Can You Name the Ten Commandments?

Jump to the bottom of the post for a summary of the 10 commandments.

The Ten Commandments, also called by the name Decalogue, are biblical principles which give guidance based on ethics. They have fundamental importance within the Jewish and Christian societies. The Ten Commandment text appears twice in the Hebrew Bible. Believers still memorize and follow the Ten commandments today, just as they did thousands of years ago. Or do they? Can You name the Ten Commandments?

The ten commandments were given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, but they were known to man even before that. Adam and Eve knew God’s law, so although the rules weren’t written on a stone they existed back then. Throughout early history, the commandments were revered. King David said they were perfect. Let’s take a look at the Ten commandments now.

10 Commandments List

Click to enlarge

Here are the original 10 Commandments in the order they were written in Exodus 20. At the bottom of this article, we include the commandments lists with Jewish and Catholic numbers of the 10 Commandments. They are a little different from the Christian version. This article will focus on them as numbered in the above graphic.

You may wonder why we need to have these 10 “good laws.” The purpose is to help us. By following the 10 commandments, we live and work as God intended — getting along peacefully, without crime. In fact, we got the definition of sin from God: Sin is breaking His law. Here it is in 1 John 3:4:

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. ”

Remember, God brought in the 10 commandments of Mount Sinai with a blast of smoke, erupting earthquakes and the sound of trumpets. That’s how serious he was about these commandments.

Moses recorded God’s words in Exodus 20.

Who, What, Where, When, Why

Let’s take a look at the 10 commandments to answer the who, what, when where questions:

Exodus 20:2-17

Who: Moses (God gave them to Moses)

What: the 10 commandments

When: roughly 1440 BCE.

Where: Mt. Sinai

Why: to show us how to live.

Is there Controversy Among Christians Concerning the 10 Commandments?

There are many Christians that argue Christ’s death abolished the need for the 10 Commandments. After all, His death did away with many other laws of the times, right? But most of those same people would agree that killing, adultery, stealing, and lying are not acceptable ways to live. Nor do most think blasphemy, idolatry, and coveting are okay. So when you get right down to it, the only commandment the majority of Christians do not agree on is the one about the Sabbath:

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

I’ll address that only briefly here. First, Jesus’ issues with the pharisees and the Sabbath day.

Did Jesus Break the Sabbath?

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!’

“And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’—that they might accuse Him”

In both situations, the pharisees wanted to “catch” Jesus doing something wrong. They had gotten so wrapped up in the rules, they’d forgotten how to care for people. Jesus and his disciples ate some wheat off the stem in a field (yuk!) and ate it.

He also healed a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Again, the Pharisees chided him. Jesus explained to them that it was “lawful to do good on the Sabbath,” (Matthew 12:12) Furthermore, he explained he was Lord of the Sabbath:

 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” ” Mark 2:27-28.

The other issues with the Sabbath day is that some believers insist it is on Saturday, and some Sunday. There are people who argue that God made the Sabbath on a certain day, therefore you are breaking the commandment if you keep it on another day. This is almost like the pharisees getting so wrapped up in rule upon rule that they couldn’t understand the basics. Many people are required to work on certain days, so they keep the Sabbath on another day. It should not matter when your ‘day of rest’ is, as long as you’re observing one. Now, back to the Ten commandments…

What Are The Teachings of the Ten Commandments?

The Ten commandments set the parameters for living and worship. Here they are in order, with discussion.

You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:3

Discussion:  Whatever holds the place of importance in a person’s life is a god. That means if you can’t wait to get on Facebook after class, and spend hours on it, Facebook is your god. If you are obsessed with clothing to the point that you’ll cut the grocery bill to buy a new dress, clothing is your god.

Men aren’t exempt. Their gods might be different – other objects, or business, or income – but they still have things they allow between them and the Lord.

God is revealed to us in nature, in the Bible, and even speaking to our hearts, yet we allow imaginary ‘gods’ to fill our hearts instead. Interestingly, those things we allow to fill us are unsatisfying and imperfect. And in the dark of night, we don’t find comfort in praying to our money or Facebook, but only to the God who said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image,

or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6.

Discussion: Right after telling us not to have gods, He admonishes us not to have likenesses of ‘gods.’ He loves us. He doesn’t want us bowing to some other ‘god.’ His jealousy is not the kind we think of, angry and ugly, but instead pours out of a heart full of love and affection. With telling us about these rules, He is showing us how we can best love Him; this is useful, because we won’t know how unless He tells us. By following this set of rules, we show our love for Him.

And what kind of person creates an idol? Idols are degrading to God – and to the person who creates them. This commandment doesn’t mean not to make likenesses of anything, but not to make likenesses of God or false gods for the purpose of worshipping them. Bowing down to anything besides the Lord our God is strictly forbidden.

You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain

Exodus 20:7.

Discussion: Does profanity still exist? You bet it does. One can cringe daily listening to the constant abuse of the Lord’s name.

When you think of Jesus, think about the slang that throws His name around daily. Consider using a different word to express displeasure. Nothing has changed since Jesus spoke to the careless people of His days: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:3-37, ESV.)

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8-11.

Discussion: I find it interesting that the Lord needed to expound on this command – a requirement for our own physical rest. We are all way too “busy” to need to take a moment. But observing the Sabbath isn’t just for us; it’s also for God. Sabbath rest is a time to honor His creation and respect the fact that He Himself took a Sabbath day of sorts, a rest period after the Creation.

Honor your Father and your Mother

Exodus 20:12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Discussion: Children, whether young or adult, owe their parents kindness, obedience, and respect. Imagine the joy thousands of us would have received if this command were followed.

In the current culture, we have a crisis. Thousands of millennials have abandoned their parents for what will now be a generation without family, without grandparents who babysit or care for the young ones. There are even lessons on the Internet for how to abandon your family.

In droves, they’ve left. People who have done it claim the family was toxic. Families are left bewildered. Research shows it will affect the next 3 generations. No longer does “Lord Jesus Christ” mean he’s the boss, and do what he says.

Note that “your days may be long…” In Ephesians 6:2, the apostle Paul states: It is ‘The first commandment with promise and God cannot change His promise.’ A long life, for those who honor parents. Does it follow that a short life will be had for those who do not honor their parents?

 You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13

Discussion: God does not want anyone killed in any way for their sins. Does the world know that thousands have violated this rule? And judging from previous data, many thousands are dying at their hands of someone who has gotten away with it, living happily and free. Crime is threatening our society. The Lord says that no one can be murdered, yet recently (2020) there were 21,570 homicides in the U.S.

You shall not commit adultery

Exodus 21:14

Adultery is defined as  “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband.”*

In Matthew 5, Jesus clarified with this remark: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:27-20, ESV

The defining point is that God wanted to make marriage a strong, intimate bond. This is why he wanted people to remain faithful in their marriage. Paul said, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” 1 Corinthians 6:13, ESV.

If you think of faithfulness as Paul stated it, it’s hard not to believe the we were meant to be faithful to our (one) partner. Perhaps that makes the 7th commandment easier to follow.

You shall not steal

Exodus 20:14

Discussion: “There will be no crime”. Despite the simplicity of this commandment, the world needs it today. The variety of thieves is virtually endless, from simple pickpockets and purse theft to robbers stealing from everyone — from children to widows to businesses. This man faces judgment of his dishonesty with the following words: “You can’t steal.”

You shall not bear false witness

Exodus 20: 15.

Discussion: You will never speak falsehood to a neighbor. And who is a neighbor?

The Ninth Commandment is designed to prevent slander and perversion of justice. This law demands truth and nothing but truth. Revelation 22:15 tells us that “whoever loves and practices lies” will come out of the gates of New Jerusalem.

God is a god of truth. He hates lies and dishonesty. Here are some verses showing that:

  • “His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
  • “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
  • “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

You shall not covet.

Exodus 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 is your neighbor’s.

To covet means to want or desire what someone else has. “I’ve got to have it!”

The problem with wanting things is that coveting begins in the heart. It’s a heart matter. It can easily lead to idolatry and all sorts of sin.

That’s the 10 commandments in order. Next are the 10 Commandments , short form, Catholic version:**

  1. “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any gods before Me.”
  2. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
  3. “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
  4. “Honor thy father and mother.”
  5. “Thou shalt not kill.”
  6. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
  7. “Thou shalt not steal.”
  8. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
  9. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
  10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

Then we have the Jewish version of the commandments:***

I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods beside Me.

You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Merriam-Webster,t.ly/6BjA. accessed 2/23/22.

**https://www.dummies.com/article/body-mind-spirit/religion-spirituality/christianity/catholicism/catholicism-and-the-ten-commandments-192630.

***https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-ten-commandments/

Questions

What are the 10 Commandments in order in the Bible?

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

What are the 10 commandments in simple terms?

Have no other gods, don’t make idols, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, keep the Sabbath, honor your parents, don’t murder, steal, or lie, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet.

What are the actual 10 commandments?

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

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