On the 2nd Commandment

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep my commandments.”

Ex. 20:4-6







Order of Contents

Shorter  1
Longer  2
Latin  4





Heidegger, Johann H. – VI. ‘The Second Commandment’  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. 97





Durham, James – ‘The Second Commandment’  in The Law Unsealed, or a Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments  (†1658), pp. 50-120

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

*** – ‘Whatever Durham has written is very precious.  He has the pen of a ready writer, and indites good matter.’



à Brakel, Wilhelmus – ch. 47, ‘The Second Commandment’  in The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 3  ed. Joel Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout  Buy  (1700; RHB, 1992/1999), pp. 105-19

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



More Expositions of the Second 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





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)

14. An Explication of the Second Precept…  and of shunning images, and of external worship  362

15. Of Images  380

Thesis 1.  It is permitted to us to make no image respecting God by which He is represented.  382

Thesis 2.  It is not prohibited by the law of God that images, of whatever visible thing outside the use of religion, are able to made.  384

Thesis 3.  Images, which have been customarily adored, and hence are able to be easily adored yet by some in churches and chapels where they are customarily set out for worship, ought not to be borne with.  387

To the exucses of the Papists and Lutherans which have images in churches.  397

Thesis 4.  It is not of private men to remove images from churches and public places, but rather of their magistrates which in those places have right and authority.  405

Thesis 5.  They are so to remove images which have been set out for worship that they are not able restored any more in the churches. 410

16. Of the External Worship of God  410

Question 1, Thesis 1.  Although God especially and per se takes pleasure in our internal piety, and certainly pious works, yet not from that thing, but what follows, because of that previous thing, He has even instituted exercises of piety, by which He wills from us worship  411

Question 2.  Whether external worship pertains to the law of nature, or to the ceremonial?  And hence how far those Christian men are bound, and how far they are not bound?

Thesis.  The external worship of God pertains partly to the law of nature unto all gentiles commonly, partly and properly to the specific religion of any people.

Question 3.  What is this external worship of God, and what are its parts?

Thesis 1.  The true worship [cultu] of God is an action proceeding from piety, by which acting from the Holy Spirit, God being adored by the highest reverence, we serve Him from his will revealed in the Word: presenting that which He offers to receive, believing his promises with certain faith, and presenting that which is stipulated from us, having been in turn promised, and which He enjoins, and all that to his glory, to the edification of the Church and our neighbor, and our salvation.  418

[Zanchi defines worship’s four causes in this section, the efficient, material, formal and end causes.]

Thesis 2.  The whole worship of God, by multifold partition, follows.  419

Thesis 3.  The external and ceremonial worship of God is a sacred action proceeding from piety, by which acting by the Holy Spirit, adoring God with the highest reverence, we serve Him from his will revealed in the Word, by words and deeds, receiving sacraments and offering sacrifices, to his glory, the edification of the Church and our salvation.  421

Of the Ceremonial Worship amongst the Jews  421

Of the Sacraments of the Jews  422
Of Circumcision  423
Of the Passover  423
Of the Sacrifices of the Jews  424
Of the Adjuncts of Worship, ie. of Sacred Things  428

Of the External Worship of the Christian Church, which has been laid down in the Sacraments  433

Of Baptism  437
Of the Lord’s Supper  444

Definition of the Supper  445
Explanation of the Definition  446

Of Christian Sacrifices  475

Question 4.  Whether it is lawful for Christians to worship God by other rites than what He has prescribed.  487

Thesis.  No other kind of external and ceremonial worship is permitted to worship God than that which itself is in the sacred letters for us to worship Him by and to serve Him.  488-98

17. Of the Corruptions of the External Part of True Worship  498-547

Thesis 1.  There are two primary corruptions by which in truth worship is defective: the contempt of external religion and by superstition.  494

Thesis 2.  Of Anti-Worship there are Five Species in All  495

Thesis 3.  Sacrilege properly pertains to Anti-Worship  497

Thesis 4.  Simony is a corruption and a sin diametrically fighting with religion, pertaining to anti-worship  498

Of Superstition  501

Thesis 5.  Superstition flows in two primary species: in idolatry and in will-worship  501

Of Idolatry  502

Thesis 1.  Idolatry flows in two primary kinds: in that by which fictitious or (as Scripture speaks) foreign gods are worshipped, and in that by which images of whatever God are worshipped.  508

Thesis 2.  He which by images, whether to the true God or to false representations having been posited, bows himself and worships them, admits idolatry.  509

Thesis 3.  Idolatry is if any, at any time, knows and worships the Spirit for God, yet by what He is not, whom the sacred letters declare is the maker of all things, Elohim in three persons subsisting and having been manifested in the eternal Father, the eternal Son and the eteranl Holy Spirit, one and the same God.  512

Thesis 4.  513

Thesis 5.  513

Thesis 6.  520

Thesis 7.  520

Thesis 8.  523

Thesis 9.  530

Thesis 10.  531

Thesis 11.  533

Thesis 12.  540-47



Polanus, Amandus – ‘Second Commandment’  in A System of Theology  (Hanau, 1609; 1615), vol. 2, bk. 8, ch. 1, col. 2280-2307

Heidegger, Johann H.

Numerals 24-39  in The Marrow of Christian Theology: an Introductory Epitome of the Body of Theology  (Zurich, 1713)  Place 14, ‘Of the Decalogue’, pp. 310-16

Section 2, ‘Of the Decalog’, numerals 20-59  in A Body of Christian Theology, Exhibiting True Doctrine, which is according to Godliness, vol. 1  (Tigur, 1700), Place 14, ‘The Ten Commandments’, pp. 523-41

Heidegger (1633-1698)



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

11. Of the Worship of God & the Regulating Rule of It, pp. 503-688

12. Of the Decalogue, & of Each Precept of It.  The Second, sections 5-8, pp. 714-47

De Moor (1709-1780)




Related Pages

Natural vs. Instituted Worship

Expositions of the 1st Commandment

Expositions of the Ten Commandments


Regulative Principle of Worship

Simplicity of Worship

Order of Worship & Liturgies



Natural Gestures & Customs in Worship; of Reverence

Worship by Distance through Technology