What is the Tenth Commandment?


Introduction

Most of the answers below come from Luther’s Small Catechism. The Lutheran church numbers the commandments differently than most Protestant denominations1, which is why the title of this article refers to the tenth commandment, but the answers below list indicate ninth and tenth.

Tenth Commandment

  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. (Exodus 20:17 ESV)
  • And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s (Deuteronomy 5:21 ESV)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. What does this mean?2

We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

What do you understand by the term neighbour?3

Not only kindred and friends, or those connected with us by any necessary tie, but also those who are unknown to us, and even enemies.

What is coveting?4

Coveting is having a sinful desire for anyone or anything that belongs to our neighbor. (Romans 7:8; Matthew 15:19)

What coveting does God forbid in the Ninth Commandment?5

God forbids every sinful desire to get our neighbor’s possessions openly or by trickery (Micah 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 6:8-10)

Bible narrative: Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and got it in a way which only seemed right. (I Kings 21:1-16)

What does God require of us in the Ninth Commandment?6

We should be content with what God has given us and assist our neighbor in keeping what God has given that person. (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5)

Bible narrative: Paul overcame coveting (Acts 20:32-35)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. What does this mean?7

We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

What coveting does God forbid in the Tenth Commandment?8

God forbids every sinful desire to take from our neighbor that person’s spouse or workers. (Luke 12:15; Colossians 3:5)

Bible narratives: David coveted Uriah’s wife and took her. (2 Samuel 11:2-4) Absalom estranged the hearts of the people from David. (2 Samuel 15:1-6)

What does God require of us in the Tenth Commandment?9

We should be content with the helpers God has given us and encourage our neighbor’s helpers to be faithful to our neighbor. (Philippians 2:4)

Bible narrative: Paul returned a runaway slave to his master Philemon. (Philemon 1)

What does God particularly impress upon us in the last two commandments?10

  • In God’s sight evil desire, coveting, is indeed sin and deserves condemnation (Genesis 3:6; James 1:14-15)
  • God wants us to love Him and to have holy desires (Psalms 37:4; Psalm 119:35-36; Philippians 4:8)

Footnotes

  1. Why Are The Ten Commandments Numbered Differently?
  2. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529)
  3. Geneva Catachism (1545), Question 221.
  4. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 63.
  5. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 64.
  6. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 65.
  7. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529)
  8. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 66.
  9. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 67.
  10. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 68.

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