Expositions of 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



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)

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



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 – On the 1st Commandment  in Institutes of Elenctic Theology  ed. James Dennison Jr.  (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 2

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 First Commandment’  in The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 3  ed. Joel Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout  (1700; RHB, 1992/1999), pp. 84-105

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




“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




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