Conclusive Proof That Swearing Is Always Wrong

You would think all Christians would understand all swearing (oath taking) is wrong considering Jesus said in Matt 5:34 “Swear not at all.” But some are not fully convinced.

They say Jesus is making a contrast with the false teaching of the Pharisees who incorrectly said Jews didn’t always have to do what they swore they were going to do, and so Jesus’ point is that we always must do what we swear we are going to do. But that is exactly where the mistake is made. And that’s why it’s so important we understand what the true contrast is in verses 33-34 (and the rest of the context).

It is true the Pharisees taught Jews could go back on some things they swore to do, depending upon how they framed the wording of their oath (Matt 23:16-22), but that is most definitely not the contrast of 5:33-34. Here Jesus is contrasting his teaching with what the law of Moses actually said (the truth of the Old Testament) – that it was okay for the Jews to swear, but they were always to do what they swore to do. The phrase “You shall not swear falsely” (NKJV) in verse 33 is a direct quote from Lev 19:12 “ye shall not swear by my name falsely” (see also Num 30:2, Psalms 15:1,4b, Deut 6:13, 10:20, 23:21-23, and Eccl 5:4). So what Jesus is doing here (as well as with the other five cases in the context) is contrasting His New Testament teaching with the true Old Testament teaching that people should keep their oaths. He is not contrasting with the false teaching of the Pharisees. Knowing that is the contrast, then it cannot be in verse 34 that Jesus is only teaching that we must perform our oaths today, as that would not contrast with what Jesus was really referring to in verse 33.

Now this is conclusive proof that all swearing is sinful today. It is not like some Bible subjects where no absolute conclusion can be drawn either way, so evidence (but not proof) is presented for both sides. The contrast Jesus makes in Matt 5:33-34 shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that all swearing today is wrong. If Jesus’ sermon on the mount teaching is contrasted with “always do what you swear you are going to do,” then His teaching can’t also be “always do what you swear you are going to do.” Instead His teaching is plain and simple “swear not at all” (don’t ever swear to start with). As James 5:12 puts it – “swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay.”

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