Sunday, 13 September 2009

inside the 'box'

The 10 Commandments are not isolated moral commands but a summation of the law of the covenant.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments. Exodus 34:27-28

(NB. these words come at the end of a chapter including laws on making treaties, keeping feasts, instructions about sacrificial offerings and one of the 'famous' laws: 'Don't cook a young goat in its mother's milk'!)

So the 10 Commandments are connected to the rest of the 'law' in Exodus - they are a summary of them.
In turn the 10 Commandments themselves are summarised. Jesus & Paul tell us about the 2 ‘greatest’ commandments that sum up all the law and the prophets:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it:`Love your neighbour as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:35-40

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this:`Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this:`Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no-one dared ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher,"he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 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 neighbour as yourself.'" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." Luke 10:25-28

The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. Romans 13:9-10

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbour as yourself." Galatians 5:14
We can see that the first 4 have to do with our duties towards God and the last 6 have to do with our duties towards each other. And of course they are all attached and connected in all kinds of ways.

The 10 Commandments are a summary of all God’s law.
In turn they are summed up by the 2 'greatest commandments'.
And so we can say that all our moral obligations are contained within this ‘box’ of the 10 Commandments.

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