Are the Ten Commandments repeated in the New Testament?
The Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai and inscribed on two stone tablets. Lists of the commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. These commandments are somewhat of a summary of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament Law God gave to Israel. Even today we look to these commandments to help us understand not only God's character but what righteous and moral behavior looks like. Although the complete list of Ten Commandments is not repeated verbatim anywhere in the New Testament, both the list as a whole entity as well as specific individual commands are referenced throughout the New Testament. More specifically, nine of the ten commandments are repeated as characteristic of appropriate Christian behavior.
Jesus summed up all the commandments into only two when He said, "On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:40). Those two commandments were: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37) and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). The first four of the Ten Commandments would fit under the command to love God and the last six commandments would fit under the command to love others.
When Jesus did refer to specific commandments, He often pointed out how people were guilty of breaking those commandments in ways they had not even considered. In Matthew 5:21–22 He said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder'… But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." He went on to say, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27–28). He pointed out that those who set aside money for God but did not care for their aging parents were guilty of breaking the fifth commandment. "For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother'… So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God" (Matthew 15:4–6).
With the rich, young ruler, Jesus exposed the man's sin without directly mentioning the commandment he was breaking. When the young man asked which commandments he needed to keep in order to gain eternal life, Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 19:18–19). The young ruler believed he had kept these commandments, so Jesus challenged him, "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" (Matthew 19:21). The young man did not choose to follow Jesus, thereby revealing that his money and possessions had become a god he loved more than the Lord, thus breaking the first commandment about having no other gods before Him.
Jesus also discussed the commandment about keeping the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1–8 and Mark 2:23–27. Ultimately, He reminded onlookers that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27–28).
Jesus not only affirmed the Old Testament commandments, but often pointed out that the standard of behavior was even higher than originally understood. Jesus showed that God's standards include the attitudes and motives behind the behaviors and not just the behaviors themselves. "The LORD looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7) and is not pleased with a people who "draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by man" (Isaiah 29:13). God also stated, "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). So God has been intent on capturing people's hearts and not on simply modifying their behavior.
Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). Jesus was the only one able to perfectly keep the Law of God. The Ten Commandments were never intended as a means to salvation or to making ourselves righteous. Rather, they were in place to demonstrate the reality of sin as well as to show us what righteous behavior toward God and others looks like. Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." He further explained that the law was given "in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure" (Romans 7:13). The Ten Commandments, as well as the other laws, were established to show us our need for a Savior, and Jesus lived a sinless life according to those laws to be the Savior we needed.
But the Ten Commandments were not just affirmed and fulfilled by Jesus, we see nine of the Ten Commandments given as instructions for Christians in how they are to live the new lives they have been given in Jesus. The list below provides some references to where the Ten Commandments are referenced in the New Testament epistles:
1. You shall have no other gods before me (1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5)
2. You shall not make idols (1 John 5:21)
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord (1 Timothy 1:20; 6:1)
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The Sabbath day is referenced throughout the New Testament. In fact, the Jewish religious leaders of the day had made extra rules around the Sabbath day and several times confronted Jesus for what they saw as His violations of the Sabbath (specifically healing on the Sabbath day). Jesus highlighted the rulers' commitment to their self-made rules over their commitment to God. Jesus did keep the Sabbath perfectly and also affirmed that He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–8). In fact, He is our Sabbath rest. Hebrews 3:7—4:13 describes this in great detail.
When Gentiles began turning to Jesus, the New Testament church dealt with the issue of which Jewish laws were to be kept by Gentiles. At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 the Sabbath command was not one the apostles included for Gentiles. Colossians 2:16–17 says, "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." Romans 14:5 conveys a similar message.
The Sabbath is typically thought of as a day of rest and worship. Of course, we are to worship God every day (Romans 12:1; Colossians 3:16–17; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18) and we are to regularly gather with other believers in part to do so (Hebrews 10:23–25). We should also rest from our labor (Mark 6:31; Matthew 6:25–34; Psalm 127:1–2; Philippians 4:6–7). But the Saturday Sabbath command is not specifically given for New Testament believers.
5. Honor your father and mother (Ephesians 6:1–4)
6. You shall not murder (Romans 13:8–10; 1 Peter 4:15)
7. You shall not commit adultery (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Hebrews 13:4)
8. You shall not steal (Ephesians 4:28)
9. You shall not bear false witness (Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 2:1; Revelation 21:8)
10. You shall not covet (Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:5)
So, yes, the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, just not in a neat list of ten the way they are found in Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21.
Copyright 2011-2021 Got Questions Ministries - All Rights Reserved.