Do Not Take Oaths
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37, NKJV)
The scribes and Pharisees had twisted the law You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exodus 20:7) to permit taking virtually every other name in a false oath. The Lord instructs us; do not take oaths.
Jesus reminds us that God is part of every oath anyway; if you swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or even your head, you swear by God, and your oath must be honored.
“Again an unqualified statement, to be taken not in the letter as a new law, but in the spirit as inculcating such a love of truth that so far as we are concerned there shall be no need of oaths.” – F.F. Bruce
Having to swear or make oaths betrays the weakness of your word. It demonstrates that there is not enough weight in your own character to confirm your words. How much better it is to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.“
Some have taken this word of Jesus as more than an emphasis on truth-telling and honesty as an absolute prohibition of all oaths. This is misguided because oaths are permitted under certain circumstances, as long as they are not abused and used as a cover for deception:
- God Himself swears oaths: Hebrews 6:13 and Luke 1:73.
- Jesus spoke under oath in a court: Matthew 26:63-64.
- Paul made oaths: Romans 1:9, 2 Corinthians 1:23, Galatians 1:20, 2 Thessalonians 2:5.
“The truly good man will never need to take an oath; the truth of his sayings and the reality of his promises need no such guarantee. But the fact that oaths are still sometimes necessary is the proof that men are not good men and that this is not a good world.” – William Barclay
Father, we will be known as Your people and people of our word. You are a God of Your word, we would be the same as our Father. Grant us faith and grace. In Jesus name, amen.
1 Year Bible Reading