The KJV and the NKJV both translate Exodus 20:3 as, "You shall have no other gods before Me." This translation is misleading, though, because it gives us room to think that other gods are permitted as long as the true God is first in importance. God permits no other gods at all!
Other translations more correctly catch the intent. Moffatt says, "You shall have no gods but me." The Knox translation has, "Thou shalt not defy me by making other gods thy own." The Spurrell translation reads, "You shall have no other gods beside Me." Finally, the New English Bible renders it, "You shall have no gods to set against me." These make it very clear God will not share His position, glory, and praise with any competitors (see Isaiah 42:8). It would not be good for His purpose to allow us to divide our loyalties.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)
God does care how we worship Him; He gives specific commands about how He wants to be glorified according to His standards and not our own. It does matter whether or not we share in the celebration of this world's pagan religious holidays. Though the Bible—the Word of God—makes no direct references to New Year's Eve, Lent, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas, the origins of these pagan holidays are mentioned as being abominations to God.
Martin G. Collins
The first commandment presents God as the sovereign Creator and Ruler of His creation. He will not allow the worship and honor due to Him to be given to others because it would only result in misdirection of life's purpose, frustration, emotional and physical pain, and ultimately death to those who worship any but Him. It therefore deals with what we worship. Most of the time, the "god" who gets between the true God and us is the self. We are to worship the Creator, the Author of a way of life that will produce right relationships. This commandment demands that we make Him the source of our values and practices.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Exodus 20:3: