Does Matthew 5:34 speak against swearing in legal courts?

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“But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:34-37).

In Matthew 5, Jesus is not referring to swearing in legal courts (Matthew 26:64), but to oaths that were common among the Jews. Christ Himself answered under oath when asked by Caiaphas, “And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven  (Matthew 26:63, 64). Here, Caiaphas asked Jesus to take an oath when he said “I adjure thee.” Jesus, then, acknowledged that what Caiaphas said is true, showing that judicial oaths are OK to take.

And Paul repeatedly invoked God as witness that what he said was true “Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth” (2 Cor. 1:23; Also 11:31; Thess. 5:27). If there is anyone who can consistently testify under oath, it is the Christian.

The Ten Commandments do not forbid oaths, but perjury ““You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain… You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:7, 16). False swearing, or perjury, has always been considered a serious moral and social offense deserving of the most severe punishment. The careless use of God’s name denotes a lack of reverence for Him. If our thinking is on a spiritually elevated stand, our words will also be elevated, and will be dictated by what is honest and sincere (Phil. 4:8).

Outside the legal courts, the Christian that speaks the truth makes taking oaths unnecessary. The practice of invoking the name of God at certain times implies that what a man says under such circumstances is more to be depended on than what he says at other times. Christ asked His children to be truthfulness in all the relationships of life. Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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