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The Institutes of Biblical Law: Volume 1

R.J. Rushdoony

To attempt to study Scripture without studying its law is to deny it. To attempt to understand Western civilization apart from the impact of Biblical law within it and upon it is to seek a fictitious history and to reject twenty centuries and their progress.

The Institutes of Biblical Law has as its purpose a reversal of the present trend. it is called “Institutes” in the older meaning of the that word, i.e., fundamental principles, here of law, because it is intended as a beginning, as an instituting consideration of that law which must govern society, and which shall govern society under God.

To understand Biblical law, it is necessary to understand also certain basic characteristics of that law. In it, certain broad premises or principles are declared. These are declarations of basic law. The Ten Commandments give us such declarations.

A second characteristics of Biblical law, is that the major portion of the law is case law, i.e., the illustration of the basic principle in terms of specific cases. These specific cases are often illustrations of the extent of the application of the law; that is, by citing a minimal type of case, the necessary jurisdictions of the law are revealed.

The law, then, asserts principles and cites cases to develop the implications of those principles, with is purpose and direction the restitution of God’s order.


Introduction: The Importance of the Law

1. The Validity of Biblical Law

2. The Law as Revelation and Treaty

3. The Direction of the Law

1. The First Commandment

1. The First Commandment and the Shema Israel 

2. The Undivided Word

3. God versus Moloch

4. The Laws of Covenant Membership

5. The Law as Power and Discrimination

2. The Second Commandment

1. The Lawful Approach to God

2. The Throne of Law

3. The Altar and Capital Punishment

4. Sacrifice and Responsibility 

5. Holiness and Law

6. Law as Warfare

7. Law and Equality

3. The Third Commandment 

1. The Negativism of the Law 

2. Swearing and Revolution

3. The Oath and Society

4. Swearing and Worship

5. The Oath and Authority

6. The Name of God

4. The Fourth Commandment

1. The Sign of Freedom

2. The Sabbath and Life

3. The Sabbath and Work

4. The Sabbath and Authority

5. The Sabbath and Law

5. The Fifth Commandment

1. The Authority of the Family

2. The Promise of Life

3. The Economics of Family

4. Education and the Family

5. The Family and Delinquency

6. The Principle of Authority

7. The Family and Authority

8. The Holy Family

9. The Limitation of Man’s Authority

6. The Sixth Commandment

1. “Thou Shalt Not Kill”

2. The Death Penalty

3. Origins of the State: Its Prophetic Offices

4. “To Make Alive”

5. Hybridization and Law

6. Abortion


8. Restitution or Restoration

9. Military Laws and Production

10. Taxation

11. Love and the Law

12. Coercion


14. Dietary Rules

15. Christ and the Law


17. Amalek

18. Amalek and Violence

19. Violence as Presumption

20. Social Inheritance: Landmarks

7. The Seventh Commandment


2. Marriage and Man

3. Marriage and Woman


5. Family Law

6. Marriage and Monogamy


8. The Levirate

9. Sex and Crime

10. Sex and Religion

11. Adultery

12. Divorce

13. The Family as Trustee

14. Homosexuality

15. Uncovering the Springs

16 The Mediatorial Work of the Law

17. The Transvestite

18. Bestiality

19. The Architecture of Life

20. Faithfulness

8. The Eighth Commandment

1. Dominion

2. Theft

3. Restitution and Forgiveness

4. Liability of the Bystander

5. Money and Measures

6. Usury

7. Responsibility

8. Stealing Freedom

9. Landmarks and Land

10. The Virgin Birth and Property

11. Fraud

12. Eminent Domain

13. Labor Laws

14. Robbing God

15. Prison

16. Lawful Wealth . . .

17. Restitution to God

18. The Rights of Strangers, Widows, and Orphans

19. Injustice as Robbery

20. Theft and Law

9. The Ninth Commandment

1. Tempting God

2. Sanctification and the Law

3. The False Prophet

4. The Witness of the False Prophet


6. Perjury

7. Jesus Christ as the Witness

8. False Witness

9. False Freedom

10. The Lying Tongue

11. Slander Within Marriage

12. Slander

13. Slander as Theft

14. “Every Idle Word”

15. Trials by Ordeal and the Law of Nature

16. Judges

17. The Responsibility of Judges and Rulers

18. The Court

19. The Procedure of the Court

20. The Judgment of the Court

21. Perfection

10. The Tenth Commandment


2. The Law in Force

3. Special Privilege

4. Offenses Against Our Neighbor

5. The System

11. The Promises of Law

1. The Use of Law

2. The Law and the Ban

3. The Curse and the Blessing

4. The Unlimited-Liability Universe.

12. The Law in the Old Testament 

1. God the King

2. The Law and the Prophets

3. Natural and Supernatural Law

4. The Law as Direction and Life

5. The Law and the Covenant

13. The Law in the New Testament

1. Christ and the Law

2. The Woman Taken in Adultery

3. Antinomianism Attacked

4. The Transfiguration

5. The Kingdom of God

6. The Tribute Money

7. The Cultural Mandate

8. The Law in Acts and the Epistles .

14. The Church

1. The Meaning of Eldership

2. The Office of Elder in the Church

3. The Christian Passover

4. Circumcision and Baptism

5. The Priesthood of All Believers

6. Discipline

7. Rebukes and Excommunication

8. Power and Authority


15. Notes on the Law in Western Society

1. The New Testament as Law

2. The Implications of 1 Samuel 8

3. Stewardship, Investment, and Usury: Financing the Kingdom of God (by Gary North)

4. The Economics of Sabbath-Keeping (by Gary North)

5. In Defense of Biblical Bribery (by Gary North)

6. Subversion and the Tithe

7. Notes