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Anonymous Tobias wrote:

Hi, guys —

Does the word "Commandments" refer to:

  • the Old Testament's Ten Commandments every time it is used in phrases such as "observance of the Commandments" or
  • "Commandments of God" as in the Catechisms or the canons of the Council of Trent?   


  { Does "Commandments" refer to the Old Testament Commandments or the Commandments of God? }

Eric replied:

Tobias —

As a rule, yes, "Commandments" in the Catechisms and the Council of Trent refer to the Ten Commandments.


Tobias replied:

Thanks Eric,

That's good to know.

  • Can you also tell me where did this rule originate from?
  • Are there any more rules in interpreting the Catechisms and canons?


Eric replied:

Tobias —

By "as a rule" I didn't mean there was a literal rule, written or otherwise.

I just meant that generally speaking, more often than not, references to the Commandments are references to the Ten Commandments (or principles deduced from the Ten Commandments).


Bob replied:

Dear Tobias,

Thanks for the question. 

The use typically refers to the 10 Commandments, as popularly understood, but it can also have an expansive sense which included the moral precepts of the Lord; these are apart from the ritual and ceremonial laws of the Jews. 

Precepts such as "love your neighbor as yourself," and "Love the Lord God with your whole heart, mind and soul," form a foundational framework into which the other moral laws would be included. 

The distinction from the ritual laws of the Jews is important, because their binding effect was restricted to the people of Israel for the sake of the covenants God made with them to be "His" people, apart from the other nations. 

The Council of Trent, which takes place in the Christian world, includes the transcendent moral precepts as amplified by Christ.


Bob Kirby
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