What are the Ten Commandments?

In the heart of the Old Testament, nestled within the Book of Exodus, we find a profound set of divine instructions known as the Ten Commandments. 

Given by God through Moses, these commandments constitute the foundational moral law for humanity. 

But what are these Ten commandments and what is their significance to humanity today? Let us explore them one by one.

The Ten Commandments

"You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3): The first commandment establishes the monotheistic nature of the faith that there is only one God, and He alone should be worshiped and served.

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7): The second commandment calls for reverence towards God's name, prohibiting any misuse or casual handling of it. It reflects the biblical understanding that a name carries the essence of its bearer.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8-11): The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship, serves as a weekly reminder of God's creation. The third commandment asks us to rest in God and honor Him with dedicated time.

"Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12): The fourth commandment emphasizes the importance of respecting and caring for one's parents. It affirms the importance of family structure in a healthy society.

"You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13): The fifth commandment underscores the sanctity of human life, prohibiting acts of murder. It prohibits all forms of murder, including the murder of unborn babies.

"You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14): In the sixth commandment, the sanctity of the marriage covenant is emphasized. This commandment calls for faithfulness in marriage and, by extension, purity in all sexual relationships.

"You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15): The seventh commandment prohibits unlawfully taking someone else's property, affirming the right to personal property.

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16): The eighth commandment, which prohibits lying and deceit, establishes the importance of truth in personal relationships and societal structures.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." (Exodus 20:17): The ninth commandment warns against lust for another man’s wife and prohibits extra marital affairs.

“You shall not covet your neighbor's goods” (Exodus 20:17): The final commandment warns against an unhealthy desire for what others have, encouraging contentment and a focus on inner, rather than outer, wealth.

The Significance of the Ten Commandments Today

The Ten Commandments continue to hold profound relevance today. 

They provide a moral framework that aligns with the nature and character of God, promoting love for God (Commandments 1-3), honoring parents (Commandment 4) and love for our neighbors (commandments 5-10). 

Jesus affirmed this when He stated that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two greatest commandments: love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:37-40).

In our personal lives, the Ten Commandments serve as a guide for ethical conduct. They challenge us to examine our attitudes and behaviors and ask us to live in a way that honors Him and love our neighbors. 

In a broader social context, the principles underlying the Ten Commandments have shaped legal and ethical norms in many cultures, promoting justice, truthfulness, respect for life and property, and the importance of healthy familial and community relationships. 

The Ten Commandments also remind us that God cares about our relationships with Him and with each other. 

He gives us these commandments not as a stern taskmaster, but as a loving Father who knows what is best for us.


The Ten Commandments are a guide for ethical conduct. The Ten Commandments are timeless principles from a holy God, and His standards for humanity. 

They teach us what it means to love God fully and love our neighbors as ourselves.


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