What Is The 1st (First) Commandment In The Bible?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the first commandment in the Bible?  Was it the same one that Jesus spoke about?

Exodus 20:1-3 “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.'”

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments have been the foundational structure of many nations of the world for the last several thousand years. Sadly, liberals are trying to remove them from the public square, even though, if kept, the public would be the greatest beneficiaries but the Ten Commandments were not only introduced to the nation of Israel but first of all Moses. Soon after Israel was freed from the harsh bondage of their Egyptian taskmasters, God gave them His holy Law at Mount Sinai. Moses went up the mountain and received this from God Himself. They were tablets of stone with Ten Commandments written in them, presumably by God Himself. The fact that their Author, God, is eternal and that they were written on stone indicates their permanence.They were nothing like the Mosaic Laws written on parchment that has long ceased to exist. These are eternal commands, not just for Israel, but for all people.  The Commandments tell us about the holiness of God and His righteousness.  When would “thou shall not murder” ever be irrelevant in our society?  I hope never!

What Is The 1st First Commandment In The Bible

Do we Worship Idols?

The Ten Commandments are both vertical and horizontal. What I mean is that the first four Commandments are directed upward and relate between God and man. The last six are horizontal and apply to our relationships with mankind. This doesn’t mean that the last six are less or more important. They all are, but there does seem to be a ranking or prioritizing in the order in which they are given.  For example, every Jew knows that the Lord their God is One. They are not to have any other gods before the One, True God (Ex 20:2-3). To put any other god before the True God is idolatry and God will not leave unpunished those who worship idols, however this Commandment is still relevant because we can have our own idols. They could be sports, cars, money, or self but anything that supersedes God, is an idol.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Anything that is valued more than God is an idol and as the Reformer, John Calvin rightly said, and I paraphrase, “our hearts are idol factories.”  Has any human being ever kept the First Commandment?  No, I don’t think so, and certainly not me.  Only Jesus was without sin.

The First and Greatest Commandment

Jesus obeyed every law of God and that includes the Ten Commandment and speaking of them, He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matt 22:37-38). The Second Commandment, next in priority, was as Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39).  That might have surprised a lot of the Jews who were still living under the Old Covenant and they sought to keep themselves set apart from anyone that wasn’t a Jew. This wasn’t a matter of external our outward and visible rituals and ordinances like those in the Mosaic Law.  It is a command straight from Jesus’ lips and is applicable to every, single one of us. Jesus never told the Jews it was, “You shall love your fellow Jew as yourself,” but that everyone is our neighbor, as shown by Jesus in Luke 10:25-37 in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ point is that our neighbor is anyone we meet today or at any time, and we are to love them as we love ourselves, but nothing is greater than the Commandment to love “God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Thankfully, we are saved by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8-9) because it’s not humanly possible to keep the First and Greatest Commandment that Jesus gave.   Just because we can’t keep it perfectly doesn’t excuse us from striving to keep God’s Law.

Our Duty

We can never be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments but a saved person should have the desire to do so.  Jesus did say that if we truly loved Him, we would keep His commandments (John 14:15) and the Apostle John defines love as this; “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).  Every person that’s been born again has had heart surgery where they’ve been given a new heart after God removed the stony heart. The old heart has been replaced with a softer, more pliable heart so when we are living in obedience to God’s commands, then we dare not boast or brag about it since “when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).


The First Commandment is listed first because God knows our hearts (Jer 17:9) and that it’s our nature to create other idols that we put in front of or before God, so the order of first importance is to put God first and He will take care of everything else (Matt 6:33).  Our duty is to put God first, strive to live a life that is pleasing to God, and then leave everything else up to Him, knowing that whatever happens in our life, it’s going to be okay (Rom 8:28-29).

Another interesting article for you: Are The Ten Commandments Still Relevant Today?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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