible,” “Many people cannot express themselves without using profanity. A man who was wonderfully converted several years ago in Texas once told me, “When I was converted, I lost over half of my vocabulary!”

To say it another way, your name stands for your character and reputation, what you are and what you do, John 17:6, 26. When you say that someone has “a bad name,” you are not criticizing what is written on his birth certificate. You are warning me that the man cannot be trusted. If God is the greatest being in the universe, then His name is the greatest name and must be honored as such. In fact, the first petition in the Lord’s template prayer is, “Hallowed be Your name,” Mat 6:9.

Therefore, we blaspheme God’s name by using vulgar language, making a promise, or taking an oath when we know we will not fulfill the commitment. All of this is making worthless or cheapening His name and blaspheming God, see Lev 19:12, once again.

On the positive side is the requirement that our speech of God should fit our thought of God, and our thought of Him should fit His Name; that our words should mirror our affections, and our affection be a true reflection of His beauty, love, and glory; that cleansed lips shall reverently utter the Name above every name.

In addition, this command is designed to keep people free from being falsely accused or convicted, or erroneously coerced into some action by bringing in God’s name. God’s name is rightly and legitimately used in our prayer, praise, thanksgiving, love towards God, doctrinal communication, and worship. It is a name of power, strength, reverence, and refuge.

Prov 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.”

Then we have the warning of discipline for committing this sin, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” This is the warning of Divine discipline towards the one or one(s) that break this commandment.

For the Lord” is the Conjunction KI, with the Noun YHWH; His proper name.

Will not hold him guiltless,” is the negative Particle LO, and Verb NAQAH, נקָה‎ that means, “to be free, to exempt, to be innocent, or acquit.” In other words, He won’t let them off the hook! They will fall under His sovereign Divine judgment / discipline. That is, God will not leave him unpunished.

Who takes” is the Qal Imperfect of NASA, “lifts up.”

His name,” is SHEM, and “vain,” is LE SHAW. Therefore, this warning of discipline is for anyone who profanes, trivializes, or abuses the name of God, as we have noted above.

Given the linkage to the 1st and 2nd Commandments, this too means having a negative relationship or more strongly an antagonistic relationship with God. It is a symptom of having other gods before Him, worshipping, and serving them.

After the heart, comes the soul, and then comes the lips. The lips speak what is in the soul, and what is in the soul comes from the heart. If sin is there, then sinful words come from the lips. As such, both mental and verbal sins are now in the life of this sinner, along with their antagonism towards God. The covenant sinner will be discipline by God to get him back on the high road of righteousness and a relationship with God.

In the relationship of love, prayer provides a right and proper form of communication with God, always expressing gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving. The person whose prayers are concentrated on their own advantage, and invokes God’s name as a means to an end, is subject to the solemn warning.

The sinner may hold himself guiltless, and think there is no harm in it, and that God will never call him to an account for it, yet God will not hold him guiltless, as he hopes He will. God Himself will be the avenger of those that take His name in vain; and they will find it a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Likewise, when a maximum number of people in a national entity habitually take the name of the Lord in vain, national disintegration follows and results in Divine Judgment on the nation. This is seen in the vision of Zechariah of the “flying scroll.” The flying scroll of YHWH was an embodiment of God’s judgment through the Holy Spirit who reveals sin. It was a written source for indictment on those who stole and those who took the Lord’s name in vain, Zech 5:3ff.

New Testament Usage:

As noted previously, God is the greatest being in the universe, His name is the greatest name and must be honored as such. That is why the first petition in the Lord’s template prayer is, “Hallowed be Your name,” Mat 6:9.

Our Lord reminded the Pharisees about one aspect of this commandment in Mat 5:33-37. The legalistic Pharisees were interpreting Ex 20:7, and Lev 19:12, cf. Num 30:3; Deut 23:22, in such a way that they distinguished between taking an oath by the name of God or by created things, cf. Mat 23:16-22. The first was considered binding, while the second allowed for withdrawal. But God is Lord over all His creation; thus any breaking of an oath insults His name.

The fact that the old-time rabbis made a difference between oaths, making it more serious to break some of them than others, led to evasions of the truth and to less and less faith in each other. This is similar to how certain denominations make some sins more egregious than others by classifying them “mortal” and “venial.”  Yet, in God’s eyes, a sin is a sin, is a sin.

Therefore, this does not exclude legitimate oaths, e.g., Rom 1:9; 9:1; 1 Cor 15:31; Phil 1:8; Rev 10:5-6, but instead of swearing all these oaths, especially the ones you do not intend to keep, believers are to be simple, honest, and sincere where your “yes,” means “yes,” and your “no,” means “no,” Mat 5:37. There is no need for legalistic swearing; just down right Biblical honesty is all that is necessary.

The followers of Jesus should be known as men and women of their word. If they are known to have an honorable regard for truth, then what they say will be accepted without the support of any oath. The idea that a man or woman can be trusted to speak the truth only when under oath (if then) springs from dishonesty and suspicion, and tends to weaken mutual confidence in the exchanges of everyday life. No one demands an oath from those whose word is known to be their bond; even a solemn oath on the lips of others tends to be taken with a grain of salt.

By debunking this one aspect of “taking the Name of YHWH in vain,” Jesus also points to the intent of the Commandment. To think, act, and speak in righteousness. When you do, you are a witness through your life of the righteousness of God and lift up His name on high. But when you do not walk in righteousness, you are lifting up His name in vain, as your life reflects sin and Satan’s cosmic system rather than God.

2 Tim 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness”.”

For the Church Age, God the Father has revealed Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, KURIOS IESOUS CHRISTOS. Having the name “Lord,” which is KURIOS in the Greek that is equivalent to YHWH in the Hebrew, tells us that Jesus is YHWH. Therefore, His name Jesus meaning, “YHWH is salvation,” or Christ meaning, “Anointed One,” should NOT be taken in vain. Cf. Phil 2:9; Eph 1:21.

Phil 2:9, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.”

Eph 1:21, “Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”

The New Testament tells us that those who rely on the Law to save them or even to live the Christian way of life take the Lord’s name in vain, Rom 2:24.

In fact, the anti-Christ of the Tribulation will be “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Rev 13:6, “And he (the Beast – anti-Christ) opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.”

Paul’s apostolic authority and power was based on the “Name” of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 1:10; 5:4.

1 Cor 1:10, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

1 Cor 5:4, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

All that we do in the Christian life should be done unto the Lord. Therefore, we are to live it so as to glorify Him and not defame, slander, or blaspheme His name, Col 3:17; 2 Thes 1:12; Heb 6:10; 13:15; Rev 2:13; 3:8.

Col 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

2 Thes 1:12. “In order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ”

Heb 6:10, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”

Heb 13:15, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”


Rev 2:13, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.”

Rev 3:8, “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

In the eternal state, we will be sealed with and recognized by the Name of Jesus Christ, Rev 22:4.

Rev 22:4, “They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.”

The warning aspect of the 3rd Commandment is not directly reiterated in the New Testament, but we do have the doctrine of Divine Discipline stated throughout, for those who fall into carnality, reversionism, and apostasy, cf. 1 Cor 11:30; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19. This includes the doctrine of compound Divine discipline, where we understand that for verbal sins there first had to be mental attitude sins. If either or both are persistent in our lives, God will discipline each and the doubling effect occurs when we have both mental attitude and verbal sins in our lives.

Therefore, James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you, (lift you up).”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

4th commandmentThe 4th Commandment:

Ex 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day, (Gen 2:2-3; Heb 4:4); therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Deut 5:12-15, “Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” Cf. Ex 16:23-30; 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:13-17; 34:21-23; 35:2-3; Lev 23:3, 8; 26:2; Neh 13:16-19.

Ex 12:16, “And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.”

This is the 4th and last of the Ten Commandments that directly relates to the worship and service of God. It was a mandate by God to honor the Sabbath Day and make it holy unto the Lord. It was a day during which the Israelites were to rest from their work, i.e., the normal activities and labors of the other six days of the week were to be avoided.

The first thing to note from the original Hebrew is that all of the pronouns related to who this commandment was addressed to are in the 2nd Person Singular. Whether it be the verb usage or pronoun, it is in the 2nd Person Singular. That tells us this was specifically addressed to the people and nation of Israel and not others. That means it was not addressed to the Gentile peoples or nations. If it were, it would have been written in the Plural in either the 2nd or 3rd Person for “you all” or “they all.” Likewise, nowhere in the Law does it say to apply these commandments to others nations.

This commandment begins in Ex 20:8 with “remember,” ZAKHAR, זכַר‎, in the Qal, (active), Infinitive Absolute, (intensifying the force and acts like an imperative, as a command). It is the act of “remembrance,” in this case, a covenantal or legal obligation that leads to a present act. It is an act of recognition and reflection that requires an action on the part of the servant of God to recall and reflect on God.

In Deut 5:12, it begins with the Qal Infinitive Absolute of SHAMAR שָׁמַר‎ that means, “to observe, to guard, or to keep.” The underlying idea of this root word is, “to exercise great care.” It is used often to describe the rigorous keeping of obligations, especially the commands of God, as it is here, cf. Ex 31:13, 16; Lev 19:3, 30; 26:2; Isa 56:4.

Therefore, the Israelites where commanded by God to make sure they “remembered” to “observe” this mandate. That is, they were to recognize it as a special day and honor it by doing as the Lord commanded. They were to exercise great care to ensure they did as God commanded them to do on this day each week.

They were specifically commanded “to think” on this day and “not to work,” as “remember” means to think and to draw upon the resources of the heart of your soul. Therefore, it is a command that their hearts control their souls, and this control is the basis for the spiritual life. So, God says, “You work hard for six days, during which time you may do some thinking; but set aside the seventh day as the “day for truly thinking about Me.”

The thing they were to think about, remember and observe the “Sabbath,” that is a transliteration of the Hebrew Noun SHABBATH, שַׁבָּת. It is related to the verb SHAVATH, שָׁבַת‎ that means, “to cease or to rest.” So, it means, “cessation, repose, or rest.” In other words, they were to not do any work that they did the other six days of the week on this day. They were to rest and remember the Lord.

There is no mention of a seven-day week or rest between Genesis 2 and the giving of the Law in Exodus 20. In fact, this word is not used in the Bible until Ex 16:23f, when the Lord gave them manna (bread) in the wilderness. That is when He first established the Sabbath rest on Saturday.

Ex 16:23, “Then he (Moses) said to them, ‘This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning’.”

The obligation to rest meant that the normal activities and labors of the other six days of the week were to be avoided. Work was to be planned so as to leave the seventh day free for worship. This last day of the week was to be devoted to remembrance of God including worship and fellowship at the sanctuary of the Lord, with the prime attention being directed toward the glory and revealed will of the holy God. This day was on Saturday, from Friday, sundown, 6 p.m. to Saturday, sundown, 6 p.m.

The “Sabbath” also came to be used to designate certain feast days. In Lev 16:31; cf. 23:32, it is used of the Day of Atonement, and it can also be found in reference to the Feast of Trumpets, (first day of the seventh month, Lev 23:24), and to the first and last days of the Feast of Booths, Lev 23:39.

In Lev 25:2, 4, SHABBATH is used for the sabbatical year, which included the idea of a “Sabbath rest” for the land that was a rest for the land after six years of cultivation, leaving it untilled, Lev 25:6. God promised to provide for Israel’s needs while the land lay uncultivated, Lev 25:20-22.

As a nation, Israel failed to keep the Sabbath for the land with the result that they were taken from the land so that the land could have its Sabbath rest, Lev 26:32-35, 43; Ezek 20:10-24. One of the purposes for the seventy-year Babylonian captivity was to make up for Israel’s failure to observe the sabbatical years, 2 Chron 36:21.

It was also associated with the year of Jubilee, Lev 25:11.

Interestingly, the Sabbath did not apply to guard duty, 2 Kings 11:4-12, because the people still need protection from their enemies. It was designed to commemorate God’s grace and provisions, and freedom is part of that grace provision.

In addition, the priests still carried on their duties about the Tabernacle, Lev 24:8; Num 28:9, 10. The Temple was full of activities, 1 Chron 9:32; 23:31; 2 Chron 2:4; 8:13; 23:4; 31:3. And the rite of circumcision was performed on the Sabbath if it was the eighth day after the child’s birth, Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22.

The thing they were to do for this day was “to keep it holy,” which is the Preposition LE, לְ, with the Piel, (intensive active), Infinitive Construct, (stresses the purpose of this command), of QADHASH, קָדַשׁ that means, “to be holy.”

In the Piel stem it means, “making it holy to God.” This is their response to their God. It is synonymous in usage here with consecrate, sanctify, and setting apart. Sanctification or making holy is parallel to or involved with atonement, purifying from sin, and anointing in Ex 29:36, as well as cleansing in Lev 16:19. So, we see that God blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it, or set it apart for a special relationship to Him. Thus, his people were to rest and honor that day in order to sanctify, set apart, and make it holy, Ex 20:8.

Deut 5:12 adds to Ex 20:8, “as the LORD your God commanded you,” KI ASHER, (according to that which); TSAWAH, (He has commanded you, [in the intensive active Piel Perfect for a completed action]); YHWH, (The Lord); ELOHIM (God). This is reminding them that the Lord has previously given this command to them, Ex 16:13-34, when He provided the manna and quails.

Next, in Ex 20:9 and Deut 5:13, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” SES YOM AVADH WE ASAH KOL MELAKHAH. The “six days” include Sunday through Friday.

It means that whatever your abilities, talents, skills, or profession are from these you labor or work and make a profit or wage during six of the seven days in a week.

Then, in Ex 20:10 and Deut 5:14, we have the mandate, “but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God.” On this day, they were not to work or labor as noted in the explanation of what is expected of the people on this day, “you shall not do any work,” and to whom it applied, “you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner.

Therefore, whatever their talents, abilities, skills, or professions were, they were not to use these on the 7th day of the week, (Saturday). All work was to stop on the Sabbath day for the purpose of orienting to the grace of God.

The Deuteronomy passage gives a bit more detail defining “cattle” to include “ox and donkeys,” and re-emphasizes the fact that servants too are allowed to rest; “so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

In other words, they were not to be so greedy as to make their children, servants/workers, and working animals work on this day, while they were resting from their labors. Nor were their children to be working on this day. Everyone was to rest and remember the Lord on this day.

A “sojourner,” GEYR, ‏גֵּר‎ was a resident-alien, a person who moved into an area where he had neither land nor clan ties. Such a person would then be without traditional tribal legal support and protection and vulnerable to abuse. Resident-aliens formed a distinct social class in society, neither native citizen nor foreigner nor slave. They usually had to attach themselves to a family in order to survive, cf. Elisha and the widow of Zerephath, at whose house he sojourned, 1 Kings 17:20. Israel had lengthy legislation on the rights and protection of the resident-aliens in society, and in fact, the Israelites “were once sojourners in the land of Egypt,” Ex 23:9.

Then we have two different “justifications” for the Sabbath rest that both represent the number 4 in Scripture that stands for material things.

1) In Ex 20:11, the first justification is that God rested on the 7th Day after “working” for 6 days in creating the heavens and the earth. This is the justification for the Israelites day of rest. That is, God rested from all His works of creation on the 7th Day; therefore, the Israelites were to observe that aspect of God, (the Creator of the heavens and earth, and all that is in them), and remember all the provisions He made for them, and rest on the Sabbath Day. God created all the material things to bless and provide for mankind, and the Israelites were to honor that.

Ex 20:11, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day, (Gen 2:2-3; Heb 4:4); therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Gen 2:2-3, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

The importance for Israel keeping the Sabbath as a precious and holy day is that it was a grateful recognition that God had created the world in six creative days and then set apart the seventh day as a special reminder and celebration of His fashioning the entire universe in all of its grandeur.

In Ex 20:11, the word, “made” is ASAH that means God made something out of something. It more technically speaks of the restoration of planet earth that encompasses six days, after its chaos due to the Angelic Conflict.

Did God need to rest because He was tired? No. He is omnipotent, (all powerful) and His power is infinite, (without limit or end). He rested because there was nothing left to be done!

Rest” is the Hebrew Verb NUACH, נוּחַ that means, “to settle down, rest, or to pause.” Here, it is more of a cessation than a rest, but the resting aspect is in view. In other words, on the seventh day, God stopped providing, because He had already provided everything.

Since man had received everything by grace in only six days, and nothing could be added to it, God rested on the seventh day to commemorate the grace principle. The Sabbath was to be observed by the Jews to remind them that they, too, had received everything by God’s grace. Observance of the Sabbath was designed to teach grace orientation during the time before the Bible was completed, Isa 58:11-14.

Then it says, “therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The word “blessed,” BARAKH, בָּרַךְ indicates primarily the favorable relationship between object and subject. God pronounced it a source of blessing or intensity of happiness. This one day of rest each week is not only a principle of blessing, it is also a principle of freedom. Freedom and blessing go together; you cannot have one without the other. The word “holy,” QADHASH, once again, means, “to set apart.” Therefore, this day is a blessing to the Israelites that should be set apart from the other 6 days of the week.

Doing no work on the seventh day was in recognition and commemoration of God’s grace. Under God’s grace plan, He does all the work, and the believer receives the benefit. God created the heavens and the earth and all the provisions we need to survive. This was a memorial to His grace provision. In like manner, Jesus Christ purchased salvation in total, and we cannot earn it or work for it; for “it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9. Since all blessing in time have been provided for in God’s plan, not working on the seventh day was a very wonderful way to bring home this lesson!

Therefore, the first justification for keeping the Sabbath was to remember The Lord God and His creation that provided everything for them. It was to remember His grace provisions as their Lord and God.

2) In Deut 5:15, speaking to the Israelites on the Plains of Moab, the justification was that God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and provided them rest from the yoke of slavery. He transformed the Israelite slaves into an independent nation. Therefore, every seventh day they were to remember that they once were enslaved and that God had freed them. In addition, upon their freedom, He provided them manna (bread) in the wilderness. So, God freed them from slavery and provided for all their material needs, their logistical grace blessings.

Deut 5:15, “You shall remember (ZAKAR) that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, (MITSRAYIM), and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

Therefore, a purpose of the Sabbath day was a remembrance and celebration of creation, and in Deuteronomy, the remembrance and celebration of redemption.

Notice how God brought about this rest for them:

1) “By a might hand,” speaking of the sovereignty and omnipotence of God to deliver them from a powerful enemy.

2) “By an outstretched arm.” This speaks of the Godward side of providing them deliverance from slavery. This also foreshadows what Jesus Christ would perform for them and the entire world upon the Cross, through His out stretched arms that were nailed to the Cross, so that we all could be purchased and freed from slave market of sin.

Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”


1.) Although the seventh day is designated as a day of no work in the creation record for God, Gen 2:3, it is not mentioned again until the Israelites were on their way to Mount Sinai. There is no command during that period for people to honor that day.

2.) The Israelites were instructed for the first time to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest in that God did not provide any manna on the seventh day, but provided a double portion on the 6th so they could rest on the 7thEx 16:13-34.

3.) Various offerings were prescribed to be offered to the Lord on this day, Lev 24:5-9; Num 28:9-10; 1 Chron 23:31; 2 Chron 8:13.

4.) Through Moses, God further instructed the Israelites, Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:12-21, that the Sabbath would be “a sign between God and the sons of Israel forever.” They were commanded to observe it as a “Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.”

Ezek 20:12, “And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

Many ancient covenants had some sort of sign; something visible that would remind people of the covenant, lest they forget it

Two other covenants are clearly described as having signs:

  a.) The Noahic covenant, with the rainbow as the sign-reminder of God’s goodness and promise not to destroy the earth in that way again, Gen 9:12-13, 17.

  b.) The Abrahamic covenant, in which circumcision of males was the sign-reminder that they we God’s chosen race, Gen 17:11.

Ezekiel is the fourth, (number of material things), time God commanded the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. Ezek 20:12, 20, teach that it was a sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel. Therefore, the fourth time God gave them the Fourth Commandment; it emphasized the material sign given to Israel and the world that He was the actual, one and only, YHWH ELOHIM, (The Lord God). For Israel, the keeping of the Sabbath would affirm one’s loyalty to the Lord and would guarantee His presence and deliverance. It would manifest to the heathen nations the covenant relationship the Israelites possessed with the Lord. Observing the Sabbath as a testimony of the Lord’s finished work in the restoration of the earth was an essential part of their sanctification as a people. The observance of the Sabbath, as a corporate unit by the Israelites, would serve as a powerful testimony to the heathen nations surrounding them that they were a people set apart to serve the Lord exclusively and that He was the One true God, creator of the heavens and the earth. Therefore, the Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It provided a regular weekly reminder for everyone that they were God’s people and that YHWH ELOHIM was the one true God.

5.) Moses admonished this new generation in Deut 5:15, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy as the Lord their God has commanded them.” 

Observing the Sabbath and “keeping it holy,” would also demonstrate that YHWH was present with the Israelites. In Ex 31:14, the Israelites were to keep the Sabbath because “it is holy for you,” which denotes the unique application to the Israelites who were to keep Saturday as a day set aside exclusively for God, i.e. worshipping Him. “Keeping it holy” means, “do as the Lord tells you to do,” which meant that this day was to be set aside exclusively by the Israelites as a day to bring into remembrance who God is and what He has done for them, resulting in worshipping Him, i.e. giving thanks to Him.

6.) Observance of the Sabbath was included as an official obligation when the covenant was ratified post-exile, Neh 9:13f. In this new era, to ensure they lived by and fulfilled the Law, God reiterated this commandment.

7.) The Israelite Sabbath was a unique institution in the ancient Near East that testified to the covenant relationship between God and His people, The observance of the Sabbath uniquely distinguished Israel’s relationship with God and their religion from that of surrounding nations. For the Israelites, the Sabbath was to be positively observed, remembered, and hallowed as a witness to God’s grace and saving activity in both creation and in deliverance from captivity. Other instructions for the keeping the Sabbath are found in, Ex35:3; Num 15:32-36.

Psalm 92 was specifically written for the weekly Sabbath day of remembering the grace of the Lord towards His people.

Psa 92:1-15, a Psalm, a song for the Sabbath Day.

“1  It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2  To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,
3  With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, With resounding music upon the lyre.
4  For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
5  How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep.
6  A senseless man has no knowledge, Nor does a stupid man understand this:
7  That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
8  But You, O LORD, are on high forever.
9  For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For, behold, Your enemies will perish; All who do iniquity will be scattered.
10  But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11  And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes, My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.
12  The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13  Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14  They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,
15  To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

The fourth commandment also contains a principle related to the necessity of periodic rest for the body, of both humans and animals, and a change of pace and routine for the individual. This commandment is designed to protect physical health, as well as soul stability, both of which are necessary for the proper function of life.

Therefore, every week, His covenant-keeping people were to honor Him by refraining from those normal activities and recreations performed on the first six days, in order that they might rest and devote their attention to Him on the seventh. Their attention toward Him could include study of the Word and prayer, offering sacrifices, assembling for the singing of hymns, and the mutual admonition and encouragement in their own homes and family circles.

So serious was the command, as all were, that if someone broke it, he was to be stoned to death, Ex 31:14-15; 35:2-3. This happened to one poor soul for simply collecting fire wood, Num 15:32-36. Sabbath violations also occurred after the restoration of the Jewish nation in the land, Neh 13:15-21. Thus, those in Israel who failed to keep the Sabbath were put to death.

As the fourth commandment of the four Godward mandates, violation of it was associated with apostasy and idolatry of the Jews, Jer 17:19-27; Ezek 23:37-39.

Ezek 23:37-39, “For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. Thus they have committed adultery with their idols and even caused their sons, whom they bore to Me, to pass through the fire to them as food. 38Again, they have done this to Me: they have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and have profaned My Sabbaths. 39For when they had slaughtered their children for their idols, they entered My sanctuary on the same day to profane it; and lo, thus they did within My house.”

Notice in Ezek 23:39, that when the Jews began following the false gods of the neighboring nations like Molech, they worshipped those gods, including child sacrifices to them, on the Sabbath day, Saturday. It was not that they worshipped them on a different day. It was on the same day they worshipped them.

In conclusion, the observance of the Sabbath was designed to be a benefit for the people of Israel, in that it would contribute to making them spiritually stronger and draw them closer to God.

New Testament Usage of Sabbath:

The Greek word for Sabbath is SABBATON, σάββατον from the Hebrew SHABBATH that means, “Sabbath or a period of 7 days.” In the NT, SABBATON is used only by the Gospel writers and Paul. All of the occurrences in the Gospels concern Jesus and His ministry.

In fact, the first time the word is used is in Mat 12:1f, where Jesus intentionally gathered food for Himself along with His disciples that was seemingly in contrast to the Law, cf. Lev 24:9.

The reasoning Jesus gave the Pharisees when accused of breaking the Law was David’s, (a man after God’s own heart), use of the “show breads” in the Tabernacle, which too was seemingly against the Law, Mat 12:2-7. Remember, the 12 cakes of showbreads in the Tabernacle where a picture of the body of Christ as being all the all sufficient sustenance for the 12 Tribes of Israel.

In vs. 8, Jesus said that He, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Cf. John 1:3; Heb 1:10, as Jesus is the Creator of the heavens and earth who rested on the 7th day. In other words, He is sovereign over the Sabbath and not controlled by it.

In vs. 5“break” is actually the Greek Verb BEBELOO that means, “desecrate, profane, or make common.” So, we see a tie in to the 3rd Commandment.

This is reiterated in Mark 2:27-28, along with another important quote, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath’.” Cf. Luke 6:6.

This was to refute the hypocrisy of the rabbinical traditions placed on the Sabbath Day.

This is why Paul later stated in Col 2:16, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”

Compare, Gal 4:10-11, “You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”

So, the first time the word Sabbath is used in the NT, Jesus is reminding the Israelites of His Sovereignty as the Creator of the Sabbath, just as He did in the first justification of the Sabbath rest for Israel in the Decalogue in Ex 20:11.

The other work Jesus performed on the Sabbath was to heal, Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-10. Notice in vs. 5, He tells the man to “stretch out your hand.” This could have been considered a work. Yet, this was the analogy of Christ freeing the Israelites from captivity in Deut 5, “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”

So, the second event of Jesus seemingly breaking the Sabbath, He was reminding the hypocritical Pharisees of the second justification for the Sabbath when the Decalogue was reiterated in Deut 5:12-15. There the justification was His redemptive act of freeing the Israelite slaves from captivity “by a might hand and by an outstretched arm.” Remember that in ancient times, they believed deformities and illness where do to sin in the life of the individual or even the parents. So, when Jesus healed the man, He was in a sense redeeming him from his sins; freeing him from the slave market of sin. This is what Jesus accomplished at the Cross, for all who believe in Him.

In John 5, Jesus again healed a man and afterwards commanded him to pick up his pallet and carry it home. John 5:11, “But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’.”

Apparently, carrying your pallet was considered to be a work under rabbinical law regarding the Sabbath. If this were a sin regarding the Sabbath, Jesus would never command a man to sin. Therefore, doing this act on the Sabbath was not sin. As such, when Jesus spoke to the man in vs. 14, telling Him to “sin no more,” He is not referring to the Sabbath breaking of carrying a pallet, but general sins within his life.

Notice how Jesus responded to the Pharisees accusations in this episode, John 5:16-17, “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” This was on the 7th Day. God is always at work for His people and the lost. Jesus, as the God/Man was working for the salvation of many on the Sabbath too.

Remember, observance of the Sabbath was not about the act of resting, but the relationship they had with God that they were supposed to enjoy on that day.

Compare this response to John 7:23-24, “24Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Then in John 9, Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath who said in vs. 25, “one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Legalistic Pharisees were blinded by the Law.

In Luke 13, Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath that the Pharisees said broke the Law. Jesus’ justification was to allow her to rest too, like the animals. Cf. Luke 14:1-6.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time emphasized the prohibitive aspect of the Sabbath and added further restrictions to it from their rabbinical tradition, Mat 12:2-7; Mark 3:2. In contrast, Jesus emphasized:

  1. That “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27.
  2. That He was “Lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:28.
  3. That the Sabbath offered opportunity “to do good” and “to save a life,” as well as to rest, Mark 3:4.

The other times the “Sabbath” is used in the Gospels includes:

1) Our Lord teaching regarding the coming Tribulation, which is the last seven years of the Age of Israel when they will be under the Law once again, Mat 24:20.

Mat 24:20, “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.”

2) The hypocrisy of the Pharisees in requesting to kill Jesus on the Cross by breaking His legs. They took His dead body off of the Cross because a Sabbath was approaching, Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31. This is not the 7th day Sabbath, but the Sabbath related to the Feast of Passover.

Deut 21:22-23, “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”

Therefore, to be “clean” for the Sabbath and not have blood on their hands, they requested His body to be killed and taken down. But when they came to break His legs they found Him already dead. Therefore, Scripture was fulfilled, John 19:36; Psa 34:20; cf. Ex 12:46; Num 9:12.

3) His resurrection: When the women found His empty tomb, after having waited for the Sabbath to be over so they could anoint / prepare His body with perfumes. But then when they arrived, they found He was risen, Mat 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 23:56.

Luke 23:56, “And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

In Summary, the Sabbath in relation to Jesus’ activities includes:

1) His healing and resultant opposition, Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-5; John 5:1-17; 7:22-23; 9:14-16.

2) His teaching, Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31.

3) His synagogue attendance, Luke 4:16.

4) His burial, Mark 15:42-47 (cf. 16:1); John 19:31.

5) His resurrection, Matthew 28:1.

Five is the number of “Grace” in the Scriptures. And He performed 7 healings, (the number of “Spiritual Perfection” in the Bible), on the Sabbath, Mark 1:21-27; Mark 1:29-31; John 5:1-9; Mark 3:1-6 (and Mat 12:8-14); Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6; John 9:1-14.

In these depictions, we see Christ foreshadowing the coming of the Church Age when the Law, including the Sabbath, would not be a requirement to be fulfilled. We see that during His time, the Sabbath was to be kept, because they were still under the Age of Israel, the Age of the Law. They were still under the Mosaic Law.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time emphasized the prohibitive aspect of the Sabbath and added further restrictions to it from their rabbinical tradition, Mat 12:2-7; Mark 3:2.

In contrast, Jesus emphasized:

1)  That “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27.

2) That He was “Lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:28.

3) That the Sabbath offered opportunity “to do good” and “to save a life,” as well as to rest, Mark 3:4.

As we have noted, the observance of the Sabbath is an ordinance given to the nation of Israel, but not the Church for the Church Age. In fact, prophecy anticipated the termination of Sabbath observance for a time, Hosea 2:11; 3:4-5.

Hosea 2:11, “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies.”

Hosea 3:4-5, “For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.” Cf. Mat 24:20; Isa 66:23; Ezek 45:17; 46:1-12.

With the judicial termination of the Mosaic legal system at the Cross, Col 2:14, Sabbath observance is not required of Christians, Col 2:16, and the notion of a “Christian Sabbath” is foreign to NT directions to the Church.

Some say that the Bible nowhere tells the Church to stop observing the Sabbath and meet on Sunday. But the Bible also nowhere prescribes which books should be in the Bible and which should not. That is an argument from silence, which is not a valid argument. Likewise, the NT nowhere commands the Church to keep the Sabbath, as it does the other 9 of the 10 Commandments.

Yet, the NT does say we are no longer under the Law, Rom 7:1-6. Therefore, if not stated to keep it, (as the other 9 Commandments are commanded for the Church Age in the NT), we are not under obligation to keep it.

In Rom 7:1-6, Paul taught the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome that the Jewish Christian, (as assumed from the context of verse one), is dead to the Mosaic Law in that it no longer has any jurisdiction over them. Jewish Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law, because they are identified with Christ in His death on the Cross, and thus Gentile Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law as well. Consequently, they are not required to observe the Sabbath or circumcision or the dietary regulations whose observance was prescribed under the Mosaic Law.

In Rom 7:2, Paul presents the principle found in the Mosaic Law that a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if he dies, she is discharged from her marriage contract with him.

Paul teaches in Rom 7:3, that if a Jewish woman’s husband dies, then she is not an adulteress if she remarries.

In Rom 7:4, Paul teaches that in the same way that a Jewish wife is discharged from the marriage contract with her deceased husband and is now free to marry another, so too has been the Christian discharged from the Law, including the Decalogue, and was free to be married to Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is made possible through the completed work of Jesus upon the Cross, i.e., “through the body of Christ.” 

Rom 7:5 describes their relationship as unbelievers.

Rom 7:6 describes their present status of having been freed from the Law, having died to it and now having the capacity to serve in newness of the Spirit. Jewish Christians have been discharged from their legal and moral obligations to the Mosaic Law, as a result of being identified with Christ in His death.

Later in Rom 9:4-5, Paul teaches that the Mosaic Law and Sabbath observance were given to the nation of Israel, and thus were not given to the Gentiles or the Church, cf. Rom 3:2.

Therefore, Sabbath observance is not prescribed for the Church Age believer. The Church Age believer is not commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ or by His apostles to observe the Sabbath. As we noted above in Rom 7:1-6, the Church Age believer has died to the Law. Thus, they are not required to observe the Sabbath which was prescribed by God for the nation of Israel to observe under the Mosaic Law.

Likewise, we see in Eph 2:12 that the Sabbath has never been given to Gentiles.

Eph 2:12, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Cf. Eph 6:2-3, where the 5th Commandment is now given to the Church and is “the first with a promise.”

Therefore, it is not for the Church during the Church Age, as Christ fulfilled and abolished the Law for this Age, Eph 2:15. Therefore, we are not under its authority for salvation or to live the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.

Eph 2:15, “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”

In regard to this, when the Judaizers were bringing false doctrines to the early Church, specifically regarding the need to keep the Law and believe in Christ for salvation and the spiritual life, we find an interesting response from the early Church leaders in Acts 15:1-31.

Nowhere do they mention the keeping of the Sabbath as a requirement for salvation or to live the spiritual life. In fact, the few things they mentioned have nothing to do with salvation, but are to refute the false pagan god worship of their day.

Thus, the Church Age believer should not allow people who have been Judaized to criticize them because they do not observe the Sabbath like they do, Col 2:16-17; Rom 14:5-6.

Col 2:16-17, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Rom 14:5-6, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.”

In fact, when Stephen was stoned to death, he was accused of something. You can find the answer in Acts 6:11-14; note the word “customs” in vs. 14. Cf. Acts 15:1; 21:21; 26:3; 28:17. We can assume that these “customs” had to do with the ceasing of the Law during the Church Age.

There are no grounds for imposing the Sabbath on the Christian who is free from the burden of the Mosaic Law’s demands. Paul was quite clear in the book of Galatians that the Church is not under the Law.

Gal 3:1-5, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”

Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (the Law).”

Gal 5:3, “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.”

In warning about the false teachers, the Judaizers who taught the Church needs to keep the Law, Paul states in Col 2:8, 14, 16…

Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us (the Law), which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Col 2:16, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”

In the Church Age, it is the Spirit of Christ who enables you to fulfill God’s will apart from the external observances of the Law.

As shadowed by our Lord in the giving of the Law to Israel in Exodus 20, the first justification and emphasis of the Sabbath was on the Creator God, and then 40 years later in Deuteronomy 5, the emphasis was changed to His redemptive act. The Sabbath then emphasized His redemption over creation, of rest over cessation. As such, a work vastly greater than that of creation has now been accomplished by Christ, the work of redemption, and it provides the Church the theological justification for the observance of His redemptive work culminated in His resurrection on the first day of the week, where we now can enter into His rest, Heb 4:1ff. Therefore, we celebrate the first day of the week as commemorative of His triumphant victory over sin and death, as He is the “Lord of the Sabbath.”

Further, the Sabbath is mentioned along with the festivals and new moons, all of which are declared to be “only a shadow of what is to come,” Col 2:16-17. Therefore, to “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years,” is deemed to be slaves to “the weak and worthless elemental things,” Gal 4:9-10; Cf. Col 2:8, 20.

Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Col 2:20. “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as…”

Gal 4:9-10, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years.”

The ritual observance of days is a characteristic of “the man who is weak in faith,” Rom 14:1-6.

Therefore, these elementary principles or regulations from the Mosaic Law were promoted by Satan’s cosmic system in the sense that he, through these Judaizers, sought to put both Jewish and Gentile Christians back under the Mosaic Law, so that they would not experience their new-found freedom in Christ from the Mosaic Law, that is based on their union and identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and session at the right hand of the Father. Paul is in effect telling them that their teaching regarding the Mosaic Law is demonic and does not originate with Jesus Christ and is opposed to Jesus Christ.

Col 2:10, “In Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” Nothing else is needed for salvation or to live the spiritual life, cf. Col 2:14-15.

Col 2:14-15, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

At the Cross, Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we would not have too. The Law condemned Jew and Gentile, Rom 1:18-3:23. Christ’s death on the Cross paid the sinner’s sin debt which was incurred from breaking the Law. Therefore, it is not the 7th Day which emerges as the critical theological issue; it is the role of the law, and our liberty in Christ, that is really the fundamental issue.

Therefore, this seems to be the reason for the shift in the Gentile churches from observance of the Jewish Sabbath Day, (Saturday), to worshiping on the Lord’s Day, (Sunday), cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10.

Luke wrote in Acts 20:7, regarding Paul’s 3rd Missionary journey when he came to Troas, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, (Celebrate Communion), Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”

Though Paul and his companions were there for several days, no mention is made of any religious service on the seventh day of the week; but it is expressly stated that “the disciples came together,” and that “Paul preached to them” on “the first day of the week.” The object of the meeting is also stated to have been the “breaking of bread,” which clearly indicates the taking of Communion; the bread and wine ritual for the Church during the Church Age, which too will cease when Christ returns. Therefore, it was the first day of the week that they practiced their gathering together to worship God.

1 Cor 16:2, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”

Here, they collected their offerings on Sunday when they met.

Rev 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, (KURIAKE, “belonging to the Lord, HEMERA, “day,” which is a reference to the 1st day of the week), and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.”

John uses the phrase, “Lord’s day,” without otherwise indicating which of the seven days of the week he referred to; thus, evidently showing that when the book of Revelation was written, there was a day known and observed by Christians generally as the “Lord’s day.” That this was the first day of the week, which was kept in memory of the resurrection of our Lord, is abundantly evident from the history of the Church, as we will see below.

The root word for “Lord’s” is KURIAKOS from KURIOS. KURIAKOS means, “belonging to the Lord.” This Adjective, used like a noun, is used only here and in 1 Cor 11:20 in the phrase, “the Lord’s Supper,” KURIAKOS DEIPNON. Therefore, there would be an apparent impropriety in calling a common supper the “Lord’s Supper,” just as there would be a similar impropriety in calling a secular day the “Lord’s day.” It should also be noted that even to this day, the Greek word for “Sunday” is KURIAKE, Κυριακή.

The NT reflects the observance of the first day of the week, instead of the seventh day, as the time of gathering together, teaching the Word of God, breaking bread, taking offerings, and worshipping, because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection, cf. Mat 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6; John 20:19-20, which they termed, “the Lord’s Day.”

In fact, even after His resurrection, we never find Christ meeting with His disciples on the 7th Day. But He specially honored the 1st day by showing Himself to them on four separate occasions, Mat 28:9-10; Mark 16:9, 12; Luke 24:18-34; John 20:19-24. Then, on the next first day of the week, Jesus appeared to his disciples, John 20:26-29. Interestingly, the number 4, (material things), is in view once again.

John 20:19, “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”.” To have, “peace in Christ,” means to be resting in Him.

Luke 24:30, “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.” Notice that Jesus “broke bread” with the disciples on this day, which meant they participated in the Communion Supper, the Lord’s Supper, as it was later called in 1 Cor 11:20.

Next, we see that the first Pentecost, “The Feast of Weeks,” after our Lord’s resurrection, was the birth of the Church and Church Age. By definition, it was on a Sunday, the 1st day of the week, Lev 23:15-16; Num 23:26; Deut 16:9-12; Acts 2:1. Interestingly, in Deuteronomy, the Jews were to remember their freedom from slavery on this day, just as we are to remember Christ’s sacrifice, which paid for our sins and purchased the believer from the slave market of sin.

The tradition of Jews to gather and worship in the synagogues on the Sabbath continued post resurrection of Christ, Acts 15:21.

Acts 15:21, “For Moses, (The Pentateuch: Genesis – Deuteronomy), from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Yet, there is no commanded observance for Christians of a Saturday Sabbath after Christ’s resurrection in the NT, and no one is termed a Sabbath-breaker. In fact, the disciples “broke the Law” by traveling on the Sabbath post resurrection of Christ, Acts 1:12.

Because of the redemptive work of Christ, a prescribed observance of the Jewish Sabbath is no longer required for righteousness in God’s eyes. Thus, the importance of the Resurrection in the Christian faith caused the day Jesus rose from the dead to be considered the “Lord’s Day,” the first day of the week.

“Analogous is the relationship of the Sabbath and the Exodus, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. As the Israelites were created a new nation through God’s miraculous intervention, so we are made new creatures through the power of the resurrection. Memory of this miraculous transformation should make the Lord’s Day a holy day for us, as the Sabbath was a holy day in OT times.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).

The writings of a number of the early “Church fathers,” in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., support the tradition of Sunday worship as the “Lord’s Day.”

Ignatius, a companion of the apostles, said, in so many words, “Let us no more Sabbatize,” that is, keep the Jewish Sabbath, “but let us keep the Lord’s day, on which our Life arose.”

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who lived in the second century, said, “On the Lord’s day every one of us, Christians, keeps the Sabbath; meditating in the law, and rejoicing in the works of God.”

Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, who also lived in the second century, said in his letter to the Church at Rome, “Today we celebrate the Lord’s day when we read your epistle to us.”

William De Loss Love, wrote an article for Bibliotheca Sacra in 1880 titled, “The Sabbath: The Change Of Observance From The Seventh To The Lord’s Day: Testimony Of The Fathers.” In it, he discusses how the early Church fathers wrote about meeting on Sunday, called “the Lord’s day,” rather than the Sabbath, Saturday. Below are his concluding remarks.

“For equally strong, or stronger, reasons there is no real basis for what Dr. Hessey calls the “ecclesiastical theory” respecting the Lord’s day: the view that the sacred observance of the first day has no authority except in the history of the church since the apostolic era. For we obtain New Testament evidence that in the apostles’ time the first day was religiously observed, and the obligations to keep holy the seventh day were cancelled. Further, we get evidence from the fathers, beginning with those contemporary with the last of the apostles, that they understood the apostles to authorize the keeping of the first day sacred, and to release from keeping the seventh as the Sabbath, and that the apostles authoritatively acted in this under instruction from their divine Master.

And again, according to this discussion, the view of some even American evangelical ministers, that the early Christians were disagreed on the question of keeping the first day in, a religious manner, is entirely wrong. Not the least evidence of such disagreement appears in the New Testament, and positive evidence of agreement on that point appears in the patristic writings.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, October 1880, P. 685)

Later, by the Fourth Century A.D., the Lord’s Day began to erroneously acquire Sabbath characteristics when Constantine prohibited certain kinds of work from being done on Sunday.

“Hence, there can be no reasonable doubt that the early church recognized the change which the Lord himself had ordained because of the beginning of a spiritual new creation through the Resurrection victory. Those who wished to worship on Saturday were allowed to do so, apparently (judging from Col. 2:16f), during the transition period, so far as Jewish converts were concerned. But the basic purpose of a weekly celebration of God’s works of creation and redemption was certainly to be carried over to the observance of the Lord’s day, as understood by the early church and by the reformers as well.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Nevertheless, there is no expressed law to meet on the Sabbath or on the first day of the week for the Church Age. But we do know for a fact that the first day of the week has been observed from apostolic times, and the necessary conclusion is, that it was observed by the apostles and their immediate disciples. And we can be assured that they would never have done so without the permission or the authority of their Lord.

Paul emphasized that the law was a yoke of bondage from which the Christian had been set free, Gal 3:2, 3; 5:1. Paul made no distinction between moral and ceremonial law. It was all part of that old covenant which was done away in Christ, 2 Cor 3:14. It was “nailed to the cross,” Col 2:14.

Today, many Christians continue to set aside Sunday as a day of worship and rest, while some, like the Seventh-Day Adventists, practice a more literal seventh-day Sabbath. In spite of their differences, both practices hold that the present observance of a “Sabbath rest” is also a look to the future when Christ will usher believers into an eternal Sabbath.

While some of the Church fathers and Constantine took it a bit too far in thinking the 7th day Sabbath given to Israel, was now being replaced by a 1st day Sabbath for the Church. Nonetheless, we see that the Church is not commanded nor expected to keep a Sabbath day, but is instead to be continually resting in the Lord for salvation and in living the unique spiritual life for the Church Age. And as was the tradition of the apostolic and early Church, we too should set aside at least one day a week, the Lord’s Day, to focus our worship, learning of Bible Doctrine, breaking of bread, giving, etc., on the Lord Jesus Christ, in commemoration and celebration of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension being seated at the right hand of God the Father, based on our position and union in Him, made possible through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Next, we will discuss how the Church is to enter into His rest and when the Sabbath will be reinstated.

Although the Church was not given the ordinance to observe the Sabbath, we are commanded to enter into God’s Sabbath rest, meaning to rest in the promises of God and our union with Christ, cf. Heb 3:11-19; 4:1-11.

The one who experiences God’s rest is the one who “ceases from his own works, as God did from His.” That means we do not “work” for our salvation, as it is based on the faith alone in the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. This is the first of two “rests” or Sabbaths for the believer of the Church Age.

Two Sabbath Rests for the Church Age believer:

1) The first of these Sabbath Rests, as mentioned above, is eternal salvation for the individual believer that culminates in our eternal life in heaven. This is the, “Eternal Sabbath.” Based on your faith in Christ as your Savior here on earth, upon your death or Rapture of the Church, you will be in heaven with God for all of eternity with, “no more sorrows or pain,” Rev 21:4. This rest becomes the possession of each believer at the moment of salvation, Mat 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

2) The second Sabbath Rest is the believer’s, “Temporal Sabbath.” It pertains to the believer’s life on earth. It refers to the faith-rest life, spoken of in Heb 3:11, and the moment-by-moment Sabbath of Heb 4:1-7.

Since individual OT believers were only rarely and for special functions indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the faith-rest life was their basis for spirituality, Heb 11. They were to rest on the promises of God, claiming them, along with Bible doctrine and Divine principles as given in the Scripture.

In the Church Age, every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and the filling of the Holy Spirit is the basis for spirituality in this dispensation, Eph 5:18; 1 John 1:9. In the Jewish Age, the Holy Spirit was not yet given (universally) because Jesus Christ was not yet glorified, John 7:39. Therefore, in the Church Age, the believer, through the power and the filling of God the Holy Spirit, is to learn and apply God’s Word to his life’s situations, as he trusts and relies upon God in all situations and circumstance. This is your moment-by-moment rest.

This rest is a state in which the believer has a Relaxed Mental Attitude no matter what the situation may look like. It is a complete trust in the character and nature of God working for you.

Illustrations of this moment-by-moment Sabbath, or faith-rest.

  1. Abraham, Rom 4:1721.
  2. Moses at the Red Sea, Ex 14:1014.
  3. The bones of Joseph, Heb 11:22.
  4. Caleb and the giants, Num 13; 14, cf. Josh 14:6‑14, 15:14; Judges 1:20.

We are the beneficiaries of many wonderful blessings from God. Yet, many of you do not even know a thing about those blessings. The Sabbath or rest that God has for you is completely neglected by many because of ignorance.

The modern tendency of apostasy stresses the works and production of the believer. Just as the Jews distorted the ritual Sabbath, most Christians distort the real one. The main problem is ignorance of Bible doctrine. People feel guilty and condemned and think they are not doing enough for God. Or, they think they have not because of not witnessing daily, or not praying, etc. You see, many have been brain washed by men behind the pulpit who have not studied the Word in depth, but simply emphasize that you should be hustling around the church working, usually for them. However, when God gets down to indicting you, He does not mention your failure to do this or that, but He indicts you for your ignorance concerning His plan for your life. The main problem in your life is no Bible doctrine in the soul. Ignorance of Bible doctrine means a breakdown of the spiritual Sabbath in your life, which is in reality a breakdown of faith-rest in your life.

Heb 3:12, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” What is an evil heart? It is what vs. 12, calls a heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God. A heart of unbelief is a heart without rest. No faith-rest is to say God is a liar. One of the greatest problems the Christian faces is fear. Fear, worry, anxiety always take away your rest, when that occurs, there will be no Sabbath for you, and there should be. Heb 4:9 says, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” That is, an identification with the eternal rest of God. Fear takes away your rest. In fact, the only time we are told to fear is if we do not have rest.

Heb 3:13, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Worry is also a sin, Rom 14:23, and the cure for worry is the promises of God.

Heb 3:18, “And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?” Unbelief is a manifestation of negative volition towards Bible doctrine and this equals no Sabbath or no faith-rest. Faith is a technique that demands spiritual food, it must be constantly fed.

Heb 3:19, “And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” It is not personal sins, lack of ability, or lack of talent that takes away our rest, it is unbelief. Lack of rest in a believer’s life usually causes them to blame others for their misery.

Then in Heb 4:1-11, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” (Psa 95:11; cf. Num 14:23, 28-30; Deut 1:35; 12:9) although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, (Josh 22:4), He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

Heb 4:1, “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.”

Refusing to enter into His rest will not stop God from being glorified, but it will sure rob us of what He desires to give us! The Lord is constantly pouring out His grace on His people, while His people are constantly pouring out complaints.

Heb 4:2, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit the, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” Please notice that the prerequisite for entering into rest is being filled with the spirit for the believer, and mixing faith with what you hear. 1 John 1:9 is only the beginning of entering into rest, but it is not enough! We need the daily intake of Bible doctrine. If you have failed the sabbatical test of entering into His rest, the only way to victory is to sit and learn under Eph 5:18 and Heb 4:2. The only work for the believer to do is to labor to enter into His rest. Somewhere in eternity past, many thousands of years ago, God solved all your problems, and then He rested. Whether your problems come from God or from Satan, or from the law of volitional responsibility, they have all been given a solution.

Heb 4:5-6,They shall not enter My rest. Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience.

Notice in vs. 6, that rest was preached, but they did not believe it. Now rest is a promise, and the promise is only as good as the character of the One who promises. Rest depends upon the faithfulness of God, and not the faithfulness of man. Many think that the Lord is faithful to them, because they are faithful to Him. However, that is totally false.

Heb 4:7, “He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”

Again, we see rest offered to David. The Lord’s invitation for rest has always been available to every believer, but His rest consists of specific instructions and directions and must be accompanied with the perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. Faith is not blind; it is the greatest vision in the world. Faith-rest requires understanding. This is especially true in understanding the finished work of Christ, the doctrine of the Baptism of the Spirit, and the doctrine of Eternal Security.

Heb 4:9-11, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” This rest is not only a provision for self, but also for those who are around you as well. “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

Vs. 10, tells us that “His rest,” KATAPAUSIS AUTOS, was not a cessation of all His activity. He ceased His creation, but He continued to sustain it and take an active part and interest in it, as is seen in His relationship with Adam and Eve, Gen 3:8ff. God created the human race and placed it upon earth so He could maintain a unique relationship with those whom He had created in His own image. God’s rest certainly included the maintenance of His fellowship with mankind, as He later provided atonement for the sins of the world through His son Jesus Christ.

In vs. 11, the Greek word for “diligent” is SPOUDAZO, and it means, “to study, to make an effort, or to be diligent in study.” It is the same word found in 2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Refusal of entering into His rest results in double mindedness, instability, and confusion. Entering into His rest is important; it is how to persevere in life.

Heb 4:12, “For the word of God is …” The temporal Sabbath or moment-by-moment Sabbath means that you depend on God day by day, and rest entirely upon what God has provided. The moment by moment Sabbath is Bible doctrine in the soul.

Therefore, in both Eternal and Temporal Sabbaths, Jesus is our Sabbath rest which is not just one day, but every day, and for all of eternity.

Our final point is that the Sabbath is to be restored in the tribulation, Mat 24:20-21, and fully re-established in the Millennial kingdom, Deut 30:8; Ezek 45:17; 46:1, 3-4, 12, and continue into the eternal state, Isa 66:22-23.

Isa 66:22-23, “For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure. 23And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

5th commandmentThe 5th Commandment:

We now turn to the 5th of the 10 Commandments, which we have already noted based on our study of Eph 6:2-3, that led us to this study. See our study of Eph 6:2-3, for those details related to this commandment.

Ex 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Deut 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

In comparing the two OT passages of the Decalogue, we see that the Deuteronomy listing is modified from the Exodus listing. Deuteronomy adds the phrase “as the LORD your God has commanded you,” KE ASHER YHWH ELOHIM TSAWAH, in the Piel Perfect, just as it did in the 4th Commandment, because this was approximately 40 years from the giving of the Law in Sinai in the book of Exodus. So, God reminds them that He has already given them this mandate.

Deuteronomy reiterates the blessing, “that your days may be prolonged,” LE MA’AN YOM ARAK, in the Hiphil Imperfect. But then Moses, preparing the people for the conquest and settlement of the land, added in Deuteronomy, “and that it may go well with you,” WE LE MA’AN YATAV, “to be good or go well,” LE. Finally, both accounts of the Decalogue end with, “in or on the land which the Lord your God gives you,” AL HO ADAMAH ASHER YHWH ELOHIM NATHAN LE. These promises are also seen in Lev 26:3-13; Deut 5:16; 6:2; 7:12-16; 11:8-9; 28:1-14, in regard to keeping all the commandments of God.

This is a positive commandment and the first of the “horizontal commandments,” as it is directed to other members of the human race, compared to the first four commandments that are “vertical commandments,” which means directed to God. It emphasizes that the core of the covenant community is the family. Nevertheless, we also see the honoring of God our Father in this commandment when we honor our parents. The prior commandments were all concerned in one way or another with the necessity of honoring God as a basic means of keeping His covenant. Now we have a commandment that follows logically because it is concerned with honoring parents, who have the awesome role in the family of representing God to their children.

Therefore, this commandment is directed to children under Divine Institution #3: Family, to honor and respect their parents throughout the parents’ entire life time. And I would venture to say that it also applies after the parents’ death in order to, “honor their name.” In fact, some theologians believe this command is for “adult sons,” requiring them to care for the material needs of their aged parents and whatever other needs may be associated therewith.

Honor,” is the Hebrew Word KABEDH, ‏כָּבֵד‎ in the intensive active Piel, and the Infinitive Absolute acting as an Imperative that gives us the “you shall” of this command. It can mean, “to weigh heavily, to be heavy, to venerate, to honor, to glorify, or to multiply.” In Prov 4:8, it means, “to prize highly,” in Psa 19:15, “to care for,” and in Lev 19:3, “to show respect for.” It also is used in some negative ways like, “to make dull or let weigh down.”

Honor is not something that can be commanded if it remains only an attitude or disposition. To honor demands action that emanates from and demonstrates the inner spirit. Since all authority belongs to the Lord, and since He instituted the family and established all human authority structures into human social relationships, all such authority structures are to be honored and respected in this way. Therefore, the command to honor is a command to demonstrate in tangible, empirical ways the respect people must have for their parents.

In the Decalogue, it implies that children give the proper “weight” or “respect” to their parents’ position. The opposite of this would be to despise or scorn one’s parents. One who did this was in danger of being put to death, Lev 20:9, in some cases by stoning, Deut 21:18-21. Thus, respect for parents, and for authority figures in general, should be taken seriously.

Therefore, to honor means more than to obey. It is to respect and esteem. It involved teachable attitudes by the children. It is the form that AGAPE love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need you, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way you live.

Father and Mother” are AV WE EM and the promise of “length of days,” is AREKH YOM. AREKH means, “to be long or to prolong,” in the causative Hiphil Imperfect for ongoing action. This emphasizes quality of life, in terms of giving to others and serving Yahweh, as a priority over quantity of life. As God is to be served with honor and respect, His representatives are to be so too. So, the blessing for having this mental attitude expressed in your life is first quality and then quantity of life.

Parents are the subject of special respect and obedience because in the Divine hierarchy, they stand next to God Himself, that is, in the administration of His kingdom community. This is noted in the statement of God’s creation of the human race in Gen 5:1-3, “When God created human beings, he made them to be like Himself…. When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him, in his very image.” The parent thus stands as the image of God to the child and is worthy of the reverence that entails.

Likewise, the father/son relationship is analogous to the God/Israel relationship, Deut 1:31.

Deut 1:31, “And in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked, until you came to this place.”

Therefore, this 5th Commandment provides the link between the first four commandments, which emphasize the vertical man/God relationship, and the last five commandments, which emphasize the horizontal man/man relationship. The family structure provides the sphere of the most intimate relationship, through which the right relationship with God can be extended to a right relationship with fellow human beings. As such, loyalty and submission to one’s father and mother in the context of the Covenant are absolutely vital for the passing on of God’s blessing from one generation to another.

The parents are charged with the solemn responsibility of carefully instructing their children, both by precept and example, to live for God and his testimony, rather than following the corrupt example and mind-set of the secular world about them, as the heirs of God’s covenant blessing bestowed on them at the time of the Exodus.

“Parents are to be honored and feared; reverence is to be shown to them with heart, mouth, and hand—in thought, word, and deed. But by father and mother we are not to understand merely the authors and preservers of our bodily life, but also the founders, protectors, and promoters of our spiritual life, such as prophets and teachers, to whom sometimes the name of father is given (2 Kings 2:12; 13:14), whilst at other times paternity is ascribed to them by their scholars being called sons and daughters (Ps 34:12; 45:11; Prov 1:8, 10, 15, etc.); also the guardians of our bodily and spiritual life, the powers ordained of God, to whom the names of father and mother (Gen 45:8; Judg 5:7) may justly be applied, since all government has grown out of the relation of father and child, and draws its moral weight and stability, upon which the prosperity and well-being of a nation depends, from the reverence of children towards their parents.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)

So important was this principle for the perpetuation of the faith that each family and each assembly after reciting the great Shema, in Deut 6:4-5, were reminded to teach these things to their children in Deut 6:5-7.

The Shema, Deut 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord (YHWH) is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Then they were instructed in Deut 6:6-7, “And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your son (or children) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Therefore, honoring and respecting parents consists of respecting their instruction in the covenant. This assumes that a religious heritage is being passed on. The home was seen as an important and necessary link for the covenant instruction of each successive generation. Honor is given to them as representatives of God’s authority for the sake of covenant preservation. If parents are not heeded or their authority is repudiated, the covenant would be in jeopardy.

Likewise, the parents are to set the tone for their home and all who live in it, making it clear that their main purpose in life is to put God first in their lives and live for Him, rather than for the ambitions and goals of worldliness in a vain search for happiness and meaning in a career of egoistic self-seeking. As fathers and mothers, you should seek to imitate God, who is the perfect Father.

Therefore, this commandment is like the previous one, it links the requirement to an action of God: As God rested on the creation Sabbath, so individual Israelites must do so each week in their own families; as God promises to take care of his dependents, Israel, for a long time in the promised land, so individual Israelites must take care of their dependent parents for a long time, as necessary, in their own families. The prior commandment looks back on the creation Sabbath, whereas the present commandment looks forward to the nation’s tenure in the land of promise.

What do we learn about God here? We learn of His authority. We also learn about His provision. Rebellion and insubordination to parents, governments, teachers, and others, ultimately is rebellion and insubordination to God. The clause on the end of the commandment provides a motivation for keeping the commandment, “to live long in the land given by God.” This reveals the generosity of God.

There is a double promise here. So long as the nation rejoiced in the possession of obedient children, it was assured of a “long life” or existence in the land of Canaan; but there is also included the promise of a “long life,” (i.e., a great age, to individuals, cf. Deut 6:2; 22:7, just as we find in 1 Kings 3:14), a good old age referred to as a special blessing from God. Therefore, the promise of prolonged occupation in the land of Israel is primarily in view in this commandment. As such, the double promise of blessing is first quality of life and then quantity of life; permanence, progeny, and prosperity. It was not necessarily a guarantee that each individual Israelite was to live to be 100 years old, although that could be the case, but more so that the nation as a community of faith is to be kept safe and secure in the territory promised to Abraham in Gen 15:18-21.

In the ancient Near East, it is not just the religious heritage but the fabric of society that is threatened when there is no respect for parental authority and family obligations are neglected. Violations would include striking parents, cursing parents, neglecting the care of elderly parents, and failing to provide adequate burial. Therefore, it speaks to duration as a nation in covenant relationship with God, “in the land the Lord your God is giving you,” rather than a lengthened lifespan for each obedient individual.

Implicit in this is the promise that Israel would be strong and secure in possession of the land as long as they maintained loyalty to the Sinai Covenant and the standards set forth by Moses and Aaron by the word of God and faithfully adhere to them. The opposite of the blessing is found in the negative warning for not “honoring your father and mother” in Deut 21:18-21.

Deut 21:18-21, “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.”

The example given here is that of a “stubborn and rebellious son” who defiantly disobeys his parents, resists their admonition, and is unresponsive to discipline. A son who was rebelliously stubborn, not respecting his parents, would most likely eventually express that same attitude toward God and become a threat to the security and continuity of the covenant community of God. Likewise, to “curse” one’s parents was tantamount to repudiating their authority, and was a capital offense, Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9; Prov 20:20.

Ex 21:17, “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

As the years went on and Israel rebelled against God forgetting His covenants and promises, and falling into reversionism, it led to God’s removal of this promise, as the nation was first torn in two in the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, and later each kingdom going under slavery to another; the Northern to Assyria in 722 B.C., and the Southern to the Chaldeans 586 B.C. The captivity of Israel would be caused, in part, by a failure to honor their parents, Ezek 22:7, 15.

Ezek 22:7, “They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you.”

Ezek 22:15, “And I shall scatter you among the nations, and I shall disperse you through the lands, and I shall consume your uncleanness from you.”

Later, God through Malachi equates the failure of the priests to honor God with despising him; i.e., they “show contempt for His name,” Mal 1:6.

Moses had reminded them in Deut 4:9f, that God had spoken to them at Horeb so that they “might learn to revere Me.” The parents were to teach this reverence and fear of God to their children. By failure to respect his parents, such a son or daughter also failed to respect God. He had not learned “to fear God,” Deut 4:10.

Therefore, if the child was unwilling to learn and apply what the parents had taught them, the parents had the responsibility to prosecute their child for the offense in question, but they could not take the law into their own hands. Judgment was the responsibility of the community. The whole community was affected by such a crime in the family, and parental sovereignty was at stake.

The severity of the punishment was to serve as a warning that insubordination to parental authority might lead to insubordination to God, who was Israel’s sovereign Lord. In this manner, the Israelites were instructed, “to purge the evil from among you,” Deut 17:12.

Psa 112:1-2, “Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. 2His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

In a world that worships and imitates youth, where youth and the quest for rejuvenation is the highest priority, and tends to disregard or eliminate unwanted old people, where the wisdom of the elderly and the counsel of parents are ignored, this commandment sounds like an echo from a time warp. But the Jews were taught to respect age and to care for their senior citizens, which remains a good example for us to follow today as we will see in our NT passages including, 1 Tim 5:1-2, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

The fifth commandment provides the key to real social stability. Someone said that, “the elderly are the only outcast group that everybody expects to join.” Therefore, how you treat them today will help to determine how you are treated tomorrow, because we reap what we sow. A stable family-life leads to a stable-society.

Likewise, we see that as the image of God was to be kept sacred by all men in the first four Commandments, the majesty of God was to be honored and respected in parents in the 5th Commandment. This thought forms the transition to the rest of the commandments.

New Testament Usage:

We now continue our study of the 5th Commandment, by noting its utilization in the New Testament. This Commandment is used six times in three events. Five times it is used in the Gospels describing two events of Jesus Christ. Once it is used by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. The principle is: It is just as wrong for a NT Christian to dishonor his parents, as it was for an OT Hebrew.

  • The first event is found in, Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10.
  • The second is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.
  • The third is Paul’s usage in, Eph 6:2-3, which is the only time the attached promise is given to the Church Age, Eph 6:3, “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

In all of these, we see that the honoring of father and mother, together with its promises, carries over into all time and everywhere.

We have previously studied the 5th Commandment’s utilization in Eph 6:2-3. The information from that study includes the following. After that review, we will see the other two events where this commandment was used by our Lord.

Vs. 2

Children were made by God to glorify God. This great purpose is partly lived out by honoring and obeying their parents in the Lord. Paul appeals to what the children had already learned, for their Christian education began with the Ten Commandments.

Eph 6:2, “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise).”

As mentioned previously, here, and in vs. 3, we have the fifth of the Ten Commandments, “The Decalogue,” found in Ex 20:1-17 and Deut 5:1-21, and is quoted six times in the New Testament, Mat 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20, Eph 6:2, but only here is the attached promise also cited, vs. 3.

This is first of the “horizontal commandments,” and is directed to children under Divine Institution #3: Family. It is also the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, as noted in this verse, and is the only commandment that has a direct promise associated with it; as all the commandments have the general promise of blessings, peace, and prosperity associated to them, cf. Ex 20:6.

This does not mean that the Christian is “under the Law,” for Christ has set us free from both the curse and the bondage of the Law, Gal 3:13; 5:1. But the righteousness of the Law is still a revelation of the holiness of God, and the Holy Spirit enables us to practice that righteousness in our daily lives, Rom 8:1-4. All of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament epistles for the Christian to observe except the 4th“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” We will discuss why this is in a forthcoming study.

Yet, the principle in our passage is that it is just as wrong for a New Testament Christian to dishonor his parents, as it was for an Old Testament Hebrew.

This verse begins with the command to “honor,” TIMAO, τιμάω in the Present, Active, Imperative that means, “esteem, honor, regard, revere, or respect,” and refers to honor or respect bestowed upon someone or something, in this case the parents. It is used in all six New Testament quotes of this Old Testament command.

The Customary Present Tense is for the ongoing customary or habitual action of the child to honor their parents throughout their lifetime.

The Active Voice; the child produces the action.

The Imperative Mood is for a command from God to honor your father and mother.

The Hebrew of Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16 uses the verb KABED (kavedh), ‏כָּבֵד‎ that means, “to honor, glorify, be heavy, be rich, etc.,” in the Piel, Infinitive, Absolute.

The Piel Mood is used for intensification of the action of the verb.

The Infinitive Absolute Tense is also used to intensify the certainty or force of the verbal idea where we can add the emphasis, “you shall.” It is also used in place of an Imperative as a command. The Septuagint uses TIMAO for this word in these verses.


To honor means more than to obey. It is to respect and esteem. It is the form that AGAPE love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God.

Next, we have the ones to honor, “YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,” which in the Greek is HO PATER, in the Accusative Singular, SU, in the Genitive of Possession, KAI, the Coordinating Conjunction, and HO METER, in the Accusative Singular for, “the father your and the mother.”


  • To “honor” your parents means much more than simply to obey them. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need you, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way you live.
  • This was the most common formulation of the obligation in both Jewish, (presumably influenced by the wording of the commandment), and Greco-Roman writings. It was understood as involving not only a respectful attitude but also care for the parents’ physical needs when they became old.
  • So, for children still in the father’s house, it would mean obedience to parents, and for those who had left home, it would mean continued deference to, and care for aging parents.

Then we have a statement regarding this commandment, “(which is the first commandment with a promise).” The Greek reads HOSTIS the relative pronoun for “which, whichever, whoever, etc.,” EIMI, the verb, “to be or is,” in the Present, Active, Indicative speaking to the 5th Commandment, PROTOS ENTOLE, “first commandment,” in the Nominative Singular, and EN EPAGGELIA, “with a promise,” in the Dative of Advantage for “a promise of blessing.”

Some think “first commandment” and “with a promise” should be separated for various reasons, such as “first of importance” or first on the second tablet of Moses, etc. In addition, some believe the 2nd Command had a “promise,” so this would not be the “first promise.” Yet as noted above, that is a general precept for all the commandments of God, including those not listed in the Decalogue that includes the love we are to have for the Lord God as noted in Deut 6:5, the 11th, but truly A #1 commandment of them all. Therefore, a clear reading here keeps them together and reflects the intent of Paul’s understanding of the 5th Commandment, that it had a specific promise associated with it directly, signifying it is unique and important.

The commands to obey and honor parents are threefold: They are of the Natural Law; they are of God’s Law; and they are of Grace.

  • Christianity upholds nature, not the fallen nature, but God’s original creation and the order to things inside His design. In the natural way of things, children are in subjection to their parents, and are to obey and honor them.
  • Christianity upholds law and order. We are no longer under the Mosaic Law, but the commands and mandates of God, specifically those reiterated in the NT from the Old, plus the Mystery Doctrines for the Church, uphold His righteousness and justice inside His Plan.
  • Christianity is based on our relationship with Christ, being “in the Lord.” Our obedience to Him demonstrates that relationship. Therefore, obeying and honoring your parents “in the Lord” is a demonstration of the Grace Plan of God for the Church Age. Grace raises the commandment to the highest level; therefore, we are to obey our parents, to honor them, and to respect them in order to please our Lord and Savior, Eph 5:10, who is looking down upon us. When you do, you are showing the world and angels the Grace Plan of God, who are amazed that He, the Son, has ever been able to make such people of us, that we can live according to the commandments of God in a sinful world such as this. In addition, obedience to Christ’s Word is proof that you are like Him by the Grace of God, for you are doing what He Himself did when He was here in this sinful, evil world, Luke 2:51.

Vs. 3 – The Promise.


Here we have two promises of blessing, the first is quoted from Deut 5:16 and the second paraphrased from both Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16.

Deut 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Ex 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Originally, these promises were given to the children of Israel during the Jewish dispensation regarding the Promised Land He gave them, where it meant the following: ‘If you want to go on living in this land of promise to which I am leading you to, observe this commandment. If you want to have a time of blessedness and happiness in that land, if you want to go on living there under My blessing, observe these commandments, especially this one.’

But in our verse, these blessings are generalized because God is dealing with both Jew and Gentile Christians of the Church Age.

Here we have a HINA of Results clause, “so that” with the Subjunctive Mood that begins this verse in the Greek and is supplied to both parts of it. It is used once in the Greek but translated twice in the English. This verse has two promises of blessing:

  • It may be well with you,” from Deut 5:16, this is an idiom that means, “that you may prosper.” It is the Adverb EU, “well, good, etc.,” with the Personal Pronoun SU in the Dative of indirect object, 2nd Person, Singular, “with you” speaking of each individual child that obeys and honors their parents. Then we have in the Greek GINOMAI in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive, for “to be, to come into being, to be made, become, etc.” We translate this, “may be.”

The Constative Aorist views the entirety of the action of blessing in the life of the obedient child.

The Middle Deponent Voice, speaks to the child’s actions honoring his parents that, as a result has a blessing back to the child.

The Subjunctive Mood is part of this HINA Clause to show potential of the action of being blessed, as a result of honoring and obeying your parents. Therefore, this is a promise of prosperity.

Prosperity comes in many different ways. Most just think in terms of materialism. But prosperity can mean different things to different people, and God knows what prosperity is to you. Cf. Psa 112:1-9. It can include:

  1. Wealth, given by God when you have capacity from Doctrine in your soul to truly handle and appreciate it.
  2. A shower for those not able to bath regularly.
  3. Food, after starving for days.
  4. Rain for your crops, and a great harvest of the crops.
  5. An abundance of friends, unity of the body of Christ, family members, etc. (People).
  6. Success on the job when you line up with the Authority, Policy, and Goals (System).
  7. Inner stability, the result of grace that comes from appropriation and utilization of God’s grace, having peace of mind (Thought).
  8. Tranquility of mind after a long hard day at work or home with the children.
  9. Peace of mind during adversity or conflict (Disaster), etc.
  10. Being blessed inside one or more Divine Institutions, (volition, marriage, family, or nationalism), as a result of honoring those Divine Institutions.

Psa 112:1-2, “Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. 2His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

Mat 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

Then we have the Coordinating Conjunction KAI, “and,” to link the second promise of blessing.

  • You may live long on the earth,” taken from both Ex 20:12and Deut 5:16“You may” is the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative, in the 2nd Person Singular of EIMI, “to be or is,” that continues the HINA Subjunctive clause. We can translate this, “you may be.”

The Future Tense is Gnomic, for a statement of fact that speaks to the time after the child begins to honor his parents, whether that time has already begun or is yet to begin in the future. We could say, when they reach adulthood themselves.

The Middle Deponent once again speaks of the blessings the child receives, as a result of their actions of honoring and obeying their parents.

The Indicative Mood, is for the dogmatic reality of receiving this blessing when the child honors his parents.

Here the blessing is “live long,” which is the Nominative Singular of MAKROCHRONIOS, μακροχρόνιος that means, “long-lived,” and is used only here in all the NT. This is a compound Adjective consisting of the two words, MAKROS, “long,” and CHRONOS, “time.” In its use in classical Greek, the Septuagint, and its single occurrence in the NT it means, “long-lived.” This is an idiom for a life of quality and/or quantity – longevity.

Therefore, this tells us that obedience brings blessing. The 5th Commandment has a promise attached to it: “That your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives to you.” This promise originally applied to the Jews as they entered Canaan and throughout the Jewish Dispensation, but Paul applied it to believers of the Church. He substituted “earth” for “land” and tells us that the Christian child who honors his parents can expect two blessings. It will be well with him, and he will live long on the earth. This does not mean that everyone who died young dishonored his parents. He was stating a principle; when children obey and honor their parents in the Lord, they will escape a good deal of sin and danger and thus avoid the things that could threaten or shorten their lives. But life is not measured only by quantity of time. It is also measured by quality of experience. God enriches the life of the obedient child no matter how long he may live on the earth. Sin always robs us; obedience always enriches us.

This states a general principle that obedience fosters self-discipline, which in turn brings stability and longevity in one’s life. (Stated conversely, it is improbable that an undisciplined person will live a long life. An Israelite who persistently disobeyed his parents was not privileged to enjoy a long, stable life in the land of Israel. A clear example of this was Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas, 1 Sam 4:11.) Though that promise was given to Israel in the OT, the principle still holds true today, but in general, to all believing children of the Church Age.

Parents may be unfair or they may be tyrants, yet the children who are amenable to discipline will have a long (in quality and/or quantity), and prosperous life on this earth. Therefore, this verse is a demonstration of God’s fairness, because no matter how unfair parents could be or may be, God will bless the child who honors and respects his parents. This verse is also saying that it is better to endure hardship in youth and learn discipline so that in your later years you will have God’s blessings and long life. Long life is not always a blessing, but when it is associated with prosperity, long life is a blessing.

This does not exclude other types of suffering in the obedient child’s life from time to time, but his life is characterized by great prosperity. The person who in childhood and adolescence obeys parents and respects the authority of parents, will be happy and well-adjusted in life.

Next, we have the time and place of this blessing, “long life.” It is not speaking of eternity or heaven, but while here, “on the earth,” EPI HO GE.

Because the prospect of longevity is not held out elsewhere in the NT as part of the Christian hope, commentators have tended to spiritualize the application by linking it with eternal life, to a fault. That is not what Paul, nor the Holy Spirit intends here, as “on the earth” literally rules that out. It is not talking about the New Earth of eternity. These promises express the fact that obedience to God’s laws will bring God’s blessings in time. Many commandments were given to Israel. Obedience to these commandments would benefit in many ways, including the matter of enjoying longer life. Although many of the specific commandments given to Israel were not transferred into the NT, the basic philosophy behind them was. Therefore, obedience equals blessings in time for both believing and unbelieving children.

In our verse, the promise omits the clause, “which the Lord your God gives you,” from Ex 20:12, which linked the original promise of God to the child, with the land of Canaan. This is not appropriate for the Church. This omission then, has the effect of making the promise more generally applicable to the Church. The promise is now of well-being and long life on the earth for both Jew and Gentile of the Church Age.

So, the child must learn early to obey and honor their father and mother, not only because they are his parents, but because God has commanded him to do so. Disobedience to parents is rebellion against God. The sad situation in homes today is the result of rejecting God’s Word, Rom 1:28-30; 2 Tim 3:1-5, as we have noted above. By the Sin Nature, a child is selfish, and in selfishness, God is not able to provide His blessings. So, the arrogant, disobedient, and dishonoring child will miss out on these core blessings from God.

On the earth,” also reflect the immanency of the PAROUSIA, (the 2nd Coming of our Lord at the Rapture of the Church), as we do not know the day or hour in which it will occur. Even though Paul wrote about it 2000 years ago as if it were immanent, He also wrote about the blessing of a long and prosperous life here on earth. So, long life on earth reflects the PAROUSIA, in that we should live each day as if the Rapture were to occur that day, and enjoy each and every day our Lord gives to us here on earth to glorify Him right up to the PAROUSIA.

It first uses the second half of the promise from Deuteronomy, “It may be well with you,” and then modifies the second part of the blessing, “that you may live long” from the first half of the Deuteronomy blessing and the blessing from the Exodus blessing, “your days may be prolonged.”

Finally, rather than the blessing from the Decalogue being, “in the Land which the Lord your God gives to you,” the NT simply reads “on the earth,” since the Church and Church Age believer, do not have a Covenant promise for an earthly eternal land with an earthly eternal kingdom as Israel does. The Ephesian passage is a simple blessing for a life of quality and quantity while they are hear upon the earth. There is no statement of eternal blessing in the NT promise, as there is both a temporal and eternal promise for Israel in the OT. So, it is a promise of various prosperity blessings and a life of quality and quantity for those who “honor their parents” throughout the parents’ entire lives.

We now continue our study of the 5th Commandment’s utilization in the NT, by noting the other times this Commandment was used by our Lord.

As a reminder, this Commandment is used six times in the NT, in three events.

  1. The first is found in, Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10.
  2. The second is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.
  3. The third is Paul’s usage in, Eph 6:2-3, which is the only time the attached promise is given to the Church Age, Eph 6:3, “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

Jesus understood this commandment as applying to adult children, cf. Mat 15:4-6. However, the young are not excluded, as Paul noted in Eph 6:1-2.

  • The first utilization of this Commandment in the NT is found in Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10, which is the story of Jesus refuting the Pharisees for adhering to man-made traditions, rather than having truth resident in their heart, (right lobe of the soul), applied towards God.

The issue began with the Pharisees rebuking Jesus’ disciples for not ceremonially washing their hands before eating, as was the rabbinical tradition passed down through their generations. Because Jesus was the disciples’ leader, in the Pharisees minds, He was guilty of being a lawbreaker. He was not accepting the so-called binding character of these man-made regulations.

Notice that Jesus’ reply to them is quoting Scripture. First, He quoted the Law and then Isaiah. In the Matthew account, the quote from Isa 29:13, comes after our Lord speaks to the application of the 5th Commandment, whereas in the Mark account, it comes before.

In both accounts, we see the falsehoods of man-made religion with its lists of do’s and don’ts that are not found in Scripture. More importantly, if there are any commands that we are to keep, we are to do so from the heart, right lobe of the soul, in love, praise, and service of God, rather than keeping a ritual for ritual sake, or a tradition that is man-made.

The “traditions,” is the Noun PARADOSIS, παράδοσις. Traditions consisted of hundreds of minute details and ceremonial stipulations from the “doctrines” of the rabbis, which were written down in the Talmud that were supposedly handed down since the time of Moses, so that the Israelites could better keep the Law. In the eyes of the Pharisees, they had equal authority to the Scriptures, and were considered to be binding upon the faithful. Jesus rejected their claims and called their traditions human commandments, Mark 7:8-9.

In Mat 15:3; Mark 7:8-9, our Lord turns the Pharisee’s rebuke of His disciples back to them. He points out that they transgressed the 5th Commandment of God. What the Pharisees proudly claimed to be the “traditions of the elders,” Mark 7:3, our Lord called the “tradition of men,” vs. 8, and “your own tradition.” Through these traditions, the spirit of God’s law was being broken.

Mat 15:3, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’”

Mark 7:8-9, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. 9He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition’.”

The Pharisees were treating God’s commandments as invalid when they came in conflict with their own traditions. They were displacing God’s holy Law with man’s fallible traditions. In effect, they were setting themselves up as gods with the prerogative of establishing Divine law, cf. James 4:11-12.

Jesus set the law of God over/against the tradition of the elders. By saying, “your,” Jesus personalized these traditions as theirs and not His, thus disassociating Himself, and not identifying Himself with that which was not of God. For Him, only the Law of God had binding authority.

Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Jesus understood that this law did not merely require a child to obey and respect his or her parents. It also dictates that someone love, respect, and if necessary care for one’s parents when they are old.

Jesus also quoted Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9, in regard to the capital punishment one should receive for “cursing,” that is speaking evil of, his parents. This was in comparison to the man-made tradition of washing the hands, to show the greater severity for breaking the 5th Commandment.

Jesus then gives an object lesson in Mat 15:5-6, “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” Mark expounds on this a bit more in Mark 5:11-13,

While the Law regarded dishonoring your parents as a grave offense, vs. 4, the Scribes and Pharisees created a way to circumvent the offense in order to fill their own coffers and allow children to abuse their parents and keep the money that otherwise should have gone to support their parents. They said in essence, “if you make a vow to give your money to the temple,” versus to your parents who were in need, “you are ok with God.” This was a loophole in the law that they created. According to tradition, one could pledge goods to the temple and God, and thus be released from one’s responsibility to others. Underlying this was the rabbinic principle that viewed actions related to the temple ritual and procedures, as more important than works of love and mercy, i.e., attitude and behavior; cf. Mat 23:23-26. Yet, Jesus taught otherwise, cf. Mark 12:28-34.

In Mark 7:11, the phrase for this loophole is, “it is Corban,” KORBAN, κορβᾶν, which means, “a gift dedicated to God or the temple by a vow.” Thus, the parents received nothing, while the offspring either gave all of it or a portion of it to the temple, or just outright retained the entire vowed gift as their own, which was typically the case. This was ok, according to tradition.

In practice, this tradition proved even worse than its theory, because children not only neglected their parents, but they were able to fill their own pockets by pretending to be religious. The temple vow allowed some of the aid that should have gone to parents to remain in the child’s possession. Even in the most favorable circumstances, the decision to dedicate a gift to the temple was voluntary, yet, to honor one’s mother and father was a commandment. That is what religion does, it creates loopholes, so that you think you are good with God, yet in reality you are not.


1) People use human traditions to avoid what God expressly commands.

2) They rob the Word of its power and authority, making it meaningless and of no effect.

3) The substitution of man-made religion and traditions is a double delusion:

a) It leads men to believe that the correct observance of religious forms and ceremonies satisfies God’s requirements.

b) It leads people to disregard the plain teachings of the Word of God.

Mark 7:12-13, “You no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.””

The Word of God, including the Law of Moses, calls for obedience out of love and gratitude to God, Deut 6:5, 21-24; 10:12. Samuel told King Saul in 1 Sam 15:22, “to obey is better than sacrifice,” Micah declared that a walk in humble fellowship with God, rather than outward appearance, is what pleases Him, Micah 6:6-8.

Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Everything that God commands of us is for the means of entrance into fellowship with Him, and is not a substitute for a personal walk with Him. That is why in Mat 15:7-9, the Lord calls them hypocrites.

Hypocrite,” is the Greek noun HUPOKRITES, ποκριτς, that means “hypocrite or pretender; an actor, one who pretends, or one who wears a mask,” cf. Mat 6:2, 5, 16. Figuratively, it refers to someone who appears to be different in character and identity from what he really is; a phony, a pretender, a fraud.

In 536 B.C., it was used by Thespis who introduced an individual who replied to the chorus, (a group of male dancers and singers), in the festival of Dionysius held every spring in Athens, as Hupokrites. In addition, to the Jews, it meant one who is “estranged from God, godless.” So, you can imagine the impact this word had on the Pharisees.

This word is only found in use by Jesus in the synoptic Gospels, and typically directed towards the Pharisees. It showed what spiritual “actors” and “pretenders” these fakes were. The hypocrite often deceives himself, as well as others. In addition, it carries the idea of the hardness of heart and lack of compassion characteristic of a hypocrite, Luke 12:56; 13:15.

That is why Jesus applied the words of Isa 29:13, in Matthew and Mark to them, showing that God does not tolerate such pretense. Jesus’ attitude is similarly reflected in His pronouncement of “Woe!” upon the hypocritical Pharisees and legal experts; they not only perverted the Law but also prevented others from knowing God, Mat 23; cf. Luke 11.

Therefore, the external profession of the Pharisees was in marked contrast to their inner heart condition. The hypocrite may honor God verbally, but not with his heart. He is always far from God. These “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” were pretending the truths they taught were of Divine origin, but in reality, they were hairsplitting rules which mere men had passed down from generation to generation.

In Mat 15:9 and Mark 7:7, “They worship me in vain,” is the Adverb MATEN, μάτην meaning, “in vain, fruitless.” Some believe it meant, “groundless, pointless, or deceitful.” This was Jesus’ paraphrase of Isa 29:13, and it closely resembles the Septuagint. He is saying, despite their words, worship is pointless for those whose hearts are far from God; it is a futile attempt.

Therefore, these pious leaders of Israel were accused of having void, empty results in their worship, because their worship was based on empty rote, not conscious worship. Their religion had a fruitlessness about it.

Paul also wrote of such self-conceived religion, (the teachings of men), in Col 2:22-23. He pointed out that an outward show of tradition or rituals are of no value against fleshly lusts.

In both Gospel accounts, Jesus followed this up by telling the people that what proceeds out of the mouth is truly what is in man’s heart. Therefore, you must have God’s Word cycling through the right lobe of your soul, heart, so that you can in love apply it to all situations in life to the service, worship, and glory of God.

  • The second utilization of the 5th Commandment is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Here we see a certain rich young man asking Jesus what good thing he could do to obtain eternal life, Jesus answered, “Obey the commandments,” Mat 19:17. To clarify this, Jesus specifically mentioned 5 of the last 6 of the Ten Commandments, because they all related to the horizontal relationships of life, that is, related to behavior toward others, Deut 5:16-20; Mat 19:18-19. He also added, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Mat 19:19; Lev 19:18, to make this point.

Paul declared that the commandments are summed up and fulfilled in love toward one’s neighbor, Rom 13:9-10. The young man said he fulfilled all these things. Yet, he had a sense that he was still “lacking” what was necessary for eternal life, just as all unbelievers are given this innate sense.

Therefore, we see a principle: One can obey the letter of the Law, but still transgress spiritually if they do not operate in faith and AGAPE love.

Here, the issue was salvation, eternal life. This man had kept the Law but in a fashion that was a works for salvation program, (which he knew was lacking), rather than having faith in God and Christ for salvation. This is seen in the final challenge our Lord gave him; “to sell all that you have,” Mat 19:21.

You see, human works can only take you so far, and human works will only let you go so far. They will never take you all the way to salvation and eternal life.

Human works eminent from the flesh, (the sin nature), and at some point, there is a red flag that gets raised by the sin nature to stop you from having faith. The sin nature is fine and comfortable when you are doing all sorts of human good works. But, it gets very uncomfortable when you put them and it aside, and apply complete trust and faith in God. That is the point when the sin nature says whoa!

Just as this rich young man’s sin nature said “whoa” to him, where his countenance fell and depression set in, so does your sin nature try to say to you, when God asks you to step out in faith.

This young man was all well and fine when his works were on display. But as soon as faith was the issue, “sell everything and follow me,” that is when he hit the wall, and could go no further. Even though Jesus gave him a promise, this man could go no further. And even as a business man, when he was promised a great return on his investment, he could not do it, because the investment was beyond his power. In other words, he did not or could not control the situation, he had to step out in faith and trust in another for his well-being. That was too much for him.

Both requests by Jesus represented a test of faith and his love for the Lord, in regard to both the vertical and horizontal commandments. In Jesus’ request of him, to follow Jesus would have been the fulfillment of the first 4 Commandments. To give to the poor would have been the fulfillment of the remaining 6, i.e., “loving one’s neighbor.” Both represented a test of faith, and his love for the Lord.

This man had done well in his performance of the letter of the Law, but there was failure in keeping the spirit of the Law. The challenge to “sell everything and follow me,” was our Lord’s way of seeing if he could operate on faith in his walk and relationship with Jesus and God the Father. In these passages, the Ten Commandments were used to show this man’s hypocrisy, (like the Pharisees demonstrated in the previous use of the 5th Commandment), and that works cannot and do not save you. In fact, they can be abused to a hypocritical religiosity.

Jesus’ challenge included:

  1. Would he give up all he was trusting in and put his trust in Jesus alone?
  2. Would he turn his back on those things which contributed to his self-esteem and made him think he could do something to merit eternal life?
  3. Would he give up the wealth and position that gave him power with men?
  4. Would he sell all his possessions and give them to the poor and be content with the assurance that he would have treasure in heaven?

Notice that Jesus did not mention the 1st Commandment that deals with relationship to God. He repeated only commands from the second part of the Decalogue that deal with human relationships and with human responsibility toward one’s neighbor. He waited on that one until the end, “follow Me!” Jesus knew this man’s heart was not in the right place, and gave him grace.

By his own choice, this young man turned his back on God and Jesus Christ and went back to his beautiful home, his pleasures, his acres of farm, forest, and pasture, and the power and position his wealth gave him in the eyes of men. But in so doing, he broke the 1st Commandment, as well as the commandment Jesus said is greatest, Mat 22:37; Deut 6:5, “love the Lord your God with all your …”

Gold was his god. Self was his love. It was not that he had much property; rather, the property had him. Possessions were his god. Therefore, he broke the 1st Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” which speaks of man’s relationship with God. Mat 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”       

If the love of money fills a person’s heart, he can no longer come under the rule of God, but will do all kinds of evil things, things that would have horrified him if he had not become a slave of the love of money, 1 Tim 6:10.

Therefore, this example is for all to understand that faith alone in Christ alone is the only way to salvation, Eph 2:8-9. You can keep all the commandments you like, but if you do not have faith in God, you have nothing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

6th commandment

The 6th Commandment:

Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17, “You shall not murder.”

Our duty towards our neighbors is summed up in Lev 19:18, in the one word, “love,” AHAB, in the phrase, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The principle of this 6th Commandment is also noted in Gen 9:6; Lev 24:17; Jer 7:9; Hos 4:2, as well as elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments.

In the Hebrew, it is simply the permanent negative Particle LO and the Qal Imperfect of RASAH or RATSACH, ‏רָצַח‎ that means, “to murder,” that is, putting someone to death improperly, for selfish reasons rather than with authorization. Therefore, we have the command that one is not to “kill unlawfully,” that is, “you must not or cannot murder.”

This is the first time RATSACH is used in the OT. The NASB translates it correctly, but the KJV does not. It uses, “kill,” that back in the early usage of the English language held more to the definition of murder than it does today. That is why the NKJV uses “murder,” rather than kill.

As you know, there is a vast difference between killing and murder, not only in regard to the human race but also in comparison to the animal kingdom, which we will discuss below. Nevertheless, murder of human beings is in view here.

RATSACH is used 46 times in the OT. This is not the most common word for murder or killing in the OT. The more common word is HARAGH, הָרַג that is used over 150 times for, “to kill, slay, or slaughter. But, used when in the Qal stem it means, “murder.” There are eight verbs for “kill” in the Hebrew language, (to say nothing of the terms for preparing animals for sacrificial worship).

RATSACH is unique to the Hebrew language; no cognates to this root appear in any of the other Semitic languages. It is used uniquely for the unauthorized taking of human life called homicide, predominately what we call today first-degree or premeditated murder, Psa 62:3; 94:6; Jer 7:9; Hos 4:2. It was also used for second-degree murder, or even third-degree murder called voluntary manslaughter. In addition, it is used for involuntary manslaughter that is usually translated, “manslayer.”

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice of forethought, expressed or implied by the motivation of arrogance from the Old Sin Nature when residing inside of Satan’ cosmic system. The motivation to murder comes from mental attitude sins, such as self-righteous arrogance, conspiracy arrogance, criminal arrogance, crusader arrogance, political arrogance, the arrogance of ignorance, the arrogance of unhappiness, or iconoclastic arrogance. Therefore, murder is both a sin and a crime related to cosmic involvement, and is often manifested in religion, as pagan religions of the ancient world used human sacrifice, which constituted murder. Therefore, we see the tie in to the first 4 Commandments.

Murder is the major attack on freedom and self-determination as a human issue in the Angelic conflict. The prohibition of murder is designed for the preservation of Divine Institution #1, Volition. In committing murder, you are depriving another of his life and freedom. The operation of free will is the basic issue in the Angelic Conflict, and the Decalogue is designed to protect every free will during the course of the Angelic Conflict.

Murder is the invention of Satan and he is the motivator of murder. Murder is Satan’s genius to invent a system to attack freedom and self-determination, John 8:44.

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 and the father of lies.”

Notice in that passage that Jesus equates lying about someone as murdering them. We call this character assassination.

The right of every person to life is protected by God’s Word. Any unlawful act which might rob another of life is included in this prohibition. No unauthorized “private” person or group has the right to end a human life. Moreover, the ban on murder has no modifying conditions: Taking one’s own life or ending someone else’s for purposes of “mercy” do not qualify as allowable exceptions. Therefore, the sin denounced in this commandment almost always refers to what is defined as deliberately premeditated manslaughter with malice aforethought, or what we call today first-degree murder.

Not only is the accomplished fact of murder condemned, whether it proceed from open violence or stratagem, Ex 21:12, 14, 18, but every act that endangers human life, whether it arise from carelessness, Deut 22:8, or wantonness, Lev 19:14, or from hatred, anger, and revenge, Lev 19:17-18.

Murder is the only overt sin listed in the classification of the seven worst sins, Prov 6:16-19, in the phrase, “hands that shed innocent blood.”

As noted above, murder and killing are two entirely different Biblical concepts. Murder is prohibited by the Word of God; whereas, killing in defense of one’s own person or nation is sanctioned by the Word of God, as is capital punishment toward criminals, and is absolutely necessary in many instances for the preservation of freedom. This Commandment does not prohibit the taking of animal life, nor does it prohibit killing in war or in a situation calling for extreme police action. Jesus Christ himself holds the record for killing in battle in Isa 37:36, when he killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Our Lord will break his own record at the Second Advent when He returns to terminate the Armageddon campaign, Rev 14:20; 19:11, 15; Isa 63:1-6; Ezek 39:11-13; Joel 2:20. Therefore, God authorizes governments to execute capital punishment for murder, Gen 9:6; Lev 24:17; Deut 19:12; Rom 13:1-4, and to use force to maintain safety for its citizens, such as in the military. This was the very first requirement given Noah after the Flood, according to Gen 9:6.

Gen 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”

In the image” means that humanity was modeled according to the invisible image or likeness of God. This means humanity was to reflect God’s invisible essence, thus man, as to his essence, is the shadow image of God who is invisible, just as the essence of man is invisible, i.e. the soul. Human nature in its internal and external characteristics is what is meant here rather than an exact duplicate. In Gen 9:6 and 1:26, the noun TSELEM means, “image” and is used first of the Trinity and the modeling of humanity according to the invisible image or likeness of God. As God’s essence is invisible, so too is man’s essence invisible, his soul, which is the shadow image of God. “Model” means that the soul of mankind is a “copy” of God and is “patterned” after God’s invisible essence. And as you know, our life is found within our soul.

Therefore, “life” is placed at the head of these last 5 Commandments, not as being the highest earthly possession, but because it is the basis of human existence, and in the life, the personality is attacked, and in that, the image of God is attacked. Whether by murder or lie, the image of God is attacked. That is why the taking of a human life is a serious act to God, because all people are made in His image and He alone has the authority to give and take life. God is showing us that life, and living life is sacred, that is, it is set apart to and belongs to the Lord and should be devoted to Him. Murder is a violation of God’s creation, because the murderer displays contempt for God, as well as his neighbor.

No individual has the right to terminate the life of another member of the human race. God alone has the right to terminate or prescribe death for the life of man, who was created in the image of God. Any willful unlawful killing of a member of the human race is unauthorized and to be punished.

The only punishment equal to the crime of murder that shows respect for the life of the victim and the authority of God is capital punishment, Gen 9:5f; Num 35:30-34. This is yet another commandment designed for the protection of human freedom.

RATSACH usually refers to murder, but one time it is used of authorized killing in describing that if a person is ruled a murderer; he must be put to death, Num 35:30. In fact, Num 35:16-21 describe the various types of murder that would find someone to be a murderer. Then, in vs. 22-28, it describes involuntary manslaughter and the application of the Refuge city, cf. Deut 4:41-43; 19:1-11.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Doctrine of the City of Refuge

City” is the Noun IR, עִיר‎ in the Hebrew, and “refuge,” is the Noun MIQLAT, מִקְלָט that means, “refuge or asylum.” This word is only used for the appointed Cities of Refuge.

In cases amounting to unintentional taking of human life, it led to the appointment of six cities of refuge, Deut 4:42f, Joshua 20:1-9; 21:13, 21, 27, 32, 38; 1 Chron 6:57, 67, where the RATSACH or manslayer could “flee” to, so that he might be preserved from retributive assassination by the kinsman-redeemer, (“blood avenger”), or nearest male relative of the deceased. The Hebrew Verb used in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua for the flight of the manslayer to the City of Refuge is NUS, נוּס‎ that means, “to flee.”

Of the six cities, three were located on each side of the Jordan, and were set apart and placed in the hands of the Levites. They served as places of asylum for those that might shed blood unintentionally.

6 cities of refugeHere is a map of the six Cities of Refuge. They were arranged in such a manner that a person could reach one of them in usually a half day’s travel, but within a full day at most.

Grieving and angry relatives of the dead victim would tend to assume deliberate intent on the part of the manslayer and want to take revenge, even though the tragedy was completely accidental. Hence, Numbers 35, provides the measure of fairness and mercy by requiring a court hearing at the city where the fugitive had taken refuge. To prevent such a thing where possible, and to provide for a right administration of justice, these cities were instituted, and open highways were to be maintained leading to them, so that the manslayer would have an unobstructed course to the city gate.

If the evidence presented before the elders indicated no malicious intent, the would-be avenger was forbidden to touch him as long as he kept living in his city of refuge until the death of the current high priest serving at the Tabernacle (or Temple). This protected the refugee from assassination by some member of the clan of the deceased who might not be content with the finding of the trial court, and who might therefore take the law into his own hands to inflict revenge. The provision regarding the death of the current high priest has symbolic connection with the future death of the divine High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice atoned for all the sins of all mankind, no matter how guilty they had been.

A similar right of refuge seems to have been recognized in Israel when one would flee to the Tabernacle or temple and hold on to the horns of the altar for refuge, 1 Kings 1:50; 2:28.

Although this was a civil institution designed to protect those not guilty of death, as we have seen so many times when looking at the OT, we see typology in regards to the spiritual implications for us today. When thinking about the “Cities of Refuge,” we immediately think of taking refuge in Christ. In fact, the OT is filled with passages that call Jesus Christ our refuge.  There are well over 50 passages, many in Psalms of David.

As David said in Psa 143:9, “Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.”

Here “refuge” is the Verb KASH that means, “to cover, conceal, or hide.” Jesus Christ covers our sins regarding their just due payment. He conceals them from public view, and hides them for all of eternity. They are forgiven and forgotten.

In addition, 2 Sam 22:3, was written by David when he was being hunted by King Saul who intended to take his life.

2 Sam 22:3, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.”

Here we have two words for “refuge.” First we have, CHASAH, that means, “to seek refuge, to take shelter, to trust.” Then we have, MANOS that means, “refuge or place of escape.” This reminds us of Psa 32:7.

Psa 32:7, “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

Then in Isa 25:4, it reads, “For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge, (MACHASEH, “refuge, shelter”), from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall.” Cf. Isa 4:6; 32:2.

YHWH, “the Lord,” is a Refuge, (MACHASEH), for the righteous in a number of senses.

  1. Those who dwell in his protective shadow are safe from all the enemies of the righteous, Psa 91:2.
  2. There is no fear in the time of Divine wrath, Isa 4:6; Joel 3:16.
  3. The oppressed seek his shelter and protection, Psa 14:6; Isa 25:4; Jer 17:17.
  4. Anyone who builds a refuge on anything aside from YHWH is in trouble, as in the case of the elite of the northern kingdom of Israel, who built their refuge in lies, a shelter which YHWH would, in His righteous wrath, utterly destroy, Isa 28:15ff.
  5. In contrast, we are reminded, “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge,” Prov 14:26.

Psa 34:22, was written by David after he had fled from King Saul to a Philistine city, then faked madness to avoid being held accountable before the Philistine king, whose advisors wanted David dead due to his victories against them in the past.

Psa 34:22, “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge, (CHASAH), in Him will be condemned.”

Psa 62:7-8, “On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge, (MACHASEH), is in God. 8Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Cf. Psa 46:1.

Many times, in the OT, the imagery of wings is given when showing the healing and protective nature of God. The Hebrew word for refuge is often times used in the same phrases with the word for wings. Psa 36:7, is one example but there are many more.

Psa 36:7, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge, (CHASAH), in the shadow of Your wings.” Cf. Psa 17:8; 57:1.

In Ruth 2:12, we have Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, (a type of Christ), talking to Ruth.

Ruth 2:12, “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”

In a sense, we are all like the manslayer, because ours sins put Jesus Christ on the Cross, unintentionally as that may be. Even though it is the path Jesus chose, if there was no sin, there would be no need for the Cross. Yet, Christ’s message is for us to run to Him without delay, to seek refuge in the redemption He accomplished at the Cross.

As in the times of Israel, it was pure foolishness to delay your journey to the nearest City of Refuge when the avenger of blood was seeking your life. And, in the same way, people today need to avoid delays and excuses in seeking Christ, especially due to guilt or a sense of spiritual inadequacy, and just run to His presence.

In Heb 6:17-18, believers, who have fled from the wrath due them because of their sins, have seized upon the hope which God the Father has offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Since it is not yet fully realized, it is hope, (i.e., confident expectation).

Heb 6:17-18, “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, So that by two unchangeable things, (God cannot lie and He fulfills His oaths / promises), in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

“Refuge,” is the Greek Verb KATAPHEUGO, καταφεύγω that means, “to flee, to take refuge. It comes from the root word PHEUGO that means, “to flee or escape.” This word is used only here and in Acts 14:6, where Paul and his group fled for fear of their lives.

Just as the Cities of Refuge were a day’s journey or less away, safety for the manslayer was never far away, and so also, we know Christ is not far off. Safety and peace of mind for us is as close as a prayer.

As Jesus said in Mat 28:20 “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” These cities were also located in somewhat mountainous regions, on hilltops, so as to be easily seen from a distance. These cities had to be easily seen from a distance and in bad weather, fog, and darkness of night by the exhausted manslayer running for his life. For us, so often the whirlwind of life and its complications cloud our vision, yet Christ is still easily seen if we just look for Him.

Psa 43:3, “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.”

In the NT, Jesus is the light of the world, to lead men out of darkness.

John 1:9, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”

John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life”.”

John 12:46, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” Cf. John 3:19; 9:5; 11:9

2 Cor 4:4, “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

From non-biblical literature sources, it is said that the great gates of these Refuge Cities were never locked, but always left open, not a common practice for that era. How comforting it must have been for the fleeing fugitive to know he would immediately gain access to the safety of the city and not die at the hands of the avenger of blood, as he would, if stuck outside beating on the door.

Jesus told us in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

As mentioned above, we are told from Jewish literature that the roads to these cities were traveled and inspected by the elders once a year, and carefully repaired every spring after the rains and bad weather of the winter. Bridges were built or repaired where needed and every obstruction was removed. At every crossroads and turn were posted special signs stating “refuge” to guide the runner. We see by this, how easy the Lord intended the road to be by which we come to Him. It is similar to the ease of deliverance for the snake bitten Israelites, when they would simply turn towards the Brazen Serpent, cf, John 3:14. Likewise, the gracious promises given in the Gospels diligently remove the obstacles before us.

Remember what Christ told us in Mat 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Charles Spurgeon said about the roads to these cities and the road to Christ, “It is a road so hard that no self-righteous man can ever tread it, but so easy that every sinner, who knows himself to be a sinner, may by it find his way to heaven.”

Jewish tradition also tells us that runners educated in the Law of God were stationed along these roads to guide the fugitives to safety.

Ecc 4:10, “For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

What a blessing to the weary fugitive who may have lost his sense of direction or his desire to go on, to have someone who knows God’s ways encourage them onward and guide them to the place of refuge.

All of us have had moments in our spiritual walk where we lost our sense of direction or purpose, or just lacked the spirit to go onward, even though deep down we knew that we should. But God provided for these moments long before they came, and if you look back at them, I think you will realize that there was always someone there to guide you back on the path that leads to Christ.

It may have been your beloved spouse, a best friend, your mom or dad, perhaps a brother or sister, or a compassionate individual in the church, but whoever it was that ran with you in your spiritual walk and guided you back onto the beaten path when you were falling away, be very grateful to them and do not take them for granted. God was using them to preserve your spiritual life as the runners of old preserved the life of the manslayers. That is why we, as representatives of Christ, are called in Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”

Remember, these cities were only a temporary place of safety. Once the high priest died, they were free to return to their home cities where the avenger of blood had no legal right to pursue them. But if the avenger harbored a grudge, they might still be in danger for their lives. Yet, because of our position in Christ, He is our High Priest forever, who is also resurrected; never to die again. As such, experientially, we should never leave our place of spiritual refuge in Him; we are eternally secure in our salvation despite the daily battles within us with the sin nature.

City of Refuge Code:

Finally, when we look deeper into the Hebrew names of these six cities, we see a direct correlation to the character and nature of Christ, and what He accomplished for all of us “manslayers.”  We get the order of these cities from Joshua 20:7-8.

  • First, we have the city of QEDESH, (Kedesh). It is from the root Verb QADASH meaning, “to separate, set apart, to be holy, to consecrate,” implying the consecration of a person or thing to the worship or service of God. Hence it means to make or be holy, and therefore it implies holiness, the full consecration of a person to God. And this city was in “Galilee (district) in the hills of Naphtali (might wrestling).” Therefore, “the holy One comes from the place of wrestling.”

There are many passages in the OT that refer to Christ as, “The Holy One of Israel.” In the NT, we have John 6:69, “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 

  • Next, we have SHEKEM, (Shechem), that means, “shoulder.” It is from the root word SHAAKAM, meaning, “to be ready, forward, and diligent,” Hence Shechem means, “shoulder,” because of its readiness to bear burdens and sustain. From this we derive its metaphorical meaning of “government, or dominion.” This was in the “hills of Ephraim,” that means, “double fruit,” (i.e. He will save both Jews and Gentiles).

Isa 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

  • Thirdly, we have KIRATH (city of), ARABA known later as Hebron. Hebron is CHEBROWN that means, “a community or alliance.” It is from the root CHAABAR meaning. “to associate, join, conjoin, unite as friends.” Therefore, Hebron means, “fellowship or friendly association.” This was in the “hills of Judah,” which means “praised.”

John 15:15, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Then crossing the Jordan, YARDEN, “the watering place,” (provision) into Jericho, YERICHO, “the place of fragrance,” (propitiation) we have the next three Cities of Refuge.

  • Fourth, we have Bezer, BETSER that means, “ore of gold or silver.” It is from the root BAATSAR meaning, “to restrain, enclose, shut up, or encompass within a wall.” Therefore, Bezer means, “the goods or treasures secured within the wall, a fortified place, fortress or stronghold.” This was from the, “tribe of Reuben” that means, “Behold a son!”

Psa 18:2, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

  • Fifth, we have Ramoth, RA’MOTH that means, “heights.” It comes from the root RA’AM meaning, “to be raised, made high or exalted.” Therefore, Ramoth means, “high places or eminences.” This was in Gilead, “the hill of testimony,” as Jesus was crucified on the hill of Golgatha, the hill of skulls. This was the place of the, “tribe of Gad,” that means, “fortune come.”

Heb 7:26, “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”

Phil 2:8-10, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

Luke 1:69, “And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant.”

John 3:14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

Luke 9:22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

  • Finally, we have Golan, GOWLAN that means, “captive or exile.” It comes from the root GOLA meaning the same plus “to remove or removing,” This was in the, “tribe of Manasseh,” that means, “who makes forget.” Combined it means make the “captives forget,” or to free the captives. Metaphorically it means, “to forgive their sins.”

This reminds us of the victory at the Cross, where Jesus subsequently led the triumphant procession to heaven. As He will also do for the Church Age believer, at the Rapture or Resurrection of the Church.

Eph 4:8, “Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men”.”

It is awesome to see the entire gospel message contained in the meaning of these six Hebrew cities, given to Israel almost 1500 years before the NT was written. Although they focus on the character and nature of the person of Christ, there is a direct meaning in what Christ is saying to us through them as well.

  1. QEDESH: To be made holy.
  2. SH’KEM: To bear a burden, sustain.
  3. CHEBROWN: To join and unite as friends.
  4. BETSER: To encompass within a wall.
  5. RA’MOTH: To be raised up and exalted.
  6. GOWLAN: Remove the exiles, set the captives free.

Therefore, the “Refuge City Code,” from Joshua 20:7-8, says about Christ, our refuge:

KEDESH: The holy One who comes from the place of wrestling (those who reject Him).
SHEKEM: Is ready to shoulder the burdens, (save from their sins), both Jews and Gentiles.
HEBRON: Joining the two into one body as His friends to His praise.
Crossing the Jordan into Jericho: He will water (provide) for them as “the place of fragrance,” (propitiation) of God the Father.
BEZER: As a treasure, we are eternally secure in the Son of God.
RAMOTH: He will be exalted, seated at the right hand of God, as a result of the Cross, forever.
GOLAN: Because He freed the captives having forgotten (i.e., forgiven) their sins.

“The holy One, who comes from the place of those who reject Him, is ready to save from their sins, both Jews and Gentiles, joining the two into one body as His friends, to His praise. He will provide for them as the propitiation of God the Father. As a treasure, they will be eternally secure in the Son of God, as He will be exalted, seated at the right hand of God, as a result of the Cross, forever, because He freed the captives having forgotten (i.e., forgiven) their sins.”

Likewise, being ourselves manslayers of Christ, Christ is saying to each of us:

“If you run to me and seek my presence, I will consecrate you and make you holy. I will bear your burdens, sustain you in all your trials, and call you to my side as an intimate friend. When you are attacked by Satan and the evils of this world, I will shield you behind an impenetrable wall. I will raise you up in glory at the right hand of my throne, as I have freed you from the slave market of sin.”

The rise of crime and violence in a society or nation indicates national degeneration and the approach of historical catastrophe in the form of the Fifth Cycle of Discipline, Jer 4:31. This pattern of degeneration is developed into the destruction of the client nation. Hosea 4:1-6.

Hosea 4:1-2, “Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, for the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. 2There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, (Bible Doctrine in the soul). Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, (nation). Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

New Testament Usage:

We have already noted several scriptures that prohibit murder during the Church Age. In addition, this commandment is used in Mat 5:21f, (in the Sermon on the Mount, which we will note below); Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20, (speaking to the rich young man, which we noted under the 5th Commandment); Rom 13:9; James 2:11; 4:2, etc. Therefore, this commandment is a universal law for all Ages / Dispensations.

In Mat 23:35; Luke 11:51; 1 John 3:12-15; Jude 11, the NT applications of this commandment looks back to Gen 4:5-8, which gives us the historical account of the first murder in human history as an object lesson. The first act of murder in human history is that of Cain murdering his brother Abel.

Rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus said in Luke 11:51, “From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.” Cf. Mat 23:35.

Rebuking unbelievers and teachers of false doctrines, Jude said in Jude 1:11, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Cf. vs. 16.

In Gen 4:8, we see the first act of murder, where Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy regarding their offerings to the Lord. There, HARAQ is used in the Qal stem for “murder,” as it is elsewhere, cf. Ex 21:12, 14. Cain’s problem was that he did not see Abel as his brother. Instead, he saw him as a rival and wanted to get him out of the way so that he could have all of God’s favor. As you know, Cain was operating under human good works inside of Satan’s cosmic system, versus Divine good production. He wanted to have his human works to be accepted by God, (i.e., offering to the Lord the vegetables he grew).

Yet, the only thing that is acceptable to God is Divine good, cf. Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:9, (i.e., what He supplies to us, the Lamb). The lamb is what Abel offered, and God accepted it. Therefore, Cain’s sin was arrogance and he needed to remove his rival, so he murdered Abel.

Jesus, in His teaching on the Law, Mat 5:21-26, pointed to the wider sphere of this commandment, including the mental attitude which potentially leads to the act of murder. Jesus deepens it by saying that anger was like murder and can easily lead to murder, Mat 5:22, just as the liar was a murderer in John 8:44.

Mat 5:22, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

James also pointed out that mental attitude sins lead to overt sins such as murder, James 4:1-2.

James 4:1-2, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”

Peter warns the church not to enter into these types of sins in 1 Peter 4:15, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.”

As the first three vertical Commandments refer primarily to deeds; the subsequent commandments advance to the prohibition of desire, which is proof that the deed is not to be separated from the disposition, and that the fulfilment of God’s mandates is only complete when the heart itself is sanctified.

Murder, violence, and terror always occur when man becomes involved in sin and Satan’s cosmic system. And, murder is always preceded by the mental attitude sin of arrogance.

Rom 1:29, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips…”

Then, in 1 John 3:4-12, John tell us what the antidote is regarding the temptation to murder, or any other sin for that fact. The antidote is love. If we have come into a relationship with God in which we have committed all of our needs to His loving care, others are no longer rivals preventing us from having what we need, and we no longer have to “get others out of the way,” so that we can have what we want, desire, lust for, or even need. Instead, we can see them as brothers and sisters, and delight in the ways in which God supplies our needs, as well as rejoicing in His supply of their needs, even as He sometimes does through us.

James also reiterates this and points to having love for God as the antidote to sin, James 4:5-8.

James 4:5-8, “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Moses in Deut 6:4f, and Paul in Rom 13:9-10, also taught that the path toward obedience and fulfillment of these mandates is characterized as a path of love towards God and towards your fellow man.

Rom 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

James also reminds us that love should prevail in all situations, so that we do not have partiality or favoritism of one over another, because AGAPE love is the “royal law,” for us all to fulfill.

James 2:8-13, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. 9But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

In conclusion, we should not murder because God alone gives life, Deut 32:39 and people are made in His image.

Deut 32:39, “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”

In the Church Age, the state takes the roles of administration of justice and declaration of war; the Church cannot do such things, Rom 13:1-5.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

7th commandmentThe 7th Commandment:

Ex 20:14; Deut 5:18, “You shall not commit adultery.”

The purpose of the commandment is to positively promote the purity of the heart, especially in regard to the marriage relationship. In the 7th Commandment we have the valuing of our and our neighbor’s marriage. The commandment specifically addresses adultery or marital infidelity. As the 6th Commandment protected Divine Institution #1, freedom of Volition, and the 5the Commandment protected Divine Institution # 3, Family, this particular commandment is for the protection of the privacy and the freedom of the relationship between the right man and the right woman, Divine Institution #2, Marriage.

The Hebrew reads, LO NA’APH in the Qal Imperfect for the ongoing negation of this act. NA’APH, נאַף‎‎ is used 34 times in the OT and means, “to commit adultery,” which is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than their spouse, also called infidelity. This word is unique to the Hebrew language among other Semitic languages. Other derivatives that also mean “adultery” include, NI’UP, Ezek 23:43; Jer 13:27; and NA’APUP, Hosea 2:4.

Being addressed to men first, it is defined as having sexual intercourse with a woman who was either married to a man or betrothed, that is, who had already begun the legal exchanges which preceded marriage, what we call today the “engagement.” Deut 22:23f. Sexual relations are the virtual seal of a marriage covenant, and adultery betrays the emotional-psychological intimacy that specially connects adult men and women within marriage.

Being the 3rd of the horizontal Commandments, adultery was seen as a serious sin in Israelite society. The family was the basic unit of the nation, and faithfulness to the marriage contract is the foundation for the family. The protection of the marriage protected the integrity of the family unit that was important because the family was the foundation of society and the nation. Compromise or collapse of the family meant compromise or collapse of society. Sex outside marriage involving married people is especially threatening to the marriage, family, and nation, and thus receives special focus among the 10 Commandments. Therefore, no one is allowed to have sex with any married person except his or her spouse, and no married person is allowed to have sex with anyone other than his or her spouse.

One who broke that contract was worthy of death through capital punishment for both the man and woman guilty of this act, Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; cf, Lev 19:20, whereas fornication (cf. ZANA) did not carry this penalty. The method of death was in some cases, burning, Gen 38:24, and more generally stoning, Deut 22:23f.; Ezek 16:38-40; cf. John 8:5.

The rest of the ancient Near Eastern cultures surrounding the Israelites likewise had laws prohibiting adultery. Hittite laws, Middle Assyrian laws, and the Code of Hammurabi all contain legislation against adultery. Their law codes prescribed execution as the penalty for adultery, although the adulteress’ husband could cancel the punishment. But this is not the case of the Israelite law. The prime reason in those notations regulating the sexual activity of women had to do with patrilineal, (along the father’s line), inheritance, where genetic lines and birth order dictate who receives what upon the devolving of property after the death of a father. Thus, protecting the lineage against non-family members was of paramount importance.

In addition, as in many other societies, a woman belonged to the house of her father until marriage, and then became part of her husband’s estate. On one level, having sexual relations with a married or betrothed woman was seen as a form of stealing. The rape of a betrothed woman, for example, lowered the value of her bride price. Accordingly, the ravager of an unbetrothed virgin was liable for her bride price and to marry her, but if the father refused him, the dowry was to be paid likewise, Ex 22:16-17. Therefore, in these other cultures, the wife was considered property, and this would merely have been a case of damaged goods. Nonetheless, in Egypt (marriage contracts), Mesopotamia (hymns to Ninurta and Shamash) and Canaan (king of Ugarit extradites and executes his wife), adultery was regularly referred to as “the great sin,” Gen 20:9; 39:9, and was considered extremely detrimental to society in that it was characteristic of anarchy.

Indeed, the sin of adultery was among the reasons that the inhabitants of Canaan were judged by YHWH, Lev 18:20, 24-25; Cf. Lev 20:23; Deut 9:5; 18:12.

The sin was viewed on other levels in the Hebrew Bible as well. Adultery was understood beyond its economic ramifications. Being the third of the horizontal commandments, it was understood as a moral sin, an act which caused defilement and an offense against fellow Israelites and God, Job 24:15; Prov 6:32; 30:20; Jer 29:23; Hosea 4:2; Mal 3:5.

Job 24:15, “And the eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, Saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ and he disguises his face.”

Prov 6:32, “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it.”

Prov 30:20, “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.”

Jer 7:9, “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known.”

Regarding the heart of the wicked, God says in Psa 50:18, “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers.”

Therefore, we are to be leery of the adulterer or adulteress as noted in Prov 2:16; 5:3, 20; 6:24, 26; 7:5; 22:14.

Under the Mosaic Law, a woman suspected of adultery had to face a trial before God via the Priest, cf. Num 5:11-31, under the “Law of Jealousy,” QANA. This was similar, but unlike the Assyrian practice of throwing an accused person into the river to see if he would survive to prove his innocence. For the Israelite woman, there was no current physical danger in this OT ritual. There was a solemn oath in the holy place by the woman accused, which would be a severe psychological test for a guilty woman, and there was also threatened a visitation of God’s providence. This law of jealousy was both an act of mercy, (she could be vindicated of a false accusation), and an institutionalization of a woman’s commanded submission to her husband.

The reason it is a crime is that:

  1. It is a breach of the marriage contract before God, and a dishonor done to God by placing man’s will above God’s, cf. Gen 2:24.
  2. It is a rebellious act done with forethought and planning, needless to say, the highest sort of theft, i.e. stealing a neighbor’s flesh.
  3. It is a debasing of the adulterer, making him a senseless wild ass, Jer 5:8.
  4. It is a means of destroying one’s reputation, Prov 6:32-33.
  5. It is a means of impairing one’s mind, Hosea 4:11-14, etc.

The 7th Commandment has been given to protect every right man and right woman, even before they meet, and to protect their relationship after they marry. It is the only sexual sin stated in the 10 Commandments, yet is part of the greater list of sexual sins that are likewise forbidden under the Law of Moses. Therefore, all sex outside of marriage, whether before, during, or after you are married, or sex with someone or something instead of your actual legal spouse of the opposite sex, would be a violation of the Divine covenant. For example: Prostitution was forbidden, Lev 19:29. Priests were commanded not to marry a prostitute, Lev 21:7. If their daughters turned prostitutes, (presumably temple prostitutes), they were to be executed, Lev 21:9. Other sexual sins, whether part of pagan worship or not, included: homosexuality, Lev 18:22; 20:13, bestiality, Ex 22:19; Lev 18:23; 20:15-16; Deut 27:21, and transvestism, Deut 22:5, that were all forbidden as violations of the sanctity of marriage and transgress God’s law.

Therefore, adultery is used in the Decalogue as representative of all sexual immorality defined throughout the Mosaic Law.

Why are people tempted by adultery? Because, sexuality makes promises, on which it can never deliver. Why do we fall prey, men and women alike, to impossible sexual or romantic fantasies? Because we have deep needs, and we have been duped into believing that sex can supply those needs, when in fact it is only God who can.

The issue here is the surrender of one’s own needs and desires into God’s hands. Given the nature and the complexity of sexual desire, encompassing so much of body, mind, and spirit, it has great power over us. Therefore, once again, this command calls us to surrender our needs to our covenant Lord and to find deep satisfaction in His all-encompassing provisions that mere sex could never provide.

Having surrendered our needs to God, we should be able to value what our neighbor has for his or her sake, in this case a desirable spouse. But the “neighbor” to be valued here is not only the other married couple; it is also our own spouse.

By what right do we break faith with our “neighbor,” which Mal 2:16, characterizes as “violence?” What right do we have to break promises explicit and implicit in the marriage contract because they are not meeting some supposed need of ours? Those who are in covenant with the God of truth, that is, the God of faithfulness, show it by the way they keep covenant with their “neighbors,” especially in their sexuality.

Therefore, the 7th Commandment required sexual purity in contrasts with the infidelity and promiscuity sanctioned and practiced by the official cults of the rest of the ancient near east. Yet, the religion of YHWH represents adultery as a heinous crime against God, man, and society. Cf. Job 31:9-11, where “lustful crime” is used.

Job 31:9, 11, “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway, 11For that would be a lustful crime; moreover, it would be an iniquity punishable by judges.”

The Bible declares that any sexual activity outside exclusive, com-mitted heterosexual marriage is contrary to God’s plan. As such, the value of faithfulness in personal commitments is stressed.

Sex is not an “animal function,” but an expression of deep, personal commitment between one man and one woman. By choosing adultery in the 10 Commandments to represent all the sexual sins later listed, God is underscoring that point. Sexual behavior that destroys marriage is the antithesis of what sexuality was designed for. Furthermore, sexual behavior that undermines and denies covenant faithfulness, flies squarely in the face of what sexual behavior was designed to do.

This commandment also argues, implicitly, against divorce. Divorce except for unfaithfulness, Hosea 2:5, 11-12; Ezek 16:37-38; 23:29, was hated by God, Mal 2:16, and in some circumstances expressly forbidden, Deut 22:19, 29. However, out of concern for Israel’s hardness of heart, this was mitigated, Deut 24:1-4; Mat 5:31; 19:8.

If marriage is so important that it must be protected against adulteration, even the sort of adulteration that might occur in brief interludes, it certainly is important enough to protect against dissolution altogether. From the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden onward, a sacred sanction has been attached to marriage expressed in Gen 2:24. In Mat 19:5, our Lord Jesus Christ reaffirmed the sanctity of the marriage relationship and limited the grounds for divorce to adultery alone, with the clear implication that only the innocent member of the wedded couple was free to terminate the relationship without guilt. The wording of 1 Cor 7:11 seems quite explicit that while separation is allowed, the innocent wife is not to marry any other man, but be reconciled, if possible, to her husband, cf. Mat 5:32. If, however, the errant spouse is guilty of adultery, the release of obligation is made possible Mat 19:8-9.

In addition, adultery has a vertical relation in that it is the ultimate metaphor of infidelity to YHWH. When the Israelites followed and worshipped other god’s, called idolatry, it was considered adultery towards God, cf. Isa 57:3; Jer 3:9; 5:7; 7:9-10f; 23:14; Ezek 16:38; 23:37, 45; Hosea 7:4.

Jer 3:9, “And it came about because of the lightness of her harlotry, that she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.”

As we noted idolatry under the 2nd Commandment, it was interesting to see how many of the pagan false god worship rites and rituals under the fertility or phallic cults involved all of the sexual sins noted in the Mosaic Law. Therefore, one’s participation in false god worship included adultery on both the vertical and horizontal level, that is, adultery against God, and adultery against one’s spouse.

As noted above, adultery, even in the form of idolatry, was called “the great sin” in, Gen 20:9; 39:9; cf. Ex 32:21, 30-31; 2 Kings 17:21.

Ex 32:21, “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?’”

Ex 32:31, “Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, ‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves’.”

With the punishment for adultery between a man and woman being death, you can imagine that idolatry by the Israelites would call for their death or destruction too, Ezek 16:37-38.

Ezek 16:38, “Thus I will judge you like women who commit adultery or shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy.”

Because, idolatry was a continual problem for Israel and Judah before the exile, YHWH commanded the prophet Hosea to marry an adulterous woman as an object lesson to the people of Israel, who were committing adultery against YHWH by worshiping other gods, Hosea 3:1.

Hosea 3:1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes’.”

Dried raisins or cakes were used in idolatry, cf. Jer 7:18; 44:19. The cakes denote the sweetness and lusciousness, yet still the dryness, of any gratification apart from God, which is preferred to Him. In addition, this tells us of the lustfulness and dryness of relationships in adultery, over opposed to the gratifying relationship God has designed for us with our right man and right woman.

Therefore, whether horizontally in the 7th Commandment or vertically in the 2nd Commandment, we are not to commit adultery.

New Testament Usage:

Even in the times of our generation with the so called “sexual revolution,” man may think he has changed this commandment, but he has not. This commandment still stands today.

The first time “adultery” is used in the NT is by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Mat 5:27-28. There Jesus told us that anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Cf. Mat 15:19; James 1:14-15. This tells of the genesis of the sin being in the mentality of your soul. When David entered into the physical sin with Bathsheba, it first began in the mentality of his soul, 2 Sam 11:2-5, which also led to murder.

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Therefore, mental adultery is condemned, where the underlying principle is to have a pure heart before God, as you walk by means of the filling of the Holy Spirit with the Word of God cycling through your soul.

This commandment uses the Greek Verb MOICHEUO, μοιχεύω that means, “to commit adultery,” which is used 14 times in the NT, Mat 5:27-28, 32; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 16:18, (twice); 18:20; John 8:4; Rom 2:22, (twice); James 2:11, (twice); Rev 2:22.

In Mat 5:32; Luke 16:18, Jesus taught on divorce where adultery is a bona fide basis for divorce.

Mat 5:31-32, “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

As noted, if adultery is committed in the marriage, (“unchastity” – PORNEIA, “fornication, prostitu-tion, adultery, etc.), it is lawful for a man or woman to divorce their spouse who committed the act and be married to another. And, in the new marriage, they are NOT committing adultery. The committing of adultery in a new marriage only occurs when someone is divorced for other reasons than adultery. Cf. Mat 19:9; Mark 10:11-12.

In Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20, we have the episode of the rich young ruler who wanted salvation based on his works. As we have previously noted, Jesus gave him a list of commandments to keep including “adultery.” Yet, as Jesus noted, keeping the Law does not save, only faith in Him does, i.e., “come follow Me.”

Likewise, in James 2:11, “adultery” is used to tell us that if we are trying to keep the Law for salvation, (which cannot be done), and transgress any one of the commandments, we have broken them all and are liable to the law for condemnation. Salvation is found only through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, Eph 2:8-9; John 3:16; Acts 16:31.

In John 8:3-4, Jesus taught about love and forgiveness, as well as the sin of self-righteous arrogance, when the Pharisees were trying to entrap Him using the Law regarding adultery. This is when Jesus responded, “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” MOICHEUO is used in vs. 4, where the cognate Noun MOICHEIA, “adultery,” is used in vs. 3.

In Rom 2:22 and forward, Paul is giving a discourse and uses adultery to state we are not saved on the basis of keeping the Law.

In Rom 13:9, we see the listing of several commandments including, “do not commit adultery,” where we are taught that when we have AGAPE Love towards our neighbor, we fulfill the whole Law.

In Rev 2:22, we have the warning to the church at Thyatira. It tells us that following false religions is committing adultery against God, i.e., idolatry, cf. Rev 17:2; 18:9. The examples given are the Nicolaitans and Balaamites. These false teachings where preaching a doctrine of licentiousness, a supposed “liberty,” that believers could enjoy with respect to carnality and lewdness. We see this today too, and therefore, it has always been a threat to the people of God.

The “deeds of the Nicolaitans,” Rev 2:6, and the so-called “doctrine of Balaam,” Rev 2:14, sought to promote the toleration of the sin of adultery so prevalent in that day, while encouraging Christians to adapt their own life-styles to that of the surrounding world. This doctrine was particularly seductive in Thyatira where it appeared in a spiritual disguise. In each of these contexts, the message was “Repent!” However, it is clear from the later chapters of the Book of Revelation that even the horrific judgments poured out in the “last days,” will not cause men to repent of such sins, Rev 9:21. As a result, immoral men will be excluded from God’s eternal realm, Rev 21:8, 27; 22:14-15. Therefore, adultery is used in the Bible to describe both apostasy and negative volition toward Bible doctrine, Rev 17:1-5; cf. Jer 3:8-10; Ezek 16:23-43; 23:24-28.

Other cognates of MOICHEUO include:

  • The verb MOICHAOMAI μοιχάομαι that also means, “commit adultery,” which is used 4 times in the NT, Mat 5:32, (at the end); 19:9; Mark 10:11-12. These all have to do with Jesus’ teaching on Divorce as noted above.
  • The Adjective MOICHALIS, μοιχαλίς that means, “adulteress or adulterous,” is used 7 times in 6 passages the NT in Mat 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38; Rom 7:3 (twice); James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:14.

In Mat 12:39; 16:4, our Lord rebukes the Pharisees who were looking for Him to perform a sign or miracle. Because they did not believe in Him through faith, they are classed, “an evil and adulterous generation,” meaning they trusted in other things, (their eyes, their emotions, etc.) rather than God, which made them idolaters.

In Mark 8:38, Jesus commanded that we put aside the things of this world and take up our Cross and follow Him. If we do not, we are an adulterer towards God, (idolater).

James tells us, once again, of adultery towards God, (i.e., idolatry), being when we are more concerned with the things of this world, (Satan’s cosmic system), than we are with God.

James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

In a similar way, Peter uses it regarding the lustful heart of the false teachers of false doctrines, in 2 Peter 2:14. Those who lead people away from a true relationship with God, which is the dissemination of idolatry, are adulterers towards God.

2 Peter 2:14, “Having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.

In Rom 7:3, “adulteress” is used by Paul in the analogy of marriage, “till death do they part,” regarding our freedom to be joined to Christ because we have died to sin through faith in Him, vs. 4.

  • The Noun MOICHEIA, μοιχεία that means, “adultery” is used 4 times in Mat 15:19; Mark 7:21; John 8:3; Gal 5:19.

In Mat 15:19; Mark 7:21, as noted above, the overt physical sin of adultery germinates from evil being in the heart first.

In John 8:3, we have the object lesson of Jesus’ forgiveness of the adulterous woman, as noted above under MOICHEUO.

In Gal 5:19, the KJV includes adultery, as some Greek manuscripts have MOICHEIA in the list of the “deeds of the flesh,” (i.e., sins that emanate from our Old Sin Nature). The NASB does not, but clearly adultery is included under “sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality.”

Gal 5:19, (NASB77), “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality.” Vs. 20, then continues the list beginning with “idolatry.”

  • The Noun MOICHOS, μοιχός that means, “adulterer, the one who commits adultery,” is used 3 times in Luke 18:11; 1 Cor 6:9; Heb 13:4.

In Luke 18:11, Jesus told a parable about a self-righteous Pharisee who thanked God in his prayer at the Temple that he was not a MOICHOS like all the others, yet his pride caused God to reject him.

Likewise, in 1 Cor 6:9, the unbeliever is excluded from inheriting the kingdom of God, including the MOICHOS, “the violator of the marriage bond.”

1 Cor 6:9, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.”

And finally, in Heb 13:4, marriage must be held in high honor, “and the marriage bed undefiled,” lest one be judged by God.

Heb 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”    

This commandment is directed toward protecting the sanctity of the home, the fundamental building block of society. The marital vow is a holy commitment that should not be violated by sexual unfaithfulness under any circumstances. In 1 Cor 7:2-5 and 1 Thes 4:1-8, the word adultery is not used but clearly meant for the protection against adultery and to keep the sanctity of the individual and home intact.

1 Cor 7:2-5, “But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

1 Thes 4:1-8, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”

This may come as a shock to some, but God is the author of sex, and as such, He has laid down rules to protect the happiness for which it was designed. Yet, if we abuse our freedom of volition and disregard God’s design, there are consequences as a result.

Adultery has a destructive effect on the body of both male and female, as well as on the soul, 1 Cor 6:13-18. Promiscuity results in male impotence and inability to enjoy fully the right woman for whom he was designed. Promiscuity results in female frigidity, or the antithesis, nymphomania, and destroys the woman’s ability to respond to the right man and to receive from him the fulfillment for which she was designed.

Adultery produces “scar tissue” on the right lobe (heart) of the soul, Eph 4:19; cf. Prov. 6:32. As such, adultery carries certain laws of punishment, such as frustration, and leads to certain forms of slavery. It is one of the manifestations of both sublimation and emotional revolt of the soul. This principle is taught by the use of the Greek noun translated “greediness” in Eph 4:19 and “greed” in Eph 5:3, which we have noted in our study of Ephesians, and means a “frantic search for happiness.” It indicates the built-in punishment that goes with adultery.

Prov 6:32, “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it.”

While the Lord can forgive the sin of adultery, 1 Cor 6:9-11; John 8:1-11, like David, the adulterer and adulteress must live with the sad consequences of forgiven sin, 2 Sam 12:13-14; Psa 51.

What does this command teach us about God? It reminds us of God’s faithfulness and holiness. God is holy and He commands His people to be holy, 1 Peter 1:15-16. God expects His people to faithfully follow His word in regard to relationships. God is not trying to spoil your fun. Inside the covenant of marriage there is great enjoyment and intimacy in a one-flesh union. God’s commandments are for your good, as well as the good of others.

1 Peter 1:15-16, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” Cf. Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

8th commandmentThe 8th Commandment:

Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19, “You shall not steal.”
Cf. Ex 21:16; Lev 19:11, 13.

This is the 4th of the horizontal commandments, given to encourage the respect of other people’s property, and is closely related to the 10th Commandment, “you shall not covet…” This too is an important element in a stable society to protect the freedoms, privacy, and property of each individual.

Just as adultery is a violation against one’s family, so theft is the violation of one’s property. The 6th Commandment spoke of the theft of life, the 7th, the theft of the purity and sanctity of the marriage relationship, and now the 8th, the theft of goods and possessions.

The Hebrew reads, LO GANAB, לֹא ‏ָגּנַב‎, in the Qal Imperfect. GANAB is a verb that denotes, “to steal, rob, or sweep away.” It is used forty times in the OT.

To steal” means, “to take without right or permission, generally in surreptitious way. Taking that which does not belong to you. To get or effect secretly or artfully. To move, carry, or place surreptitiously. To rob or commit a theft.”

Jer 7:9, “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known.”

Hosea 4:2, “There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

In the OT, it indicates wrongfully taking objects or persons, Gen 31:19, 32; Ex 21:16, sometimes for a good reason, 2 Kings 11:2.  It has the sense of deceiving when used with the word for heart, LEB, as when Jacob literally stole Laban’s heart, which meant he deceived him, Gen 31:20, 26. As such, it possesses a wider semantic range in Hebrew than the English concept conveys, and includes things like kidnapping, 2 Kings 11:2, or selling one into slavery without legal right, Gen 40:15. The word GANAB reoccurs in Deuteronomy only in Deut 24:7, in relation to kidnapping; a particularly serious violation of the 8th Commandment, because it typically resulted in slavery. The experience of Joseph being sold by his brothers, Gen 37, and Nehemiah’s charge, (which was very much later), that brothers were selling brothers, Neh 5:5-9, illustrate the selling of fellow Israelites for personal gain.

It also means stealing intangibles, (i.e., dignity, self-respect, freedom, or rights), which all are important. The word is also used for stealing in the sense of cheating; by cheating someone out of something, you are stealing from him. Finally, this verb is used even of robbers, who perpetrate violence upon their victims in the highway or the city street.

This command is reinforced by a variety of individual laws on stealing, Ex 22:1-16; Lev 6:2-5; 19:11, 13; Deut 24:7. Thus, taking anything human, animate, or inanimate without legal right is described by this verb, and it covers any type of deception or fraud, by which the offender takes unjust advantage of someone else, whether in the matter of money, business, or property.

This commandment even goes back to the beginning when man sought to take what did not belong to him, i.e., the fruit from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, there is obviously an inherent evil in the illegitimate appropriation of another’s property, but on an even higher covenantal and theological level, theft betrays an essential dissatisfaction with one’s lot in life and a covetous desire to obtain more than the Lord, the Sovereign who dispenses to his stewards what seems best, has granted already.

GANAB is first used in the OT in Gen 30:33, in the story of Jacob and Laban regarding the herd given and entrusted to Jacob, were it is the opposite of honesty, righteousness, or justice.

On the vertical plan, our Lord, YHWH, indicts false prophets for “stealing My words,” or performing slander, in attributing statements to Him which were not His, stamping them with a falsely authoritative, “Thus says Yahweh,” Jer 23:30.

God gave Israel an elaborate set of laws to govern their use of the land, because the land belonged to Him and they were but stewards, Lev 25:2, 23, 38. This fact is the basis for a sane ecology. Therefore, the opposite of stealing is to remember what God has graciously given us. Rather than stealing, we should have thankful hearts that rejoice in what God has provided for us. In addition, we should be good stewards with what God has given us. Otherwise, we may be more tempted to steal and commit sin against our Lord. We must remember that what we have is not our own, but it is the Lord’s. As He has given freely, so we too should give freely, cf. Psa 50:10; 104:24.

What God has given to you becomes your own legal possession, giving you personal ownership of things. This is implicitly permitted by this commandment, which assumes that stealing is possible, something that would technically not be possible in a completely communal society. There are, of course, no completely communal societies; ownership of things exists in all families and neighborhoods and entire societies, no matter what their economic organizational structure. But with ownership comes responsibility, and respect for ownership is a responsibility in itself as well. Therefore, this commandment speaks of the sanctity of each person’s own possessions. It says that people have a right to hold property that is distinctively theirs and that other persons do not have a right to take that property by force or stealth.

In the 3rd Commandment, man was forbidden to manipulate God for personal gain; here the attempt to use our fellow man for personal gain is prohibited. Thus, stealing threatens the social order and causes pain to others by undermining the ability to possess with sure access things that are useful and needful. The food thief makes others go hungry; the work animal thief interrupts farming; the kidnapper tears apart a family; the clothing thief makes another suffer from the sun or the cold. This property is typically gained through the expenditure of a person’s foresight, energy, and diligence. Thus, to appropriate another’s property is to also steal those personal qualities.

R.B. Thieme Jr. noted, “Both socialism and communism are characterized by the destruction of privacy and property. The concept of government ownership of property is contrary to the Word of God. The government does not have the right to own your property, nor does the government have the right to interfere with industry, much less own industry. The sanctity of private property is one of the most basic concepts of freedom. Therefore, at any time the government gets into industry or business, a nation is already in industrial slavery. We are in industrial slavery today in this nation because the government has violated this commandment through taxation of industry, through pressure upon industry and through legislation against industry. The result of such practices is economic disaster.”

Therefore, all theft is forbidden by this precept, as well as national and commercial wrongs, petty larceny, highway robberies, and private stealing. Even the taking advantage of a seller’s or buyer’s ignorance to give the one less and make the other pay more for a commodity than it’s worth is a breach of this sacred law. All withholding of rights and doing of wrongs are against the spirit of it.

This commandment also speaks of the Faith-Rest Life. Because you have entrusted your needs to the covenant Lord, you do not have to manipulate others to get your needs supplied. In fact, you can value and honor others. The Bible says that those who live by these principles not only will not need to steal, they will have abundance to give away, Deut 15:6-8; 28:10-12.

The penalty for stealing is milder in the OT legal codes than in other societies of the time. Death was the penalty for a number of types of theft in most other Ancient Near East societies, including the inability to make restitution, but this was not the case in Israel.

Death was the penalty for stealing humans, Ex 21:16; Deut 24:7.

Ex 21:16, “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.”

In all other cases of theft, restitution with interest was the penalty, Ex 22:1ff. This also involved the payment of a guilt-offering consisting of a ram, to be sacrificed upon the altar. The specific term for this is ASHAM, אָשָׁם in the Hebrew, which means “guilt-offering.” But, in the case of a rustler who had stolen livestock, it was required not only to bring the animal back to its owner, but also another one of the same kind, Ex 22:1, 4. But if he had gone so far as to kill or sell off the stolen animal, he had to replace four sheep for a stolen sheep, or five bulls or cows for the theft of large livestock, Ex 22:1.

The punishment for the transgression of theft went beyond the civil law codes. The flying scroll of YHWH in Zechariah’s vision was an embodiment of God’s judgment through the Holy Spirit who reveals sin. It was a written source for indictment on those who stole and those who took the Lord’s name in vain, Zech 5:3ff. A curse entered the house of the thief or by means of this scroll.

The reward of theft is a hollow one, as only a fool following the teachings of personified foolish-ness, contrasted to personified Wisdom, subscribes to the adage in Prov 9:17-18, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread that is eaten in secret is pleasant. 18But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” Civil and Divine penalties negate the financial gain one reaps from this act.

New Testament Usage:

The protection granted by the 8th Commandment under the covenant provided freedoms that are still essential to a free society; the freedom from involuntary servitude and the right to hold property are protected by this law against theft.

Therefore, this command against stealing is reinforced repeatedly in the NT, and is a Commandment for the Church Age, Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom 2:21; 13:9; 1 Cor 6:10; Eph 4:28; Titus 2:10; 1 Peter 4:15.

The Greek word for “steal” is the verb KLEPTO, κλέπτω that means, “steal, embezzle, or cheat.” This is where we get our English word kleptomaniac from that means, “somebody with an obsessive urge to steal, especially when there is no economic necessity.”

KLEPTO is first used in Mat 6:19-20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Here we see that the Commandment is a heart issue regarding the mentality of your soul towards God versus the world, (i.e., Satan’s cosmic system). Jesus urges His followers to seek the kind of treasures they can store up and enjoy in heaven rather than those of this world. The desires of man, the focus of his life, what he loves, all depends on what he considers a treasure. For the believer, God and His Word, (i.e., the mind of Jesus Christ), should be the greatest treasure in your life. When they are, along with being filled with the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18, you will perform Divine good, (i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-24), in life that is rewardable for both time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15. God is always concerned about a man’s heart. If his heart is set on the things of this world, they will be lost, stolen. If his heart is set on God, his reward is everlasting.

The next three verses give the negative / sinful aspect of a man’s heart that is focused on the world.

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, (KLOPE), false witness, slanders.”

Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, (KLOPE), murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Rev 9:21, “And they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”

The Commandment is given in Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; in a listing given to the rich young ruler by Jesus Christ to show that one is not saved by works of the Law, and in Rom 13:9, in Paul’s list of commandments that bring about a civil society that is summed up by “loving ones’ neighbor.”

It is used in Mat 27:64, regarding the Lord’s tomb where His body was laid, which the Pharisee thought Jesus’ disciples would rob to falsify His resurrection, cf. Mat 28:13.

In John 10:10, our Lord used it to compare Himself to the false teachers / Pharisees who were robbing people of salvation and eternal life; whereas, Jesus came to “give life” so that they could “have it abundantly.”

Similarly, Paul uses it in Rom 2:21, to rebuke the Pharisees of their false teachings regarding the Law.

Finally, KLEPTO is used in Eph 4:28, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”

There, Paul urges a change of heart and body from living a life of taking from others, to one of contribution, service, and sacrifice for others. This also teaches that there are only three ways to get wealth: work for it, have it given to you, or steal it, and stealing is wrong.

The issue is the misappropriation of goods or properties that God has sovereignly bestowed according to His own pleasure.

Ananias and Sapphira stole from the church and the Holy Spirit by holding back some of the proceeds from the sale of their land, yet saying they gave it all to the church, Acts, 5:2-3; cf. Titus 2:10. (The verb to “hold back” or “pilfer,” is NOSPHIZOMAI νοσφίζομαι that means, “to put aside for oneself secretly, misappropriate, pilfer, or embezzle.”)

To steal is to show discontent with what one has as a result of Divine disposition, cf. 1 Tim 6:8, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”

God is our provider. Because God gives His people everything they need, we do not steal and should be satisfied with what we have, 1 Tim 6:17, “Do not set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

9th commandmentThe 9th Commandment:

Ex 20:16; Deut 5:20, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Cf. Ex 23:1-3 in the Sundry laws.   

The 9th Commandment calls for sanctity of truth in all areas of life, even though the vocabulary primarily reflects the legal process in Israel. In this Commandment, not only are the neighbor’s life, 6th Commandment; marriage and sexuality, 7th Commandment; and property, 8th Commandment; to be protected and honored, but so is his reputation, 9th Commandment. Therefore, the 6th through 9th Commandments acknowledge a person’s right to his life, home, property, and reputation.

As we have noted, all ten of these principles are about relationships. The first four are primarily about one’s relationship to God, the vertical Commandments, which then transforms our relationships to others, detailed primarily in the final six; the horizontal Commandments.

The progression from murder, to adultery, to theft, to perjury, is clearly one of decreasing violence, but nonetheless, they are common egregious infractions against the integrity of mankind. A reversal of this list shows the progression of a society’s degradation.

The Hebrew of Ex 20:16, reads, LO ANAH BE REA ED SHEQER, שֶׁקֶר עֵד רֵעַ בְּ עָָנה‎ לֹא,

“You will not answer against your neighbor a witness of a lie.”

The Hebrew of Deut 5:20, reads, WA LO ANAH BE REA ED SHAW, שָׁוְא עֵד רֵעַ בְּ עָָנה‎ לֹא ‏ו‎,

And you will not answer against your neighbor a witness of deceit.

The differences in these two passages are first, the WAW Coordinating Conjunction added to the last 4 Deuteronomy horizontal commandments, and second, the ending word SHEQER for “lie” is changed to SHAW for “deceit,” which we will note below.

The phrase, “bear false witness,” comes from three Hebrew words, ANANH for “bear,” SHEQER and SHAW for “false,” and ED for “witness.”

Bear” is the Hebrew verb ANAH, עָָנה that has several root meanings. But here it means, “to answer or respond.” The basic concept is a response of some kind, typically a verbal response to something that has been said, whether a question or statement. In this case, we can understand it to be a question asked by a judge or attorney in a court of Law, Job 9:15.

Job 9:15, “For though I were right, I could not answer; I would have to implore the mercy of my judge.”

In this commandment, it means, “to testify,” as in a court proceeding, 1 Sam 12:3; 2 Sam 1:16; Micah 6:3; Isa 3:9; 59:12, etc.

False” uses two Hebrew nouns, SHEQER and SHAW that are the last words in the Hebrew of these passages.

“False” in Ex 20:16, uses the Noun SHEQER that means, “lie, deception, or false,” that is used 110 times in the OT. It is used to describe words or activities that are “false,” in the sense of being without basis in fact or reality, cf. Lev 19:12; Deut 19:18; Job 13:4. Occasionally, it also means, “vain or worthless,” 1 Sam 25:21.

Lev 19:12, “And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.”

Deut 19:18, “And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely.”

Job 13:4, “But you smear with lies; you are all worthless physicians.”

It is used with particular reference to false testimony, as in court. God considered it such a serious sin to give testimony ungrounded in truth that He forbids it in the Decalogue.

Zechariah warned against false oaths or perjury, Zech 5:4; 8:17, and Jeremiah prohibited swearing falsely, Jer 5:2. Such deceit is listed in Psalms as the act of an adversary, Psa 27:12, motivated by arrogance, Psa 119:69. The purpose is to destroy someone through slanderous words, Isa 32:7.

Isa 32:7, “As for a rogue, his weapons are evil; He devises wicked schemes to destroy the afflicted with slander, even though the needy one speaks what is right.”

This word was also used to describe false prophets and idols, 1 Kings 22:22; Jer 10:14f. So, we see the vertical aspect of this command as well.

False,” in Deut 5:20, is the Noun SHAW that means, “worthless, falsehood, or vanity,” in the OT. In fact, SHAW is the word used for the 3rd Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” in both Exodus and Deuteronomy. Yet, SHEQER is used for the 3rd Commandment in Lev 19:18, as we noted above. So, we see the interchangeability of these two words, and as for the 9th Commandment in Deuteronomy, SHAW implies the meaning of, “falsehood, lies, and deceit.”

SHAW means more precisely, “empty or without substance.” There is no basic difference, with SHEQER, for if one is accused on no valid or substantial grounds, he is accused falsely.

Prov 30:8, “Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion.”

With the nuance of the main meaning of “worthless and vain,” we see what a false witness is in a court of law.

Lies most commonly take the form of willfully inaccurate words, often described as lying lips or lying tongues. Such deceit is one of the seven things God hates, Prov 6:17.

Lies only achieve their objectives for a short time, Prov 12:19; 21:6.

Deceptive speech is often connected with hatred, Prov 10:18; 26:28, and animosity, Psa 109:2.

Those who are righteous reject falsehood, Prov 13:5, and pray to be delivered from it, Psa 120:2.

Falsehood is particularly reprehensible for a leader, Prov 17:7, and David declared that no one guilty of it could serve him, Psa 101:7.

Deception can also be expressed in actions, rather than words. God described Israel as a nation of thieves, who took what they wanted, even though they had no basis for claiming ownership, Hosea 7:1.

Likewise, the individual thief can be described as one who deals falsely, Prov 20:17; 11:18.

God’s Word demands that accusations must have substance; they must be grounded in fact.

Witness” is the Hebrew Noun ED, which is used 70 times in the OT. Its root verb UD means, “to testify.” Sometimes a witness can be an object, but mostly ED refers to a person, including God, who has first-hand knowledge concerning the truth or falsity of a thing. The term is most often used with regard to legal matters and in deciding cases.

According to God’s Law, a witness was required to testify on the basis of what he has seen and has knowledge of. When he fails to come forth to do so, he himself is considered responsible, Lev 5:1. This is what we call in our laws today, aiding and abetting a criminal or harboring a fugitive, which are crimes.

That is why false testimony is specifically prohibited in the Decalogue. According to the Torah, a person who lied, having malicious intent toward another, would be liable for the same punishment the innocently accused would have received, Deut 19:15-21. His guilt would be determined by the judges on the basis of the evidence, vs. 18.

On the other hand, a reliable witness is one whose character is such that he can be counted on to clarify an issue when there is doubt, Isa 8:2.

Under Jewish law, more than one witness was required to find the accused guilty, particularly with respect to a capital case, Deut 17:6; 19:15-20. This would make it much more difficult to convict someone based on false testimony, as it would take two or more liars to convict.

Deut 17:6, “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”

In the case of the Law of Jealousy, Numb 5:13, as noted above under the 7th Commandment Adultery, if there was no witness of the wife’s adulterous act, she was brought to the Temple before the Priest and God Himself for judgment.

ED or “witness” is also used in the stories of the kinsman of Boaz and Jeremiah, where witnesses were necessary to purchase back the land, which were typology for Jesus Christ purchasing our sins upon the Cross., Ruth 4:9ff; Jer 32:10-25. Jeremiah’s action was also prophetic in that Israel would return from exile, Jer 42:45.

YHWH alone is the true and faithful Witness, Jer 42:5; 29:23; Mal 3:5. The Lord is a God of truth; His words are true, Psa 119:142, 151. He loves truth, because He loves Himself, and He “hates every false way,” cf. Psa 119:104, 128; Prov 6:17-19. Lying is a denial that truth is always right. It is a denial of God’s character and of His attributes.

Therefore, this Command forbids:

  • Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising or designing to deceive your neighbor.
  • Speaking unjustly against your neighbor, to the prejudice of his reputation; (i.e., gossip and rumor).
  • Bearing false witness against him, accusing him of things that he does not know, either judicially, upon oath, (by which the third commandment, and the sixth, as well as this, are broken), or extra judicially, in common conversation, slandering, backbiting, tale-bearing, aggravating what is done wrong and making it worse than it is: Exaggeration. It includes any endeavor to raise our own reputation upon the ruin of your neighbor’s.

In the Decalogue, the lie or false testimony in view is “against your neighbor,” BE REA.

The Preposition BE means, “against,” among other things, and REA means, “kinsman, fellow countryman, friend,” or as we call it, “neighbor.”

In general, this word falls into three categories:

  • A friend, or someone belonging to an inner circle of close companions.
  • A neighbor, or someone who lives in close proximity or is simply a fellow human being.
  • Someone with whom no intimacy is intended (usually denoted by the pronoun “another”), but who is in the community fellowship of the people.

Therefore, the prohibition is not limited to slander of a fellow Israelite, because REA can refer to an Israelite, Lev 19:18, an alien, (GER), Lev 19:34, or even a pagan, Ex 11:2.

The root word for REA is RA’A that means, “to feed, shepherd, pastor, keep, a companion, company, etc.” So, the root for neighbor means, “one of the herd or flock, a fellow sheep.”

This is the first commandment to use the word REA and underscores the horizontal commandments that affect one’s “neighbor.” Here it is the general juridical sense of “anyone else you happen to come in contact with,” rather than the more narrow sense of “someone living near you,” Cf. Ex 3:22; 11:2; 12:4. In laws and formal rules, “neighbor” has nothing to do with proximity or familiarity; your “neighbor” connotes any other human being you may have dealings with, actually or potentially.

The first time this word is used in the Bible is in Ex 11:3, 7 for the account of the Tower of Babel regarding their fellow man, “one another.” We will see this word again in the 10th Commandment, where we are not to covet our neighbor’s property.


  • The immediate concern of this command is fairness and honesty toward those with whom we may appear at a court action or legal investigation of any sort. It is directly connected to the idea of legal testimony and the witness. Rather than providing false testimony, the individual should give truthful and honest testimony.
  • Keeping this law helps maintain stability in a society by protecting individuals’ reputations. Speaking the truth and honoring promises is the cement that holds society together. A decent society requires a reliable court system and court processes. Because crimes and disputes do occur, it must be the case that they can be adjudicated and the criminal behavior or unfairness thereby stopped. If witnesses in a trial, whether civil or criminal, do not tell the truth, it is extremely difficult for judges to render proper decisions. In other words, the court system of a nation depends on the honesty of its people.
  • This also involves maintaining integrity before the Lord, who of course does know the truth about the matter under investigation and will ultimately hold accountable before His judgment throne those who have resorted to falsehood to protect themselves from harm or in order to maliciously injure the other man in the court action. Integrity and truthfulness are to characterize God’s people.

“Not only false oaths, to deprive a man of his life or of his right, are here prohibited, but all whispering, tale-bearing, slander, and calumny; in a word, whatever is deposed as a truth, which is false in fact, and tends to injure another in his goods, person, or character, is against the spirit and letter of this law. Suppressing the truth when known, by which a person may be defrauded of his property or his good name, or lie under injuries or disabilities which a discovery of the truth would have prevented, is also a crime against this law. He who bears a false testimony against or belies even the devil himself, comes under the curse of this law, because his testimony is false.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)

  • To tell lies in court is to undermine the very law itself, which explains why Moses required the witnesses to be the executioners in capital crimes, Deut 17:6-13. It is one thing to lie, but quite something else to kill in order to protect your lie.
  • The basic issue at stake is personal integrity in all interpersonal relationships, as we see in Lev 19:11, where stealing, the 8th, dealing falsely and lying to one another, the 9th, are linked together.
  • This commandment also prohibits slandering people, Ex 23:1; Prov 10:18; 12:17; 19:9; 24:28; Titus 3:1-2; James 4:11; 1 Peter 2:1. That is why “bearing false testimony” is closely related to theft, because it robs people of their good reputations. Therefore, character assassination in any of its forms, legal or casual, is another form of killing or theft and constitutes false witness that is a violation of this Commandment.
  • To resort to false accusation or testimony is to dishonor God and give aid and comfort to Satan.
  • Typically, a first lie must be protected by a second, and the moral weakling before long finds himself tangled up in a spider’s web from which he can hardly extricate himself.
  • The liar loses fellowship with the Lord, who has called him unto a holy life.
  • This alienation becomes even more disruptive to his own self-respect when he adds to his lying testimony an oath in God’s name to tell the truth that additionally results in violating the 3rd He has taken the name of YHWH in vain.
  • From this command we recognize God’s attribute of truthfulness. It is impossible for God to lie, Ex 34:6; Deut 32:4; Psa 31:5; 71:22; Zech 8:8; Titus 1:2.

Deut 32:4, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are justice: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Psa 31:5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.”

“The reason the Christian world came to believe that there are things that are “true” despite personal interest or desire is that it encountered a God who is absolutely true, that is, absolutely dependable. God calls his people to mimic that same behavior in their treatment of one another: They are to be true to one another, even at cost to themselves. Thus, the person who is in covenant with God does not need to destroy another person’s reputation in order to make himself or herself look better or to gain some advantage over that other person. Knowing that God is the supplier of their needs, covenant people can afford to treat the reputation of the other with the same kindness with which they would like their own reputations to be treated.” (John N. Oswalt, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

  • Nothing but the truth, the whole truth, was the standard for the Israelites, who were to reflect their relationship with “the God of truth,” Isa 65:16.

Isa 65:16, “Because he who is blessed in the earth shall be blessed by the God of truth…”

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 false12in 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.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

10th commandmentThe 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:

  1. As the 7th Commandment forbids the act of adultery. This commandment forbids the desire for adultery.
  2. 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.”

This commandment is different from the other commandments in that it did not deal with a specific act, but rather with emotional, psychological sin. Therefore, this command, as they all do, teaches us that the main point of this prohibition is inward motivation, desire, lust, and coveting. What was manifest empirically in acts and words in the previous commandments is now seen hidden in thoughts and cravings in the 10th.

This commandment also shows the descending progression of violence in a society that begins with a thought that lead to ruining someone’s personal reputation, the 9th, and can culminate in the 6th, committing murder.

In most instances, it is self-interest that motivates individuals to murder, commit adultery, steal, and bear false witness, which reflects a wrong attitude towards your fellow community members. In the community, the domination of self-interest can easily lead to dangerous actions. This commandment prohibits any desire leading to such actions, exposing wrongdoing at its source. Therefore, the main concern should be having love for God and love for one’s neighbor, which helps to prevent such wrongful actions first in the mentality of your own soul, and then in the community.

Another thing this commandment teaches us is our relationship with God, and specifically His faithfulness, goodness, and provision. Because God loves us and provides for our every need, we do not need to worry about our own provisions that can lead to desiring what other people have. Our Father knows our needs, Mat 6:25-34, and satisfies our deepest longings.

As such, we can view the commands and see how God has poured Himself into them. They reflect His holy character. They are not just a list of rules; they are a reflection of God; His love and provision for us, His children.

How awesome it is that we have a God who has given us His Word! The psalmist reflects on God’s law in Psa 119:97 saying, “How I love Your instruction! It is my meditation all day long.”

The Hebrew Bible, (Old Testament), contains a number of warnings and examples of negative consequences for lusting or coveting. For example, when God was instructing Israel regarding the false religion of the Canaanites, he warned them not to covet the silver or gold on their idols, because this could lead to bringing detestable things into the home and potentially lead to having and worshipping other gods before God.

Deut 7:25-26, “The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. 26You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.”

The Book of Joshua chapter 7 contains a narrative in which Achan incurred the wrath of God by coveting prohibited gold and silver that he found in the destruction of Jericho. This is portrayed as a violation of covenant and a disgraceful thing.

The prophet Micah condemns the coveting of houses and fields as a warning against lusting after physical possessions, Micah 2:2.

Micah 2:2, “They covet fields and then seize them, and houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.”

The book of Proverbs warns against coveting in the form of sexual lust.

Proverbs 6:25-26, “Do not desire, (lust for in your heart)her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids. 26For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life.”

It also exhorts to protect your heart so the coveting does not rule it, Prov 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Therefore, we are not to envy or desire to take away that which is the property of another, whether it is his home or his wife or his servants, or even his livestock.

And finally, as a blessing to Israel for their faithfulness to God, He would protect them from other nations coveting their blessings. Ex 34:24.

Ex 34:24, “For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.”

Conclusion to the OT Usage:

It may have been possible for someone to keep the first nine commandments but no one could have avoided breaking the 10th at some point in time. It may be the least overtly violent and injurious of all the commandments, yet it is the commandment most at the root of all disobedience in that it logically precedes the rest. In this respect, the 10th Commandment is the most forceful of all, because it made people aware of their inability to keep God’s Law perfectly. Yet, this awareness threw them back to depend on God’s grace and mercy, just as He desires it to be.

See video of Moses receiving the Law: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoFSpoAbXLc

New Testament Usage:

This Commandment is reiterated in Rom 7:7; 13:9, therefore, it is a NT doctrine for the Church Age. In these passages it utilizes the Greek verb EPITHUMEO, which is synonymous with the Hebrew CHAMAD and AWAH, that can be used for both good and bad coveting. Here we will note on the bad / sinful type of coveting /lusting in the NT.

This commandment was the basis for Paul’s discovering the Old Sin Nature and that he was a sinful creature who needed a Savior. Paul said that the knowledge of the law, through the command, “Do not covet,” Rom 7:7, elicited every kind of “covetous desire,” vs. 8, in him because of his “sinful nature,” vs. 18.

Rom 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET”.”

Paul is saying, “I would not have known the existence of the principle of the Sin Nature were it not for the 10th Commandment.” This highlights this commandment above all the others, as it directly speaks to the mentality of the soul in regard to sinning, versus overt actions noted in the other Commandment, cf. Eph 5:3-5; James 1:15.

James 1:15, “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

As we have noted, covetousness has a psychologically degrading effect upon an individual. It takes away contentment, cf. Phil 4:11-12; 1 Tim 6:6-8, and sets one’s attention on acquiring earthly and temporal things rather than the heavenly and eternal treasures that God has provided for us, cf. Mat 6:20, 33.

Phil 4:11-13, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

The point is, as Paul told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Tim 6:6. The NT stresses thanksgiving and contentment as proper heart attitudes that contrast covetousness. John the Baptist exhorted soldiers to be content with their pay rather than extorting money by threats and false accusations, Luke 3:14. The book of Hebrews encourages one to keep his life free from the love of money and “be content with what you have” and depend on the promises and help of God rather than trusting in wealth, Heb 13:5-6. 1 Timothy also contains the classic warning against the love of money and stresses that it is great gain to be content with food and clothing, 1 Tim 6:6-10.

1 Tim 6:6-10, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For 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.”

In studying the 10 Commandments, Paul also discovered, as we have seen, that they were designed as principles of freedom. The 10th Commandment forbids covetousness because, when unchecked, it destroys individual freedom. Covetousness is an expression of the lust pattern of the Old Sin Nature; and when the lust pattern is allowed to control the soul, emotional revolt of the soul (ERS) results. When ERS leads a person’s soul, it causes various sins that infringe upon the freedoms of others. When a maximum number of people in a national entity are operation under the ERS, freedom is destroyed within that society or nation.

In commemorating the 10th Commandments, Adam Clarke writes, “This is a most excellent moral precept, the observance of which will prevent all public crimes; for he who feels the force of the law that prohibits the inordinate desire of anything that is the property of another, can never make a breach in the peace of society by an act of wrong to any of even its feeblest members.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)

In addition, the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians regard the sin of covetousness as a kind of idolatry and list this sin along with sexual immorality and impurity, which give rise to the wrath of God, Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-6. Therefore, to covet leads to a life of misery and anguish whether you obtain your lustful desires or not.

In the first NT utilization of the principle of “coveting,” Jesus enlarged on all of the commandments utilizing “coveting / lusting” in reference to being the genesis of all sins, because they emanate from within a man’s heart, Mat 5:21-48; 15:19.

Mat 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust (EPITHUMEO) for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Jesus also used the noun PLEONEXIA, πλεονεξα that means, “greediness, avarice, or covetousness,” to make this point that the sins that defile a person are sins coming from untamed desires in the heart, Mark 7:20-22; Luke 12:15.

Mark 7:20-23, “And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man”.”

The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus’ warning to guard one’s heart against covetousness, Luke 12:15, “Then He said to them, “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”.”

James also portrays covetous desire residing in the heart as being the internal source of temptation and sin, James 1:13-15.

James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

James goes on to describe how covetous desire leads to fighting and that lack of material possessions is caused by not asking God for them and by asking with wrong motives.

As we noted above, “lusting or coveting” comes from the Greek Verb EPITHUMEO, πιθυμω that means, “desire, long for, and lust for or after.” It can be used for both good and bad desiring, like the Hebrew words CHAMAD and AWAH found in the Decalogue. It is used of a sinful nature in Mat 5:28; Acts 20:33, (Paul defending his ministry); Rom 7:7; 13:9 (social justice code); 1 Cor 10:6; Gal 5:17; James 4:2.

Gal 5:17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

James 4:2, “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”

The Noun EPITHUMIA, πιθυμα means, “desire, longing, or craving,” and is used for sinful mentality in Mark 4:19; John 8:44 (“of your father the devil”); Rom 1:24, (God gave them over to depravity); Rom 6:12; 7:7-8; 13:14; Gal 5:16, 24; Eph 2:3; 4:22; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 4:5; 1 Tim 6:9; 2 Tim 2:22; 3:6; 2 Tim 4:3; Titus 2:12; 3:3; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 1:14; 2:11; 4:2-3; 2 Peter 1:4; 2:10, 18; 3:3; 1 John 2:16-17; Jude 1:16, 18; Rev 18:14, and the Noun EPITHUMETES, “one who lusts for,” 1 Cor 10:6.

Putting a few of these verses together tells us of the detrimental effect of coveting and that we should turn from covetousness to producing the Fruit of the Spirit.

Mark 4:19, “The worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

Rom 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.”

Eph 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

Titus 3:3, “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”

Eph 4:22, “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.”

1 Peter 4:3, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

Rom 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

Gal 5:16, “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Gal 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Col 3:5, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

2 Tim 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Paul further warns us of the sinful life using “covet and covetousness” in the NT with the Nouns PLEONEKTES, πλεονκτης that means, “one who desires more, a greedy or covetous person,” in 1 Cor 5:10-11; 6:10; Eph 5:5, and PLEONEXIA πλεονεξα, that means, “greediness, avarice, and covetousness,” in Rom 1:29, (with OREXIS, “strong lusting,” vs. 27); 2 Cor 9:5; Eph 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 2:5; 2 Peter 2:3, 14.

The mental attitude of coveting that leads to actual “taking advantage of someone,” is found in the verb PLEONEKTEO πλεονεκτω that means, “take advantage of, defraud, and exploit,” in 2 Cor 2:11; 7:2; 12:17-18; 1 Thes 4:6.

Lust” is also found in the Greek Verb ZELOO, ζηλω that means, “strive, fervently desire, be zealous, be jealous, or envious,” and the noun ZELOS ζλος that means, “zeal, fervor, jealousy, or rivalry.” It is used for sinful behavior in: Acts 7:9; 17:5; Gal 4:17; James 4:2, (KJV, which adds “covet” after “kill”), and Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 3:32; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20; James 3:14, 16.

Rom 13:13, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.”

James 3:14, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.”

James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

1 Tim 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing (OREGOMAI) for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.”

1 Cor 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.”

Finally, as I noted in the OT usage, 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…”

Therefore, Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

10 Commandments 12 14 17 Conclusion pt 2Conclusion to the Ten Commandments

The 10 Commandments Reflect the Love of God.

As we noted at the beginning of this doctrine, there are four things to observe about the Decalogue.

1.) The Ten Commandments were a direct revelation from God given to Moses for the people.

2.) They are all, with two exceptions, negatives, given in legal format because they were designed to expose sin.

3.) They are based on the mental attitude, your thoughts, not overt activity. This is explained in the 10th Commandment, “you shall not covet,” that is, inordinately desire or lust. This is an inner mental attitude, which proves that the entire complex of the Ten Commandments is for the thinking of a man. That is, if you are tempted in the mentality of your soul to sin, you can stop it from becoming sin mentally, verbally, or overtly, by applying these commandments to your life in faith.

4.) They are given in treaty format, because they are the basis for our right relationship, right living with God, in Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the 10 Commandments are the core of what God asks of people who are in right relationship with Him.

We also see in these 10 mandates, the revelation of God’s nature and the reality of right living inside a free and prosperous society. God asks His people to commit themselves and their needs to Him, and in so doing, become free to value others for who and what they are, and rejoice in what they have, just as God does. This is the expression of “loving your neighbor,” Lev 19:18; Mark 12:31; Gal 5:14; James 2:8.

Lev 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

Gal 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’.”

The person who treats God and others in this way, will truly be part of a kingdom of priests, a holy nation unto God, Ex 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9.

Regarding Israel it is said in Ex 19:6, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

Regarding the Church it is said in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

James 2:8, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,’ you are doing well.”

God has expressed in these commandments His concern for the rights and the integrity of each individual.

1 John 4:21, “And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

In addition, looking to these commandments, an Israelite could, as you and I can today, come to know more about God and see in these commandments the Divine heart of love.

1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”

1 John 3:1a, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”

1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

In Deut 5, we see five elements of relationship with God defined, which tell us about His love for us.

  • Love is PersonalDeut 5:1-3.

The relationship is between “us, who are . . . alive here,” and the Lord, YHWH, who is also here and living.

Often a person grows up in a home where the Lord is God of his parents or even grandparents. His relationship with God is through Mom and Dad, or Gramma, etc., and he goes to church because they do. This falls short of a personal love relationship.

Someone who cares for you wants to reach out and touch you personally, not through others. God wants to know and to love you personally, warmly, intimately without anything and anyone in between.

  • Love is UrgentDeut 5:4-14.

The urgency of the relationship is emphasized in the first four of the Ten Commandments, (the “vertical” commandments), all of which are repeated here from Ex 20. This tells us that God wants your eyes fixed on Him, as it is also stated in Heb 12:2.

Heb 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

As any lover, God is unwilling to share your affection with competitors. It is hard to imagine a husband who truly loves his wife unaffected by her unfaithfulness, or encouraging her to date around.

Truly intimate love is to be exclusive. God wants and helps us to love other people, just as a good husband/wife relationship enriches the context of the home for their children. But God will not share us with other gods, whether they are idols of the ancient world or the financial successes of the modern.

  • Love is DemonstratedDeut 5:15.

Love that lets you feel your belongingness must be demonstrated. How clearly God had demonstrated to this generation His personal and practical involvement with them: “The Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”

Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us.

1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

And each of us can find many other special ways in which God has acted in our lives to show His love.

  • Love is ExpressiveDeut 5:16-20.

It is hard to feel loved when you do not really know what is going on inside a person who claims to love you. That is why God gave the 10 Commandments not just once but twice, as it is restated here in Deut 5, just as 9 of the 10 are individually given to us today in the NT.

This shows us God’s willingness to communicate His expectations. The people told Moses in vs. 27, “All that the Lord our God will speak to you, we will hear and do.”

Love communicates and expresses; love desires a response. What is even more significant for us in our relationship with God is this: God wants to help us grow in our own capacity to love.

Eph 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”

2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

As we noted in this doctrine, these “horizontal,” manward commandments are rooted in God’s own concern for men. As we listen to Him and respond to His Word, we grow in our ability to love others.

1 John 3:23, “And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”

1 John 5:2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.” That’s our response in love to God for His love to us.

This is an important thing to see. A person who loves another, desires to see him grow. As such, you can be utterly sure that God loves you, because His every word to you is designed to help you grow to your fullest potentials.

  • Love is UnselfishDeut 5:21-33.

This last element of real love is affirmed in these passages. God enters into relationship with us, and speaks to us “that it might go well with” us, cf. vs. 29.

As Deut 5:33 summarizes, “You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.”

People who come into personal relationship with God are not pawns in some cosmic game. We are not His playthings. No, God’s love for you is unselfish. He honestly has your best interests at heart.

All this helped Israel realize that they had a personal relationship with the Lord, and that God truly did care for them. This “people” were loved. And so are we.

Perhaps your parents or your spouse have never let you know how deeply you are loved. Perhaps they have not truly cared. But through Christ you can have a personal relationship with God Himself, in which you are loved and do belong, John 3:16. God Himself says to you and to me today, “You are loved,” personally, urgently, practically, expressively, and unselfishly,

1 John 2:5, “But whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.”

2 John 1:6, “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.”

Jesus Christ’s Application of the Commandments.

In conclusion to our summary of this doctrine where we are looking at the forest of God’s great plan for our lives, taking a step back from the trees of His Ten Commandments, we conclude by reviewing Jesus’ application of these commandments in the Gospels.

At the end of the giving of the Ten Commandments, the people stood in fear and trembling, Ex 20:18-21. They had a sense of awe toward God. And from reading the rest of the OT, we know that they also failed repeatedly. Even their mediator, Moses, would fail. However, there is a greater mediator who did not fail; the Lord Jesus Christ.

These Ten Commandments point us to the Savior.

1.) Christ was “born under the law, to redeem those under the law,” Gal 4:4-5.

2.) He fulfilled the law in every respect, Mat 5:17-18.

3.) He paid the penalty of the law and bore the curse of the law on the Cross, Gal 3:10-14; Col 2:13-14.

We cannot keep God’s law perfectly. We need another to do this for us. The law drives us to Jesus for forgiveness and a new heart, and the Spirit then empowers for obedience. While in this life, we cannot keep the law perfectly and are always in need of grace; we are never crushed by the law, because there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, Rom 8:1, because the weight has been lifted. Therefore, we are able to delight in God’s law, and we do not see His commandments as burdensome, 1 John 5:3.

Our hope and power does not come from our law keeping but from His law keeping. He lived the life we could not live, (keeping the law), then died the death we should have died, (for our law breaking). That is why we love Jesus.

In studying these Ten Commandments, we noted how Jesus applied them during His ministry at His First Advent. They tell us about His love for us, and the blessings we have received through Him.

The 1st CommandmentEx 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Jesus applied this and the 2nd Commandment to rebuke Satan after his third temptation in Mat 4:10Luke 4:8.

Mat 4:10, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY’.”

This is the positive response to the command of negation given in the Decalogue. The first half of this phrase speaks to the “object” of our worship; God. Jesus reminded Satan and us all that there is only one God in the words, “the Lord your God” and “Him only.”

Therefore, there is only One God.

The 2nd CommandmentEx 20:4-6, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness…5You shall not worship them or serve them.”

In Mat 4:10; Luke 4:8, we also see the 2nd Commandment being applied by Jesus that speaks of the “mode” of our veneration towards God; we are to worship and serve Him

Jesus said of the Church Age in, John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (As opposed to an image that is formed by man’s hands and worshipped).

This speaks to how we worship and serve God; utilizing our new regenerated human spirit, (empowered by God the Holy Spirit), and by means of the Word of God resident within our soul.

Jesus also reminded us in Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Therefore, we are to worship and serve Him only. We worship and serve God by means of the Holy Spirit through our human spirit and His Word / Bible Doctrine resident within our souls.

The 3rd Commandment, Ex 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”

In Mat 5:33-37, Jesus talks about making “false oaths.” God is the greatest being in the universe. His name is the greatest name and must be honored as such. That is why the first petition in the Lord’s template prayer is, “Hallowed be Your name,” Mat 6:9. It is to be honored, venerated, and glorified. Making it worthless through a false oath or in vulgarity, cheapens His name, which blasphemes God, cf. Mat 23:16-22; Lev 19:12.

Therefore, we are to honor and glorify Him in our personal relationship with Him. We are to hold God in the highest regard in our lives.

The 4th CommandmentEx 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

This Commandment emphasizes our relationship with God and the rest we have in Him. Jesus performed several acts on the Sabbath to make the point that He was, “the Lord of the Sabbath,” Mat 12:1f. Through Him we have the forgiveness of sins, a relationship with God and peace within our souls. He is the Creator of the heavens and earth who rested on the 7th day and established the 7th day Sabbath rest for Israel. In other words, He is God Himself, the Sovereign over the Sabbath and not controlled by it, cf. Mark 2:27-28; cf. John 1:3.

Mark 2:27-28, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath’.” Cf. Luke 6:6.

Jesus’ healings on the Sabbath, Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-10, reflect His work as God to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and all of us from the slave market of sin. Deut 5:15, “by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm.”

Observance of the Sabbath was not about the act of resting, but the relationship they had with God that they were supposed to enjoy on that day.

In Summary, the Sabbath in relation to Jesus’ activities tells of God’s Plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ:

  • His healings, Mat 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-5; John 5:1-17; 7:22-23; 9:14-16.
  • His teachings, Mat 24:20; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31.
  • His Messiahship proclaimed, Luke 4:16f.
  • His death, as the hypocritical Pharisees requested to kill Him while on the Cross by breaking His legs, because of the impending Sabbath, Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31, (this is not the 7th day Sabbath, but the Sabbath related to the Feast of Passover.)
  • His burial, Mark 15:42-47 (cf. 16:1); John 19:31.
  • His resurrection, Mat 28:1; Luke 23:56.

Jesus said in Mat 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Therefore, we have rest in Him, i.e., been saved from our sins through Him.

The 5th CommandmentEx 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother.”

Five times it is used in the Gospels describing two events of Jesus Christ.

1.) Rebuking human works, traditions, and religion, Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10.

2.) Regarding the way for salvation; not by keeping the Law, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20, (rich young ruler).

To the rich young ruler, Jesus mentioned 5 of the last 6 of the Ten Commandments, because they all related to the horizontal relationships of life; behavior toward others. The issue was salvation, eternal life. Rather than having faith in God and Christ for salvation, this man trusted in his own works. Human works can only take you so far, and human works will only let you go so far. They will never take you all the way to salvation and eternal life. Only by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is anyone saved, Eph 2:8-9.

Therefore, we are not saved by our human good works.

The 6th CommandmentEx 20:13; Deut 5:17, “You shall not murder.”

This commandment is first used in Mat 5:21f, in the Sermon on the Mount, to emphasize the inner man, where sin and human good works emanate from.

This too was used by Jesus speaking to the rich young man to refute human good works for salvation. Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Jesus also stated that murder has a father, (and lying, 10th). His name is Satan / the devil who brought death to all of mankind and wants to steal their eternal life, John 8:44.

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 and the father of lies.”

Then Jesus noted the first account of death in the human race, which highlights what human good works and sin bring to mankind; death, Mat 23:35; Luke 11:51. Cf. Gen 4:5-8.

Therefore, human good works and sin emanate from the inner man and bring death to mankind.

The 7th CommandmentEx 20:14; Deut 5:18, “You shall not commit adultery.”

The first time “adultery,” is used in the NT is by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Mat 5:27-28, telling us of the genesis of sin being in the mentality of our souls.

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

In Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20, the episode of the rich young ruler again emphasized that salvation is not based on works.

In John 8:3-4, Jesus taught about love and forgiveness, as well as the sin of self-righteous arrogance, when the Pharisees were trying to entrap Him using the Law regarding adultery. This is when Jesus responded, “he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

In Mat 12:39; 16:4, our Lord rebukes the Pharisees who were looking for Him to perform a sign or miracle. Because they did not believe in Him through faith, they are classed, “an evil and adulterous generation,” meaning they trusted in other things, (their eyes, their emotions, etc.) rather than God, which made them idolaters.

In Mark 8:38, Jesus commanded that we put aside the things of this world and take up our Cross and follow Him. If we do not, we are an adulterer towards God, (idolater).

In Luke 18:11, Jesus told a parable about a self-righteous Pharisee who thanked God in his prayer at the Temple that he was not a MOICHOS, (adulterer), like all the others, yet his pride caused God to reject him.

That is why in Mat 5:32; Luke 16:18, Jesus taught on divorce where adultery is a bona fide basis for divorce. Yet, the spiritual analogy is our adultery / idolatry against God that causes Him to reject us.

Therefore, God’s love and forgiveness gives us salvation; those who reject Him are adulterers to God – idolaters, rejected by Him.

The 8th CommandmentEx 20:15, “You shall not steal.”

This Commandment is given in the listing to the rich young ruler to show that no one is saved by the Law / human good works, Mat 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

The heart issue continues, as it is first used by Jesus to exhort men to not store up the treasures of this world, but to store up treasures in heaven, Mat 6:19-20. Vs. 21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other word, produce Divine good / the fruit of the Spirit to receive blessings for both time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15.

The next two verses give the negative / sinful aspect of a man’s heart that is focused on the world.

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, (KLOPE), false witness, slanders.”

Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, (KLOPE), murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

In John 10:10, our Lord used it to compare Himself to the false teachers / Pharisees who were robbing people of salvation and eternal life; whereas, Jesus came to “give life” so that they could “have it abundantly.”

John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Finally, the hypocritical Pharisees used it in Mat 27:64, regarding the Lord’s tomb where His body was laid, which the Pharisee thought Jesus’ disciples would rob to falsify His resurrection, cf. Mat 28:13.

Therefore, Jesus gives life abundantly and with it we are to produce Divine good, the fruit of the Spirit, from the inner man.

The 9th Commandment, Ex 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The commandment is first used in the story of the rich young ruler in Mat 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-25, refuting human good works for salvation.

Also, once again, in Mat 15:19, the false witness 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 concept is first used by Jesus in 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.” Here those who are persecuted via lies on account of their relationship with Jesus are blessed.

Jesus Himself became the object of persecution by “false witnesses,” Mark 14:56-57; Mat 26:59, by those who desired to have Jesus executed. They purposefully sought out false testimony that could be used to build a case 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.”

Like murder, the 6th Commandment, the one who lies is of his father the devil and practices lying, John 8:44.

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).”

Therefore, when we are falsely persecuted on account of Jesus, we are blessed, (suffering for blessing).

The 10th Commandment, Ex 20:17, “You shall not covet…”

In the first NT utilization of the principle of “coveting,” Jesus enlarged on all of the commandments utilizing “coveting / lusting” in reference to being the genesis of all sins, because they emanate from within a man’s heart, Mat 5:21-48.

Mat 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust (EPITHUMEO) for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

It too is used in the list of Mat 15:19, regarding where sin emanates from, “evil thoughts.”

Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Jesus made the point that the sins that defile a person are sins coming from untamed desires in the heart, Mark 7:20-22; Luke 12:15.

Mark 7:20-23, “And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man”.”

Jesus warned that covetousness destroys Bible Doctrine in the soul and leads to a lack of Divine good production, Mark 4:19.

Mark 4:19, “The worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

Jesus also warns us to guard our hearts against covetousness and the false hope of the riches of this world, Luke 12:15.

Luke 12:15, “Then He said to them, “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”.”

Therefore, we are warned to not allow the lust pattern of the sin nature control our souls, and trust in the false hope of the things of this world.

So, in summary, Jesus’ application of the Ten Commandments tells us:

1st There is only One God.

2nd We are to worship and serve Him only.

3rd We are to honor and glorify Him in our personal relationship with Him.

4th We have rest in Him, i.e., been saved from our sins through Him.

5th We are not saved by our human good works.

6th Human good works and sin emanate from the inner man and bring death to mankind.

7th God’s love and forgiveness gives us salvation; those who reject Him are adulterers to God – idolaters, rejected by Him.

8th Jesus gives life abundantly and with it we are to produce Divine good, the fruit of the Spirit, from the inner man.

9th When we are falsely persecuted on account to Jesus, we are blessed, (suffering for blessing).

10th We are warned to not allow the lust pattern of the sin nature control our souls and trust in the false hope of the things of this world.

Therefore, rejoice that you have a Savior who lived for you and died for you. And by the power of the Spirit, as a new creation, live out these commands to the glory of our great and awesome God.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
(Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages”)

Leave a Reply