Were the 10 Commandments in Effect before Moses?

Was the Law done away or was it just for the “Jews” or….

Let’s begin in the New Testament and define a few things

Where there is no law….

Romans 4:15…for where there is no law there is no transgression.

Another defining scripture

Not meant to imply there is no law so we can’t sin; of course we can sin;

We can turn this around and say: where there is law there is transgression

In other words the law defines sin

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

(CEV) Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law.

Sin is not just doing bad things but it is going against what God says and what He has defined as right and good.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [this also means if there is no law then there is no death penalty]

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

So, firstly, back to what we read in Romans 4:15 no law then no sin, but we have Paul saying that there was sin so ipso facto there was law. By the very fact that Adam sinned it means that the law was in effect form the very BEGINNING!

We don’t have the death penalty because of Adam but because of what we just read in Romans 6:23 and by the fact of:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

He, like everyone from Adam to Moses to now have all sinned, because they have broken the law

There was no sin in the world until Adam and Eve broke the law

Shows that the law has been around since the beginning of the world, if there was sin at that time. So we see that it was NOT initially given at Sinai in Exodus 20 where the 10 Commandments were written down by the finger of God on tablets of stone.

Sinai was the REGIVING or codification [writing down for the Israelites who had been in slavery for centuries]

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
From Adam to Moses in effect what he is saying here is that the penalty of the law, as well as the law obviously, were in effect from Adam to Moses – it didn’t begin at Mt Sinai.

If it had begun at that time then there could be an argument to be made that it was just for the “Jews” [Israelites] or that the law could be done away with since it was not in effect upon mankind up until that point – so it could then be discontinued at some point. BUT this is NOT the case!

Death reigned because man rejected God and continued to break the law thus committing sin

To sum up what we have seen is that the law was in full force and effect in the time period in question today – between the time of Adam and Moses

Let’s look at some specific examples now of the 10 Commandments being in force before Exodus 20.

I want to begin with the 4th commandment because most professing Christians have no problem with the other nine now and probably at any other time in the history of man. They, I believe, would say that of course it’s a good idea to put God first and not kill your fellow man, even if God didnt give His law until He wrote it on the tablets of stone.

But the Sabbath that’s another story, that’s when they will say that is not in effect, it was just for the Jews, it was not that way from the beginning….


Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I want to bring out twothings contained in the command itself

  1. KEEP
    He did not say to make it holy, He said to KEEP it that way because it was already that way. What does holy mean? Set apart by God for a special reason. God set it apart for us to keep it once a week
    In a similar vein, how were they to remember something that they hadn’t been told before this time? This also implies that this was not something new.

Let’s look at two sets of scriptures that also show that this is the case!

Exodus 16:26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”
Exodus 16:27 Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.
Exodus 16:28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?
Exodus 16:29 See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
Exodus 16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

This was well and truly before the “giving” of the 10 Commandments.

But we have another example that goes back to the beginning that most people skip over because they never see it.

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Genesis 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventhH7637 dayH3117 GodH430 endedH3615 his workH4399 whichH834 he had made;H6213 and he restedH7673 on the seventhH7637 dayH3117 from allH4480 H3605 his workH4399 whichH834 he had made.H6213
Genesis 2:3 And GodH430 blessedH1288 (H853) the seventhH7637 day,H3117 and sanctifiedH6942 it: becauseH3588 that in it he had restedH7673 from allH4480 H3605 his workH4399 whichH834 GodH430 createdH1254 and made.H6213

H7673 shâbath shaw-bath’

Exodus 23:12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.

Exodus 23:12 SixH8337 daysH3117 thou shalt doH6213 thy work,H4639 and on the seventhH7637 dayH3117 thou shalt rest:H7673 thatH4616 thine oxH7794 and thine assH2543 may rest,H5117 and the sonH1121 of thy handmaid,H519 and the stranger,H1616 may be refreshed.H5314

The Sabbath was made by God during the creation week as an example for us. That is what we are to REMEMBER and to KEEP.

Let’s begin with Adam, the man through whom sin entered the world

#1, 5

Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam and Eve broke the First Commandment by putting another god before the Creator God. In doing so, they also broke the Fifth Commandment, by dishonoring their Parent, in the sense that Adam was a created son of God (Luke 3:38).

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.

#8, 10

Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Genesis 3:5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Stealing the fruit
Coveting/Lusting after the fruit

When we look carefully we see how interdependent the law of God is and how one event can encompass many different principles

James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.


Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Genesis 4:8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Genesis 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.
Genesis 4:11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
Genesis 4:12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
Genesis 4:13 And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!
Genesis 4:14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

Cain murdered and also lied.

He was afraid others would exact vengeance and retribution on him for his act


Genesis 27:31 He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that your soul may bless me.”
Genesis 27:32 And his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” So he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”
Genesis 27:33 Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.”
Genesis 27:34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!”
Genesis 27:35 But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.”

Genesis 30:31 So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep your flocks:
Genesis 30:32 Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages.
Genesis 30:33 So my righteousness will answer for me in time to come, when the subject of my wages comes before you: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the lambs, will be considered stolen, if it is with me.”

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
Genesis 3:3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. [lie]


Genesis 35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
Genesis 35:2 And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.
Genesis 35:3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.”
Genesis 35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.


Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
Genesis 39:8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.
Genesis 39:9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

This occurred about 250 years before the law was officially presented to Israel at Mount Sinai!

Abimelech spared „a great sin“ Gen 20:1-9


Leviticus 18:3 According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.

Leviticus 18:4 You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 18:5 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 18:21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 18:26 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you
Leviticus 18:27 (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled),


Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Genesis 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Genesis 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Abraham kept the same laws

In post Exodus 20 scriptures we find the following verse:

Deuteronomy 11:1 “Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge (mishmereth), His statutes (chûqqâh), His judgments, and His commandments (mitsvâh) always.

Notice the exactness of the verbage because these are the same ones that God wrote down for Moses

Genesis 26:5 because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge (mishmereth), My commandments (mitsvâh), My statutes (chûqqâh), and My laws.”

Who was the God of the Old Testament?

He is the one that does not change Hebrews 13:8

He is the one that talked to the young rich man: keep all the commandments, which he said that he did

He is the one that summed up our responsibility to keep the 10 Commandments by loving God and neighbor

He is the one that lived the perfect life keeping all the commands of God


These are not the only examples that show that breaking God’s law has always been wrong.

Human nature does not want to be subject to the law of God

When we understand that it is God’s nature that we are putting on and that it is not burdensome (1 John 5:3) then we should embrace

God does not change and neither does the law that describes His character.  We see that not only were the 10 Commandments in effect before Moses, but that they were indeed in effect since the creation of man