What are the Ten Commandments?

What purpose do they serve? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We often refer to them as the Big Ten. If you watch a movie about the Exodus, it can easily be called The Ten Commandments. We have them enshrined at the Supreme Court building in America. Many of us grew up in Bible School learning the Ten Commandments. (Though many of us did not understand this adultery one at the time.)

They are important, no doubt, but what are they? Generally, we can see them as if they were commandments that were meant to be emblematic of the covenant community. There are a lot of laws that do not show up in the Big Ten. That doesn’t mean that those laws are somehow less valid than these are. It’s actually the opposite really. Jesus when asked what the most important commandment was gave His most important one and the second most important. Neither of those were in the Commandments.

“But these were written by the finger of God!”


That again doesn’t mean that these happen to be more important than the others, as once again the testimony of the savior says otherwise. These were written by the finger of God for the purpose of having a public record. They were to be put in the Ark and Israel could look at these Ten any time easily. It would be difficult to write a stone out and cumbersome if it had over 600 commandments.

Each of these commandments is shaping in some powerful way as well. There is some speculation that much of Deuteronomy can be laid out as further explaining what the Ten Commandments are. We should learn them all, but the question is going to be are they all binding for us today?

Here we get into deeper questions. Obviously, moral law codes are still binding for us today, but moral law codes are also codes that are part of general revelation and known to everyone. Everyone can know from general revelation that murder is wrong. Most every law code around the world also has a command to honor one’s parents.

Is the Sabbath in there? Not that I know of. We could all easily recognize the need for rest, but we couldn’t recognize that one specific day of the week is to be set aside for that rest. Even if we could, there’s no rule in such revelation that states it would have to be on Saturday.

Also, something worth noting is that while many of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, the one to observe the Sabbath is not. If anything, we often find the opposite. Paul regularly states to not judge one another on the basis of Sabbath. Of course, we will be covering more issues like this when we get to the New Testament.

For now, yes, this was part of Israel’s law code, but we are not under it entirely. We are under moral stipulations, but those are stipulations that can also be known through general revelation. Of course, if someone wants to observe Sabbath on Saturday, be my guest. I have no qualms with you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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