Ten Commandments

Why do Lutherans use the version of the Ten Commandments listed in Luther's Catechism? This version omits the commandment about idols and then splits the commandment about coveting into two.

Answer: 

The Hebrew version of the Bible says there are "Ten Words" (Exodus 34:28) but it does not number them. As a result there have long been three systems of numbering.

The system Lutherans use is the same as the numbering of the Catholic church, which Lutherans simply retained.

The system of splitting the 1st Commandment and combining the 9th and 10th is used by most Protestants.

In the third system the first Word is not a commandment but the introductory formula, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt." Then there is one command about idolatry and one about coveting.

The Lutheran version does not skip a command, because if all idolatry is forbidden, obviously worshiping images is forbidden. The case for dividing the coveting command is supported by the fact that these commands are in different order in the two versions of the 10 Words in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21.


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