Why Do Catholics And Protestants Have Different 10 Commandments?

When listing the 10 Commandments, Catholics and Protestants have slight differences. While very similar, the difference is instantly noticeable. And even though both listings have solid biblical support, some Protestants use the difference as an opportunity to accuse the Catholic Church of changing the 10 Commandments to support their “idolatrous worshipping of statues”.

Here are the 10 Commandments as numbered by Catholics and Protestants: 

The Traditional Catholic Listing: 

1. I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange Gods before me. 

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day. 

4. Honor your father and mother. 

5. You shall not kill. 

6. You shall not commit adultery. 

7. You shall not steal. 

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. 

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. 

The Protestant Listing: 

1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 

4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. 

5. Honor thy father and thy mother. 

6. Thou shalt not kill. 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

8. Thou shalt not steal 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness. 

10. Thou shalt not covet

So which numbering is correct? Did the Catholic Church change the 10 Commandments to support having statues?

First, it’s important to note that nowhere in the Book of Exodus is there any formula for numbering the Commandments given. The assigning of numbers to the Commandments developed over the centuries as a tool to make them easier to teach and remember. Two of these important early teachers were Saint Augustine and Origen. In their writings, each developed and favored a particular way of numbering the Commandments. It is roughly along these lines the Catholics and Protestants split. Catholics (and Lutherans) generally use the 10 Commandments as listed by Augustine, while the Eastern Churches and Protestants list the 10 Commandments set out by Origen. 

The Catechism 2066 reads: “The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It is also that of the Lutheran confessions. The Greek Fathers worked out a slightly different division, which is found in the Orthodox Churches and Reformed communities.” 

The accusation that the Church changed the Commandments is simply slander that grew out of the vitriol of the Reformation, and the listing 10 Commandments was an opportunity seized on by some to try to undermine the Church. But the fact remains that the numbering of the 10 Commandments is not a rigid Biblical concept, but one developed by scholars and theologians, so regardless of which method is used, the duty to obey them is not changed, and could never be changed. 

The single best way to combat slanders like these about the Church is to become educated ourselves and learn how to defend our Faith against lies or misunderstandings. If you want to learn more about how to defend the Catholics faith or about Biblical Studies, register below to get more information from Steubenville Conferences. 

Steubenville offers a variety of powerful and informative conferences, such as the Defending the Faith Conference, the Saint John Bosco Conference, the Applied Biblical Studies Conference, and more! 

These conferences features leading Catholic apologists – such as Dr. Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Dr. Ted Sri, Patrick Madrid, Mark Hart – who will teach you how to learn, grow in, and defend the faith. Participants learn more than how to win arguments – they learn to win souls. They learn not only how to speak the truth, but how to pass on the faith. They are challenged and empowered to go and take the lead in the New Evangelization with holy boldness, zeal, and love. If you feel called to transform the Church by bringing the strength to defend the Church and witness to the people in your parish, then you will not want miss this opportunity for training, fellowship, and empowerment. 

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