Summary: An Exposition of the Second Commandment with Emphasis on its Current Appliction


q The first commandment establishes our highest duty to god—to have no other God’s before him—to love him supremely. The next three indicate directions in which this supreme love should express itself. (Leslie B. Flynn)

q The second commandment assumes the existence of God, but forbids the creation of any material thing supposed to represent him in order to assist us in worship.

q The force of the commandment is in its closing words.


I. The First Commandment is based on the fact that God is spirit

A. (John 4:24)

B. It proceeds with a declaration that God is a jealous God (Deut. 5:9a; Exod. 20:5a)

1. Jealousy – “an activity of violence or vehemence that springs from the rupture of a personal bond (as exclusive as that of the marriage bond).”

2. Evil jealousy (Gen. 37:11; I Sam. 18:9; Prov. 6:34, 27:4; Acts 5:17, 13:45, 17:51; Rom. 13:13; I Cor. 3:3, 12:20; Gal. 5:20)

3. God’s jealousy is his love in action

4. God refuses to share the human heart with any rival, not because he is selfish and wants us all for himself, but because he knows that our greatest happiness comes from our right relation to him. It is not intolerance or suspicion but exclusiveness.

5. God’s jealousy is not jealousy of, but jealousy for (N.B. Joel 2:18-19;Zech. 1:14, 8:12; II Cor. 11:2).

C. It ends with a declaration that God is a just God (Deut. 5:9b-10; Exod. 20:5b-6) – iniquity receives its due punishment and righteousness receives its due reward. N.B. God’s judgment extends beyond us to our children and God’s loyalty also extends beyond us to our children.

II. The Significance of the Commandment

A. It forbids Image Worship (N.B. Deut. 4:15-20)

1. An image is an inadequate representation (Isa. 40:12-31)

2. God revealed himself only in human form (John 1:18, 14:9; Col. 1:15)

3. It forbids both the making of idols and the worship of them.

B. It forbids Irregularities in Worship (Lev. 10:1-2)

1. Ulterior motives e.g. keep face, see people

2. Meaningless forms and rituals

3. Worship must be in spirit and truth (John 4:24)

C. It forbids Superstition

1. horoscope, obeah, witchcraft, new age, etc. Putting confidence in anything other than God.

D. It forbids Unenthusiastic Worship

1. Positive command – “You shall bow down to the one true God.” It thus forbids lukewarmness, limpness and lethargy in worship.

2. We should honour God with our bodies (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) – Strength i.e. hands, lips, etc. N.B. (I Cor. 6:19-20).

3. In terms of public worship it presupposes

a. Physical attendance – we must bring our bodies

b. Active involvement in the ministry of the church

E. It forbids Secularism, Irreligion & Prayerlessness

1. The positive command emphasizes the requirement of worship


A. Note. Romans 12:1-2

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