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How Did Jesus Teach the Ten Commandments?

The great prophet of God and deliverer of Israel, Moses, was called up to a mountaintop by God and given the Ten Commandments, written by God's hand, to teach the children of Israel how to live righteously before Him. By giving commandments to the people, God teaches them the will and mind of God. These commandments were written in stone and given to people on the earth. They are the pattern of the spiritual laws God said He would write upon one's heart.



What are the Ten Commandments?


Here's a list of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.


  1. Do not have any other gods before Me.

  2. Do not make unto you any carved image.

  3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.

  4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.

  5. Honor your father and your mother.

  6. Do not kill.

  7. Do not commit adultery.

  8. Do not steal.

  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  10. Do not covet things that belong to your neighbor.

We know that God's people who were of old struggled to follow God's commandments. And much of that struggle had to do with their unbelief in the work of the Spirit. Today, we have a better opportunity to keep the Ten Commandments of God and be faithful to them because of what Jesus did for us. He taught us how to walk in these powerful commandments in a way that will not fail. (1 Corinthians 13)


How Did Jesus Teach the Ten Commandments?


Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two parts: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. (We will connect this to the Ten Commandments in the explanation.)

Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."


When you look at the Ten Commandments, you see a secret that Jesus used to teach them. He showed us that the Commandments deal with two important principles: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. That's why Jesus could say all the commandments depend on these two things.

If you look closer at the Ten Commandments, you see that the first half of them speak to loving God, and the second half speaks to loving others as yourself. Once you learn how to love God, you will not love any other God besides the one true God. You will not make images of other Gods or worship anything or anyone other than God. You will use His name without vanity and walk in rest while keeping the Sabbath day.

When you love your neighbor, you will not hurt them by stealing from them, killing them, committing adultery with them, speaking falsely against them, or coveting what they have. And you will always honor your father and your mother. 

Jesus was teaching us how to be faithful to God through love. He shows us how He keeps the commandments and remains faithful like His Father in heaven.

Jesus' (and the apostle Paul's) examples distinguish between the two kinds of love. Their focus, at times, was on loving your neighbor rather than teaching people to love God. (It's hard to love someone who is invisible when you don't understand that kind of love.)

I believe they approached loving God by teaching people how to love others first so that they would have an easier time learning the mysteries of love. (Teaching you how to love others through the earthly parables helps connect you to loving God, who is invisible. We see the apostle Paul use the parable of a husband loving his wife as Christ loving the church. The apostle John also references this idea of loving your brother, who you can see, versus God, who you cannot see, in 1 John 4:20) 

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Another example is when a rich man asks Jesus a question. He said, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus directly taught him that loving your neighbor would get you to eternal life, but it was only the start. When the rich man said he was doing the things that accomplished loving his neighbor, it opened the door for Jesus to address the real matter of loving God. 

Jesus told the rich man he lacked one thing (loving God). He taught him how to love God by showing him perfection. He said, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Loving God is represented here by the act of selling all you have and following Him. It was clear that the rich man loved his possessions more than God.

We've learned that love is perfection, so it makes sense that Jesus told the rich man that if he was going to be perfect, he must love God more than his possessions.

What to do

This teaching is helpful in learning that we must keep all of God's commandments, but it's Jesus who taught us how to keep the Ten Commandments and many others. By loving God and loving our neighbor, we fulfill all faithfulness to God.

Scripture references

Exodus 20; Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 19:16-23; Mark 10:17-24; Luke 18:18-30; Romans 13:8-14; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 John 4:20


Here are some extra references concerning how the Ten Commandments were taught in the New Testament.

The Ten Commandments as they appear in the New Testament, according to Jesus

Matthew 19:17–19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20

  1. You shall not murder (kill).

  2. You shall not commit adultery.

  3. You shall not steal.

  4. You shall not bear false witness.

  5. Do not defraud (covet).

  6. Honor your father and mother.

  7. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The Ten Commandments as they appear in the New Testament, according to Paul

Romans 13:8-14

  1. You shall not commit adultery.

  2. You shall not murder.

  3. You shall not steal.

  4. You shall not covet.

Any other commandment is summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.


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