What Did the Apostle Paul Teach About the Ten Commandments?


Many believe that the Apostle Paul did away with the Ten Commandments, but is that what the Bible teaches?  What did the Apostle Paul actually teach about them?

What Paul actually taught about the ten commandments are shown here in green.

There is only one only scripture that uses the “nailed it to the cross” expression (AV/NKJ), it is Colossians 2:13-14, in which Paul states, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross“. Were the ten commandments the “requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us”? Let us examine the scriptures to see.

Commandment 1: Paul said, “God, who made the world and everything in it…they should seek the Lord” (Acts 17:24,27). Paul also said, “I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law” (Acts 24:14). “But then indeed, when you did not know God, you served those things which by nature are not God” (Galatians 4:8). “And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:16). “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Commandment 2: “we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols” (Acts 15:20). “Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols…Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said…’God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything‘” (Acts 17:16,22,24-25). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is…an idolater” (I Corinthians 5:11). “Neither… idolators…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). “And do not become idolaters as were some of them…Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (I Corinthians 10:7,14). “And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?” (II Corinthians 6:16). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…idolatry” (Galatians 5:19,20). “For this you know that no…idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “Therefore put to death…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “you turned to God from idols” (I Thessalonians 1:9).

Commandment 3: “they are all under sin…Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:9,14). “Let all…evil speaking be put away from you” (Ephesians 4:31). “But now you yourselves are to put off all Thessalonians e:…blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:20). But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…blasphemers” (II Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 4: “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures…And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 17:2;18:4 see also 13:14,27,42,44). “let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28) and “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: ‘If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat‘” (II Thessalonians 3:10); (recall that the requirement to work is also part of the Sabbath command, thus even that portion of the commandment is repeated in the New Testament.) “And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?” (Hebrews 3:18). “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’” (Hebrews 4:4). “There remains therefore a rest (literally sabbatismos, ‘Sabbath rest’) for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10).

Commandment 5: “being filled with all unrighteousness…disobediant to parents” (Romans 1:29,30). “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). “the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6). “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…disobediant to parents” (II Timothy 3:1,2).

Commandment 6: “being filled with all unrighteousness…murder” (Romans 1:29). “You shall not murder” (Romans 13:9). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…murders” (Galatians 5:19,21). “the lawless and insubordinate…murders…manslayers” (I Timothy 1:9).

Commandment 7: “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality” (Romans 1:29). “So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress” (Romans 7:3). “You shall not commit adultery” (Romans 13:9). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral” (I Corinthians 5:11). “Neither… adulterers, nor homosexuals…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (I Corinthians 6:18). Nor let us commit sexual immorality as some of them did” (I Corinthians 10:8). “Now the works of the flesh are evident…adultery, fornication” (Galatians 5:19). “For this you know that no fornicator…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “the lawless and insubordinate…fornicators…sodomites” (I Timothy 1:9,10). “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

Commandment 8: “You shall not steal” (Romans 13:9). “nor thieves…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10). “I have been…in perils of robbers” (II Corinthians 11:25-26). “Let him who stole, steal no longer” (Ephesians 4:28).

Commandment 9: “You shall not bear false witness” (Romans 13:9). ‘I do not lie” (Galatians 1:19). “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). “Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3:9). “the lawless and insubordinate…liars…perjurers” (I Timothy 1:9,10). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy” (I Timothy 4:1-2). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…slanderers” (II Timothy 3:1,3). “God, who cannot lie” (Ti 1:2). “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).

Commandment 10: “being filled with all unrighteousness…covetousness” (Romans 1:29).”You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7). “You shall not covet” (Romans 13:9). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is…covetous” (I Corinthians 5:11). “nor covetous…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10). “we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted” (I Corinthians 10:6). “you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). “For this you know that no fornicator…nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “Therefore put to death…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness” (I Thessalonians 2:5). “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

Notice that Paul clearly warns about not keeping each of the ten commandments.

Paul also wrote “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). He also warned that those who break various of the ten commandments will not inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:4-5) and then said, “Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of Thessalonians e things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).

Some have been confused about some of Paul’s writings, but as Peter warned, “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of Thessalonians e things in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures” (II Pet 3:15-16). Perhaps the most confusing to some is, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle the wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

It is clear that Paul could not be talking about the ten commandments as he mentions parts of at least eight of them as still being in existence in the same book (see above, the other two are alluded to as well, Ephesians 5:31–anger, which is like murder according to Jesus; plus the comment about being a prisoner of the Lord also would show the first commandment, Ephesians 4:1)

While some may try to reason around what Paul wrote, it is a fact that early Christians did believe that they needed to keep the Ten Commandments (for detailed proof, see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church).  And real Christians believe that today.

Some articles of possible interest may include:

The Apostle Paul He was an apostle, early Christian leader, and wrote more books of the New Testament than anyone else.  Do you know much about him?
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.

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