The Ten Commandments were the first commands which God gave to Israel to establish their nation. The word epic* comes to mind when speaking of The Ten Commandments. Everything about them is epic.

They were given in an epic way.  The Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai immediately after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. 

The very words are epic in their simplicity, yet significance.  The Ten Commandments were given by God and can be divided into two parts.  The first four relate to a right relationship between man and God, while the last six focus on our relationship with our fellowman.

Read each command and think about its meaning: Why would God choose to include each of these commands?


Old Testament Reading

Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments

I. You shall have no other gods before me.
II. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
III. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
IV. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
V. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
VI. You shall not murder.
VII. You shall not commit adultery.
VIII. You shall not steal.
IX. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
X. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Moses & The Ten Commandments Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Public Domain


Their ability to convict us is epic.  While we may have never been arrested for committing a crime or we may have never been sentenced by an earthly court of law, we have all fallen short of God’s standard. No one has perfectly obeyed all of these commands.

The Bible says: 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23 

For the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

If anyone sins, we have one who speaks to God the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 
John 3:16

~ To understand more: Peace with God


New Testament Reading
Matthew 22:35-40

One day a man who was an expert in The Ten Commandments asked Jesus a thought-provoking question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus’ answer may surprise you. Instead of choosing one commandment, Jesus replied,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:35-40

From your reading, what is the difference between the “spirit of the law” and the “letter of the law”?

Word List

  • covet – to wish for something that belongs to someone else
  • *EPIC is used to describe poems that are lengthy; however, it also means something that is of grand scope. Any task of great magnitude may be called “epic.” Something that is large or impressive. Example:  The Grand Canyon is a natural sculpture of grandeur and epic proportions.
  • exodus – to leave an area; also the name of the second book of the Bible
  • aptly – to be appropriate
  • convict -to be found guilty
  • tempted – to be drawn to something or to look at something which causes us to sin
  • thought-provoking – causing careful consideration
  • heart – can mean the center of your emotion
  • soul – your spiritual heart