Were the Ten Commandments Abolished?
Discusses the controversial subject of whether or not the Ten Commandments were done away with at the cross.
Ten Commandments,ordinances,ceremonial law
In Colossians 2:16 it reads “Let no man therefore judge you in meat (offering), or in drink (offering), or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:”. Many people who have read this verse out of context have concluded that this means that the fourth Commandment, which says “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy….”. was abolished at the cross.
Is this really what the Bible is teaching? What do the preceding verses say? Can they shed any light on the validity of this conclusion?
Colossians 2:14 states, “blotting out the handwriting (the only laws written by hand were the ceremonial laws, written by Moses -) of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.”
The ceremonial and sacrificial law was a rigorous system of rites and ceremonies and feasts that were put in place as a shadow of things to come. They pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Whenever an animal was sacrificed and it’s blood was shed, it served as a reminder to the onlookers that someday a Saviour would come and die for their sins. The ceremonial law was symbolically placed in the side of the Ark of the Covenant, to show that it was temporary, and ‘against’ the people. The Ten Commandment law on the other hand, was written in stone by the finger of God, and placed inside the Ark of the Covenant, symbolising its eternal nature.
Luke further clarifies that there is a distinction between the Ten Commandment and Ceremonial laws. Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
James described the Ten Commandment law as a “law of liberty”.
Jesus showed that they were a law of love. John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love”.
As well as being about love, the first four showing us how to love God, and the last six how to love our fellow man, the Ten Commandments also depict aspects of the character of God. In many places the same words are used to describe the nature of God and the nature of the law. For example:
Romans 16:26: God is Eternal – Psalm 111:7-8: The law is Eternal
John 4:24: God is Spiritual – Romans 7:14: The law is Spiritual
Psalm 145:17: God is Righteous – Psalm 119:172: The law is Righteous
Matthew 5:48: God is Perfect – Psalm 19:7: The law is Perfect
Luke 18:19: God is Good – Romans 7:12: The law is Good
Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Just – Romans 7:12: The law is Just
1 John 3:3: God is Pure – Psalms 19:8: The law is Pure
I John 4:8: God is Love – Romans 13:10: The law is Love
I John 1:5: God is Light – Proverbs 6:23: The law is Light
Psalms 48:1: God is Great – Hosea 8:12: The law is Great
Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Truth – Psalm 119:142: The law is Truth
Isaiah 5:16: God is Holy – Romans 7:12: The law is Holy
It seems obvious from the very nature of both the Ten Commandment law and the ordinances, that it was only the Ordinances that were made obsolete at the cross, through the death and resurrection of our Lord.
The Ten Commandments remain as an eternal law of love. Jesus Himself said about the commandment law. Mat 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”.
All Bible references are from the King James Version.