Part 1: The Ten Commandments

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The Small Catechism

by Dr. Martin Luther
As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.

The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment  
You shall have no other gods.
What does this mean?
We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment
You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice witchcraft, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon Him in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.

The Third Commandment
You shall keep the day of rest holy.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not despise our parents and superiors, nor provoke them to anger, but honor, serve, obey, love and esteem them.

The Fifth Commandment
You shall not kill.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do no bodily harm to our neighbor, but help and befriend him in every need.

The Sixth Commandment
You shall not commit adultery.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we lead a chaste and de­cent life in word and deed, and that husband and wife each love and honor the other.

The Seventh Commandment
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his goods and means of making a living.

The Eighth Commandment
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The Ninth Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not craftily seek to gain our neighbor’s inheritance or home, nor get it by a show of right, but help and serve him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not tempt, force or coax away from our neighbor his wife or his workers, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

Conclusion
What does God say about these commandments?
I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth genera­tion of those who hate Me, and showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who transgress these command­ments. Therefore we should fear His wrath and do nothing against these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. There­fore we should also love and trust in Him and willingly do ac­cording to His commandments.

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