Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.


33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:33-37

There are two kinds of oaths, one that is a promise and one that makes some kind of assertion – like asserting you didn’t steal your neighbor’s hammer. A covenant is a promissory oath.

“The Old Testament is full of oaths and vows, but an oath and a vow are not the same. An oath imposes an obligation upon the one making the oath. A vow is by definition a conditional promise. That is, IF Jacob returns home safely, IF Israel is victorious over the Canaanites, IF Jephthah defeats the Ammonites, then they will respond with some predetermined action to complete the bargain.

Torah Class

We can easily mistake what Jesus said in Matthew 5:33-37 as a warning to never make an oath, but in this passage, Jesus is warning against idolatry. We know this because the Apostle Paul makes an oath in Romans 1:9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you” and Hebrews 6:17 states, “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath

Oh, God takes an oath very seriously. An oath is irrevocable1. Next time I’ll write about vows.


1 – In the Old Testament, for a man, an oath is irrevocable. There are certain specific conditions when a girl or wife can be released from an oath.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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