The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
In your recent series of articles on the Ten Commandments, why did you number them differently from the way that I have always been taught?
The Ten Commandments are sometimes misnumbered by men. Some assume the commandment against murder is the fifth commandment, while others recognize it as the sixth commandment. Strangely enough, there were no numerical differences until the fourth century after Christ! It was men that Augustine took it upon himself to devise a new method of numbering the Ten Commandments. He combined the first and second commandments of Exodus 20:1-6 into one commandment in order to allow the use of images and statues in religious worship. The first commandment forbids worship of anything in the place of God. The second commandment is altogether different and forbids bowing down, serving or otherwise using statues in religious services — image worship. There are two kinds of idolatry — and two distinct commandments prohibit these two major sins. Then Augustine deliberately proceeded to divide the tenth commandment of verse 17 into two commandments in order to have the proper number of ten (Deut. 10:4). According to Augustine's mistaken idea, commandment number nine was: "Thou shalt not cover thy neighbor's house." Then, the tenth commandment was: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife..." Augustine's method of numbering the Ten Commandments does not include them all! It completely denies the second commandment — the commandment against bowing down to, and serving images or statues. As a result, many catechisms contain no mention whatsoever of any commandment against use of images of Deity. Notice how the Ten Commandments should be numbered. God has nor left us in darkness. We can know the proper numbering. Open your Bible to Romans 13:9. Here Paul is quoting from the Ten Commandments: "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, THOU SHALT NOT COVET; and if there be any other commandment is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In quoting the Ten Commandments, Paul made no distinction, as Augustine falsely did, between coveting your neighbor's house and coveting his wife. This commandment is one principle — one commandment, In Romans 7:7, he said: "...for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." But the first two commandments refer to two distinct principles. The first commandment forbids the worship of false gods, The second, commandment is an entirely different principle and forbids the use of pictures, images, or statues in worship. Augustine was unjustified in changing the accepted order of the Ten Commandments. It is for this reason that we must reject his order in The PLAIN TRUTH magazine and use the inspired numbering which Jesus, the apostles, and the Jews have always recognized.