Commandments, Ten

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Luke 10:27: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God … and thy neighbor as thyself"

The Ten Commandments are the enduring moral precepts revealed by God to Moses on Mount Sinai as recorded in Exodus 20:2–17. Also called the Decalogue, they're repeated by Moses in Deuteronomy 5:6–21. The first three commands cover love of God, while the other seven sum up love of neighbor. They can be known by reason using only natural law and, therefore, have been practiced by various unchurched civilizations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) lists them as follows:

  1. You shall not have strange Gods before me
  2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
  3. Keep holy the Lord's Day
  4. Honor your father and your mother
  5. You shall not kill
  6. You shall not commit adultery
  7. You shall not steal
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods

The First Commandment forbids idolatry, which includes the worship of graven idols like the golden calf described in chapter 32 of Exodus. Protestants split the First Commandment in two, with the Second Commandment forbidding graven images. This is evidently false, as Exodus 25:18 speaks of making angelic figures of gold for the Jewish temple. Protestants keep to ten commandments, however, by joining coveting thy neighbor's wife to coveting thy neighbor's property, as if lust and envy were the same sin.

The Fifth Commandment forbids murder, which is the taking of innocent human life. In paragraph 2261, the CCC references Exodus 23:7, which reads, "The innocent and just person you shall not put to death." The Sixth and Ninth Commandments involve impurity, while the Seventh and Tenth Commandments involve what Christ called mammon.

Christ did not abolish the Commandments but perfected them. In Matthew 5:21–30, He extended the external sin of murder to include the internal sins of anger and contempt. He likewise extended the physical sin of adultery to include the spiritual sin of lust.

Sharpen your understanding of the Decalogue in Church Militant's Premium show Shadow Priest—The Ten Commandments.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli