Were God’s 10 Commandments abolished in the New Testament? Or does the New Testament continue to teach and uphold all 10 Commandments?
Were the 10 Commandments abolished in the New Testament?
No, many scriptures in the New Testament show that Jesus and the apostles upheld the 10 Commandments, not as “ceremonial legalism” or as a way to “earn” salvation, but as essential laws to govern a Christian’s life. Many scriptures show that every one of the 10 Commandments is reinforced in the New Testament.
Most people acknowledge that Christians should obey most of the 10 Commandments, including those that prohibit worshipping other gods, murder, stealing, adultery and lying—just to name a few of the instructions spoken by God to the ancient Israelites from Mount Sinai. It is only the Fourth Commandment to keep the seventh-day Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) that some claim is not repeated in the New Testament and therefore is no longer required of Christians.
Are all of the 10 Commandments upheld in the New Testament?
The answer is yes, most definitely. To prove this, consider what Jesus Christ taught concerning the commandments and see the following chart showing where each of the 10 Commandments is addressed in the New Testament.
What Jesus Christ taught concerning the 10 Commandments in the New Testament
Jesus Christ consistently upheld the 10 Commandments as given in the Old Testament. In His Sermon on the Mount, He very pointedly stated: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Although some mistakenly think that “fulfill” in this passage means to complete and therefore abolish, what Jesus said afterwards shows this could not be the case.
Continuing, Jesus said: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (verses 18-19).
On another occasion, a man came to Jesus asking, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).
Responding, Jesus said, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother’” (verse 19).
The point Jesus was making was that it should have been obvious to the man that he needed to keep the 10 Commandments. Jesus named enough of them to make it clear that this was the body of law this man needed to observe.
At the same time Jesus was also making the point that this young man wasn’t obeying the commandments as fully as he thought he was. He was guilty of covetousness (prohibited by the 10th Commandment), since he was unwilling to sell all that he had and commit himself to following Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ instruction to obey the 10 Commandments continues to apply to us today.
Jesus summarized the 10 Commandments into two great commandments. The first and great commandment is, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
“And,” Jesus said, “the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (verse 39).
Love of God is the underlying reason we are to keep the 10 Commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Noting the same concept, the apostle John later wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
What the apostle Paul taught about the 10 Commandments in the New Testament
Realizing that Jesus consistently upheld all of the commandments, including observing the seventh-day Sabbath (Matthew 19:17-19; Luke 4:16), some wrongly suggest that it was the apostle Paul, with Jesus’ personal approval, who introduced grace and the abolishment of the law.
This misguided idea that Paul taught against keeping the 10 Commandments is clearly refuted by the apostle himself.
“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good,” said Paul (Romans 7:12). And as for grace, he wrote: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
The 10 Commandments given by God in the Old Testament continue to be God’s expectations of Christians today.The truth is that Jesus did not change His mind about the importance of keeping all of the 10 Commandments. As Hebrews 13:8 states: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
The 10 Commandments in the last book of the New Testament
Toward the end of the first century—some 60 years after His death and resurrection—Jesus revealed end-time instructions through John in the book of Revelation. In this book He identifies faithful members of His Church as those “who keep the commandments of God” (Revelation 12:17).
Some of the final words of the Bible and this revelation of Jesus Christ likewise state: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
The 10 Commandments given by God in the Old Testament continue to be God’s expectations of Christians today.
The 10 Commandments in the New Testament
First Commandment: Jesus affirmed that we are to worship only God (Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8).
Second Commandment: James and Paul confirmed that we are not to worship idols (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Third Commandment: Jesus repeated that we should not use God’s name in a vain manner (Matthew 5:33-37).
Fourth Commandment: Jesus set the example for us of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath (Luke 4:16), as did the apostle Paul (Acts 17:2). After Jesus’ death, the author of the book of Hebrews confirmed that worshipping on this day continues to be expected of Christians (Hebrews 4:9).
Fifth Commandment: Jesus taught that the commandment to honor our father and mother still applies (Matthew 15:4).
Sixth Commandment: Jesus confirmed that the command not to murder is still in force (Matthew 19:18).
Seventh Commandment: Jesus likewise taught that the command not to commit adultery still applies (Matthew 19:18).
Eighth Commandment: Jesus taught that the commandment not to steal continues to apply (Matthew 19:18).
Ninth Commandment: Jesus listed the prohibition against lying as continuing to be in force (Matthew 19:18).
10th Commandment: Jesus and Paul taught that Christians should not covet (Luke 12:15; Romans 7:7).
The 10 Commandments in the Old and New Testaments
The following chart identifies references to the 10 Commandments in both the Old and New Testaments.
For further study, read the articles in this section: “The 10 Commandments and God's Way of Life.”
You’ll also want to see our helpful video series “The 10 Commandments: A Matter of the Heart.”