Here are a podcast and notes on Decalogue A: The 1st Commandment (11 minutes).

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Introduction and definitions

  • Decalogue: The ten words
  • Torah: Law or Instruction (from the Hebrew yarah, meaning to guide). This may refer to the first five books of the Bible, or the law(s) found in them.
  • Pentateuch: The five rolls. The term refers to the first five books of the O.T., Genesis-Deuteronomy.
  • Two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Neither is in the 10 commandments, and yet it has been noted that the first four commandments pertain to love for God, the last six to love for neighbor.
  • The two tablets (Exodus 31:18, 32:15) are two identical copies of the commandments. This is known from covenant customs in this part of the world (2nd millennium BC)
  • The 10 commandments were delivered the first time at Sinai (Horeb) near the beginning of the desert wanderings. It comes out in a new version near the end of this period (see Deuteronomy 5). Moreover, another "ten commandments" may be found in Exodus 34.


  • First commandment
  • Exodus 20:1-3: And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me."


  • LORD = YHWH (Yahweh). YHWH is the Tetragrammaton (Greek for four-letter [thing]). For more on this, refer to the podcast on The Name of God. YHWH appears about 6800 times in the O.T.
  • Lord = Adonai
  • Our Christian lives are rooted in who God is.
  • We obey God not in order to be saved, but because we have already been redeemed.
  • Obedience is not slavery (although it is a kind of yoke -- Matthew 11:28-30; see 1 John 5:3 and Deuteronomy 30:11-20); slavery is being in the world (and of it).

Thought questions

  • Through listening to this lesson, is there anything I learned that was completely new?
  • Do I obey out of fear or duty, or out of appreciation for my salvation?
  • Is there anything more important to me than God?
  • Do others know this to be true of me (family, friends, neighbors...)?

Next time: the second  commandment.