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  Ascension Lutheran Church
Luther's Small Catechism

Part One - The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt have none other gods but me
BCP Contemporary: You shall have no other gods but me.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect, love, and trust God more than anything else. 

The Second Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not invoke with malice the Name of the Lord your God.
Alternative: You must not misuse your God's name.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will not use God's name to curse, swear, cast a spell, lie or deceive, but will use it to call upon God, pray to God, praise and thank God in all times of trouble

The Third Commandment

Traditional: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Or: Thou shalt sanctify the Holy Day.
BCP Traditional: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
BCP Contemporary: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.


Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will not look down on preaching or God's Word, but consider it holy, listen to it willingly, and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
BCP Traditional: Honor thy father and thy mother.
BCP Contemporary: Honor your father and your mother.
Alternative: You must honor your father and mother [so that things will go well for you and you will live long on earth].

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will neither look down on our parents or superiors nor irritate them, but will honor them, serve them, obey them, love them, and value them.

The Fifth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not kill.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt do no murder.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not commit murder.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will neither harm nor hurt our neighbors' bodies, but help our neighbors and care for them when they are ill.

The Sixth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not commit adultery.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that our words and actions will be clean and decent and so that everyone will love and honor their spouses.

The Seventh Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not steal.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not steal.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not steal.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will neither take our neighbors' money or property, nor acquire it by fraud or by selling them poorly made products, but will help them improve and protect their property and career.

The Eighth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not be a false witness.
Alternative: You must not tell lies about your neighbor.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbors' reputations, but will defend them, say good things about them, and see the best side of everything they do.

The Ninth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not covet.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Alternative: You must not desire your neighbor's house.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will not attempt to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or house, take it by pretending to have a right to it, etc., but help them to keep and improve it.

The Tenth Commandment

Traditional: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
BCP Traditional: Thou shalt not covet.
BCP Contemporary: You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Alternative: You must not desire your neighbor's spouse, servant, maid, animals or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must respect and love God, so that we will not release our neighbors' cattle, take their employees from them or seduce their spouses, but urge them to stay and do what they ought to do.

The Conclusion to the Commandments

Q. What does God say to us about all these commandments?

A. This is what God says:

``I am the Lord Your God. I am a jealous God. I plague the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who hate me with their ancestor's sin. But I make whole those who love me for a thousand generations.'' (Exodus 20:5b-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9b-10)

Q. What does it mean?

A. God threatens to punish everyone who breaks these commandments. We should be afraid of God's anger because of this and not violate such commandments. But God promises grace and all good things to those who keep such commandments. Because of this, we, too, should love and trust God, and willingly do what God's commandments require.

  Originally translated in 1994 by the Rev. Robert E. Smith; language significantly altered.
Public domain.
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