Exodus 20:20

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Exodus 20

Law Analysis overview

20 Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won’t sin.” Exodus 20:20WEB



This passage contains a negative command, directed toward Israel: "Don't be afraid". The reason for the command is given, "for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won't sin".


This command is part of the Principles and Definitions.

The command fits with laws relating to Loving God; it teaches about God's character and how we should understand his expressions of power before us.

The command contributes to an understanding of the Creator-Creation Distinction, making known man's position before God. It also contributes to an understanding of Sin, which is a thing we should avoid on account of our understanding and fear of God's power.Creator-Creation Distinction


This command continues to be obligatory for all mankind (see Matthew 10:28).

There is a noteworthy dichotomy or contrast presented in the command: "do not be afraid, because...God has come to make you afraid..." (paraphrasing). In the sense that we will live into eternity without fear, this passage finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ who reconciles us to God, imputing his own sinless righteousness to us by substitutionary atonement. However, the command arguably remains relevant into eternity, in the sense that we will necessarily remain in fearful awe of God's power for all eternity, and it is precisely because of our complex recognition of God's glory, which God enables us to experience fully in the afterlife by justifying us and glorifying us (Romans 8:30), that we with ease refrain from sin; and so like Moses at the foot of the mount, in the presence of the glory of God, it is ultimately because of our fear of God, which He has instilled in us, that we are enabled to live in the presence of God without fear (this passage).

Notes on Interpretation/Application

Interpretation 1

Interpretation 2