James 1:5-8 - Wisdom and Trials PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 08 October 2008 02:00

James: A Handbook on Holiness


Wisdom and Trials

James 1:5-8


General outline of chapter 1:


  1. The Way to Holiness: The Divine Perspective 1:2-27

    1. The Trial-Temptation Complex 1:2-18

      1. The Confrontation with Trials 1:2-8

        1. Joy and Trials 1:2-4

        2. Wisdom and Trials 1:5-8

      2. The Range of Trials 1:9-11

        1. The Trial of Poverty 1:9

        2. The Trial of Riches 1:10-11

      3. The Outcome of Trials 1:12-18

        1. Confidence in Trials 1:12

        2. Defeat in Trials 1:13-15

        3. Victory in Trials 1:16-18


James 1:5-8


Ask for wisdom

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Ask in faith, not doubting

6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.




  1. V. 5: When you lack wisdom in a trial: What words do you say? What kinds of harm may result? Why do you lack wisdom? How can you get wisdom?


  1. V. 5: Is James saying God will give you anything you ask for? _____ YES _____ NO

  2. V. 5: What does it mean to give "generously?" To give "without reproach?"


  1. Vv. 6-8: What does it mean to "ask in faith, with no doubting?" What does each result & evidence of doubting mean, and what counterpart does it find in faith?






    driven & tossed by wind: _____________
    will not receive anything: _____________



    Double-minded: ____________________
    unstable in ways: ___________________

  2. What should you do when you next face a trial?

Ex. 20:3 - The First Commandment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 05 October 2008 02:00

Note: You may download all study guides in one PDF file here.

The 1st Commandment

The text of the 1st Commandment

Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me.”


  1. Its Background

    1. The Preface: Covenant & Redemption

      1. Before me” in the commandment refers back to “I” in the preface

        1. I am the LORD...no other gods before me.

      2. So the 1st Commandment’s requirement is based on the reality of God’s covenant with us, and in His having already redeemed us. That is why we must keep His commandments!

  2. In Hebrew (reads right-to-left)

    1. ex. 20.03 hebrew
  3. Its Meaning

    1. Be to you,” translated “You shall have”

      1. Not Ownership – we can’t put God in our box! Nor could we do so with false “other gods”

      2. But Orientation & Commitment – God is committed to be God to us

        1. This is the thought & wording of the covenant formula throughout scripture: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”

          • The covenant formula reads literally in Hebrew: “I will be to you for a God, and you will be to me for a people.” Cf. with the KJV’s similar literal rendering.

        2. As such it recalls God’s name ex. 20.03 yahweh in hebrew, Yahweh - “yihyeh” here is the same verb; God introduced His name Yahweh to Moses in Ex. 3 with a similar form, saying “ehyeh asher ehyeh.” “I AM who I AM”

      3. The implication is this – there is no other god who can make a covenant commitment to be our god, as only Yahweh can, and therefore we must recognize Yahweh “to be the only true God, and our God.” WSC 46

        1. Is. 45:21-22: 21 And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

        2. Matt. 4:10: Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ' You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

      4. This implies a covenant between God & His people, whose central components are God’s foundational absolute commitment to us, and His requirement of our reciprocal absolute commitment to Him

        1. God’s commitment is expressed in His promises – “I will be your God”

        2. God’s requirement is expressed in His laws - “You shall be my people”

    2. Other gods”

      1. This implies the reality of other gods, but not their divinity

      2. Kinds of “other gods” in scripture:

        1. Spirits – angels or demons

          • Col. 2:18: Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels

          • Deut. 32:17: They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.

        2. Imagined deities

          • 2 Chron. 32:19: And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men's hands.

          • Ps. 96:3-5: 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

        3. Creatures

          • Rom. 1:22-23, 25: 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 25 ...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    3. Before my face,” translated “before me”

      1. Presence not Priority: It does not mean “don’t worship other gods more than you worship me; don’t give them a higher priority than me,” but rather, it means “don’t worship other gods in my presence, before my face, where I can see.”

      2. God can see all things, so worshiping other gods provokes God to anger

        1. Ps. 44:20-21: 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

        2. Deut. 32:16 : They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger.

The Issue of the 1st Commandment

  1. Its Requirement

    1. Love God for who He IS

      1. WSC 46: The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

      2. WSC 47: The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.

    2. Love God in accord with who He is

      1. Because God’s wholehearted commitment to us - “All of You is more than enough for all of me,”

      2. We should give our wholehearted commitment to Him - “All of me for all of You”

      3. Our whole being needs to be brought into accord with God’s whole being

        1. Matt. 5:48: Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Biblical Commentary on the 1st Commandment

  1. In Deuteronomy

    1. The Introduction: 6:1-25

      1. Ch.’s 6-26 are “the commandment, statutes, rules” (& testimonies 4:44) 1-3

      2. The 1st Commandment & its implications introduced 4-9

        1. The 1st Commandment paraphrased: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” 4-5

        2. The statutes & rules must be applied to the heart and life 6-9

      3. Alert to the threefold danger that will lead people away from God: riches of the land 10-12, gods of the land 13-19, self-righteousness rather than the obedience of faith 20-25

    2. The Threefold Danger of Apostasy: 7:1-10:11

      1. Gods of Canaanites 7:1-26

        1. Command: destroy Canaanites, mixed marriages, graven images 1-5

        2. Remember: Not false gods but only the true God chose & will bless Israel 6-16

        3. Command: Do not fear, but utterly destroy the Canaanites 17-26

      2. Riches of the land 8:1-20

        1. Remember: God provided in the desert 1-4

        2. Remember: Canaan is rich in water, soil, minerals 5-10

        3. Remember: Future wealth is a gift from God; forget this and perish! 11-20

      3. Self-righteousness 9:1-10:11

        1. Canaan given not because of Israel’s righteousness, but Canaanites’ unrighteousness 1-5

        2. Israel is not righteous in heart, but stubborn, rebellious 6-10:11

    3. The Threefold Encouragement: 10:12-11:32

      1. The commandment’s positive requirement 10:12-11:7

        1. Fear the Lord, love Him, serve Him, keep His commandments 12-13; 20-22; 11:1

        2. Because God “set his heart in love on” them, they must “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” 14-16

        3. Love their neighbor 17-19

        4. Fear God’s discipline 11:2-7

      2. Prospect of a rich land to be entered by obedience 11:8-17

      3. Obedience must be applied throughout all of life, and will bring blessing. Disobedience will bring a curse. 11:18-32

  2. In the History of Redemption

    1. The Old Covenant Problem

      1. Rebellious, evil heart – Dt. 9:6-10:11; Gen. 6:5 “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

      2. Need & responsibility: A circumcised heart – Dt. 10:14-16; Ezek. 18:31 “Make yourselves a new heart

    2. The New Covenant Promise

      1. God will give a new heart – Ezek. 11:19; 36:26

    3. The New Covenant Fulfillment

      1. God regenerates our hearts by the word & Spirit, so we are “born again,” a “new creation,” a “new man” – John 3:3, 7; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Tit. 3:5; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3, 23

      2. In the final resurrection God will remove our “old man,” the “flesh,” and give us new bodies as well

The Application of the 1st Commandment

  1. Duties Required – WLC 104

    1. Thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him

    2. Believing him

    3. Trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him

    4. Being zealous for him

    5. Calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man

    6. Being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in anything he is offended

    7. And walking humbly with him.

  2. Sins Forbidden – WLC 105

    1. Atheism

    2. Idolatry

    3. The not having and avouching him for God, and our God

    4. The omission or neglect of anything due to him, required in this commandment

    5. Ignorance, forgetfulness, misapprehensions, false opinions, unworthy and wicked thoughts of him

    6. Bold and curious searching into his secrets

    7. All profaneness, hatred of God

    8. Self-love, self-seeking, and all other inordinate and immoderate setting of our mind, will, or affections upon other things, and taking them off from him in whole or in part

    9. Vain credulity, unbelief, heresy, misbelief, distrust, despair, incorrigibleness, and insensibleness under judgments, hardness of heart, pride, presumption, carnal security, tempting of God

    10. Using unlawful means, and trusting in lawful means

    11. Carnal delights and joys

    12. Corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal

    13. Lukewarmness, and deadness in the things of God

    14. Estranging ourselves, and apostatizing from God

    15. Praying, or giving any religious worship, to saints, angels, or any other creatures

    16. All compacts and consulting with the devil, and hearkening to his suggestions

    17. Making men the lords of our faith and conscience

    18. Slighting and despising God and his commands

    19. Resisting and grieving of his Spirit, discontent and impatience at his dispensations, charging him foolishly for the evils he inflicts on us

    20. And ascribing the praise of any good we either are, have, or can do, to fortune, idols, ourselves, or any other creature.


  1. In the end, to keep this commandment is to keep the whole law, and to break this commandment is to break the whole law!

  2. Hence it is quite appropriate Deuteronomy calls this “The Commandment!”

Excursus on the death penalties – Which ones apply today?

  1. Death Penalty for worshiping other gods – God’s right of vengeance was temporarily delegated to a human court

    1. Noahic covenant – universal for all men

      1. In the Noahic covenant God limited human courts to meting out no greater punishment than that which fits the crime. God made this covenant with all mankind, so this limitation applies to all human courts.

        1. Gen. 9:5-6: 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

    2. Mosaic covenant – includes elements particular to the uniquely theocratic nation of Israel

      1. The Noahic limitation on human courts is expressed in the “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” principle called the Lex Talionis, the “law of the tooth.” Its limitation was not rescinded by the Mosaic death penalties, and was applicable to citizens of other nations. The punishment must still fit the crime.

        1. Ex. 21:23-25: 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

        2. Lev. 24:16-22: 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. 17 Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. 21 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.

      2. The sin is against God when someone worships other gods, and the offense committed against God is worthy of death.

        1. Deut. 17:2-3: 2 If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden,

      3. Yet in the Mosaic covenant, the sin’s investigation & punishment were delegated to a human court, which remains under the Lex Talionis’ limitation.

        1. Deut. 17:4-6: 4 and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

      4. The death penalty taught the heinousness - “the evil” - of the offense against God

        1. Deut. 17:7: 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    3. New Covenant

      1. The Lex Talionis limitation still applies in the NT. Personal retaliation is forbidden; only the civil courts may execute the death penalty. But the NT does not give human courts the right to execute the death penalty for offenses against God; rather, it reserves that punishment to be executed by the hand of God alone.

        1. Rom. 12:19 : Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

        2. Hebrews 10:26-31: 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

      2. Christ does not abrogate the principle of justice, but more fully expresses the limitation of our desire for personal retaliation

        1. Matt. 5:38-41: 38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

      3. The pedagogical purpose of the death penalties—to teach how heinous sins against God are—has been accomplished by their OT practice and now consummated in the death of Christ, rendering their practice no longer necessary.

        1. Gal. 3:24: The law was our pedagogue until Christ came

    4. The upshot:

      1. The death penalty for murder is still required, because human courts must execute punishments that fit the extent of the crime’s offense against one’s fellow man.

      2. The death penalties for committing an offense against God are no longer required, because God reserves the right to execute those punishments Himself.

James 1:2-4 - Joy and Trials PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 01 October 2008 02:00

James: A Handbook on Holiness


Joy and Trials

James 1:2-4


General outline of chapter 1:


  1. The Way to Holiness: The Divine Perspective 1:2-27

    1. The Trial-Temptation Complex 1:2-18

      1. The Confrontation with Trials 1:2-8

        1. Joy and Trials 1:2-4

        2. Wisdom and Trials 1:5-8

      2. The Range of Trials 1:9-11

        1. The Trial of Poverty 1:9

        2. The Trial of Riches 1:10-11

      3. The Outcome of Trials 1:12-18

        1. Confidence in Trials 1:12

        2. Defeat in Trials 1:13-15

        3. Victory in Trials 1:16-18


James 1:2-4



2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,


3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.


4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.




  1. What are some ways you often respond to trials?




  2. Are trials a reason for joy? Why? Why not? Notice James says "when you fall into trials."


  1. Why does James say "Count it" all joy in v. 2? Consider Phil. 3:8.


  1. What does it mean to "Count it all joy?" Consider Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28.


  1. What results do trials bring about? Trials produce the t___________________________, which produces s_______________, which makes you p_______________________________. How does each thing produce the next thing?


  1. What is God's goal in your trials, according to v. 4?


  1. What is one better way for you to respond in the next trial you face? _____________________

James - An Outline PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 17 September 2008 02:00

James - An Outline


We'll begin our study of the book of James with an overview of the book as a whole.  The outline below is taken from Henry Krabbendam's commentary, "The Epistle of James," privately published in 1995.


Introduction 1:1

    1. The Author 1:1a

      1. James, the brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19), leader of the Jerusalem church, presided at Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15; Gal. 1:19). Initially skeptical of Christ (John 7:5), but converted when Christ appeared to him after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). Martyred in AD 62, thrown from the pinnacle of the temple.

      2. Date of writing: Probably before the Council in Jerusalem in AD 49; perhaps earliest NT book.

    2. The Addressees 1:1b

      1. Twelve tribes – Luke 22:30; Acts 26:7

      2. Dispersion – 1 Pet. 1:1; Acts 2:9-11; John 7:35

    3. Characteristics

      1. Content: Epistle, sermon, wisdom literature, diatribe, moral exhortation

      2. Construction: Separate preaching units loosely woven together by linked themes? Better: a unified guidebook on holiness.

  1. The Way to Holiness: The Divine Perspective 1:2-27

    1. The Trial-Temptation Complex 1:2-18

    2. The Word of God 1:19-27

  2. The Principles of Holiness: The Biblical Framework 2:1-26

    1. The Law as Substance of Holiness 2:1-13

      1. The Focus upon Partiality 2:1-7

      2. The Nature of Partiality 2:8-13

    2. Faith as the Dynamics of Holiness 2:14-26

      1. Faith and Works 2:14-19

      2. Faith and Justification 2:20-26

  3. The Implementation of Holiness: The Christian Experience 3:1-4:10

    1. The Obstacle to Victory 3:1-9

      1. The Fact of Human Impotence 3:1-5

      2. The Root of Human Impotence 3:6-9

    2. The Nature of Victory 3:10-18

      1. The Rejection of Compromise 3:10-13

      2. The Description of Defeat 3:14-16

      3. The Description of Victory 3:17-18

    3. The Requirements for Victory 4:1-10

      1. Self-knowledge 4:1-5

      2. Godcenteredness 4:6-10

  4. The Range of Holiness: The Fabric of Life 4:11-5:18

    1. The Relationship to "The Other" 4:11-17

      1. Facing your Brother 4:11-12

      2. Facing the Future 4:13-17

    2. The Relationship to Yourself 5:1-11

      1. The Rich 5:1-6

      2. The Poor 5:7-11

    3. The Relationship to the Circumstances 5:12-18

      1. The Description of a Godcentered Attitude 5:12-14

      2. The Effectiveness of a Godcentered Attitude 5:15-18

  5. Conclusion 5:19-20

    1. Instruments of Conversion 5:19-20a

    2. Instruments of Pardon 5:20b-20c

Ex. 20:2 - The Preface to the Ten Commandments PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 31 August 2008 02:00

Note: You may download all study guides in one PDF file here.


Why Study the Ten Commandments?

  1. The Law is Useful!

    1. The Three Uses of the Law

      1. For all men: Reveals God’s holiness & man’s duty and sin – WLC 95

        1. Lev. 11:44-45: Be holy as I am holy.

      2. For the Unregenerate: “Drive them to Christ” - WLC 96

        1. Gal. 3:24: So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

      3. For the Regenerate: “Rule of their obedience” - WLC 97

        1. Titus 2:11-14: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

        2. James 1:25: But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

    2. Though not useful for us to earn our justification – Law & Gospel

      1. Rom. 3:20-22: 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

  2. The Law is a great blessing – Psalm 19

    1. What words do you associate with the word “law?”





      higher authority





    2. David used very different words than these in Psalm 19!

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is
sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are
right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is
pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the LORD is
clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are
true and righteous altogether.
10 More
to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is
And in keeping them there is
great reward.

What Are the Ten Commandments?

  1. The Ten Commandments are the Covenant

    1. They are the Mosaic Covenant

      1. Deut. 4:13: So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.”

      2. Deut. 5:2-3, 5ff: 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. 5 ...He said, 6 'I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 'You shall have no other gods before Me....

      3. Deut. 9:9 : When I went up to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD had made with you....

    2. They are the Covenant of Grace

      1. Because the covenant formula “I am the LORD your God” and “I will be your God, and You will be my people” used to introduce this covenant (Ex. 20:2) is applied equally to the New Covenant.

        1. The formula in God’s name Yahweh: Ex. 3:6, 11 (who am I?), 14 (I AM WHO I AM)

        2. The formula is applied equally to the OC & NC people of God, because those two peoples are one and the same: Ex. 19:5-6; Dt. 7:6-11 (1 Pet. 2:9-10); Ex. 20:2

        3. Both forms of the formula are conjoined in scripture; they express the goal of the Exodus:

          • Lev. 26:12-13: 12 I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

        4. The Mosaic covenant is God’s remembering (and thus the extension of) His covenant with Abraham, which is broadly recognized to be the covenant of grace: Ex. 6:2-7

        5. The formula is applied to the New Covenant in Ezek. 36:25-28 and:

          • Jer. 31:33: But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

          • 2 Cor. 6:16: Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

          • Rev. 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

    3. They are our covenant! They follow the pattern of its structure, and define our obligations within it

  2. Place of the Commandments in History

    1. Given by God

      1. Given to Moses and the people on Mt. Sinai in Horeb (Dt. 1:6; Ex. 20).

    2. Taught by Moses

      1. Moses taught them to the people in Horeb, during their wandering in the desert (Dt. 4:5—happened throughout the text of Numbers), and at the edge of the promised land in the body of Deuteronomy (6-26).

    3. Written in Scripture

      1. They are the covenant God made in Horeb and reconfirmed in Moab. As such the 10 Commandments are the central verbal expression of the covenant-relationship established at the climax of God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt, and reconfirmed in preparation for their entrance into the land He had promised. This is why they are placed at the climax of the story in Exodus, and made the principial structure of the torah-teaching of Deuteronomy (cf. Olson, 1994: 6-22). They draw together, then, the main themes of the Pentateuch, and lay the foundation for Israel’s life in Canaan under Joshua, the judges, David, and the prophets. This covenant then formed the foundational structure of and pedagogue leading to (Gal. 3:24) the New Covenant under Christ.

  3. Important Distinctions: The Moral Law is Summarized in, but more universal than, the Ten Commandments

    1. This distinction in the Shorter Catechism:

      1. WSC 40: The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

      2. WSC 41: The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

    2. In the Westminster Confession: One covenant of grace, the same in substance, in two dispensations

      1. 7.5: This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel

      2. 7.8: There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

      3. 19.5: The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof

      4. 19.7: Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it

    3. Substance & Differentia in the Dispensations of the Moral Law

      1. Moral & Symbolic: Augustine, Theonomy

      2. Moral, Civil, Ceremonial: Thomas Aquinas, Melanchthon, Calvin, WCF 19.3, 19.4

      3. Constitution (universally applicable) & Case Law (situationally-applied)

      4. Lex Talionis & Pedagogical Delegation of Divine Justice

        1. The death penalties’ delegation (Ezekiel 23:24) is pedagogical (Ezek. 23:48-49)

    4. Differentia seen in the Ten Commandments

      1. First Commandment: Context of Polytheism

      2. Second Commandment: Context of Idolatry

      3. Fourth Commandment: Servants, livestock, the exodus

      4. Fifth Commandment: The land of Israel was their inheritance. It expressed the same providential care God shows us & them in giving us the present creation & future new creation.

      5. Tenth: Servants, ox, donkey; “field” added in Dt. applies specially to Canaan

How Should We Interpret the Ten Commandments?

  1. The Rules for Interpreting the Ten Commandments: WLC 99

Question: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the Ten Commandments?

Answer: For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:

1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.1

2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.2

3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.3

4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden;4 and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded:5 so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included;6 and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.7

5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done;8 what he commands, is always our duty;9 and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.10

6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.11

7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.12

8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them;13 and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.14

  1. The Two Tables of the Law

    1. Jesus summarized the law in two halves:

      1. Matt. 22:35-40: 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

    2. Hence WLC 98 explains, “The four first commandments [contain] our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.”

  2. The Issue & Application of Each Commandment

    1. We need to understand each commandment’s central concern—its nucleus—and its correct application

    2. Issue: Henry Krabbendam summarizes the central concern of each commandment this way:

      1. 1: Love God for who he is.

      2. 2: Love God for what he says.

      3. 3: Love God for what he does.

      4. 4: Love God on the day he has set apart.

      5. 5: Love our neighbor by honoring his authority.

      6. 6: Love our neighbor by honoring his life.

      7. 7: Love our neighbor by honoring his wife.

      8. 8: Love our neighbor by honoring his property.

      9. 9: Love our neighbor by honoring his reputation.

      10. 10: Love God and the neighbor from the heart.

    3. Application:

      1. Deuteronomy’s Commentary

        1. Along with a growing line of scholarship,15 and the implication to this effect in Dt. 6:1-3, I believe we must take Dt. 6-26 to be a commentary on the Ten Commandments listed in Dt. 5, such that the order of the Decalogue forms the order of the sections in ch.'s 6-26, and those sections successively explain & apply each commandment.16 I consider the divisions suggested by Jordan and Krabbendam to be correct, that ch.'s 6-11 treat the 1st commandment, 12-13 the 2nd, 14 the 3rd, 15-16:17 the 4th, 16:18-18 the 5th, 19-22:12 the 6th, 22:13-23:14 the 7th, 23:15-24:16 the 8th, 24:17-25 the 9th, and 26 the 10th.

      2. The rest of Scripture and its summary in the WSC & WLC will be brought in to understand each commandment’s application.

The Preface to the Ten Commandments

  1. WLC 101 explains:

    1. Preface

      1. The preface to the Ten Commandments is contained in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    2. God in Himself the source of all else

      1. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works:

    3. Words: God reveals Himself in His covenant

      1. and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people;

    4. Works: God saves His people & requires a response of obedience

      1. who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom;

      2. and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.

1Ps. 19:7; James 2:10; Matt. 5:21–22.

2Rom. 7:14; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37–39, 5:21–22, 27–28, 33–34, 37–39, 43–44.

3Col. 3:5; Amos 8:5; Prov. 1:19; 1 Tim. 6:10.

4Isa. 58:13; Deut. 6:13; Matt. 4:9–10; 15:4–6.

5Matt. 5:21–25; Eph. 4:28.

6Exod. 20:12; Prov. 30:17.

7Jer. 18:7–8; Exod. 20:7; Ps. 15:1, 4–5; Ps. 24:4–5.

8Job 13:7–8; Rom. 3:8; Job 36:21; Heb. 11:25.

9Deut. 4:8–9.

10Matt. 12:7.

11Matt. 5:21–22, 27–28; 15:4–6; Heb. 10:24–25; 1 Thess. 5:22; Jude 23; Gal. 5:26; Col. 3:21.

12Exod. 20:10; Lev. 19:17; Gen. 18:19; Josh. 24:15; Deut. 6:6–7.

132 Cor. 1:24.

141 Tim. 5:22; Eph. 5:11.

15Cf. Schultz (1859: 13ff), Schulz (1966: 151-157), Kaufman (1978: 105-158), Braulik (1991), Kaiser (1983: 127-137), Jordan (1984: 199-206), Hill & Walton (1991: 144-149), Millar (1998: 104-108), and Krabbendam (1997: 49, 130-140). None of the others consulted see the case law of Deuteronomy to be structured this way.

16Merrill (1994) considers this thesis throughout but can perceive only a loose dependence upon the order of the Decalogue.

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