On the 1st Commandment

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Ex. 20:3

“I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee…”

Gen. 17:1-2

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart…”

Dt. 4:4-6



Order of Contents

Shorter  20
Longer  20
Latin  15



Shorter Expositions


Luther, Martin

‘The First Commandment’  in ‘The Ten Commandments’  in The Large Catechism

‘Introduction: the First Commandment’  in Ten Sermons on the Catechism  (1528)  in Luther Works  ed. & trans. John W. Doberstein  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 51:137-41

sections 9-17  in Treatise on Good Works  (1520)  trans. W. A. Lambert  in Luther Works, ed. James Atkinson  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), 44:30-39

Melancthon, Philip

p. 54  in ‘Divine Laws’  in ‘The Law’  in Melanchthon & Bucer  (1521 ed.)  ed. Wilhelm Pauck  (Louisville: WJKP, 1969)

‘The First Command in the Ten Commandments’  in ch. 7, ‘Of Divine Law’  in Melanchthon on Christian Doctrine, Loci Communes, 1555  trans. Clyde L. Manschreck  (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), pp. 85-91

Calvin, John

Institutes, bk. 2, ch. 8, section 16, ‘First Commandment’

The sermon on the 1st Commandment appears not to have been preserved in Calvin’s, Sermons on the Ten Commandments.

Commentary on Exodus, ch. 20, verse 3

Cranmer, Thomas – ‘The First Sermon’  in A Short Instruction Concerning the Ten Commandments  (d. 1566; Oxford, 1829), pp. 7-16  English reformer

Bullinger, Henry – pp. 209-22  of ‘Of God’s Law & of the Two First Commandments of the First Table’  (†1571)  in The Decades, 2nd Decade



Estey [Estye], George – pp. 40b-41b  in An Exposition upon the Ten Commandments  (1603)  in Certain Godly & Learned Expositions upon Diverse Parts of Scripture as they were Preached…

Estey (1560-1601) was a reformed Anglican.

Granger, Thomas – ‘The First Commandment’  in The Tree of Good and Evil: or a Profitable and Familiar Exposition of the Commandments…  (London, 1616), pp. 1-5

Granger (1578-1627) was reformed.

Bunny, Francis – pp. 4-29  of An Exposition of the Commandments  in A Guide unto Godliness, or, A Plain and Familiar Explanation of the Ten Commandments, by Questions and Answers…  (1617)

Bunny was a reformed prebendary in the Church of England, in Durham.

Elton, Edward

‘The First Commandment’  in An Exposition of the Ten Commandments of God wherein the principal and most material doctrines are set down  (1623), pp. 1-11

pp. 6-26  of God’s Holy Mind Touching Matters Moral, which Himself uttered in Ten Words, or Ten Commandments in God’s Holy Mind Touching Matters moral which Himself uttered in Ten Words, or Ten Commandments. Also Christ’s holy mind touching prayer…  (1625)

Ames, William – The Marrow of Theology  tr. John D. Eusden  (1623; Baker, 1997), bk. 2

ch. 1, ‘Observance in General’, pp. 219-24
ch. 2, ‘Virtue’, pp. 224-32
ch. 3, ‘Good Works’, pp. 232-36
ch. 4, ‘Religion’, pp. 236-40
ch. 5, ‘Faith’, pp. 240-45
ch. 6, ‘Hope’, pp. 245-50
ch. 7, ‘Charity or Love’, pp. 250-54
ch. 8, ‘The Hearing of the Word’, pp. 254-58
ch. 9, ‘Prayer’, pp. 258-67

ch. 12, ‘Testing God’, pp. 275-78

Ames (1576-1633) was an English, puritan, congregationalist, minister, philosopher and controversialist.  It’s possible Ames is understanding chs. 10-11 on Oaths and Lots to fall under the 1st Commandment too, insofar as an oath is taking God to be our God in a way only God can be, and lots were a revelation of God’s will for our obedience.

Ames spent much time in the Netherlands, and is noted for his involvement in the controversy between the reformed and the Arminians.  Voet highly commended Ames’s Marrow for learning theology.

Wolleb, Johannes – ch. 3, ‘Of Virtues or Works belonging to the First Commandment’  in Abridgment of Christian Divinity  (London, 1626), bk. 2, pp. 322-29

Wolleb (1589–1629) was a Swiss reformed theologian.  He was a student of Amandus Polanus.

Willet, Andrew – ‘Of the First Commandment’  in Hexapla in Genesis & Exodus…  (d. 1621; 1633, London), pp. 271-80

Downame, George – ‘The First Commandment’  in An Abstract of the Duties Commanded, & Sins Forbidden in the Law of God  (1635)  20 pp.  no page numbers

Ussher, James – pp. 212-21  in A Body of Divinity, or the Sum & Substance of Christian Religion Catechistically Propounded & Explained by Way of Question & Answer…  (London, 1645)

Ussher (1581–1656) was the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656.  He was a prolific scholar and church leader.

Fisher, Edward – ‘Commandment 1’  in Part 2 of The Marrow of Modern Divinity  (1646), pp. 272-77

Despagne, Jean – ‘The First Commandment’  in New Observations upon the Decalogue…  (London, 1652), pp. 41-48

Despagne (1591-1659) was a French, reformed minister.

Leigh, Edward – ch. 2, ‘Of the First Commandment’  in A System or Body of Divinity…  (London, 1654), bk. 9, ‘Of the Moral Law’, pp. 758-66

Leigh (1602-1671) was an English lay writer, including on theology, and a Westminster divine.  He was also a politician that sat in the House of Commons from 1645 to 1648.  He served as a colonel in the Parliamentary Army during the English Civil War.

Barrow, Isaac – ‘1st Commandment’  in ‘An Exposition of the Decalogue’  in A Brief Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Decalogue…  (d. 1677; London, 1681), pp. 80-90

Barrow (1630-1677) was an Anglican Christian theologian and mathematician who discovered the fundamental theorem of calculus.  Isaac Newton was a student of his.

Leighton, Robert – ‘Precept 1’  in An Exposition of the Ten Commandments  (†1684)  in Works, vol. 3, pp. 116-22

Leighton was one of the few good and godly bishops in late-1600’s Scotland.

Watson, Thomas – ‘Of the First Commandment’  in Body of Practical Divinity  (†1686), pp. 244-51

Heidegger, Johann H. – V. ‘The First Commandment: its Root & Branches’  in The Concise Marrow of Theology  trans. Casey Carmichael  in Classic Reformed Theology, vol. 4  (Reformation Heritage Books, 2019), Locus 14, ‘On the Decalogue’, p. 96



Vos, Johannes – On the 1st Commandment  in The Westminster Larger Catechism, a Commentary  ed. G.I. Williamson  (1946-1949)

Vos was a mid-western pastor in the RPCNA.



Longer Expositions


Hooper, John – ch. 4, ‘The First Commandment’  in A Declaration of the Ten Holy Commandments of Almighty God…  (1548), pp. 37-69

Musculus, Wolfgang – ‘The First Commandment’  in Common Places of the Christian Religion  (1560; London, 1563), pp. 36b-40b

Vermigli, Peter Martyr – ch. 4, ‘Of Idolatry, forbidden by the First Commandment’  in The Common Places of Vermigli  (1576/1583), pt. 2, pp. 307-33

Vermigli (1499-1562) was an Itallian born reformed theologian.

Babington, Gervase – ‘The First Question’  in A Very Fruitful Exposition of the Commandments by way of Questions & Answers…  (1583), pp. 1-83

Babington (1549–1610) was a bishop in the Church of England.

Knewstub, John – ‘The Second Lecture’  in Lectures of John Knewstub, upon the Twentieth Chapter of Exodus…  (1584), pp. 21-46

Knewstub was a moderate puritan, a follower of Thomas Cartwright and was proposed to succeed William Whitaker.



Dod, John & Robert Cleaver – ‘The First Commandment’  in A Plain & Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments…  (1603; 15th ed. 1622), pp. 27-58

Whately, William – ‘The First Commandment’  in A Pithy, Short and Methodical Opening of the Ten Commandments  (1622), pp. 3-42

Whately was a preacher at Banburie in Oxford-shire.

Barker, Peter – ‘The First Commandment’  in A Judicious & Painful Exposition upon the Ten Commandments…  (1624), pp. 35-75

Barker (1597-1624) was a reformed minister in Dorsetshire, England.  ‘Painful’ in the title referred to taking great pains and labor to expound the text.

Andrewes, Lacelot – ‘The Exposition of the First Commandment’  in A Pattern of Catechistical Doctrine at large; or a Learned & Pious Exposition of the 10 Commandments  (d. 1626; 1675), pp. 83-191

Andrewes (1555-1626) was an Anglican, Calvinistic bishop of Worchester.

Weemes, John – Exercitations 5-8  ToC  in An Explication of the Moral Law, the First Table  (1632), pp. 28-58

Weemes was a Scottish divine.

Durham, James – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me’  in The Law Unsealed, or a Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments  (†1658; London, 1675), pp. 28-50

Durham was a leading Scottish covenanter during the 2nd Reformation in Scotland.

Towerson, Gabriel – ‘The First Commandment’  in An Explication of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments, with reference to the Catechism of the Church of England…  (London, 1677), pp. 43-97

Towerson (c.1635-1697) was an Anglican clergyman and theological writer.

Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology  ed. James Dennison Jr.  (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 2, 11th Topic, The Law of God

Question 7, ‘Is God alone to be worshipped and invoked?  Or is it lawful to invoke and religiously worship deceased saints?  We affirm the former and deny the latter against the papists.’, pp. 38-47

Question 8, ‘Should the bodies of saints and relics be adored with religious worship?  We deny against the papists.’, pp. 47-51

Turretin (1623–1687) was a Genevan-Italian, reformed, scholastic theologian.

Hopkins, Ezekiel – ‘The First Commandment’  ToC  in An Exposition of the Ten Commandments  (1692), pp. 58-125

Hopkins was an Anglican divine who was a bishop in Derry, Ireland.



à Brakel, Wilhelmus – The Christian’s Reasonable Service  ed. Joel Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout  (1700; RHB, 1992/1999)

vol. 3, ch. 46, ‘The First Commandment’, pp. 84-105

vol. 4, ch. 92, ‘Concerning the Temptation Toward Atheism, or the Denial of God’s Existence’, pp. 193-99

a Brakel (1635-1711) was a contemporary of Voet and Witsius and was a major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation.

Edwards, John – ‘The First Commandment’  in Theologia Reformataor, The Body & Substance of the Christian Religion…  (1713), vol. 2, pp. 304-24

John Edwards (1637–1716) was an influential reformed Anglican during the early 1700’s, and the son of Thomas Edwards, who wrote the famed book ‘Gangraena’ in the 1640’s.

Hole, Matthew – Discourses 4-5  in A Practical Exposition of the Church Catechism  (†1730), vol. 2, pp. 388-401

Hole (1640-1730) was a divine in the Church England.  See a short bio here.

Boston, Thomas – ‘Of the First Commandment’  ToC  in An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion in Works  (†1732), vol. 2, pp. 92-126

Boston was a minister in the Church of Scotland.

Ridgley, Thomas – Questions 103-106  ToC  in A Body of Divinity  (d. 1734), vol. 2, pp. 316-27

Ridgley (1667-1734) was a reformed, English Independent, who was the assistant and successor of Thomas Gouge in London.



Plumer, William – ch. 14, ‘The First Commandment’  in The Law of God as Contained in the Ten Commandments, Explained & Enforced  (Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1864), pp. 104-167



More Expositions of the 1st Commandment

In Biblical Commentaries.  See on Ex. 20:3:

Whole Old Testament Commentaries  60

Whole Old Testament Commentaries  11

Old Testament Commentaries  see commentaries on the Pentateuch (6) and on Exodus (9)


In Catechisms & Commentaries Thereon

Heidelberg Catechism  Questions 91-115

See also Commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism

Westminster Shorter Catechism  Questions 39-82

See also Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism  151

Westminster Larger Catechism  Questions 91-152

See also Commentaries on the Larger Catechism (4) and Commentaries on the Westminster Confession and Catechisms  (3)


In Systematic Theologies

Many systematic theologies (especially from the Reformation and Puritan eras) contain an exposition of God’s Moral Law, the 10 Commandments.  See:

Every Reformed Systematic Theology Online





Bullinger, Henry – ‘An Explication of the First Table’  in A Catechism Written for Adults, about the First Principles of the Christian Religion  (1559; Zurich, 1563), pp. 10-12

Ramus, Petrus – 3. ‘Of the First Precept, unto the Worship of God’  in Commentary on the Christian Religion  (Frankfurt, 1576; 1594), bk. 2 [Of the Decalogue], pp. 104-11

Ursinus, Zacharias – ‘First Command’  in Theological Places  in Theological Works, vol. 1  (d. 1583; Heidelberg, 1612), cols. 682-89

Zanchi, Girolamo – Of the Fall of the First Man, of Sin & of the Law in The Theological Works, vol. 4 (d. 1590; Stephanus Gamonetus, 1613)

ch. 12. Of the First Precept  234

Of the First Precept, and of the virtues and vices which are referred to it  234
Of faith  240
Thesis 1.  Faith is a virtue given to us from God…  241
Thesis 2.  The genus of faith is even twofold: living, and that perpetual, and dead faith, and that temporary  241
Thesis 3.  Faith is again divided into living, then dead, in the habit and act  242
Thesis 4.  Twofold even is the act of faith: interior, or (as the Scholastics say) elicited, and exterior, or commanded  242
Thesis 5.  So truly we are bound to believe the Word of God, even thus to hear and understand it  243

Of unbelief, and of its actions
Thesis 1.  Unbelief, or infidelity, is an innate vice after the first sin of man…  243
Thesis 2.  So there are four principal species of unbelief: Gentilism, Judaism, Heresies, Apostasy  244
Thesis 3.  The unbelief of Jews is more grave than that of Gentiles, and that of heretics than that of Jews, and that of apostates than that of heretics  245
Thesis 4.  245
Thesis 5.  246
Thesis 6.  247
Of the Knowledge of God  248
Thesis 1.  We are taught to know God by the law of nature; we are also so bound by the written law of God  249
Thesis 2.
Thesis 3.
Thesis 4. There are truly three reasons by which God…
Thesis 5.  And so the knowledge of God is divided by a multifold partition…  251
Thesis 6.

Of the Ignorance of God
Thesis 1.  Ignorance of God is not only a punishment of sin and a cause of sin, but even is sin  252
Thesis 2.  256
Thesis 3.  Though truly all ignorance of God is sin, notwithstanding one is greater and more grave than another  257
Thesis 4
Thesis 5  258

Of Righteousness  259
Thesis 1.  Righteousness is a virtue…  259
Thesis 2.  Righteousness in general and particular follows

Of Unrighteousness  261
Thesis 1.  General unrighteousness is an innate vice after the sin of Adam…

Of Gratitude
Thesis 1.  Hence gratitude to God is a virtue…
Thesis 2.

 ch. 13, Of Religion and truly of worship and its parts  263

Thesis 1.  True religion, which is the same as [Greek] eusezeia, piety, is placed in, certainly, the true worship of God, both the external, yet most of all, the internal  264

Thesis 2.  The one true religion is only that one knows and worships Jehovah  266

Thesis 3.  True religion is that one worships God by no other worship than that which He Himself has declared he wills to be worshipped by, even the true piety of the soul.  266

Thesis 4.  The interior worship of God is maintained by many parts…

Of Adoration
Thesis 5.  Only the true God is to be adored with religious adoration.

Of the fear of God  274
Thesis.  Only the true God, Jehova, is to be feared simply and per se, and to be worshipped with a pious fear.

Of Trust  281
Thesis 1.  281

Of Mistrust  284
Of Hope  286
Thesis 1.  One is to hope in God alone simply and per se, and from Him alone to expect every good, especially most of all eternal life.

Of Desperatione & Fearfulness, the vicious opposers of hope  292
Thesis 1.  Desperation is a vice arising from infidelity…

Of Patience  294
Thesis 1.  295

Of Impatience  303
Of the Love of God  304
Thesis.  Only God (properly speaking) is to be loved by us.  304

Of the Hatred of God  310
Of Invocation  311
Thesis.  Out of the invisible spirits, only God is to be invoked simplicter by us for all things.
A Response to the sophisms of the Papists for the invocation of the saints  322
Thesis.  336

On Presenting Obedience to God  341
Thesis 341
Explanation  344

Of Disobedience  347
Of Idolatry  355
Thesis 1.  357
Thesis 2.  359
Thesis 3.  360
Thesis 4.  361-62



Bachoff, Reinhard – Decalogue, or the Ten Precepts, Q. 94-95  in Catechism of the Christian Religion, which is Taught in the Churches & Schools of the Palitinate  (Hanau, 1603), pp. 398-423

Bachoff (1544-1614)

Tilen – An Ordered Arrangement of Theological Disputations held in the Academy of Sedan, vol. 1  (1607, 1611)

37. The First Precept of the Decalogue, First Disputation, which is of Faith  307
38. The Same, Second Disputation, which is of Hope  316
39. The Same, Third Disputation, which is of Love  324-33

Polanus, Amandus – ‘First Commandment’  in A System of Theology  (Hanau, 1609; 1615), vol. 2, bk. 8, ch. 1, cols. 2274-80

Mylius, Conrad – Questions 95, section 3  in Catechetical Essays, or Homilies in the Heidelberg Catechism  (Hanau, 1618), 829-43

Maresius, Samuel – The Hydra of Socinianism Expunged, vol. 2  (Groningen, 1651), bk. 4

8. Decalogue & even of the First Command  506
9. Prayers  512
10. In what way God is to be worshipped in Christ, and first of the worship of Christ  533
11. Invocation of Christ  537-65

Leydekker, Melchior – 6. ‘Of the Commandments of the First Table’, sections 7-22  in A Synopsis of the Christian Religion  (Utrecht, 1689), bk. 3, pp. 192-96

Braun, Johannes – Ch. 4, ‘Of the First Three Precepts’, sections 1-2  in The Doctrine of the Covenants, or A System of Didactic & Elenctic Theology  (Amsterdam, 1691), pt. 4, Locus 17, p. 429

Marck, Johannes à – A Compendium of Christian Theology, Didactic & Elenctic  (Amsterdam, 1696; 1722)

11. ‘The Worship of God and the Rule of His Law’   200
12. ‘The Decalogue and of Each of its Precepts’, sections 1-4  229-32

Marck (1656-1731)

van Mastricht, Petrus – Theoretical & Practical Theology…  new ed.  (Utrecht, 1724), The Idea of Moral Theology

Book 1, of the Observance of Faith in General

Prologue  1202
1. Of the Obedience of Faith, & Obedience  1203
2. Of the Study & the Neglect of the Law  1203
3. Of the Keeping & the Neglect of Conscience  1204
4. Of Knowledge & Ignorance  1205
5. Of Humility & Pride before God  1205
6. Of the Fear & Scorn of God  1206
7. Of Zeal & Lukewarmness  1207
8. Of Sincerity & Hypocrisy  1208
9. Of Virtue & Vice [Vitio]  1209
10. Of Prudence & Imprudence  1210
11. Of Vigilance & Somnolescence  1211
12. Of Fortitude & Infirmity  1212
13. Of Confidence & Timidity  1213
14. Of Constancy & Levity  1214
15. Of Patience & Impatience  1215
16. Of Temperance & Intemperance  1216
17. Of Good & Bad Action  1217

Book 2, of Religion

1. Of Piety & Impiety  1219
2. Of Faith & Unbelief  1221
3. Of the Profession of, & the Denying of the Faith  1222
4. Of Hope & Desperation  1223
5. Of the Love & Hatred of God  1224

Heidegger, Johann H.

The Marrow of Christian Theology: an Introductory Epitome of the Body of Theology  (Zurich, 1713), Locus 14, ‘Of the Decalogue’

4-5.  Of the Love of God  302

18-23.  Of the First Precept of the Decalogue  307

Place 14, ‘The Ten Commandments’, section 2, numerals 3-14  in A Body of Christian Theology, Exhibiting True Doctrine, which is according to godliness, vol. 1  (Tigur, 1700), pp. 517-22

Heidegger (1633-1698)



De Moor, Bernard – A Continuous Commentary on John Marck’s Compendium of Didactic & Elenctic Christian Theology, vol. 2  (Leiden, 1761-71)

ch. 11, ‘Of the Worship of God & the Regulating Rule of It’  503
ch. 12, ‘Of the Decalogue, & of Each Precept of It’, sections 2-4  694-714

De Moor (1709-1780)




“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

Isa. 45:22

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.”

Mt. 22:37-38

“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.”

Rom. 11:36




Related Pages

Natural vs. Instituted Worship

Expositions of the Ten Commandments

Expositions of the Second Commandment


Regulative Principle of Worship

Simplicity of Worship

Order of Worship & Liturgies


Natural Gestures & Customs in Worship; of Reverence

Worship by Distance through Technology