Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Did Jesus Abrogate or Nullify the Ten Commandments?

God's revelations to mankind have passed through several ages or "dispensations."  The dispensation of the gospel, or that of Christianity, followed the dispensation of the law or that of Judaism, and this is stated in several instances of the New Testament (John 1:17, Matt. 11:13, Rom. 5:14, 6:14, Eph. 2:15, Col. 2:14).  These dispensations occur when the church of the previous age has become corrupted due to falsity.  So does this mean that Jesus Christ abolished or nullified the ten commandments contained in the law of Moses?  No it does not.  As explained in the The Fallacy of Salvation and Justification by Faith Alone, just as there are different meaning to the word "works," so there are different meanings to the word law, as follows:
1.  The law refers to the entire Word or scripture, or
2.  The law refers to the first 5 books of Moses, known as the Torah, or
3.  The law refers to the 10 commandments, or
4.  The law refers to the external rituals of the Mosaic law, otherwise known as statutes or ordinances.
There are some who whenever they see the word "law" in scripture they think it refers to any work that one does, which is not true.  The portion of the law that was abrogated are the external rituals of the Mosaic law, #4 in the list above.  Paul uses the word "ordinances" (Eph. 2:15, Col. 2:14) when speaking of the laws that were abrogated, and Paul uses a similar word to describe Jewish rituals elsewhere (Heb. 9:1, 9:10; Rom 2:26).  Jesus also confirmed that it was the external rituals of the law of Moses that were abrogated (Mark 7:14-19, John 4:21-23).  The reason this was so is that the Jews were given many symbolic rituals that were prophetic of the Christian dispensation, or as Paul states, "shadows of things to come" (Heb. 10:1, Col. 2:17).

In the Old Testament these laws are distinguished into commandments, judgments, and statutes.  When one looks at the word statutes in scripture, it is clear that these refer to the external rituals which were abrogated by the coming of Jesus and dispensation of Christianity, which Swedenborg confirms in his analysis of scripture:
“In many passages in the Word, "judgments," "commandments," and "statutes" are mentioned; and "judgments" there signify civil laws, "commandments" the laws of spiritual life, and "statutes" the laws of worship. That "judgments" signify civil laws, is evident from Exodus (xxi., xxii., xxiii.), where the things commanded are called "judgments" because according to them the judges gave judgments in the gates of the city; nevertheless they signify Divine truths, such as are in the Lord's spiritual kingdom in the heavens, for they contain these in the spiritual sense; as can be seen from the explanation of them in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 8971-9103, 9124-9231, 9247-9348). …"commandments" mean the laws of life, especially those contained in the Decalogue, which are therefore called the Ten Commandments; while "statutes" mean the laws of worship which related especially to sacrifices and holy ministrations; and "judgments" mean civil laws; and as these laws were representative of spiritual laws, they signify such Divine truths as are in the Lord's spiritual kingdom in the heavens.” (Apocalypse Explained, n. 946.4)
The ten commandments or Decalogue do not belong among the statues or external rituals, and are not abrogated or nullified by the coming of Jesus.  In fact, Jesus confirmed the 10 commandments when he stated that the two great commandments were to love God and love one's neighbour (Matt. 22:36-40): the first four commandments of the Decalogue concern love towards God, and the last six commandments concern love of the neighbour.  Thus the 10 commandments were put on two tables of stone.  It sums up the Christian life, for Jesus said if one loves him, they would follow the commandments (John 14:15).  Paul confirmed this when he said only the doers of the law are justified (Rom. 2:13, 10:5) and that love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8).  Those who say we are justified by faith alone, without doing anything, are greatly mistaken (see also The False Theological Definition of the word "Grace").


All ten commandments of the Decalogue are repeated in the New Testament, showing that they are not abrogated.  Here is a list (see also The Ten Commandments in the New Testament):

Old TestamentNew Testament
1. Worship the Lord, and none otherEx. 20:2-3;
Deut. 5:6-7
Matt 4:10, 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30; Luke 4:8
2. No idolatryEx. 20:4-6;
Deut. 5:8-10
Acts 15:20, 21:25; Rom. 2:22; 1 Cor. 5:10-11; 6:9-10; 10:7, 14; 12:22 Cor. 6:16Gal. 5:19-20Eph. 5:5; Rev. 9:20
3. Do not take God's name in vainEx. 20:7;
Deut. 5:11
Matt. 5:33-37; 12:31; Mark 7:22; 1 Timothy 6:1; James 2:7
4. Keep the Sabbath Day HolyEx. 20:8-11;
Deut. 5:12-15
Matt. 24:20Luke 4:16, 31, 13:10; Acts 17:1-2; 18:4
5. Honor ParentsEx. 20:12;
Deut. 5:16
Matthew 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 1:29-30; Eph. 6:1-3
6. Do not murderEx. 20:13;
Matt. 5:21-22; 19:18; Mark 7:21; 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 1:29-30; 13:9; Rev. 9:21
7. Do not commit adulteryEx. 20:14;
Matt. 5:27-28; 19:9, 18; Mark 7:21; 10:11-12, 19; Luke 16:18; 18:20; Rom. 2:22, 7:2-3, 13:9
8. Do not stealEx. 20:15;
Deut. 5:19
Matt. 19:18; Mark 7:22; 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9; Eph, 4:28;1 Peter 4:15; Rev. 9:21
9. Do not lieEx. 20:16;
Deut. 5:20
Matt. 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Acts 5:3-4; Rom. 13:9; Eph. 4:25
10. Do not covetEx. 20:17;
Deut. 5:21
Matt. 19:21; Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15; Rom. 1:29; 7:7; 13:9; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3, 5

In the New Church, following the 10 commandments is one of its main pillars of doctrine, the other worshiping one God in one person, Jesus Christ.  There are other Christian organizations that emphasize the 10 commandments: these include the Seventh Day Adventists, Messianic Jews, the Worldwide Church of God, and other Christian organizations known as "Sabbatarian" (see Sabbatarianism).  And this leads us to a very interesting question...


The Sabbath day is Saturday (to be precise, it is Friday evening to Saturday evening), and it is part of the 10 commandments.  So was it abrogated or not?  It is is an interesting question, for it is part of the 10 commandments or Decalogue, and yet many of the Jewish feast days were part of the statutes which were abrogated (see Col. 2:16).  And if it is not abrogated, should we stop Sunday worship?  It has become part of an endless debate between Sabbatarians and those who worship on Sunday.  The argument between the two is unnecessary, and I will explain why.

The external form of Jewish observance of the Sabbath, which was merely a day of idleness and no work, has been abrogated.  The Sabbath, under true Christian worship, is now changed into a day of instruction and doing good towards others.  That the external form of the Jewish worship on the Sabbath was abrogated, is clearly taught by Jesus (see Matt. 12:1-13, Mark 2:23-3:5, Luke 6:1-10).  But throughout the gospels it is clear that for Jesus the Sabbath is a day of instruction in Divine things, and doing good towards others.  Jesus healed on the Sabbath many times (see Luke 13:15-16, 14:1-6, John 5:9-10, 7:22-23, 9:14), which in the spiritual sense means to become spiritually healed by removing evils.  Jesus did not just heal on the Sabbath just to annoy the Jews; he did it to show the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath.  Sabbath means rest, and spiritual rest and peace is achieved when one conquers from laboring against evil and falsity during temptation, and was ultimately fulfilled the day Jesus rested before He rose from the dead.  This is explained by Swedenborg when discussing the spiritual sense of these passages, and is summed up in his work True Christian Religion:
"The six days represented His labors and combats with the hells, and the seventh day His victory over them and thus rest. And because that day was representative of the close of the Lord's whole work of redemption, therefore it was holiness itself. But when the Lord came into the world, and the representations of Him therefore ceased, that day became a day of instruction in Divine things, and thus also a day of rest from labors, and of meditation on such things as relate to salvation and eternal life; as also a day of love toward the neighbor. That it became a day of instruction in Divine things is plain from this, that the Lord on that day taught in the temple and in synagogues (Mark vi. 2; Luke iv. 16, 31, 32; xiii. 10); and that He said to the man who was healed, Take up thy bed and walk; and to the Pharisees, that it was lawful for the disciples on the Sabbath day to gather the ears of corn and eat (Matt. xii. 1-9; Mark ii. 23-28; Luke vi. 1-6; John v. 9-19); by each of which particulars in the spiritual sense is signified to be instructed in doctrinals. That that day became also a day of love toward the neighbor, is evident from what the Lord did and taught on the Sabbath day (Matt. xii. 10-14; Mark iii. 1-9; Luke vi. 6-12; xiii. 10-18; xiv. 1-7; John v. 9-19; vii. 22, 23; ix. 14, 16). From these and the former passages it is plain why the Lord said that He is Lord also of the Sabbath (Matt. xii. 8; Mark ii. 28; Luke vi. 5); and because He said this, it follows that that day was representative of Him." (True Christian Religion, n. 301)
As the Sabbath is now a day of instruction, it becomes a day of rest, but resting from work is not the primary purpose of the Sabbath as it was among the Jews.  In another passage Swedenborg lists those commandments which are binding, those which are optional if considered "useful," and those which have been abrogated (see Heavenly Arcana, n. 9349.4).  The commandment to literally do no work on the Sabbath is one listed as optional if considered useful.  Likewise, the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles are considered optional if seen to be useful.  Thus in the Christian church, Passover is now celebrated as Easter, and Pentecost is celebrated as the day when the Holy Spirit was given.  The feast of the Tabernacles did not become celebrated within Christian tradition, as many do not know that this feast day actually marks the day when Jesus was born, who "tabernacled" among us (John 1:14).


Many are probably surprised that Saturday, not Sunday, is the Sabbath.  Does that mean we should stop worship on Sunday?  No.  In the early Christian church, there was Sabbath instruction followed by a day of worship on Sunday, which was called the "Lord's Day"  which is mentioned in the Apocalypse (Rev. 1:10).  That the early church met on the Sabbath for a day of instruction, followed by a day of worship on Sunday as the Lord's Day, is documented historically in the first four centuries of the Christian church (see the article Lord's Day, and Acts 20:7).  It was only later that church councils stopped Sabbath days of worship.  Thus the argument between Sabbatarians and those who worship on Sunday I see as unnecessarily divisive.  Both days should be honored.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, the apparitions of Mary at Fatima Portugal support the idea of honoring both the Sabbath and continuing to honor the Lord's Day on Sunday.  The angel mentioned a practice to restore a form of Saturday worship once a month in the Catholic Church:
“I shall come to ask... that on the First Saturday of every month, Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.”
Reparation involves confession, communion, the rosary and meditation.  These practices are given by way of permission to the Catholic Church, and other churches should use their free will in their form of worship.  In the New Church, the Sabbath is known to be a symbolic representation of the Divine Human, as well as a state of rest from temptation from evils, but it is also taught it should be a day of instruction.  For instruction to happen, dedicated time must be set aside - and it should be the Sabbath.  Worship honoring the Lord's day on Sunday should continue as well, as it did in the early church.


By the time Jesus came, the power of hell had gained control over humanity, and the entire human race was threatened with damnation as it had become corrupted to the point where it was losing its capacity to do good, as contact with heaven was being cut off by the power of hell.  This is why Paul calls the law one of "sin and death," for mankind was losing its spiritual capacity to fulfill it as it was under the power of hell.  There was no transference of sins, but rather Jehovah took upon a human form to fight against all of hell through the temptations He endured through the human form, until He conquered and reordered heaven and hell.  In such a way, the power of hell was subdued, and God's power through the Holy Spirit became available to mankind.  Through the Holy Spirit, we now live in the spirit through Jesus Christ to live by the 10 commandments.  Thus Jesus fulfilled the law, and did not destroy it (Matt. 5:17-18); and through a spirit of love, the 10 commandments are fulfilled:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
This is the true faith: to live by the 10 commandments, through the grace of the spirit we have now in Jesus Christ.


  1. I've yet to read this post but I will, this is one of the blogs that I enjoy reading. Because of all the religions Swedenborg is the one I wish to be true, mostly for It's lack of cruelty by hell. I am going to kill myself by drinking cyanide which I am currently making, in 2016 I will die, I am only 19. Life is too complicated and I have spent my life focusing on bad things: either my vanity or wealth, or getting mad and arguing about religions and philosophy (until finding Swedenborg, who to me is a dream come true, but I even can't fully believe him because there's so much opposition in the world). Also, I am greatly saddened by the violent history of humanity, I want to escape this confusing reality. Your blog,, and are some of the last blogs I will read.

    1. Barnone67 - For God's sake, please call someone to talk this through. You have your whole life ahead of you, I have gone through some bad times myself. Here is a hotline you can call 1 (800) 273-8255 -(National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Or you can leave a message to me in the contact form. The Psalms speak of many internal battles of temptation against sadness and depression, but the Lord promises He will help those who ask. Here is a personal translation of Psalm 91 which I have been working on:

      He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, (1)
      Shall tarry for the night under the shadow of Shaddai.
      I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress: (2)
      My God, in whom I trust.
      For He shall deliver you from the trap of the fowler, (3)
      From the pestilence of calamity.
      He shall cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you shall have refuge, (4)
      His truth shall encompass you as a shield.
      You shall not be afraid for the dread by night, (5)
      From the arrow that flies by day,
      From the pestilence that walks at dusk, (6)
      From the destruction and demon at noonday.
      A thousand shall fall at your side, (7)
      And ten thousands at your right hand: It shall not come near you.
      Only with your eyes shall you behold, (8)
      And see the recompense of the wicked.
      For You Jehovah are my refuge, (9)
      You have made the Most High your habitation.
      There shall no evil befall you, (10)
      Neither shall any plague come near your tent.
      For He shall give His angels charge over you, (11)
      To keep you in all your ways.
      They shall bear you up in their hands, (12)
      Lest you strike your foot against a stone.
      You shall tread upon the lion and adder, (13)
      You shall trample upon the young lion and the serpent.
      For he had affection upon Me, and I will rescue him: (14)
      I will elevate him, for he has known My name.
      He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: (15)
      I will be with him in adversity.
      I will rescue him, and honour him,
      With length of days I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation. (16)

    2. Hi barnone67,

      I understand that your life seems hopeless right now. But as Doug says, you have your whole life ahead of you, and things will get better. Call the number Doug gave you, or go see a local counselor, minister, or priest whom you trust. Even if it may not seem like it to you, there are people who care about you and want to help you.

      Also, I hate to say it, but as attractive as killing yourself may seem, you won't actually escape from all your problems that way. Please see my article, Does Suicide Work? It is much better to face and work through your struggles here on earth, as terrible as they may seem, and reach out for the help you need to do so.

      You will be glad you did. God still has things for you to accomplish here on earth. That's why he put you here. Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with you.


Comments, questions, corrections and opinions welcome...