Jesus’ statement is usually taken to mean that from Christ onward, a believer is not allowed to swear.  Instead, he or she must simply be truthful. But like everything else, this statement had its own context.

“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King … let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Mat. 5:34-37)

Swearing was mostly done not by the Name of God, therefore, it was considered less binding, working very much against the whole idea of guaranteeing the promise made.
However, in Numbers 30:2 we read: “When a man makes a vow to the Lord … he must not break his word; he must do whatever he has promised.” This is the basic meaning of not taking God’s Name in vain (Ex.20:7). Instead of presenting something new, Jesus recalls that which the Torah already specified.

This becomes even clearer when we read that: “… everyone who swears by God will exult, because the mouths of liars will be silenced.” (Ps.63:11) Even the apostle Paul, when he was accused by his enemies of doing great evil in the sight of God, called the Lord to be his witness that he was telling the truth (Gal. 1:20).

The upshot is that swearing must be limited only to extra-ordinary situations, and if one is going to swear, he or she must swear by the Lord God Himself. Nothing else will do.

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62 COMMENTS

  1. MyFriends;
    I have been following your posts and teachings for a while now.
    I have been a member of BAR for many years.
    Combining these two wonderful sites…THANK YOU FOR YOUR WISDOM.
    I recommend you both to all who search for knowledge and truth.

  2. When you are a Christian you are an ambassador of Christ. WWJD is a great thought to go through you head before you open your mouth. Thank you for the insight

  3. I was hoping for a lesson on curse words. I have read that when Paul said “Dung”, that it was almost the same as as the word, “shit”. So we see that we are to be yes or no but what about curse words?

    • Thank you, Dillard. One of my favorite profs at school used to say that his friend loves Jesus, and curses like a sailor :-). Yes, I’ve been thinking about that as well.

        • Such a question departs from the Bible and draws more from language history. See, curses were historically not taboo words, but ordinary words that wish something negative on someone else; the opposite of a blessing. It wasn’t really until the middle ages that some of those ordinary words became unconventional for formal dialogue. But this has almost nothing to do with the topic of making a vow and swearing to do or complete something.

      • People constantly confuse swearing with cursing with profanity with vulgarity. Each one is different and offends in a different way. Cursing is caling for absolute destruction of a person. Profanity is taking lightly the name of the Lord. Vulgarity is making public things or acts that shouild remain private. .

        • To me swearing is as stated in the article. It’s and oath that can not be broken. Cursing is what witches, warlocks, satanist or even people do to each other. IE: damning someone or something to hell, negatively using words against some one. “I really hope you have an accident”

          • (Continued) Cussing, to me, is using words we in the US (whatever nation) deems inappropriate. Ex: s**t, etc. vulgar/crude is sickening talk about sex, defaming ppl etc. I hope that makes sense. Cussing is horrible in the US now. No respect anywhere.

  4. I don’t see how you can read “But I say to you, make no oath at all” and hear “only make your oaths in the Lord’s name”. I have to say, I disagree with you on this one. Jesus called his disciples to be truthful, and to make no oaths.

  5. Mat 5:34-37 self explain itself clearly to swear is sinful no matter where you cut it from. The liquid poison is still the same substance even if you transfer it to a small bottle. One should never swear not by the Lords name..

    • Does the Bible command people to sin, Serafin? You commented that swearing is sinful, but Deu.6:13 and 10:20 command, “you shall swear by His name.” Yeshua never said swearing is sinful; He was saying that it is better to be honest and diligent than it is to make oaths.

  6. In South Africa when you appear in court every body have to take the oath by putting your right hand on the Bible and say loud “so help me God” Beleivers and non believers That is where the most lies is spoken by mankind Sorry for bad English

  7. Thank You very much for discussing bible verses for some text I read without understanding Today in my class I was reading matt18 but I did not understand it the way You explain it

  8. I agree. I think Yeshua is alluding to Ex 20:7//Deut 5:11 to teach his audience that swearing by these vows—akin to crossed fingers—is swearing vainly. I found that Philo has a similar view on the third commandment: ἢ συνόλως μάτην ὀμνύναι; or swearing at all vainly (Laws 2.224). Notice (συν)όλως.

  9. When Jesus got angry in the temple, did he curse or swear at the people selling their goods there?
    I was just wondering.

  10. Once, we had to swear in court to; “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God.”;with a hand on the Bible. Go’s is forgotten!
    The Senate, Congress, and Presidet are sworn in but not all on the Bible. Two Have chosen a Koran.

  11. I personally had no problem, in a court of law, being sworn to be truthful. Perhaps with politicians it is best to drop the oath of office. Their honesty is frequently a travesty. I think I had more problem with Muslim law makers and the Koran, in America. Founded Christian.

    • While America was founded by men a majority of whom were Christian, it was not founded as a Christian nation; thus there is no mention of God or Christianity in our Constitution. Requiring anyone who does not believe the Christian bible to swear an oath on it is pure foolishness.

    • Michael, this is an irony, that we refer to vulgar words as “swearing”, but actual swearing (e.g. “I swear to God that I didn’t do X” gets very little attention in our societies. Some Bible authors were very “vulgar”, others euphemistic, but none support careless or insincere swearing by YHVH.

  12. Shalom. We should not have to swear about most things. Yes and No should be enough if we are telling the truth. But if we have to swear, as in court etc. then swear in the name of the Lord.

    • Circumcision is performed only on males in Israel. There have been Bedouin and Arab instances of it, but Judaism and Israel definitely do not endorse it.

  13. I believe Christ was saying that as followers of Him everytime we speak it is an oath.
    So everytime we speak, we speak the truth.
    I can’t imagine asking Jesus to agree to something then asking Him to swear an oath and we like Christ must always be honest.

  14. I guess the interpretation of swearing and making and oath from pragmatical context is extremely proporțional to the spiritual context. Indeed swearing uttered through the eye of the body explains the illusion by the body. The reason why Jesus warned about swearing was it is mostly done egotistically.

  15. Thank you for your Teaching Dr. Eli. When we dont understand a Verse or any of GODs Scripture Pray the Holy Spirit to Reveal it to you and Some Way or the Other a Book a Sermon. When we Truely are seeking understanding i believe it will be Revealed.

  16. True it’s not about profanity, the cursing or wishing ill on someone seeking vengeance for a real or perceived slight or hurt. the searing/vowing that Jesus was teaching about was about aligning yourself and your actions with him and bring honour to God and his blessing to ones-self.

  17. shalom Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg whoever declares anything under oath by adding something to the word yes or no is Someone who refuses to believe” let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Mat. 5:34-37) ” until death parts us” in wedding is evil

  18. Thank you Dr for this article. I have pondered over 6 weeks on this subject matter in Matthew 23. Now you gave me the answer. Amen 🙏

  19. Peace be with you all! Would you allow your children to swear or curse in your home or for that matter anyone else to swear or curse in your home? What would you do to the person who does? Same with God in his home! Respect in God’s house.

    • If in my house someone swore to do something by heaven or earth or the temple, etc., then I would remind them to simply let their yes be yes and their no be no. But if by “swear”, you mean “foul language”, then I fear you might have missed the point of the article.

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