Oath Taking: Should Christians Ever Take One?

Based on Matt 5:33-37, “Thou shalt not swear”. Should Christians ever take one? If so, on what occasion? Is Oath Taking a solemn occasion? How could it be in like of Matt 5:34? Is it not Jesus lay down a principle that would make oath taking needless? He teaches that the exact truth should be the law of speech. "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one." [Matthew 5:39, R.V.]. CM


  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,271

    Good question:

    5:34–37 Christ referred to the old covenant commands to keep one’s oaths (Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21–23). He condemned the practice of swearing oaths lightly by avoiding direct reference to God (23:16–22) and commended directness, honesty, and integrity in all speech (Yea, yea; Nay, nay; James 5:12). The Lord did not forbid all vows, but modeled reverent and truthful speech under oath (26:63–64; cf. Gen. 14:22; 21:24; Josh. 2:12; 2 Cor. 1:23; Heb. 6:16).

    Joel R. Beeke, Michael P. V. Barrett, and Gerald M. Bilkes, eds., The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014), 1364.

  • GaoLuGaoLu Posts: 1,367
    edited October 2018

    My personal choice is not to take oaths. American courts honor that and fully allow a person to simply tell the truth without taking an oath.

    I can't imagine what enhancement taking an oath to other men provides.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 3,005

    "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one." [Matthew 5:39, R.V.]

    These words condemn all those meaningless phrases and expletives that border on profanity. They condemn the deceptive compliments, the evasion of truth, the flattering phrases, the exaggerations, the misrepresentations in trade, that are current in society and in the business world. They teach that no one who tries to appear what he is not, or whose words do not convey the real sentiment of his heart, can be called truthful.

    The section on oaths in Matt 5:33-37, for instance, is related to Lev 19:12 which says, ―And you shall not swear falsely by my name and profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. -- Doeve, Jan Willem. 1953. Jewish Hermeneutics in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts. Assen: Van Gorcum & Company., pg 193.

    So, shall we, or shall we not, take an oath? CM


    --Bregman, Marc. 1993. Review of James L. Kugel, In Potiphar‘s House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts. Journal of Religion 73.2: 186-187
    -- Newman, Louis E. 1989. ―Law, Virtue, and Supererogation in the Halakha: The Problem of 'Lifnim Mishurat Hadin‘ Reconsidered." Journal of Jewish Studies 40.1: 61-88
    -- Meeks, Wayne A. 2004. ― "A Nazi New Testament Professor reads the Bible: The Strange Case of Gerhard Kittel". Pages 513-544 in The Idea of Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Honor of James L. Kugel. Edited by Hindy Najman and Judith H. Newman. Leiden/Boston: Brill.
    -- Sigal, Philip. [1986] 2007. The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew. Atlanta: SBL.,pg 93, 96-97.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 3,005

    Although the Anabaptists were not a homogenous group; often each leader had his own understanding and would stand up for his particular convictions. In 1527 some of the Anabaptists met at Schleitheim, in the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen, and agreed on the beliefs they held in common but also, to some degree, points in which they differed from the other Reformers.

    There were seven articles in all (other six, upon request). It's the "seventh article" I would note here which "dealt with the oath. Anabaptists believed that Christ forbade all swearing and oath taking. The Christian's word, yes or no, should be enough".

    Is there any truth in the "seventh article" of the Anabaptists for today's Christians? CM


    John H. Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine From the Bible to the Present (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1973), pp. 281ff.

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