Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The First Commandment and Checking Facts

I've recently started working through chunks of Deuteronomy (again), with the help of Gordon McConville's excellent commentary on the book, which seems to be very difficult to get hold of. I had it on order from the publisher for 6 months, gave up, the first two attempts at buying it via Amazon sellers didn't work (they didn't have it, but thought they did), but I eventually got a copy.

It's amazing how badly we can misunderstand common passages simply because preachers don't check their facts. For example, the First Commandment (Protestant numbering) of the 10 says

You shall have no other gods before me.

The standard sermon on that tends to go down the line of saying that God should be our number 1, or something. McConville helpfully points out that "before me" is literally "before my face" and is primarily spatial - it's saying that we shouldn't have any other gods at all in God's presence, rather than just being a weak statement about priorities.

Does that affect most of the sermons I have heard on the topic? No.

Calvin gets it right, in his excellent exposition of the 10 Commandments, though he wasn't working from the English translation...

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