The 10 Commandments were given to the Israel nation through Moses. The nation of Israel was now free from slavery in Egypt and was camped around Mount Sinai when thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and the sound of trumpets signaled God's presence. Moses met with God and the 10 Commandments were written for the people to follow.

These laws of "thou shalt not" are meant for our protection and guidance. God, our loving Father, wants to give us wisdom and keep us from choices that He knows will harm us. As you read through the 10 Commandments List below, think of which ones you could do a better job at following. How would your life be lived more fully alive and free from insecurity, fear, and anxiety if you kept these laws?

We have written a complete guide to the 10 Commandments below including full Scripture passages, helpful articles and videos, and a short summary list.

Summary of the Ten Commandments:

  1. Do not have any other gods before God
  2. Do not make yourself an idol
  3. Do not take the Lord's name in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy
  5. Honor your Father and Mother
  6. Do not murder
  7. Do not commit adultery
  8. Do not steal
  9. Do not testify or bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. Do not covet

Modern Significance of the 10 Commandments

These laws delivered to Moses presented the framework for a new Israelite nation, they provided the morality of personal and property rights observed in our modern legal system. Jewish tradition holds that all 613 laws found in the Torah are summarized in the 10 Commandments.

Though Christians do not believe achieving the law is demanded for salvation, they still see the Ten Commandments as the establishment of God’s moral law. Jesus called people to an even higher standard by obeying the commandments not only in their behavior but also in their hearts and minds. For instance, Jesus quoted the command to not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18)

“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).

10 Facts About the 10 Commandments

1. Jews and Christians number the commandments differently. The reason is that “Ten Commandments” in the original Hebrew literally reads “Ten Statements.” Therefore, Jews count the first statement, which is “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” as the first commandment. 

2. Without God, the Ten Commandments, and morality in general, is just a list of arbitrary rules. Unless there is a Higher Authority (God) behind the Ten Commandments, all right and wrong are just personal opinions and beliefs, subject to change.

3. The Second Commandment (according to the Jewish tradition), “You shall have no other gods before me,” does not simply refer to stone idols of Moses’ day. “Other gods” are anything that we “worship” more than God—money, power, love, education, a nation, or art.

4. The Third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain,” is often interpreted as saying something like “Oh my God!” However, the Hebraic translation literally reads, “Thou shalt not carry the Lord’s name in vain,” meaning do not commit evil in God’s name.

5. The Third Commandment is also the only commandment which, when violated, God never forgives.

6. Western Civilization—which developed universal human rights, created women's equality, ended slavery, and created democracy—would not have been developed without the Ten Commandments.

7. The Fourth Commandment, "Remember the Sabbath Day," uplifts mankind more than any other commandment. For most of history, life consisted overwhelmingly of work, and human beings were essentially beasts of burden. This commandment changed that by insisting that people stop working one day out of seven to rest, strengthen relationships, and enjoy life.

8. In our culture, the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” is not widely emphasized. Many parents object to “honoring” since it implies an authority figure, an idea that is often rejected. Instead, they want to be loved, not honored, by their children. This threatens the family structure and makes children believe they are their own boss, a dangerous misconception that will harm them in their workplace, marriage, and worldview.

9. Truth, and following the Ninth Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness," is the most important value in society. Goodness and compassion may be the most important values in the personal realm, but the societal realm, truth is more important. Virtually all great societal evils, such as African slavery, Nazism, and Communism, have been based on lies.

10. The Ten Commandments are not a list of rules. The commandments prove that God wants mankind to be free: "I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Following the commandments actually frees us from the terrible consequences of sin, making our lives better. 

(except provided by Dennis Prager)

Use the articles, videos, and audio found below the Scripture to better understand and study how important these commandments are that God gave us.