The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a collection of biblical rules relating to ethical codes and worship that God gave to Moses to direct the Israelites and even all of humanity on their faith journey. The moral laws (the Ten Commandments) and the ceremonial laws (a total of 613 commandments) were provided to Moses (Just). The Old Testament laws were divinely inspired, and Jesus claims in the New Testament that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Mathematics 5:17) The fulfillment of the requirement was therefore attained through Jesus Christ, who sheds more light on the commandments in the Old Testament. As Disciples of Christ, believers are encouraged to teach the law and practice it to win souls to Christ and be worthy of their mission. This essay will compare the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 and Jesus Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5:17-48.
The Sermon on the Mount encompasses utterances that Jesus made to His Disciples then and applies to believers today, and it was a reminder of the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses in Mount Sinai. The Sermon was a further lead from the Lord to His people about their redemption. Importance of these commandments is brought out plainly in both conducts, whereby God tells the Israelites that He would punish to the fourth generation of those who hate Him. Jesus, on the other hand, explicates the consequence that shall befall those who teach the commandments and fail to act upon them. In both circumstances, God was present. In Exodus 20:1, “And God spoke all these words saying…” At the Mount, Jesus, who is God the Son, (John 10:30) addressed the people. God’s will was expressed with perfect devotion through the voice of Christ, the Son. Almost half of the Ten Commandments code entails explanations rather than commands. In both, the Lord not only wants us to obey His Will, but He wants to meet our minds. That is why, before speaking to the Israelites, He first reminded them Who He was and how He got them out of the land of captivity.
One of the variances in both scenarios is that, in Exodus, the Lord first appeared in the form of smoke and spoke the commandments to the Israelites before giving Moses the two tablets afterward. In verse 21 of Matt chapter 5, Jesus elaborates further concerning the 6th commandment of murder. In Exodus 20:13, the commandments lacks an explanation thus Jesus expounds on it. He tells His hearers that killing is not just physical, but also our words and thoughts must be pure and harmless to others. In commandment 7 of adultery, Jesus in Matt 27 clarifies that it is not just about disloyalty to spouses physically, but also in thought. The heart must be steadfast and real to our lifetime mate. Concerning commandment 9 of the bearing of false witness, (Exod 20:16), Jesus in Math 5:37 emphasizes that our yes should be yes and no be no for anything more than that is a sin. Words should thus be used with limitation and straightforwardness. Another distinction Jesus bring out undoubtedly is that, on the Mount, He begins explaining the 6th commandment leaving out the first 5. Obedience to parents, the fifth commandments is included among the first set only because, parents are God’s agents on earth. Their role is of procreation, and God uses them as tools to deliver us to actuality.
Christ presents a particular sequence in discussing the law on the Mount. From the 6th commandment to the 7th, He brings out a hierarchy on physicality and violence involved in either of them. In adultery, it is the physical aspect but not violent, lying involves our words, coveting involves the mind while stealing is also physical. In commandment 8 involving stealing, Christ gives an ultimatum that for them who borrow, we should not turn away. On the issue of coveting, which takes place in the mind, Jesus elaborates in verse 43 that our enemies ought not to be hated, but loved as God loves all and doesn’t segregate. Verse 48 clause of perfection reflects consistency that is expected of all believers. Maturity in Christian livelihood, as God told the Israelites in the ten commandments of what they ought and ought not to do. Obedience is required not just from the physical, but most importantly from the heart (Frank W. Hardy).
The sequence of elucidations Jesus gives on the Sermon are an extension of the laws given to Moses in Mount Sinai. The aspect of ‘fulfilling’ the law, as He puts in Matt 5, is actualized when the potential of this series is realized during the Sermon. God’s character revealed in the commandments and from Jesus’ remarks, shows how He is a reflection of the law. From the commandments he was explaining, Jesus gave a positive from every negative, showing what He would do. For example, the negative command of not stealing has a positive in giving to those who ask.
Frank W. Hardy, Ph.D. “Thoughts on Mathew.” Resisterstown, MD Sabbath (2012): 8. http://www.historicism.org/Documents/Matt0517-48.pdf.
Just, Felix. The Decalogue or Ten Commandments. 14 JULY 2017. http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Decalogue.htm. 10 NOVEMBER 2017.
THE HOLY BIBLE, Authorized King James Version