Oaths: Matthew 5:33-37

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One Reply to “Oaths”

  1. Jesus provides some very specific guidance here as we continue to learn how our own righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). We look beyond the letter of the law and into the intent of the law, something the Pharisees were paranoid about attempting because of the failures of our forefathers. Interesting how good intentions lead one down the wrong road!

    Here’s a quote from a good discussion on oaths that I found helpful:

    In Jesus’ time, oaths and vows were very important in the business world. They did not have written contracts or contract lawyers: a man’s word was the contract. Thus, a businessman had to be confident that an oath was binding in order to be able to carry out business. Jesus here is commanding that oaths be used as originally intended by God: as a surety that the swearer considered himself to be bound by the oath. And so, Jesus here forbids the specious use of oaths by saying that his disciples are not to swear at all “by heaven… or by the earth… or by Jerusalem… or by [one’s] head” (vss. 35, 36). By disallowing these oaths, Jesus was requiring that the disciples righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees, who did not forbid, and even themselves used, the specious oaths.

    Apparently, in those days, people were using oaths as a vehicle to divert the truth. It simply made no sense, so Jesus insisted his disciples simply tell the truth: either yes or no. Refreshing concept, yes? What if we could just tell the truth.

    Lord, help us keep our perspective and simply say “yes” or “no” with no malice or attempt to hide from truth.

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