Click to enlarge
Amplified: Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not swear falsely, but you shall perform your oaths to the Lord [as a religious duty]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: "Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' (NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: "Again, you have heard that the people in the old days were told - 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord', (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Again, you heard that it was said by those of a previous time, You shall not perjure yourself but you shall discharge your oaths with reference to the Lord. (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: 33 'Again, ye heard that it was said to the ancients: Thou shalt not swear falsely, but thou shalt pay to the Lord thine oaths;
AGAIN, YOU HAVE HEARD THAT THE ANCIENTS WERE TOLD, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS: Palin ekousate (2PAAI) oti errethe (3SAPI) tois archaiois, Ouk epiorkeseis, (2SFAI) apodoseis (2SFAI) (Mt 23:16)
Lev 17:12 'And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.
THOU SHALL NOTT
You have heard (Matt 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43) - First He said to His listeners, "You have heard"—that's the human standard. Then He said, "But I say to you"—that's God's standard.
Jesus gives us the fourth of six illustrations of a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 5:20-note)
The ancients were correct in this regard to the "letter" of the Law about vows. They had simply learned how to worm their way around the Law and thus they perverted the truth inherent in these laws as discussed below.
Ancient (744) (archaios from arche = beginning) means old, expressing that which was from the beginning in contrast to palaiós (3820), old, as having existed a long period of time. Archaíos reaches back to a beginning, whenever that beginning may have been.
Archaios - 11x in 11v -Matt 5:21, 33; Luke 9:8, 19; Acts 15:7, 21; 21:16; 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 2:5; Rev 12:9; 20:2. NAS renders it as - ancient(2), ancients(2), early(1), long standing(1), of old(4), old things(1).
False vows (1964)(epiorkeo from epíorkos as in 1Ti 1:10 = a perjured person from epí = against, + hórkos = an oath) means to commit perjury, to forswear self, to swear falsely, to not fulfill one’s oath. Vine - signifies "to swear falsely, to undo one's swearing, forswear oneself" (epi, "against," orkos, "an oath"), Matthew 5:33 . Cp. epiorkos, "a perjured person, a perjurer," , "false swearers." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)
Webster's 1828 forswear = (v. i.) To swear falsely; to commit perjury. (v. i.) To deny upon oath. (v. i.) To reject or renounce upon oath; hence, to renounce earnestly, determinedly, or with protestations.
Webster's 1828 perjure = To cause to violate an oath or a vow; to cause to make oath knowingly to what is untrue; to make guilty of perjury; to forswear; to corrupt; - often used reflexively; as, he perjured himself.(v. t.) To make a false oath to; to deceive by oaths and protestations.
King James Dictionary = FORSWEAR, pret. forswore pp. forsworn. See Swear and Answer. 1. To reject or renounce upon oath. 2. To deny upon oath. Like innocence, and as serenely bold as truth, how loudly he forswears thy gold. To forswear one's self, is to swear falsely to perjure one's self. Thou shalt not forswear thyself. Matthew 5 . FORSWEAR, To swear falsely to commit perjury. As Jesus explains, the issue is not so much about vows per se as it is about speaking the truth from our heart of integrity.
Charles Simeon - AMONGST persons unaccustomed to hear the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, a kind of jealousy is often excited by the very recital of the text; especially if the preacher be known to be zealous for those doctrines, and the passage which he has selected evidently inculcates them. This feeling is manifestly wrong; and every one who loves the Gospel sees in a moment the evil of indulging it. But is this feeling peculiar to those who are ignorant of the Gospel? No; by no means: for religious people themselves are too apt to yield to it, when any text is announced which leads only to the discussion of some moral subject. But if this feeling be wrong in the unenlightened part of mankind, it is a thousand times more so in those who profess to be enlightened, and who ought on that very account to love every portion of the sacred volume, and gladly to hear every truth insisted on in its season. The subject of swearing does not seem to promise much edification to an audience conversant with the sublimer mysteries of our religion: but, if our blessed Lord saw fit to speak of it so fully in his Sermon on the Mount, we may be sure that our time cannot be misspent in investigating, as we purpose to do (Read the entire sermon - Matthew 5:33-37 Swearing Forbidden)
Kent Hughe illustrates the desire for truth in the prayer of the chaplain of the Kansas Senate - "Omniscient Father: Help us to know who is telling the truth. One side tells us one thing, and the other just the opposite. And if neither side is telling the truth, we would like to know that, too. And if each side is telling half the truth, give us the wisdom to put the right halves together. In Jesus' name, Amen. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books)
This prayer highlights what we all know to be just as true in America as it was in Israel in Jesus' day...truth is a vanishing breed. In fact a recent book, The Day America Told the Truth-What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters
Hughes agrees and goes on to add that "Today there is an urgent truth shortage! There was a time when western culture was distinguished from other cultures by at least a conventional outward sense of obligation to tell the truth. But now there is a pervasive indifference to truth-telling, and this has not only infected day-to-day conversation but the most solemn pledges of life. Perjury under solemn oath is epidemic. The sacred vows of marriage are broken almost as often as repeated. God's name is invoked by blatant liars who purport to be witnesses to the truth. There is, indeed, a crisis, but we must not make the mistake of thinking it occurs only out there because it happens among us too. It is difficult to always tell the truth. The great preacher and writer George Macdonald wrote to his son on December 6, 1878, "I always try - I think I do - to be truthful. All the same I tell a great many lies." I identifywith that. I am speaking to someone and suddenly realize that what I am saying is not the truth. Perhaps you have experienced the same. The difficulty comes from the combination of my own deceitful nature and the pervasive deceptiveness of the surrounding culture. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books)
BACKGROUND ON — OATHS & VOWS
OATHS - A solemn affirmation accompanied by an appeal to the Supreme Being. God has prohibited all false oaths, and all useless and customary swearing in ordinary discourse; but when the necessity or importance of a matter requires an oath, he allows men to swear by his name, Exodus 22:11 Leviticus 5:1 . To swear by a false god was an act of idolatry, Jeremiah 5:7 12:16. Among the Hebrews an oath was administered by the judge, who stood up, and adjured the party who was to be sworn. In this manner our Lord was adjured by Caiaphas, Matthew 26:63 . Jesus had remained silent under long examination, when the high priest, rising up, knowing he had a sure mode of obtaining an answer said, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ." To this oath, thus solemnly administered, Jesus replied that he was indeed the Messiah. — — An oath is a solemn appeal to God, as to an all-seeing witness that what we say is true, and an almighty avenger if what we say be false, Hebrews 6:16 . Its force depends upon our conviction of the infinite justice of God; that he will not hold those guiltless who take his name in vain; and that the loss of his favor immeasurable outweighs all that could be gained by false witness. It is an act of religious worship; on which account God requires it to be taken in his name, Deuteronomy 10:20 , and points out the manner in which it ought to be administered, and the duty of the person who swears, Exodus 22:11 Deuteronomy 6:18 Psalm 15:4 24:4 . Hence atheists, who profess to believe that there is no God, and persons who do not believe in a future state of reward and punishment, cannot consistently take an oath. In their mouths an oath can be only profane mockery.
God Himself is represented as confirming his promise by oath, and thus conforming to what is practiced among men, Hebrews 6:13,16-17 . The oaths forbidden in Matthew 5:34-35 James 5:12 , must refer to the unthinking, hasty, and vicious practices of the Jews; otherwise Paul would have acted against the command of Christ, Romans 1:9 Galatians 1:20 2 Corinthians 1:23 . That person is obliged to take an oath whose duty requires him to declare the truth in the most solemn and judicial manner; though undoubtedly oaths are too often administered unnecessarily and irreverently, and taken with but slight consciousness of the responsibility thus assumed. As we are bound to manifest every possible degree of reverence towards God, the greatest care is to be taken that we swear neither rashly nor negligently in making promises. To neglect performance is perjury, unless the promise be contrary to the law of nature and of God; in which case no oath is binding. See CORBAN. A customary formula of taking an oath was "The Lord do so to me, and more also;" that is, the lord slay me, as the victim sacrificed on many such occasions was slain, and punish me even more than this, if I speak not the truth, Ruth 1:17 1 Samuel 3:17 . Similar phrases are these: "As the Lord liveth," Judges 8:19 "Before God I lie not," Romans 9:1; "I say the truth in Christ," 1 Timothy 2:7; "God is my record," Philippians 1.8 . Several acts are alluded to as accompaniments of an oath; as putting the hand under the thigh, Genesis 24:2 47:29; and raising the hand towards heaven, Genesis 14:22,23 Deuteronomy 32:40 Revelation 10:5 .
VOWS - A promise made to God of doing some good thing or abstaining from some lawful enjoyment, under the influence of gratitude for divine goodness, of imminent danger, the apprehension of future evils, or the desire of future blessings. To fulfill a vow binding one to sin, was to all sin to sin; but no considerations of inconvenience or loss could absolve one from a vow, Psalm 15:4 Malachi 1:14 . Jacob, going into Mesopotamia, vowed the tenth of his estate, and promised to offer it at Beth-el, to the honor of God, Genesis 28:20-22 . Moses enacted several laws for the regulation and execution of vows. "If thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee; that which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform," Deuteronomy 23:21,23 Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 . — — The vows of minors, etc., were not binding without the consent of the head of the family, Numbers 30:1-16 . A man might devote himself or his children to the Lord, Numbers 6:2. Jephthah devoted his daughter, Judges 11:30-40; and Samuel was vowed and consecrated to the service of the Lord, 1 Samuel 1:11,27,28 . If men or women vowed themselves to the Lord, they were obliged to adhere strictly to his service, according to the conditions of the vow; but in some cases they might be redeemed, Leviticus 27:1-34 . These self imposed services were more in keeping with the ancient dispensation, in which outward sacrifices and observances had so large a share, than with enlightened Christianity. See CORBAN, and . NAZARITES (American Tract Society Bible Dictionary)
BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD: (2SFAI) apodoseis (2SFAI) de to kurio tous orkous sou. (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2-16; Deuteronomy 5:11; 23:23; Psalms 50:14; 76:11; Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5, 6; Nahum 1:15)
But - Always stop and query this term of contrast, asking What is being contrasted (why?, how?, etc), and you will usually be forced to re-read the previous passage or clause. It is not a bad thing to read the inspired, eternal Word of God slowly and deliberately! I think sometimes we read the daily newspaper Stats of our favorite football team with more deliberation and inquisitiveness than we do the eternal Word of God! Newspapers will all BURN someday! Only God's Word endures forever! Read it like you really believe it! Slowly and judiciously.
Keep in mind that in the Old Testament vows were encouraged and they were especially encouraged to be in God's Name. However, once the vow was made, it was final and could not be rescinded without consequences.
Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain
Leviticus 19:12 You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 5:11 ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Deuteronomy 23:23 “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised.
Psalm 50:14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High;
Spurgeon: And pay thy vows unto the most High. Let the sacrifice be really presented to the God who sees the heart, pay to him the love you promised, the service you covenanted to render, the loyalty of heart you have vowed to maintain. O for grace to do this! O that we may be graciously enabled to love God, and live up to our profession! To be, indeed, the servants of the Lord, the lovers of Jesus, this is our main concern. What avails our baptism, to what end our gatherings at the Lord's table, to what purpose our solemn assemblies, if we have not the fear of the Lord, and vital godliness reigning within our bosoms?
Psalm 76:11 Make (command) vows to the Lord your God and fulfill (command) them; Let all who are around Him bring gifts to Him who is to be feared.
Spurgeon: Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God. Well may we do so in memory of such mercies and judgments. To vow or not is a matter of choice, but to discharge our vows is our bounden duty. He who would defraud God, his own God, is a wretch indeed. He keeps his promises, let not his people fail in theirs. He is their faithful God and deserves to have a faithful people. — — Let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared. Let surrounding nations submit to the only living God, let his own people with alacrity present their offerings, and let his priests and Levites be leaders in the sacred sacrifice. He who deserves to be praised as our God does, should not have mere verbal homage, but substantial tribute. Dread Sovereign, behold I give myself to thee.
1) To whom vows may be made. Not to man, but God. — — 2) What vows should be thus made.
Ecclesiastes 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
Fulfill (591) (apodidomi [word study] from apó = from + didomi = give) means to pay or give back, implying a debt. This word carries the idea of obligation and responsibility for something that is not optional. The prefixed preposition apo (off, away from) makes the verb mean “to give off” from one’s self. To give back or pay back or to do something necessary in fulfillment of an obligation or expectation. The idea is that the one who gives a vow must fulfill His promise to meet his "obligation".
Fulfill - 48x in 46v- Matt 5:26, 33; 6:4, 6, 18; 12:36; 16:27; 18:25f, 28ff, 34; 20:8; 21:41; 22:21; 27:58; Mark 12:17; Luke 4:20; 7:42; 9:42; 10:35; 12:59; 16:2; 19:8; 20:25; Acts 4:33; 5:8; 7:9; 19:40; Rom 2:6; 12:17; 13:7; 1 Cor 7:3; 1Thess 5:15; 1 Tim 5:4; 2 Tim 4:8, 14; Heb 12:11, 16; 13:17; 1 Pet 3:9; 4:5; Rev 18:6; 22:2, 12. NAS = account*(1), award(1), fulfill(2), gave back(2), give(3), give back(1), given over(1),giving(1), make (1), paid(2), paid up(1), pay(2), pay back(4), recompense(1), render(7), repay(10), repayment to be made(1), repays(1), returning(1), sold(3), yielding(1), yields(1).
Expositor's Greek Testament says that "the Scribes misplaced the emphasis (on the significance of oaths). They had a great deal to say, in sophistical style, of the oaths that were binding and not binding, (but) nothing about the fundamental requirement of truth in the inward parts (see Ps 51:6 below)
Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom. (Ps 51:6).
Spurgeon: Thou dost desire truth in the inward parts. Reality, sincerity, true holiness, heart fidelity, these are the demands of God. He cares not for the pretence of purity, He looks to the mind, heart, and soul. Always has the Holy One of Israel estimated men by their inner nature, and not by their outward professions; to Him the inward is as visible as the outward, and He rightly judges that the essential character of an action lies in the motive of him who works it.
Ryrie helps us understand how the scribes and Pharisees were perverting the Old Testament passages on vows noting that "Oaths taken in the name of the Lord were binding, and perjury was strongly condemned in the law (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Deut. 19:16, 17, 18, 19). Every oath contained an affirmation or promise and an appeal to God as the omniscient punisher of falsehoods, which made the oath binding. Thus we find phrases like "as the Lord lives" (1Sam. 14:39). The emphasis on the sanctity of oaths led to the feeling that ordinary phrasing need not be truthful or binding. (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers) (Bolding added)
In other words, when the scribes and Pharisees made an oath in the name of the LORD, that oath must be kept. On the other hand if one made an oath without expressly use the LORD's name (this is the "catch", the "fine print" so to speak) this oath was considered to be of lesser significance and did not demand one to be quite so conscientious about keeping it. And so the practice had come into vogue of making oaths "by heaven", "by earth", "by Jerusalem", "by the Temple", etc. Later in Matthew Jesus again castigates the scribes and Pharisees for their abuse of oaths declaring "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.... And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated." (Mt 23:16,18)
In this example of manipulation of truth by the scribes and Pharisees, they (illogically) reasoned that swearing by the temple, did not obligate one to fulfill their vow, but swearing by the gold of the temple, obligated them to fulfill the vow. Similarly, they hypocritically reasoned that swearing by the gift on the altar was binding, but swearing by the empty altar was not. What they did was value gold above God since the temple was the house of God.
Making a vow was used to
In the following verse, Mt 5:34, Jesus clearly forbids such hypocritical swearing (see below).
Vows (KJV = oaths) (3727) (horkos) "is primarily equivalent to herkos, "a fence, an enclosure, that which restrains a person;" hence, "an oath." The Lord's command in Matthew 5:33 was a condemnation of the minute and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the scribes and Pharisees in the matter of adjurations (Webster = a solemn charging on oath, or under the penalty of a curse; an earnest appeal), by which God's Name was profaned. The injunction is repeated in James 5:12 . The language of the Apostle Paul, e.g., in Galatians 1:20; 1Thessalonians 5:27 was not inconsistent with Christ's prohibition, read in the light of its context. Contrast the "oaths" mentioned in Matthew 14:7,9; 26:72; Mark 6:26 .Hebrews 6:16 refers to the confirmation of a compact among men, guaranteeing the discharge of liabilities; in their disputes "the oath is final for confirmation." This is referred to in order to illustrate the greater subject of God's "oath" to Abraham, confirming His promise; cp. Luke 1:73; Acts 2:30. (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words = Oath)
Kitto - Oath, an appeal to God in attestation of the truth of what you say, or in confirmation of what you promise or undertake. Cicero correctly terms an oath a religious affirmation; that is, an affirmation with a religious sanction. Hence it appears that there are two essential elements in an oath: first, the human, a declared intention of speaking the truth, or performing the action in a given case; secondly, the divine, an appeal to God, as a Being who knows all things and will punish guilt. According to usage, however, there is a third element in the idea which 'oath' commonly conveys, namely, that the oath is taken only on solemn, or, more specifically, on juridical occasions. The essence of an oath lies obviously in the appeal which is thereby made to God, or to divine knowledge and power. The customary form establishes this, 'So help me God.' The Latin words (known to have been used as early as the sixth century), whence our English form is taken, may be thus rendered: so may God and these holy gospels help me; that is, 'as I say the truth.' The present custom of kissing a book containing the Gospels has in England taken place of the latter clause in the Latin formula. Oaths did not take their origin in any divine command. They were a part of that consuetudinary law which Moses found prevalent, and was bound to respect, since no small portion of the force of law lies in custom, and a legislator can neither abrogate nor institute a binding law of his own mere will. Accordingly, Moses made use of the sanction which an oath gave, but in that general manner, and apart from minute directions and express words of approval; which shows that he merely used, without intending to sanction, an instrument that he found in existence and could not safely dispense with. Examples are found in , where an oath is ordered to be applied in the case of lost property; and here we first meet with what may strictly be called a judicial oath. (For full article see Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature = Oath - as an aside, C H Spurgeon spoke very highly of Kitto's work.)
WORD STUDY — ON KURIOS
Lord (2962) (kurios from kuros = might or power) has a variety of meanings/uses in the NT and therefore one must carefully examine the context in order to discern which sense is intended by the NT author. For example, some passages use kurios only as a common form of polite address with no religious/spiritual meaning. The reader should also be aware that in view of the fact that kurios is used over 9000 times in the Septuagint (LXX) and over 700 times in the NT, this discussion of kurios at best only "skims the surface" of this prodigious, precious word.
JESUS IS — LORD
At the outset should be noted that in the NT Jesus is referred to as Lord (Kurios) more frequently than by any other title. Therefore it behooves us to understand the truth concerning Jesus as Lord and not allow ourselves to become side tracked in debate over so-called "Lordship salvation". The indisputable Biblical facts are that faith in Jesus saves and Jesus is Lord. This confession of "Jesus is Lord" became a direct affront to the practice of emperor worship. Certain cities even built temples for Caesar-worship as was the case in Smyrna where the command was to honor the emperor by confessing "Caesar is Lord". To declare "Jesus is Lord" became a crime punishable by death, resulting in the martyrdom. I think the first century believers understood "Lordship" in a way modern believers would find it difficult to comprehend! (cp Jesus' "prophetic" warning in Mt 10:22, 23, 24, 25 where "master" is kurios)
Lord is not merely a name that composes a title, but signifies a call to action so that every saint should willingly, reverently bow down to Jesus Christ. If Christ is our Lord, we are to live under Him, consciously, continually submitting our wills to him as His loyal, loving bondservants ("love slaves"), always seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33-note). According to this practical working "definition" beloved we all need to ask ourselves "Is Jesus Christ my Lord?". "Do I arise each day, acknowledges this is the day the Lord hath made?" (Ps 118:24-note) "Do I surrender my will to His will as I begin each day?" (cp Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note) Beloved, don't misunderstand. None of us have "arrived" in this area of Jesus as Lord of our lives. And it is precisely for that reason that Peter commands us to continually "grow (present imperative) in the grace (unmerited favor, power to live the supernatural, abundant life in Christ) and knowledge (not just intellectual but transformational) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2Pe 3:18-note) So do not be discouraged. Don't "throw in the towel" as they say. Keep on keeping on, pressing (continually = present tense) "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:14-note)
Boice adds that...
The main sense of kurios is that of a supreme one, one who is sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power.
Kurios is used of the one to whom a person or thing belonged, about which he has the power of deciding, the one who is the master or disposer of a thing (Mk 7:28)
Thayer says kurios is
In classical Greek, kurios was used of the false gods, such as Hermes, Zeus, etc. Kurios was also used in secular Greek to identify the head of the family, who was lord of his wife and children (compare 1Sa 1:8, Ge 18:22 referred to in the NT - 1Pe 3:6-note where "lord" = kurios)
Detzler writes that kurios
When one referred to someone as "Lord" they were not only acknowledging the position of authority, but they were also referring to someone who, in that position of authority had a concern and a passion for others who are under his authority.
Carpenter and Comfort comment that...
Renn observes that...
William Barclay (not always thoroughly conservative and orthodox) says kurios...
Green, et al...
Kurios is found 722x in 665v (GNT = Greek New Testament by Kurt Aland, et al) and 748x in 687v in the Greek Textus Receptus (used to translate KJV - eg, cp Mt 13:51NAS with Mt 13:51KJV). Kurios is used some 400x in salvation passages when we are told to believe in the Lord compared some 24 uses of the word "Savior" as a reference to Jesus (Note: To be accurate, in context some of these 24 uses of Savior refer ot the Father). Kurios is used in over 9000 verses in the OT Septuagint (LXX) and about 6000 uses of kurios translate the Hebrew (YHWH) for Jehovah and about 3000 uses translate Adon/Adonai.
In the book of Acts, Luke refers to Jesus only two times as Savior but some 92 times as Lord. As noted above, in the entire NT, Jesus is referred to as Savior far less often than He is referred to as Lord. When the two titles are mentioned together, Lord always precedes Savior. It is interesting that the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, does not refer to Jesus as Savior, but uses "Lord" some 22 times, some references indicating God the Father (Re 4:8-note, Re 4:11-note, Re 5:9-note, Re 11:15, 16, 17-note), some God the Son (Re 1:8-note [some see this as the Father], Re 11:8) and once as a title of respect by John to an angel (Re 7:14). Tony Garland commenting on Revelation 1:8 writes that
The idea expressed by kurios in the NT is often that of one to whom a person or thing belongs or the one who has disposition of men or property...
Kurios = Can signify a title of honor and as such is often translated "sir" (Mt 13:27; 21:30; 27:63; Lk 13:8; Jn 4:11, 15, 19, 49; 5:7; 12:21; 20:15) which expresses respect and reverence such as when servants salute their master (Mt 13:27; Lk 13:8; Lk 14:22ESV; etc.), of a son to his father (Mt. 21:29), citizens toward magistrates (Mt 27:63)
Kurios = Used in the sense of one's husband (1Pe 3:6-note, Lxx of Ge 18:12).
Kurios = Lord in the sense of anyone wishing to honor a man of distinction (Mt 8:2, 6, 8; 15:27; Mk 7:28; Lk 5:12; etc.)
Kurios = Used in Acts 25:26 as a reference to the Roman emperor.
Kurios = Used in 1Co 8:5 to refer to the false, pagan "so-called gods".
Kurios = Lord as used of the disciples toward Jesus, Who was their teacher and their master (Mt. 8:25; 16:22; Lk 9:54; Jn 11:12; etc.).
Kurios = As "Master" emphasizing the one who has legal power over someone (eg slaves, servants) or some thing (property, land) - (Mt 10:24, 25, 24:45, 46, 48, 50; 25:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26; Mk 13:35; Lk 5:5; 8:24, 45; 9:33, 49; 12:36, 37, 42, 43, 45, 46; 14:21, 22, 23; 16:3, 5, 8; 17:13; 19:16, 18, 20, 25; Jn 13:16; 15:15, 20; Acts 16:16, 19, Ro 6:9, 14; 14:4; 1Co 3:10; Ep 6:9; Col 3:22, 23, 24, Col 4:1; 2Ti 2:21; 2Pe 2:1; Jude 1:4; compare similar uses in Lxx - Ex 21:28, 29, 34, 22:8). Note that kurios translated as "Master" in the gospels often reflects the disciples interacting with the Lord. These uses indicate that they understood even if imperfectly their servile relationship to Him (excepting of course Judas Iscariot).
Compare this meaning of kurios ("Master") with the Greek word despotes [word study] (from deo = tie or bind + posis = a husband; English - "despot" which can have a negative sense of one who exercises tyrannical power) which is used 9 times in the NT (Lk 2:29 Acts 4:24 1Ti 6:1, 2, 2Ti 2:21-note, Titus 2:9-note, 1Pe 2:18-note, 2Pe 2:1-note, Rev 6:10-note) five of which refer to the master of the house. (See also notes below) Originally, despotes indicated absolute, unrestricted authority, so that the Greeks refused the title to any but their false gods. In NT despotes and kurios are used somewhat interchangeably of God, as well as of masters of servants. Despotes is used to refer to Christ (2Pe 2:1-note, Rev 6:10-note Jude 1:4; cp uses of despotes in the Lxx - Ge15:2, 8; Isa 1:24) Zodhiates (Ref or Logos) adds that "Despotes wields unlimited authority, while kurios exercises morally restricted authority for good. Jesus is predominantly called Kurios, Lord, because of His omnipotent concern. God is Kurios, Lord, because He is despotes of all things (cf. Job 5:8ff.)"
Kurios = title given to God, the ruler of the universe, with the definite article (ho = "the" - "the Lord", the definite article indicates not just any "Lord" but the one and only Lord) (Mt. 1:22; 5:33; Mk 5:19; Acts 7:33; 2Ti 1:16, 18; etc.). Kurios is used to refer to God without the definite article which stresses the nature or character (Mt. 21:9; 27:10; Mk 13:20; Lk 2:9, 23, 26; Heb. 7:21; etc.).
Kurios = Jesus as the Messiah, the Christos, Who by virtue of His death acquired the special ownership of mankind (even those who never in this present life acknowledge Him as "Lord" - see Php 2:9, 10, 11-note) and after His resurrection was exalted by a partnership in the divine administration (Acts 10:36; Ro 14:8-note; 1Co 7:22; 8:6).
Kurios - 717x in 660v in NT - 640 refer to God -
Observe - Most of the uses of kurios are by Luke (Gospel and Acts - some 210x) and Paul's letters (275x) which NIDNTT postulates is because of "the fact that Luke wrote for, and Paul to, people who lived in areas dominated by Gk. culture and language. On the other hand, the Gospel of Mark, more firmly based in Jewish Christian tradition, uses the kyrios-title only 18 times, and these mostly in quotations."
NAS = lord(10), Lord (626), Lord of lords(2), Lord's(12), lords(1), master(38), master's(3), masters(8), masters'(1), owner(6), owners(1), sir(11), sirs(1).
The following New Testament phrases help one appreciate the meaning of kurios as it refers to Jesus, Who is described as...
The following list of seven general uses of kurios in the NT is based on a paper by Farstad in the Journal of Grace Evangelical Society (Volume 2, 1989).
A Few NT — Uses of Kurios
Nathan Stone discusses the use of kurios in the NT as it parallels the use of the Hebrew Name of God Adonai in the the OT...
F B Meyer has the following comments on make an impression, as if they were “talking big” and making enormous promises. the affirmation which one made was a lie or promise never even meant to be kept, that did not disturb their conscience long had sworn oath “to LORD.”Mt 5:33-37...
SIMPLICITY IN SPEECH
The subject of swearing does not seem to promise much edification to an audience conversant with the sublimer mysteries of our religion: but, if our blessed Lord saw fit to speak of it so fully in his Sermon on the Mount, we may be sure that our time cannot be misspent in investigating, as we purpose to do,
I. The nature and extent of the prohibition before us—
You must be aware that there is a very respectable body of people in this kingdom, who not only deny the lawfulness of oaths altogether, but make the abstaining from them an essential part of their religion; insomuch that the legislature, which exacts an oath of all others, allows them to give their evidence in a way of simple assertion. Now these people understand the prohibition in ourtext as unlimited: whereas we consider it as limited.
To exhibit it in its true light, I shall shew,
1. To what it does not extend—
[It does not extend then to oaths taken in a court of judicature. This is evident from their being absolutely enjoined on many occasions by God himself — — — Moreover, our blessed Lord submitted to be examined upon oath; and, on being adjured by the living God, gave a reply, which nothing else could extort from him. And by his disciples also such an use of oaths is manifestly approved: it is said, that an oath for confirmation is an “end of all strife.” Now then I ask, would such kind of oaths have been commanded of God, taken by Christ, and approved by the Apostles, if there had been any thing necessarily and inherently wrong in them? We are well assured, that had they been in themselves morally evil, the use of them would never have been so sanctioned.
Nor does the prohibition absolutely extend to the use of them on any other solemn occasion. On some particular occasions they were imposed and taken by holy men of old. Abraham exacted an oath of his servant whom he sent to seek a wife for his son Isaac. Jacob took an oath of Joseph, as Joseph also did of the children of Israel, that they would carry up his bones to Canaan, and bury them in the promised land. And Jonathan made David swear to him to exercise tenderness towards his posterity, after that he should be seated on the throne of Israel. Under the New Testament, the most distinguished of all the Apostles very frequently made an appeal to God, when the subject was such as needed a solemn confirmation, and could not be confirmed in any other way — — —
Who that considers this statement can doubt for a moment the admissibility of oaths on such occasions as could not otherwise be satisfactorily determined?]
2. To what it does extend—
[The foregoing limitation is intimated even in the text: for though the words, “Swear not at all,” appear to be indefinite, yet it is plain that the prohibition was designed only to reach to such oaths as were used in common “conversation:” “Swear not; but let your conversation be Yea, yea, Nay, nay.”
Nevertheless the import of the prohibition is very extensive. It extends, first, to all irreverent appeals to God. The “taking of God’s holy name in vain” is forbidden in the third commandment; which our blessed Lord is here rescuing from the false glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees. They thought that nothing but perjury was a violation of that commandment: but he informs them that all light mention of the name of God, and all irreverent appeals to him, were sinful. Well would it be, if they who customarily curse and swear, and they also who occasionally use the words “God knoweth,” were sensible of the guilt which they contract!
The prohibition extends also to all swearing by the creature. The Jews had a much greater reverence for the name of God than the generality of Christians have. Being averse to mention that, they invented an inferior kind of oaths, and swore “by heaven, or by the earth, or by Jerusalem, or by their own heads.” To these they annexed less sanctity, and were therefore less scrupulous about the violation of them. But our Lord shews, that to swear by the creature was, in fact, to swear by the Creator himself; since every creature was his, and subsisted only by his providential care. On another occasion he entered more fully still into this argument, and shewed the folly of recurring to such subterfuges. In fact, if a separation could be made, there would be to the full as much guilt in swearing by the creature as in swearing by the Creator; since it would be an ascribing of omniscience and omnipotence to that which is incapable of knowing the things about which the appeal is made, or of executing judgment between the parties. This is idolatry; and, as idolatry, will be visited with God’s heaviest displeasure. This statement is abundantly confirmed by the Apostle James, who prohibits the same kind of oaths under the pain of eternal condemnation.
Once more, the prohibition extends to all unnecessary confirmation of our word. All vehement protestations are unbecoming the Christian character. Unless the urgency of the occasion require some additional testimony, a simple affirmation or negation is all that we should use: our “Yea should be yea, and our Nay, nay.” If questioned, we may repeat our answer; “Yea, yea,” or “Nay, nay;” but beyond that we ought not to go, except the authority of a magistrate, or the importance of the subject, absolutely require it.]
Having thus endeavoured to mark the extent of the prohibition, we will proceed to state,
II. The reasons of it—
Our Lord says, “Whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.” The words which are here translated “evil,” may also mean, “the evil one:” and in this sense many understand them. If we take them in the former sense, it relates to the source of such expressions; and if in the latter sense, it refers rather to their tendency: since Satan instigates men to swear, in order that he may accomplish by that means his own malevolent designs. Both senses being equally good and proper, we shall include both.
Our Lord then prohibits oaths, because they are evil,
1. In their source—
[Whence do they spring? Frequently from an undue vehemence of temper. Those who are irascible, almost always are intemperate in their expressions. They will swear, if not by God, yet by their life, their soul, their faith; or they will pledge their honour, which yet is God’s, as much as their “head” is God’s. In short, whether they affirm or deny, they will, directly or indirectly, make God a party in their cause. If reproved for this, they will urge their passion as an excuse; but this is to urge one sin as an excuse for another: and, if we grant that hasty expressions originate in hasty tempers, they are on that very account exceeding criminal. They “come of evil,” and are for that very reason to be condemned.
But they arise also from low thoughts of the importance of truth. A person duly sensible of the sacredness of truth will not hastily convey an idea that his simple assertions are unworthy of credit: he will be cautious what he affirms: and, having affirmed any thing, he will expect his word to be taken as much as his oath. If unreasonable persons require more, he will rather leave the confirmation of his word to other testimony, than admit, by unnecessary oaths or protestations, the existence of an intention to deceive. In direct opposition to such a character is he, who wantonly transgresses the commandment in our text: he proves by that very act, that he has no such high sense of honour, no such value for truth, no such disposition to maintain his character for veracity. What then must that habit be, which so degrades every one that yields to it; or rather, I should say, which marks him so destitute of the noblest attributes of man?
We may further add, that all violations of this commandment proceed from a disregard of God, and of every thing belonging to him. Who that had a reverence for the Divine Majesty, would dare to profane his name, and to appeal to him on every trivial occasion? People, when they take God’s name in vain, account it sufficient to say, “I did not think of it:” but what excuse is that? It says, in fact, ‘I have no reverence for God: he has forbidden such levity; but I have no fear of offending him: he is present when I profane his name; but I have no wish to please him. Were I in the presence of an earthly monarch, I could take heed to my words, and put a bridle on my tongue; but, though I know that God both sees and hears me, I regard him no more than if he did not exist. It is true, he declares, that, “if I take his name in vain, he will not hold me guiltless;” but “my lips are my own: who is he, that he should be Lord over me?” Let him say what he will, or do what he will, I am determined to have my own way, and to set him at defiance.’
Once more I ask, what must that habit be, which betrays such a disposition as this?]
2. In their tendency—
[Satan, “the god of this world,” is ever “working in all the children of disobedience.” As he put it into the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira to lie, so he puts it into the hearts of ungodly men to swear. By this he has several objects to accomplish.
By this he hopes, first, to eradicate truth and virtue from the world. When he has prevailed on men so to cast off the fear of God as to take his name in vain, he will easily instigate them to any thing else. Having already lowered their estimate of truth, he will soon lead them to overstep the bounds of truth, and occasionally to confirm their falsehoods also with oaths. Indeed he stirs up men to confirm with oaths that which is doubtful, more frequently than that which is true; and consequently to perjure themselves, without being at all aware what guilt they are contracting: and could he influence all, as he does the great mass of those who are under his dominion, there would be no longer any truth or virtue to be found. He was a liar from the beginning; and he would take care that all his children should be known by their resemblance to him.
By this too he hopes, in the next place, to bring God himself into contempt. How ardently he desires to attain this object, we need not say: but this is clear, that the means he uses to attain it are admirably adapted to the end proposed. Tell a person who is accustomed to swear, that God is displeased with him; and you make no more impression on him than if he had never heard of such a Being. Tell him that he shall be fined a few shillings, and he is all alive to the subject: but if you speak of “the judgments of God, he puffs at them” with perfect contempt. Nor is it in the speaker only that these effects are produced: the hearers of such conversation gradually lose their abhorrence of the sin, and their tender concern for the honour of their God: and the more this insensibility is diffused, the more does Satan exult and triumph.
Lastly, by this Satan aims to destroy the souls of men. What destruction he makes in this nation by means of oaths, none but God can tell. This appears to many to be a little sin; and Satan easily seduces men to the commission of it. But, even if it drew no other sins along with it, it would not be small, nor would the consequences of it be unimportant. God has said, that “he will not hold such persons guiltless.” They may hold themselves guiltless, it is true; but God will not form his judgment according to their estimate: he has fixed his determination, and will never reverse it. This Satan knows: and if he can but deceive us with vain hopes, he has gained his end. Yes, in truth, that roaring lion goeth about, seeking to devour us; and then does he most prosper in his endeavours, when he leads us to “sport ourselves with our own deceivings.”]
1. Those who are addicted to the habit of swearing—
[I speak not to those who are familiar with oaths and imprecations (if their own consciences do not speak to them, all that I can say will be to little purpose) but to those who make only occasional appeals to God, or take his name in vain. View your sin as it has been set forth: view it in its source. What undue warmth of temper does it manifest! what insensibility to the value and importance of truth! and what a profane disregard of God! View it in its tendency: see how it tends to eradicate virtue from the world; to bring God himself into contempt, and to ruin the souls of men. Is this a habit that you will indulge? What do you gain by it? By other sins you obtain some kind of gratification; but by this, none at all: it brings no pleasure, no profit, no honour, along with it. In the commission of other sins you sell your souls for something; in this, for nought; you do not sell, but give, yourselves to your great adversary. O that God may impress this thought upon your minds, and that this word may be ever sounding in your ears, “Swear not at all!”]
2. Those who are free from that habit—
[Shall I tell you what the ungodly world are ready to say to you? “These people will not swear; but they will lie.” Dearly beloved, this would be a dreadful reproach indeed if it were true: and whosoever he be to whom this reproach attaches, that person has reason to tremble for his state before God. Tell me not of faith, or love, or any thing else; for this is certain, that “all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” Christian tradesmen, consider this in your dealings with mankind; for “as the nail sticketh between the jointings of the stones, so doth lying between buying and selling.” Christian servants, remember this when tempted to conceal a fault, or to exculpate yourselves from some blame. Let all, of every class, and every degree, remember this. If ye be Christ’s indeed, ye will remember him “in whose lips there was no guile found.” Let truth be in your inward parts, and let it be ever dear to your souls. Set a watch before the door of your lips; for “of every idle word you shall give account in the day of judgment;” yea, “by your words you shall be justified; and by your words you shall be condemned.”] (Matthew 5:33-37 Swearing Forbidden)
Flavell Lee Mortimer (1802-1878) - Matthew 5:33-37. Christ forbids irreverent swearing.
The Lord Jesus observes the expressions we use in our common conversation; he notices every reproachful word we utter to each other; he notices also every irreverent word we speak of God (cp Mt 12:36). He heard with displeasure the Jews of old calling their brethren raca and fool (Mt 5:22), and swearing by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem, and by their own heads. Let us never forget that He still listens to our words, and is displeased with every profane expression, such as, "God bless us," "The Lord knows," "Upon my soul." Ungodly people are so much in the habit of uttering these exclamations, that they scarcely know when they use them (Ed: And sadly in our post-Christian culture in America, the glorious names of "Christ" and "Jesus" have become common words used as profanity! The Name above names used in the basest of ways!). But they could not have acquired the habit, if they had felt reverence for the majesty of the Almighty God (Ed: cp similar idea of the effect of the "fear of the LORD" on "evil" - Pr 8:13, 16:6, Job 1:1). But when men became sinners, they began to despise Him. If they were to hear His dreadful voice, they would be filled, as Adam was, with fear (Ge 3:8); but when they do not see Him, they feel no dread, and care not how they insult His Name. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you use His name in vain." (Dt 5:11)
But with what solemn awe the Son of God speaks of His Father! Even the heavens and earth are not common things in His sight. When we look up at the blue vault above our heads, we are gazing upon the throne of its Creator; and when we look around upon this green and smiling earth, we are gazing upon the footstool of its glorious Monarch—even our own heads are His, and not ours; for He made them, while we cannot make one hair, white or black. If men were not sinners, they would be satisfied with saying "yes" and "no," without using oaths to confirm their words. For Jesus said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one—or the evil heart."
There is one difficulty that may be urged respecting the rule Christ laid down. How is it that Paul in his epistles often appeals to God, saying, "God is my witness, I speak the truth in Christ; I lie not. I call God for a record upon my soul." Did Paul speak profanely? That is impossible, for he spoke by the Holy Spirit. It is therefore lawful to appeal to God on solemn important occasions; as in a court of justice, when our words may affect the life of a fellow-creature. It is even mentioned in Isaiah as a proof of piety in future days, that men instead of swearing by false gods, will swear by the true God. "He who swears in the earth, shall swear by the God of truth." (Is. 65:16.) In Deuteronomy also, God said, "You shall fear the Lord your God, and serve him, and swear by his name." (Dt 6:13.) It must therefore be lawful on some occasions to use solemn oaths.
How condescending God has been to us in having used an oath to confirm His promise to us! Because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, and he said, "As I live." This he did to quiet the unbelieving fears of his own people. He says to each of those who have fled to Christ for pardon, "Surely blessing I will bless you." He adds his oath to his word, and says, "As I live." Thus by two immutable or unchangeable things, his word and his oath, He gives strong consolation to the poor penitent trembling at his footstool (He 6:17, 18). He uses the same oath when He threatens to destroy His enemies. "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, 'I live forever.' If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold in judgment, I will render vengeance to my enemies, and will reward them that hate me." (Deut. 32:40, 41.) Well, then, may we fear this glorious and fearful name, "The Lord your God." (A Devotional Commentary on the Gospels)
Amplified: But I tell you, Do not bind yourselves by an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: But I say, don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne.
35 And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: but I say to you, don't use an oath at all. Don't swear by Heaven for it is God's throne (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: But I say to you, Do not put yourself under oath at all, neither by heaven, because it is the throne of God (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: but I -- I say to you, not to swear at all; neither by the heaven, because it is the throne of God,
BUT I SAY TO YOU, MAKE NO OATH AT ALL, EITHER BY HEAVEN, FOR IT IS THE THRONE OF GOD: ego de lego (1SPAI) umin me omosai (AAN) holos; mete en to ourano, hoti thronos estin (3SPAI) tou theou (Deuteronomy 23:21, 22, 23; Ecclesiastes 9:2; James 5:12) (Mt 23:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Isaiah 57:15; 66:1)
But (term of contrast) - Now Jesus introduces the contrast.
I say to you - 131x mostly in the Gospels - Matt 3:9; 5:18, 20, 22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44; 6:2, 5, 16, 25, 29; 8:10f; 10:15, 23, 42; 11:11, 22, 24; 12:6, 31; 13:17; 16:28; 17:12, 20; 18:3, 10, 13, 18f; 19:9, 23f, 28; 21:21, 31, 43; 23:36, 39; 24:2, 34, 47; 25:12, 40, 45; 26:13, 21, 29, 34; Mark 2:11; 3:28; 5:41; 8:12; 9:1, 13, 41; 10:15, 29; 11:23f; 12:43; 13:30, 37; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; Luke 3:8; 4:24f; 5:24; 6:27; 7:9, 14, 26, 28, 47; 9:27; 10:12, 24; 11:9; 12:4, 8, 22, 37, 44, 59; 13:35; 16:9; 18:17, 29; 21:3, 32; 22:16, 18, 34; 23:43; John 1:51; 3:3, 5, 11; 4:35; 5:19, 24f; 6:26, 32, 47, 53; 8:34, 51, 58; 10:1, 7; 12:24; 13:16, 20f, 38; 14:10, 12; 16:20, 23; 21:18; Acts 5:38; 1 Cor 11:22; Rev 2:24.
The specific phrase but I say to you - 14x, all by Jesus - Matt 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44; 12:6; 17:12; 26:29; Mark 9:13; Luke 4:25; 6:27; 9:27; Rev 2:24
Make no oath (3660) (omnuo) means to affirm the truth of a statement by calling on a divine being to execute sanctions against a person if the statement in question is not true.
Omnuo - 26x in 20v - Matt 5:34, 36; 23:16, 18, 20ff; 26:74; Mark 6:23; 14:71; Luke 1:73; Acts 2:30; Heb 3:11, 18; 4:3; 6:13, 16; 7:21; Jas 5:12; Rev 10:6. NAS = make an oath(2), swear(6), swears(10), swore(6), sworn(2).
Heaven (3772) (ouranos) refers to the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it and in context refers to the portion or portions of the universe generally distinguished from planet earth. Ouranos describes literally the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome. In the NT heaven and earth comprise all of creation, though the two are distinctive (Mt 6:9-note). God spoke both into existence and heaven is His realm. In Hebrew thought heaven was Jehovah's dwelling place and is the believer's true and eternal home.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology has a long article...
Notice that in the following Old Testament passages regarding oaths, all allude directly or indirectly to the oath in God's Name or to the LORD...
So the question you may be asking is "Why does Jesus condemn their use of oaths?" Most commentators agree that Jesus is not making a blanket statement condemning oaths per se. What He does condemn is the ruse of the religious leaders who swore oaths that "split theological hairs" by their use of words such as "heaven... earth... Jerusalem". The Jewish legal experts had many ways to get around the law and break oaths, so that a person’s promises might mean nothing. In their perverted logic, the religious leaders felt they had cleverly avoided the use of God's Name for if they had used His Name or made it to the Lord, it would have been binding. These "pseudo-vows" they reasoned were not inextricably binding and could be broken with (in their way of thinking) no fear of sinning against God. Jesus "nails the coffin shut" on this genre of vow, explaining that the religious leaders were deceiving themselves for the very places they mentioned were all associated with God and thus the oaths associated with those place names were just as binding and unbreakable as they would have been if they used God's Name. Jesus ups the standard telling us to speak the truth and not embellish our conversation with oaths that are supposed to strengthen our words. Have such integrity that people will believe what you say.
C H Spurgeon...
Illustration of an Oath Too Late - McIan of Glencoe meant to surrender, no doubt about it, when in 1691 William the Third gave the word that all royalists must take the oath or take the consequences. McIan meant to surrender, to go to the place where all the Highland chieftains were to go, and take the oath of allegiance, but he said, "I will be the last. I will go at just the last moment. The others have gone ahead, the others have been at Inverness weeks ago, to take the oath," and he started a few days before the thirty-first of the last month, really meaning to take the oath: but a snow-storm came on and detained him, struggling and stumbling through the snows. McIan arrived three days behind the time fixed, and the king's messenger had gone. There was the tramp of the government army northward to Glencoe, and in the morning the valley that had been so peaceful the night before ran red with blood. Too late! You mean to be saved. Do you know, hell is full of those who meant to be saved, meant to give themselves to Christ, meant to do it, yet are lost? Oh, see to it that you get Christ while there is opportunity given! Oh, close with Him! Why risk eternity?—John Robertson. (One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations)
Throne (2362) (thronos) is a relatively large and elaborate seat upon which ruler sits on official occasions. Thronos is used to denote a seat of authority, and hence a symbol of power (Lk 1:52). Then it becomes the synonym for power of the highest order (Rev 13:2), and stands for those who exercise the power.
Thronos - 62x in 51v - Matt 5:34; 19:28; 23:22; 25:31; Luke 1:32, 52; 22:30; Acts 2:30; 7:49; Col 1:16; Heb 1:8; 4:16; 8:1; 12:2; Rev 1:4; 2:13; 3:21; 4:2ff, 9f; 5:1, 6f, 11, 13; 6:16; 7:9ff, 15, 17; 8:3; 11:16; 12:5; 13:2; 14:3; 16:10, 17; 19:4f; 20:4, 11f; 21:3, 5; 22:1, 3
The religious leaders who practiced these subtle "word games" either conveniently dismissed or were completely ignorant of such corroborating Old Testament passages such as the following...
So when one swore an oath “by Jerusalem,” was not Jerusalem the city of the great King? So clearly, when oaths were sworn with an appeal to any of these places, they were as definitely binding as if the name of "Jehovah" (LORD) had been invoked in connection with them! To break them was sin, and that is precisely what the religious leaders were doing!
For discussion on swearing by one's head in an attempt to escape a binding oath, see discussion on Mt 5:36.
Most commentators agree that Jesus is not declaring a blanket condemnation on vows for this practice is referred to elsewhere in the NT in a positive light (see Luke 1:73; He 6:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18-see notes Heb 6:13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18 which refers to God Himself making the vow!) and practiced (see note Romans 1:9). Oath-taking is permitted, but it is not encouraged. In the courtroom oath taking is permitted. As discussed, Jesus' main point was to emphasize the importance of truthfulness in our speech and to minimize the need for believers to resort to oaths in our everyday conversation. We should be such men and women of our word that any statement we make to anyone does not need to be "validated" by an oath.
Freeman in Manners and Customs of the Bible comments that...
Amplified: Or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: nor by the earth for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great king. (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: nor by the earth, because it is the footstool of His feet, neither by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: nor by the earth, because it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is a city of a great king,
OR BY THE EARTH, FOR IT IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF HIS FEET OR BY JERUSALEM, FOR IT IS THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING (Psalms 99:5) (2Chronicles 6:6; Psalms 48:2; 87:2; Malachi 1:14; Revelation 21:2,10)
Or by the earth...by Jerusalem - The NLT paraphrases it "And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King." Instead of swearing we should worship, the psalmist exhorting us to "Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool; (Why?) Holy is He." (Ps 99:5). And of Jerusalem the psalmist says "Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion [in] the far north, The city of the great King." (Ps 48:2).
For...for - Always pause and ponder this term of explanation (used twice in this one passage) asking your Teacher, the Spirit, to enlighten the eyes of your heart (1Cor 2:10-13). As you make it your practice to pause and ponder connective words like for (compare - therefore, for this reason, so that, but, etc), you will be amazed at some of the insights you will glean from just slowing down, being still and ceasing to strive (e.g., speed reading to finish your "daily reading")!
As explained more fully in the above discussion (Mt 5:34), what Jesus is forbidding is the flippant, profane, or careless use of oaths in everyday speech. We hear them everyday in our modern world -- "I swear to God that it's true." "As God is my witness, I'll do it."
In Jesus' day as in ours such oaths were often employed for deceptive purposes. To make the person being victimized believe the truth was being told, the Jews would swear using religious jargon which they did not intend to honor. But it all was in God’s creation, so it drew Him in and produced guilt before Him, exactly as if the oath were made in His name. Jesus suggested that all our speech should be as if we were under an oath to tell the truth.
Hughes writes that "The Mishna devotes one whole section called Shebuoth ("Oaths") to an elaborate discussion of when oaths are binding and when they are not. The swearing of oaths had degenerated into a system of rules as to when you could lie and when you could not. The results were incredible. There was an ongoing epidemic of frivolous swearing, and oaths were continually mingled with everyday speech: "By your life," "by my beard," "may I never see the comfort of Israel if . . ." There was an inevitable trivialization of everyday language and integrity. It became common practice to convince another that you were telling the truth (while lying) by bringing some person or eminent object into reference. The deception was very subtle....One rabbi taught that if one swore by Jerusalem one was not bound, but if one swore toward Jerusalem, it was binding - evidently because that in some way implied the Divine Name. All of this produced in its adherents a profound spiritual schizophrenia: "I'm not telling the truth, but I'm really not lying." Their use of oaths was like children saying, "I have my fingers crossed, so I don't have to tell the truth." (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books)
Hastings Bible Dictionary of the NT (G W Stewart) has and excellent entry on OATHS - Christ's teaching on the subject of oaths is set forth in one of the sections of the Sermon on the Mount, in which He contrasts His doctrine with that of the earlier dispensation (Matthew 5:33-37). The position of the Law on the subject is summed up in the statement, "Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths." This is a combination of different passages in the Law (Leviticus 19:12 , Numbers 30:3 , Deuteronomy 23:22), of which the first deals specially with oaths, the others with vows. But in point of obligation oaths and vows were recognized in the Rabbinical schools as on the same footing (Talmud und Midrasch), and the statement in which Christ here represents the position of the Law was, no doubt, the current formula in which, in these schools, the doctrine of the Law on the question was summed up. in opposition to this dictum of the Law, Christ lays down an absolute prohibition, "Swear not at all." Matthew 5:34 ), and proceeds to draw out the full meaning of the all by showing that His prohibition covers every appeal to anything beside us in confirmation of our word, and not merely such as expressly introduce the Name of Jehovah. The casuists among the scribes made a distinction between more and less binding oaths. The former class consisted of those which invoked the name of God; the latter used such forms as "by heaven," "by earth," "by Jerusalem," "by the life of my head." An oath by heaven and earth, for instance, was not considered to be binding, because one did not require to think of the Creator; whereas if one swore by one of the letters of the Divine name, or by one of the Divine attributes, that was regarded as binding, and he who treated such an oath lightly was punishable History of the Jewish People). (For full discussion see Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament -Oaths)