1. Old Testament Use:
This word generally represents chuqqah, 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, choq. the Revised Version (British and American) generally retains "ordinance," but sometimes substitutes "statute" (e.g. Exodus 18:20; Psalms 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 6:1,2; Leviticus 18:4).
In 11 passages (Exodus 15:25; Joshua 24:25; 1 Samuel 30:25; 2 Kings 17:34,37; 2 Chronicles 33:8; 35:13; Psalms 119:91; Isaiah 58:2 twice; Ezekiel 11:20) "ordinance" is the rendering of mishpaT, judgment, decision or sentence by a judge or ruler. In the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:22-23:33) 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; 22:9; Malachi 3:14) "ordinance" is the translation of mishmereth, "charge," which the Revised Version (British and American) restores. In one instance (Nehemiah 10:32) ordinance renders mitswah, "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.
2. New Testament Use:
In the New Testament, "ordinance" renders different Greek words, namely,
(1) dikaioma, in Luke 1:6 and Hebrews 9:1,10. The word means literally, "anything declared right"; but in these passages ceremonial and religious regulation;
(2) dogma, in Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14. In the New Testament this word always means a decree or edict (Acts 17:7);
(3) paradosis, in 1 Corinthians 11:2 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "traditions";
(4) ktisis, "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.