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Discussion 7 to Reflections on Ethics 6
Jesus and the 10 Commandments

by JT

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What did Jesus have to say about the 10 Commandments. This is a rather significant question as it is members of Christian denominations rather than Jewish groups who promote the posting of the 10 Commandments in public places.

In Matthew 19:[1]

16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

 18 "Which ones?" the man inquired.

 Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,

19 honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Similarly in Mark 10:

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.

19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother."

There are some differences between the two accounts, but what is common to both is that the first four of the 10 Commandments dealing with religious observance have been pointedly dropped, as has the psychologically impossible 10th commandment. Jesus puts the focus on how you treat other people, not on how you treat a deity.

If Christians promoted one of these two sets of commandments, as supposedly given to them by Christ, it would be a lot harder to raise objections.


  1. New International Version