Deuteronomy 4:2
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
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(2) Ye shall not add unto the word.The word, not “the words.” The word is the substance of the Law. The words in which it is expressed may be more or less. The law of Moses contains in it the germ of all revelation to the very end.

Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you — By desiring other doctrines, or ways of worship, than what I have taught or prescribed. For this were to accuse me of want of wisdom, or care, or faithfulness, in not giving you sufficient instructions for God’s service. Neither shall ye diminish aught from it — By rejecting or neglecting any thing which I have commanded, though it seem ever so small; but take my word, as it is, for your sole rule and guide in things temporal and eternal.

4:1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.The general entreaty contained in this chapter is pointed by special mention and enforcement of the fundamental principles of the whole covenant Deuteronomy 4:9-40, the spiritual nature of the Deity, His exclusive right to their allegiance, His abhorrence of idolatry in every form, His choice of them for His elect people. Compare further Moses' third and last address, Deuteronomy 27-30. 2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you—by the introduction of any heathen superstition or forms of worship different from those which I have appointed (De 12:32; Nu 15:39; Mt 15:9).

neither shall ye diminish aught from it—by the neglect or omission of any of the observances, however trivial or irksome, which I have prescribed. The character and provisions of the ancient dispensation were adapted with divine wisdom to the instruction of that infant state of the church. But it was only a temporary economy; and although God here authorizes Moses to command that all its institutions should be honored with unfailing observance, this did not prevent Him from commissioning other prophets to alter or abrogate them when the end of that dispensation was attained.

Ye shall not add, by devising other doctrines or ways of worship than what I have taught or prescribed; see Numbers 15:39,40 Deu 12:8,32 1 Kings 12:33 Proverbs 30:6 Matthew 15:9; for this were to accuse me of want of wisdom or care or faithfulness in not giving you sufficient instructions for my own service.

Neither shall ye diminish, by rejecting or neglecting any thing which I have commanded, though it seem never so small.

Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, nether shall you diminish ought from it,.... Neither make new laws of their own, and join them to the law of God, and set them upon a level with it, or prefer them before it; as the Scribes and Pharisees did in Christ's time, who by their traditions made the word of God of none effect, as do the Papists also by their unwritten traditions; nor abrogate nor detract from the law of God, nor make void any part of it: or else the sense is, neither do that which is forbidden, nor neglect that which is commanded; neither be guilty of sins of omission nor commission, nor in any way break the law of God, and teach men so to do by word or by example; not a jot or tittle is either to be put to it, or taken from it, Proverbs 30:5.

that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you; in his name; or which he delivered unto them as his commandments, and which were to be kept just as they were delivered, without adding to them, or taking from them.

Ye shall {b} not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye {c} diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

(b) Think not to be more wise than I am.

(c) God will not be served by halves, but will have full obedience.

2. Ye shall not add unto the word … neither … diminish from it] So Deuteronomy 12:32 [Hebrews 13:1], cp. Jeremiah 26:2, Revelation 22:18 f. That the Law was tampered with in Josiah’s day is implied in Jeremiah 8:8, the false pen of the scribes has wrought falsehood. Our verse and Deuteronomy 12:32 have been interpreted as if the deuteronomic law gave itself forth as the full, final letter of the Divine Revelation. This is not so: cp. its promise of a new prophet like to Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15 ff.

which I command you] Again the participle, am about to command. Sam. and Luc. add this day.

Deuteronomy 4:2The observance of the law, however, required that it should be kept as it was given, that nothing should be added to it or taken from it, but that men should submit to it as to the inviolable word of God. Not by omissions only, but by additions also, was the commandment weakened, and the word of God turned into ordinances of men, as Pharisaism sufficiently proved. This precept is repeated in Deuteronomy 13:1; it is then revived by the prophets (Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:6), and enforced again at the close of the whole revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). In the same sense Christ also said that He had not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17); and the old covenant was not abrogated, but only glorified and perfected, by the new.
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