18 January 2004
Matthew 19:17-19, Deuteronomy 10:4 & Romans 3:8
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 41. Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.41. Where is the moral law summarised?
A. The moral law is summarised in the ten commandments.
1. What do we mean by “summarily comprehended?”
We mean that the sum and the chief heads of the law are therein contained. The moral law is more fully set forth in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
2. When was the moral law first published?
The moral law was first published when God wrote it on the heart of Adam.
3. Where are the ten commandments found in Scripture?
The ten commandments are found in the twentieth chapter of Exodus and in a slightly different form in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy. However, the differences are very minor and include nothing essential.
4. How are the commandments divided?
We divide them today as “ten commandments” as was done by the Greek Church in early days. There is also the division of the duties towards God and those duties towards our fellowman.
5. Could we say that the ten commandments includes all of the moral law?
We could say that the ten commandments are an amazingly comprehensive summary of the moral law. They include both things required of the inward man and of the outward behaviour. Within them there is an amazing teaching in that if a sin is forbidden, in the words of God there is a duty commanded.
6. How can we have a better understanding of the ten commandments?
Our Larger Catechism in answer to Question 95 gives us certain rules for a right understanding of the commandments. It would be good for all of us to memorise all eight of the rules given and the proof texts too. Too many of us are woefully ignorant of these eight rules, rules that, rightly applied, will indeed lead us to a closer walk with our God, all to His glory.