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.

The Bible can provide us with truth, but it can also be difficult to decipher! Whether you're looking for some biblical direction, stumped on scriptural questions, or just want to confirm that you're already on the right track, join the growing community of faculty and students at Israel Bible Center! (Click here to begin your journey of discovery).

35 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?

  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..

  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.

    • We can only speculate. The only quote that the Gospels record for that incident is when Jesus said, “Take these things from here! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise” and “Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.”

  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.

    • Are you reducing the holiness of God or His reputation by doing so, Arlene? If so, then yes. But the article was about those who make a vow by God’s name but when they don’t fulfill the vow, they profane His name.

  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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your name here
Words left: 50
Please enter your comment!