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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 29

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Exodus 20:5–6

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism – part 29

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?

Answer: We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

Pulling It Together

While the effects of sin may linger a while, the steadfast love of God endures forever (Psa 136:1-26). That is the idea in the idiom: “a thousand generations.” It is like saying, “a million years.” Who would count that high? It would take forever. God loves with a steadfast, forever love those who love him and keep his commandments. This is another way of stating the first commandment.

We are to believe in God alone, and not have any other gods. We are to believe in the name—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and have the names of no other gods upon our lips (Psa 16:4). The great and first commandment condenses it all to: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37–40).

The Apostle John makes the great commandment quite clear. “This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23). Keeping the commandments boils down to loving God’s Son—loving God himself—and one another, just as Jesus commanded. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

The love of God remains forever upon those who so love.

Prayer: Help me love my neighbor, Lord, as I love you and as you have loved me. Amen.

Click here for resources to learn the Ten Commandments.

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