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Teaching About Oaths. 33 [a](A)“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ 34 (B)But I say to you, do not swear at all;[b] not 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 Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 [c]Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

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Footnotes

  1. 5:33 This is not an exact quotation of any Old Testament text, but see Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11; Lv 19:12. The purpose of an oath was to guarantee truthfulness by one’s calling on God as witness.
  2. 5:34–36 The use of these oath formularies that avoid the divine name is in fact equivalent to swearing by it, for all the things sworn by are related to God.
  3. 5:37 Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’: literally, “let your speech be ‘Yes, yes,’ ‘No, no.’” Some have understood this as a milder form of oath, permitted by Jesus. In view of Mt 5:34, “Do not swear at all,” that is unlikely. From the evil one: i.e., from the devil. Oath-taking presupposes a sinful weakness of the human race, namely, the tendency to lie. Jesus demands of his disciples a truthfulness that makes oaths unnecessary.

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