Some Christians believe the Old Testament no longer applies to today’s Christians, including the Ten Commandments. This article will address the 10 Commandments in the New Testament.
What are the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments are the ten laws God gave Moses on Mount Sinai after he had led them from Egypt. These and other laws were for guidance for daily righteous living. However, the Ten Commandments form the core of the unique covenant between God and His people, the Israelites, so much so that God wrote them in stone with His finger (Exodus 31:18).
These Commandments are found in Exodus 20:1-17
1. And God spake all these words, saying,
2. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13. Thou shalt not kill.
14. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15. Thou shalt not steal.
16. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
It is essential to understand that these Commandments were never meant to be a means by which the Israelites could earn salvation. God had already shown His favor when He delivered them from Egyptian bondage. This grace is something that He prefaced by reminding them at the commencement of providing the Commandments (vs. 2).
The Ten Commandments in the New Testament
In spite of what some believe regarding the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments are still applicable today. What needs to be recognized is that the Old Testament is the foundation. Without the Old Testament, there would be no New Testament. The New Testament Confirms the Old Testament. There are 343 Old Testament quotes in the New Testament and 2,309 allusions and parallels. The books most utilized are the Psalms (333 references, 79 quotes) and Isaiah (348 references, 66 quotes). The Book of Revelation contains no quotations but at least 620 allusions.
Jesus issued this confirmation in Matt. 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, the New Testament (Hebrews 8:1,6), therefore fulfilling the Law. He didn’t come to abolish the Law or the prophets but to fulfill the promises in those Scripture passages.
Jesus lived the Law and gave life to the Law. He was able to live the life described by the words and rules and set the standard for us to follow. The New Testament Law that Jesus ushered in was the Law of love. Love fulfills the Law.
This truth is confirmed in other New Testament Scripture. For example, Romans 13:8-10
8. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law.
9. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
10. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law. NKJV
Notice the Commandments mentioned in this passage; all contained under the description of love, “love is the fulfillment of the Law. “Several Laws are quoted here, straight from the Commandments, to illustrate how they can be kept if an individual simply acts in love.
Remember the response of Jesus when asked what the greatest Commandment is. His response was in Matthew 22:37-40:
37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38. This is the first and great Commandment.
39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.
Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 but also stated a second Command addressing dealing with fellow human beings. The same love and care we have for ourselves should also extend to others. Jesus also clarified that these two Commands to love God and others as ourselves keep all other Laws in the Old and New Testaments.
Lastly, our eternal destiny is based on the Commandments. This truth is evident in Luke 10:25-28, which reads:
- On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
- “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
- He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
- “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.“ NIV
This lawyer obviously knew the Law quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, Old Testament Scripture, which demands total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor. These two Commands go hand in hand. An individual cannot maintain a good relationship with God without having good relationships with their neighbors (their fellow human beings).
But look at Jesus’ final response in verse 28, “Do this and you will live.“ Jesus was referring to eternal life. By following these two Commandments, we fulfill the others and will inherit eternal life. While it is impossible to obey these on our own, it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
It appears clear that the Old and New Testaments are equally crucial in knowing the will of the Lord. Without the Old Testament, there would be no New Testament. They are intertwined to give us the complete picture of what was, what is, and what shall be.
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