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Does the expression Commandments of God in

Revelation 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.( ESV )

refer to the ten commandments on stone tablets given to Moses?

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  • This question is somewhat ambiguous. — Does "commandments of God" refer to only the Ten Commandments? — or— Does "commandments of God" still include the Ten Commandments in a Christian context? — The answers to these two interpretations could be very different (my own quick summaries would be "no" and "yes"). Dec 10 '20 at 14:56
  • @RayButterworth - about your "yes" answer: is the Sabbath included? Dec 11 '20 at 19:38
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator, given the total lack of biblical authority for changing the sabbath to a different day, yes, the fourth commandment hasn't changed. The Roman Church freely admits this (almost gleefully) in catechism "by keeping Sunday, they [protestants] acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts". Dec 11 '20 at 19:57
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The Greek word "entole" translated "commandment" is used in the following senses:

  • “Commandment” can mean any (or all) of the requirements contained in the Torah (Matt 5:17-19) and the Old Testament more generally. See also Luke 1:6.
  • Matt 22:36, Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment and replies (Matt 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31) that there are two about love (Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18). Neither come from the 10 commandments. Other examples of divine commandments that are not part of the 10 commandments include: John 13:34, 15:10, 12, 1 Cor 14:37, Heb 7:5, 16, 18, 1 John 2:3, 4, 7, 8, 3:22-24, 4:21:5:2, 3, 2 John 4, 5
  • However, the New Testament also explicitly refers to various of the 10 commandments such as, Matt 15:3, 19:17-19, Mark 7:8-10, 10:5-7, 19, Luke 18:20, 23:56, Rom 7:8-13, 13:9, Eph 6:2
  • The word can also mean an order from a human that is unrelated to the Torah: Luke 15:29, John 11:57, Acts 17:15, Col 4:10, 1 Tim 6:14, Col 1:14
  • “Command” or “Commandment” can also mean an instruction from God the Father to Jesus: John 10:18, 12:49, 50, 15:10.
  • In 1 Cor 7:19 Paul distinguishes between the law of circumcision and the commandments of God! There is a similar inference in Eph 2:15 where, again, Paul appears to distinguish between the ceremonial commandments and the “other” (more important?) commandments.
  • In Heb 9:19 it is unclear if the “commandments” are just the ceremonial commandments or the all of the various regulations in the Levitical code.
  • “Sacred Commandment” (2 Peter 2:21) is used as a kind of collective noun for all Christian ethical life. In 2 Peter 3:2 there is a similar use that may allude to John 13:34. See also John 15:10, 12, 1 John 2:2, 3:22-24, 5:2, 3, 2 John 6, Rev 12:17, 14:12.

Thus, Rev 14:10 speaks of the commandments of God which included all the ethical requirements of God, whether found in the Torah or otherwise. Presumably, this does include Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18 as well as the other 10 plus others.

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  • What does 'all the ethical requirements of God' mean ? Paul speaks of 'the righteousness of God' and this is a matter of faith. But what of the 'ethical requirements' ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 13 '19 at 22:42
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    Ethical requirements are those rules that govern our daily lives and interpersonal relationship with each other God - all relationships are governed by some set of rules and the Torah original set these out but the NT gives a new slant to many of them. Ethical requirements do NOT include ceremonial and ritual requirements. Ethical requirements are things like consideration for other's property, respect for marriage, honesty, respect for parents, etc, etc.
    – user25930
    Apr 13 '19 at 23:41
  • @Mac'sMusings So 'ethical requirements' (according to your own definition) means : law.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 14 '19 at 13:24
  • Law yes, but not the entirety of the Torah by any means. Commandments were always part of the law which contained ethical/moral laws, ceremonial laws and civil laws. here I mean only the moral and ethical laws (Rom 2:14-16, 3:27b, 7:21, Gal 6:2, 1 Cor 9:21, Rom 8:7, Heb 8:10, 10:16, Rom 8:2, Rom 3:27, James 1:25, 2:8, 12, Rom 9:31, etc).
    – user25930
    Apr 14 '19 at 21:40
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    @RayButterworth - what about Leviticus 18:23? Is sexual misconduct with animals somehow allowed now? Dec 10 '20 at 14:45
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+100

There are three passages in the Old Testament which make specific reference to the Ten Commandments:

  • And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Exodus 34:28) [KJV]
  • And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:13)
  • And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me. (Deuteronomy 10:4)

In each case the phrase is עשרת הדברים where עשרת is "`eser (ten)" and הדברים is dabar which is literally "words" but is translated as "commandments" given the context.

The LXX renders that phrase either as δέκα λόγους or δέκα ῥήματα:

  • Exodus 34:28: καὶ ἦν ἐκεῗ Μωυσῆς ἐναντίον κυρίου τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας καὶ τεσσαράκοντα νύκτας ἄρτον οὖκ ἔφαγεν καὶ ὕδωρ οὐκ ἔπιεν καὶ ἔγραψεν τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα ἐπὶ τῶν πλακῶν τῆς διαθήκης τοὺς δέκα λόγους
  • Deuteronomy 4:13: καὶ ἀνήγγειλεν ὑμῗν τὴν διαθήκην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἐνετείλατο ὑμῗν ποιεῗν τὰ δέκα ῥήματα καὶ ἔγραψεν αὐτὰ ἐπὶ δύο πλάκας λιθίνας
  • Deuteronomy 10:4: καὶ ἔγραψεν ἐπὶ τὰς πλάκας κατὰ τὴν γραφὴν τὴν πρώτην τοὺς δέκα λόγους οὓς ἐλάλησεν κύριος πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν τῷ ὄρει ἐκ μέσου τοῦ πυρός καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὰς κύριος ἐμοί

It is not obvious to me why a translator would see a difference in Deuteronomy 4:13 and use ῥῆμα rather than λόγος. However, the general sense of both is "word" and so "ten words" or "ten discourses" is intended.

Neither λόγος nor ῥῆμα are used in Revelation:

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
ὧδε ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων ἐστίν οἱ τηροῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)
καὶ ὠργίσθη ὁ δράκων ἐπὶ τῇ γυναικί καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ποιῆσαι πόλεμον μετὰ τῶν λοιπῶν τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς τῶν τηρούντων τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐχόντων τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ

In each case, "commandment" is ἐντολή. This is also the case for "commandment(s) of God" in Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:8-9; Luke 1:6; 1 Corinthians 7:19. Based on how they are identified in the LXX, the "commandments of God" in the New Testament should not be understood to mean only the Ten Commandments.

Conclusion
The commandments of God are not limited to the ten words or the ten discourses. While the Ten Commandments do lay the foundation for man's relationship to God and towards others, the New Testament states they do not include all commandments of God:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:2-3)

An essential commandment of God is love of others. In the Old Testament this is described as love of neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). In the New Testament this grows to love of others (John 13:34) and states the necessity of belief on the name of Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23).

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That verse is in reference to all of the teachings, commands, and instructions including (the 10 commandments) which were given and instructed for the Israelites (including the mixed multitude that dwelt amongst them-Ex 12:38-as there was one law for the homeborn as the stranger Ex 12:49, Lev 24:22) on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17) to follow as you read in subsequent chapters. There are 613 commandments in all (365 Negative & 248 Positive, See Makkot 23b:18... https://www.sefaria.org/Makkot.23b.18?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en).

Reading Revelations 7 & 12 (Ch.7 identifies who are the 144,000 specifically and also mentions a mixed multitude of nations), Zechariah 14 (With an emphasis on verses 16-17: Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkoth is one of the appointed seasons in which all the Israelite males must make their appearance and cannot come empty-handed-Leviticus 23:33-44), Ezekiel 37 19-28, and Matthew 5:17-19 together with Jeremiah 31:31-40 also gives insight to what is in reference to those commandments mentioned in Revelations 14:12.

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Looking at John's other writings in his use of the word entole, he records Jesus saying :

The Father which sent me gave me a commandment, what I should say (in conversation) and what I should speak (in formal statement). And I know that his commandment is life everlasting, John 12 : 49,50.

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life ... and ... take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father, John 10: 18.

Jesus' speech and Jesus' actions were in obedience to the commands of his Father. And of his Father he said :

I love the Father and as the Father gave me commandment, even so do I, John 14 : 31.

I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love, John 15 : 10.

In this same vein John records Jesus commanding the disciples :

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love another ; as I have loved you that ye also love one another, John 13 : 34.

This is my commandment : that ye love one another, as I have loved you, John 15 : 12.

These things I command you, that ye love one another, John 15 : 17.

John, himself, writing about half a century after the resurrection and ascension, says of the Lord Jesus :

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments, I John 2 : 3.

Speaking of God, he says :

And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ and love one another, as he gave us commandment, I John 3 : 23.

And he that keepeth his commandments (that is, the two commandments in I John 3 : 23) dwelleth in him (that is, God) and he in him, I John 3 : 24.

And John further says :

And this commandment we have from him (that is, from context, God), that he who loveth God love his brother also, I John 4 : 21.

I would say that these are the commandments that John writes of in Revelation 12 : 17 and Revelation 14 : 12 and Revelation 22 : 14.

For the disciples of Christ are 'dead to the law by the body of Christ', Romans 7 : 4. They 'are not under the law, but under grace', Romans 6 : 14. The 'law of the Spirit (of life in Christ Jesus) hath made' them 'free of the law of sin and death', Romans 8 : 2. They are 'through the law, dead to the law' that they might 'live unto God' Galatians 2 : 19. The law was merely a 'schoolmaster to bring them to Christ', Galatians 3:24. they are 'led of the Spirit, ye are not under law', Galatians 5 : 18.

And if it be said that all these texts refer 'only to ceremonial law' and that they who are called 'saints' are still under what is termed (but not by scripture) 'moral law' then how on earth can a man be alive to one bit of the law and dead to another bit of ? If he is dead, then he is dead.

The commandments spoken of in Revelation are not the commandments of Moses, they are, undoubtedly, the commands above which Jesus uttered to his disciples whilst he was upon this earth


All references are to the KJV.

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  • Does the "the law of sin and death" refer to the Law of Moses? In these scriptures we see only one "new commandment". In Revelation plural is used "commandments". How do we account for this difference? Apr 14 '19 at 17:04
  • While the book of the laws was kept by the side of the ark of the covenant ( Deuteronomy 31:24-26 ). The tablets of 10 commandments were kept inside the ark. While the book of the Law was written by Moses. The 10 commandments were written by the finger of the LORD (Deuteronomy 9:10). Why were the 10 commandments special? Apr 14 '19 at 17:07
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    @SijuGeorge 1. Believe on his name 2. Love one another. Two commandments. Plural.I would need a whole book to explain your second comment. And I just happen to have such a book :) Yes, the tree of knowledge of good and evil (also called 'law') is a ministry of sin and death.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 14 '19 at 18:23
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    Thank you so much :-) Apr 14 '19 at 19:00
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    @NigelJ - the problem with your analysis is that it quote so selectively instead of looking the entire body of evidence in the NT where "entole" is used in a much wider sense than you suggest.
    – Dottard
    Dec 9 '20 at 22:54
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With the simplicity that is in Christ (2Cor. 11:3), I present the following in an effort to answer the question:

  1. According to Jesus (the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Heb. 3:1), and the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2)), all the Law and the prophets hang on two COMMANDMENTS and there is no commandment greater that THESE:

i) You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and

ii) You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-31). Apostle Paul declared in Romans 13:8-10 saying the LOVE to one another fulfills all the COMMANDMENTS of the law (Exo. 20:12-17), and all are summed up in this saying; and LOVE is the fulfillment of the law.

  1. I believe Jesus’ teaching of Matt. 5: The Beatitudes, Matt. 6: Do Good to Please God, and Matt. 7: Do Not Judge, outlines the details on how to apply those two great COMMANDMENTS.
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The short answer to this question, and I will provide this without any fluff, is yes. It does refer specifically to the 10 commandments.

I could go into dozens of bible texts as to why, but in all honesty, none of that is necessary.

Instead I will refer you to Genesis Chapter 4.

You will remember the story of Cain and Able and particularly Gods question to Cain "where is thy brother?". After Cain answered "am I my brothers keeper" God said, "your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground".

Clearly Cain knew that he had done wrong. There is no question that Cain knew that he had sinned in

  1. Not offering a lamb as a sacrifice
  2. getting angry and quarrelling with his brother,
  3. rising up against, and killing Abel.

Finally, remember Cain's complaint to God that he needed protection least others see he has been cursed and should also kill him too!

This story alone is solid evidence for the existence of the moral law long before Israelites were given them. So the moral laws (ie 10 commandments) are not an Israelite specific institution.

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  • 1
    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. This answer suffers from a complete lack of supporting references - please supply some texts or external references to support your assertions.
    – Dottard
    Dec 10 '20 at 9:38
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    It does have references...did you not read Genesis Ch 4? I provided a summary of that passage.
    – Adam
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:35
  • @Dottard - Adam forgot to flag you, so I'm doing it instead. Dec 11 '20 at 19:41
  • @Adam - you are making a generalization fallacy, you are taking a specific case (Abel's assassination), which only gives you evidence that killing is wrong, and then arbitrarily generalizing that to the ten commandments, and even worse, arbitrarily claiming an alleged equivalence between a so-called "moral law" and the ten commandments, completely forgetting that there are 613 and 1050 commandments in the OT/NT respectively Dec 11 '20 at 19:48
  • @Adam You are correct in classifying Abel as being one of the "saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." Does anyone think that they can exclude Abraham--more than 400 years before Moses-- from that list of saints? Can anyone say that Job, who adamantly stated in Job:19:25, "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:" did not keep those commandments THROUGH his faith in Jesus' works--as every believer in Christ does--through faith--not through their own works. Dec 14 '20 at 4:42
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Does the expression “Commandments of God” in Revelation 14:12 refer to the ten commandments on stone tablets given to Moses?

In short to your question, the answer is "NO", Why?

The Mosaic Law blotted out.

John was writing to the Christian congregations which were not under the Law, hence the expression "Commandments of God” does not refer to the ten commandments given to Moses.

The Scriptures clearly state that Christ’s sacrifice abolished the Mosaic Law of commandments consisting of decrees, and nail it to the cross. Nine of the Ten Commandments given to Moses were adopted into the Christian scriptures-the observance of the Sabbath was not included as a Christian requirement. (Read Acts 15:28-29)

Colossians 2:13-14 NASB

13 And [a]when you were dead [b]in your wrongdoings and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our wrongdoings, 14 having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Romans 10:4 NASB

4 For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Then,what did John mean by the "Commandments"?

Then, what did John mean by the "Commandments"?

1/ The Greatest Commandments:

When one of the scribes approached Jesus and ask," Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered,

Mark 12:29-31 NET

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is: ***‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love[d] the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’[***e] 31 The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

2/ Worship God alone.

Jesus gave his Apostles and followers many commandments to observe, one of the foremost was to worship God and Him alone.

Matthew 4:10 NASB

10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and [a]serve Him only.’”

3/ Excercise faith in Jesus Christ:

For our faith to be acceptable to God, we must exercise in Jesus Christ which gives us a righteous standing before God.

Galatians 2:16 NET

16 Yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ[and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Some of the commandments to be found in his Word the Bible, are :

4/ Forbids sexual immorality, idololatry and drunkness.

1 Corinthians 5:11 NET

11 But [a]actually, I [b]wrote to you not to associate [c]with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person.

5/ Do not Steal, do not lie

Ephesians 4:28 NASB

28 The one who steals must no longer steal; but rather he must labor, producing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with the one who has need.

Colossians 3:9 NASB

9 Do not lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices,

Conclusion:

Under inspiration Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

16 All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for [b]rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man or woman of God may be [c]fully capable, equipped for every good work.

Note Paul said all Scriptures are inspired by God, this must include the entire Bible. Actually, the two parts of the Bible complement each other, blending harmoniously to develop an overall theme. Observing God's commandments in His Word the Bible involves living in harmony with the teachings and moral standards found in both OT and NT

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  • "The Scriptures clearly state that Christ’s sacrifice abolished the Mosaic Law …". I'd strongly disagree with this statement. In fact, they clearly state that it is the debt (our lives) we owe for having broken the law that was nailed to the cross, not the law itself. Dec 12 '20 at 14:56
  • Ray Butterworth :God gave the nation of Israel the Law, with its many features. " They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order."(NIV Hebrews 9:10 ) When the Law led a remnant of Israelites to accept Jesus as the Messiah, or Christ, it had fulfilled its purpose. Thus, Paul declared: "For Christ is the end of the Law.”NIV .(NET Romans 10:4) Galatians 3:19-25; 4:4, 5. Dec 12 '20 at 17:05
  • Hebrews 9:10 is talking about specific ceremonies where priests took blood offerings into the inner tabernacle, symbolizing sacrifice for sins. This represented Jesus's actual sacrifice, following which those particular ceremonies were no longer necessary. Dec 12 '20 at 19:10
  • It says applying until the time of the new order,God foretold that, in time, he would replace the Law covenant with “a new covenant” that would allow for sin to be forgiven completely, which was not possible under the Law. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) When would that replacing occur?Jeus in the presence of God, he, as Mediator of the new covenant, could present the value of his ransom sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:23, 24) This opened the way for a new covenant to be inaugurated in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Dec 12 '20 at 19:25

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