From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The word ‘ordinance’ is used in the Revised Versionto translate four different Greek substantives: (1) δικαίωμα ( Romans 1:32;  Romans 2:26;  Romans 8:4,  Hebrews 9:1;  Hebrews 9:10); (2) διαταγή ( Acts 7:53,  Romans 13:2); (3) δόγμα ( Ephesians 2:15,  Colossians 2:14); (4) κτίσις ( 1 Peter 2:13). The Latin Vulgate in these passages renders δόγμα by decretum, κτίσις by creatura, δικαίωμα by iustificatio or iustitia, διαταγή by dispositio and ordinatio. δικαίωμα is also used to signify a righteous act ( Romans 5:16;  Romans 5:18,  Revelation 15:4;  Revelation 19:8), δόγμα is translated ‘decree’ in  Acts 16:4;  Acts 17:7 and ‘commandment’ in  Hebrews 11:23. The only Evangelist who uses either word is St. Luke ( Luke 1:6;  Luke 2:1). The verb δογματίζεσθε (‘submit yourselves to ordinances’ [Revised Version], decernitis [Vulg.[Note: Vulgate.]]) is found in  Colossians 2:20. Clement uses δικαίωμα three times (ad Cor. ii., xxxv., lviii.). In the first and third of these passages it is coupled with πρόσταγμα; in the second he is quoting the Greek (Septuagint) version of  Psalms 50:16. He has three other words which might be translated ‘ordinance’: (1) νόμιμα (ad Cor. i.); (2) διάταξις (ib. xxxiii.); (3) δεδογματισμένα (ib. xx.; cf.  Colossians 2:20). The verb διέταξε, ‘he ordained,’ occurs once (ib. xx.). ‘The δόγμα of the Gospel’ as a practical rule of conduct occurs in the Didache, xi. Ignatius speaks of being ‘established in the δόγματα of the Lord’ (Magn. xiii.) and has the verb διατάσσομαι, ‘I ordain,’ three times (Eph. iii., Trall. iii., Rom. iv.). The substantive derived from it (διάταγμα) occurs in Trall. vii.

The conception of an ordinance seems to be primarily something which is recognized as obtaining in practice. The authority upon which it rests may be Divine, as when it is applied by Clement to the laws of nature, which earth, sea, sky, and all living creatures must obey; or it may be primarily human, albeit ultimately Divine, as in  1 Peter 2:13. The usage is not absolutely uniform, but as a rule the Divine sanction of an ordinance seems to be less direct than the immediate command of God Himself. Thus the Law is spoken of as being the ordinance of angels ( Acts 7:53). An ordinance is generally a human deduction from a Divinely-revealed premise rather than the actual premise itself. When Ignatius says ‘I ordain,’ it is with reference to his personal authority, which is not irrefragable (cf. the distinction drawn by St. Paul in  1 Corinthians 7:25).

R. H. Malden.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Δικαίωμα (Strong'S #1345 — Noun Neuter — dikaioma — dik-ah'-yo-mah )

see Justification , No. 2.

A — 2: Διαταγή (Strong'S #1296 — Noun Feminine — diatage — dee-at-ag-ay' )

is translated "ordinances," in  Romans 13:2 . See Disposition.

A — 3: Δόγμα (Strong'S #1378 — Noun Neuter — dogma — dog'-mah )

is translated "ordinances" in  Ephesians 2:15;  Colossians 2:14 . See Decree.

A — 4: Κτίσις (Strong'S #2937 — Noun Feminine — ktisis — ktis'-is )

"a creation, creature," is translated "ordinance" in  1—Peter 2:13 . See Create , B, No. 1.

 1—Corinthians 11:2Tradition.

B — 1: Δογματίζω (Strong'S #1379 — Verb — dogmatizo — dog-mat-id'-zo )

akin to A, No. 3, "to decree," signifies, in the Middle Voice, "to subject oneself to an ordinance,"  Colossians 2:20 . In the Sept.,  Esther 3:9; in some texts,  Daniel 2:13,15 .

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

With the defeat of Og of Bashan and Sihon of Heshbon, Israel was poised on the east bank of the Jordan to enter Canaan. Moses led a covenant renewal ceremony in which he explained the commandments, ordinances, and statutes of the Law. This included ordinances given at Mount Sinai and those given during the forty years that Israel wandered in the wilderness. These ordinances and statutes are the crown jewels of Israel. Israel's careful observance of them will reveal to the surrounding nations the chosen people's wisdom and understanding. No other nation has statutes and ordinances so righteous as those given by Yahweh to Israel ( Deuteronomy 4:5-8 ). These are words of life.

But life is not found in outward adherence to sacrificial, dietary, or social ordinances and statutes. Thus Yahweh demands of Israel, "Who asked you for this multitude of sacrifices, new moon, and Sabbath ceremonies" ( Isaiah 1:11-15 ). The answer, of course, is Yahweh himself. But God cannot tolerate iniquity and religious ritual. God is not fooled when the wicked recite the statutes of the covenant ( Psalm 50:16 ). When the wicked perform the required sacrificial ordinances of the Law they might as well be offering swine's blood or committing murder ( Isaiah 66:3-4 ). The apostle Paul states that the work of Christ has abolished the law of commandments and ordinances ( Ephesians 2:15 ). The author of Hebrews explains how the levitical priesthood and its ordinances were temporary and have been superseded by the work of Jesus. He also reveals that all of God's saints have been saved by faith. God repudiates any attempt to use the ordinances to manipulate Him (chaps. 9-11).

Yet the ordinances and statutes are still words of life. Isaiah and James give the same solution to the faithless observance of outward forms: cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow ( Isaiah 1:16-17;  James 1:27 ). The ordinances and statutes reveal God's will and his understanding of what it means to do good, seek justice, and correct oppression.  Psalm 119 beautifully illustrates the wisdom and joy of meditating on ordinances, statutes, commands, and judgments. They are a part of the canon and not to be neglected.

The Israelites made no distinction between ritual or procedural ordinances and legal or moral statutes. They are equally a part of Israel's covenant with God. To neglect one or the other was to court disaster. To observe them carefully was to court God's blessings on the individual and the community ( Deuteronomy 28 ). God's desire for his ordinances and statutes remains unchanged as is made clear in the quote of  Jeremiah 31:33-34 in   Hebrews 10:16-17 : "I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Mark D. McLean

See also Commandment Command; Decrees; Law

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

This term in the O.T. generally signifies that which God 'ordered' for His people to observe. "They kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them."  Psalm 99:7 . "Ye are gone away from mine ordinances."  Malachi 3:7 . It is also applied to things in creation: God giveth "the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night."  Jeremiah 31:35 . David made an ordinance.  Ezra 3:10 : cf.  Nehemiah 10:32 . In the N.T. it refers especially to the enactments of the law: "ordinances of divine service,"  Hebrews 9:1,10; "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances."  Colossians 2:14 . It is also applied to human laws,  Romans 13:2;  1 Peter 2:13; and to the rules of the moralists.  Colossians 2:20 . The directions that Paul had given to the Corinthians are in the A.V. called 'ordinances,'  1 Corinthians 11:2; margin , 'traditions.'

King James Dictionary [5]


1. A rule established by authority a permanent rule of action. An ordinance may be a law or statute of sovereign power. In this sense it is often used in the Scriptures.  Exodus 15 .  Numbers 10 .  Ezra 3 . It may also signify a decree, edict or rescript, and the word has sometimes been applied to the statutes of Parliament, but these are usually called acts or laws. In the United States, it is never applied to the acts of Congress, or of a state legislature. 2. Observance commanded. 3. Appointment. 4. Established rite or ceremony.  Hebrews 9 . In this sense, baptism and the Lord's supper are denominated ordinances.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) An established rite or ceremony.

(2): ( n.) Rank; order; station.

(3): ( n.) Ordnance; cannon.

(4): ( n.) A rule established by authority; a permanent rule of action; a statute, law, regulation, rescript, or accepted usage; an edict or decree; esp., a local law enacted by a municipal government; as, a municipal ordinance.

(5): ( n.) Orderly arrangement; preparation; provision.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Ordinance See Decree.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [8]

ôr´di - nans  :

This word generally represents חקּה , ḥuḳḳāh , something prescribed, enactment, usually with reference to matters of ritual. In the King James Version the same word is frequently translated by "statute" or "statutes," which is also the rendering of a similar Hebrew word, namely, חק , ḥōḳ . the Revised Version (British and American) generally retains "ordinance," but sometimes substitutes "statute" (e.g.   Exodus 18:20;  Psalm 99:7 ). In one instance the Revised Version (British and American) renders "set portion" ( Ezekiel 45:14 ). The word generally has a religious or ceremonial significance. It is used for instance in connection with the Passover ( Exodus 12:43;  Numbers 9:14 ). According to  Exodus 12:14 , the Passover was "an ordinance for ever," i.e. a permanent institution. In the plural the word is often employed, along with such terms as commandments, laws, etc., with reference to the different prescriptions of the Deuteronomic and Priestly codes ( Deuteronomy 6:1 ,  Deuteronomy 6:2;  Leviticus 18:4 ).

In 11 passages ( Exodus 15:25;  Joshua 24:25;  1 Samuel 30:25;  2 Kings 17:34 ,  2 Kings 17:37;  2 Chronicles 33:8;  2 Chronicles 35:13;  Psalm 119:91;  Isaiah 58:2 twice;   Ezekiel 11:20 ) "ordinance" is the rendering of משׁפּט , mishpāṭ , judgment, decision or sentence by a judge or ruler. In the Book of the Covenant (Ex 20:22 through 23:33) the term "judgments" denotes civil, as contrasted with ritual, enactments. In  2 Kings 17:34 the King James Version employs "manners" and "ordinances" as renderings of this word. In 3 passages (  Leviticus 18:30;  Leviticus 22:9;  Malachi 3:14 ) "ordinance" is the translation of משׁמרת , mishmereth , "charge," which the Revised Version (British and American) restores. In one instance ( Nehemiah 10:32 ) ordinance renders מצוה , micwāh , "commandment," while in  Ezra 3:10 the King James Version the phrase "after the ordinance of David" represents a Hebrew phrase which literally means "upon the hands of David," i.e. under the guidance or direction of David.

In the New Testament, "ordinance" renders different Greek words, namely, (1) δικαίωμα , dikaı́ōma , in   Luke 1:6 and   Hebrews 9:1 ,  Hebrews 9:10 . The word means literally, "anything declared right"; but in these passages ceremonial and religious regulation; (2) δόγμα , dógma , in  Ephesians 2:15;  Colossians 2:14 . In the New Testament this word always means a decree or edict ( Acts 17:7 ); (3) παράδοσις , parádosis , in  1 Corinthians 11:2 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "traditions"; (4) κτίσις , ktı́sis , "setting up," "institution" in  1 Peter 2:13 . The term is used exclusively of the action of God. Peter implies that institutions, apparently human, such as the family and the state, are of divine origin. The same doctrine is found in  Romans 13:1 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

an institution established by lawful authority. Religious ordinances must be instituted by the great institutor of religion, or they are not binding: minor regulations are not properly ordinances. Ordinances once established are not to be varied by human caprice or mutability.

Human ordinances, established by national laws, may be varied by other laws, because the inconveniences arising from them can only be determined by experience. Yet Christians are bound to submit to these institutions, when they do not infringe on those established by divine authority; not only from the consideration that if every individual were to oppose national institutions no society could subsist, but by the tenor of Scripture itself. Nevertheless, Christianity does not interfere with political rights, but leaves individuals, as well as nations, in full enjoyment of whatever advantages the constitution of a country secures to its subjects.

The course of nature is the ordinance of God; its laws are but "the ordinances of heaven;" and every planet obeys that impulse which the divine Governor has impressed on it. ( Jeremiah 31:36).