Are the Ten Commandments a Table of Contents?

law moses ten commandments

The Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, have long been recognized as the foundation of biblical morality. However, when viewed through the lens of the New Testament, we discover that these ancient laws serve as a remarkable table of contents, pointing us to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Christ: The Fulfillment of the Law

Jesus Himself declared, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). In His life, death, and resurrection, Christ perfectly fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law, offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our transgressions (Hebrews 10:12).

The Two Great Commandments

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by summarizing the Ten Commandments into two categories: loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:37-40). This reveals a deeper structure within the Ten Commandments, with the first four focused on our relationship with God and the last six addressing our relationships with others.

The Vertical Commandments: Loving God

  • No other gods: Christ, the Son of God, perfectly embodied devotion to the Father (John 5:19).
  • No idols: Jesus, the image of the invisible God, became the ultimate object of our worship (Colossians 1:15).
  • Honoring God's name: Christ demonstrated reverence for the Father's name, teaching us to pray, "Hallowed be Your name" (Luke 11:2).
  • Remembering the Sabbath: Jesus, our Sabbath rest, invites us to find true rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30). He never negates the Sabbath (or any laws). 

The Horizontal Commandments: Loving Others

  • Honoring parents: Christ, the obedient Son, honored His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father (Luke 2:51).
  • No murder: Jesus expanded this commandment, calling us to lay down our lives for others (John 15:13). He raises the bar. 
  • No adultery: Christ, the bridegroom, demonstrates perfect faithfulness to His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27).
  • No stealing: Jesus, who was rich, became poor for our sake, giving us the riches of His grace (2 Corinthians 8:9).
  • No false witness: Christ, the truth incarnate, bore witness to the truth and called us to do the same (John 18:37).
  • No coveting: Jesus, who had everything, emptied Himself and became a servant for our sake (Philippians 2:5-8).

The Heart of the Matter

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounds upon the Ten Commandments, revealing that God is concerned not only with our outward actions but also with the attitudes of our hearts (Matthew 5-7). Through His teaching, Christ calls us to a higher standard of righteousness, one that can only be attained through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.


When viewed through the lens of Christ, the Ten Commandments come alive as a beautiful table of contents, guiding us to the One who perfectly fulfilled the law on our behalf. As we seek to follow Christ and live out these timeless principles, we discover the joy of loving God and loving others, reflecting the character of our Savior to a watching world.

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