James 5:12
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple "Yes" or "No." Otherwise you will be condemned.

New Living Translation
But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.

English Standard Version
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

New American Standard Bible
But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

King James Bible
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your "yes" must be "yes," and your "no" must be "no," so that you won't fall under judgment.

International Standard Version
Above all, brothers, do not swear oaths by heaven, by earth, or by any other object. Instead, let your "Yes" mean yes and your "No" mean no! Otherwise, you may fall under condemnation.

NET Bible
And above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your "Yes" be yes and your "No" be no, so that you may not fall into judgment.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But above all things, my brethren, do not be swearing vows, neither by Heaven, neither by The Earth, neither by any other oath; let your word be, 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no', lest you be condemned under the judgment.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Above all things, my brothers and sisters, do not take an oath on anything in heaven or on earth. Do not take any oath. If you mean yes, say yes. If you mean no, say no. Do this so that you won't be condemned.

Jubilee Bible 2000
But above all things, my brethren, do not swear by heaven or by the earth or by any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no, no; lest ye fall into condemnation.

King James 2000 Bible
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest you fall under judgment.

American King James Version
But above all things, my brothers, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation.

American Standard Version
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath. But let your speech be, yea, yea: no, no: that you fall not under judgment.

Darby Bible Translation
But before all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, that ye do not fall under judgment.

English Revised Version
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment.

Webster's Bible Translation
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea, be yea: and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Weymouth New Testament
But above all things, my brethren, do not swear, either by Heaven or by the earth, or with any other oath. Let your 'yes' be simply 'yes,' and your 'no' be simply 'no;' that you may not come under condemnation.

World English Bible
But above all things, my brothers, don't swear, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your "yes" be "yes," and your "no," "no;" so that you don't fall into hypocrisy.

Young's Literal Translation
And before all things, my brethren, do not swear, neither by the heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath, and let your Yes be Yes, and the No, No; that under judgment ye may not fall.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:12-18 The sin of swearing is condemned; but how many make light of common profane swearing! Such swearing expressly throws contempt upon God's name and authority. This sin brings neither gain, nor pleasure, nor reputation, but is showing enmity to God without occasion and without advantage It shows a man to be an enemy to God, however he pretends to call himself by his name, or sometimes joins in acts of worship. But the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In a day of affliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The spirit is then most humble, and the heart is broken and tender. It is necessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; and prayer is the appointed means for obtaining and increasing these graces. Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness it is not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith. The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin. Let nothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistaken fancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution and exhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, where the duties of a godly life have been disregarded. To acknowledge our faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace and brotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power of prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not be so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 12. - Exhortation against swearing, founded on our Lord's teaching in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:33-37 - a passage which was evidently present to St. James's thoughts. He, like his Master, "lays down rules and maxims and principles without specifying the limitations and exceptions." The sermon on the mount, as interpreted by our Lord's own actions, is a clear witness that this formed Ms method of teaching. If, then, his words do not touch the case of oaths solemnly tendered to men in a court of justice (and his own acceptance of an adjuration on his trial shows that they do not), no more do St. James's. Both our Lord and his apostle had probably in view "only those profane adjurations with which men who have no deep-seated fear of God garnish their common talk" (see Sadler's 'Commentary on St. Matthew,' p. 66). The special oaths mentioned were those in vogue among the Jews, and just the very ones which our Lord himself had specified (comp. Lightfoot's 'Horae Hebraicae,' vol. 2. p. 127, edit. Gandell). On the need of such teaching as this, see Thomson's 'Land and the Book,' p. 190: "This people are fearfully profane. Everybody curses and swears when in a passion. No people that I have ever known can compare with these Orientals for profaneness in the use of the names and attributes of God. The evil habit seems inveterate and universal. When Peter, therefore, 'began to curse and to swear' on that dismal night of temptation, we are not to suppose that it was something foreign to his former habits. He merely relapsed, under high excitement, into what, as a sailor and a fisherman, he had been accustomed to all his life. The people now use the very same sort of oaths that are mentioned and condemned by our Lord. They swear by the head, by their life, by heaven, by the temple, or what is in its place, the church. The forms of cursing and swearing, however, are almost infinite, and fall on the pained ear all day long." So, too, Aben Ezra speaks of the practice of swearing as almost universal in his day, so that he says, "men swear daily countless times, and then swear that they have not sworn!" With regard to the translation of the verse, two renderings are possible:

(1) that of the A.V. and of the R.V. (text), "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay."

(2) That of the R.V. margin, "Let yours be the yea, yea, and the nay, nay;" viz. those enjoined by our Lord (Matthew 5:37), "Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." On behalf of this latter rendering, may be pleaded

(a) the clearness of the reference to our Lord's teaching; and

(b) the fact that this is the interpretation given to the clause in the two leading versions of antiquity, the Syriac and the Vulgate, both of which have exactly the same words here and in St. Matthew. Vulgate, Sit autem sermo vester est est, non non. Lest ye fall into condemnation. Happily the A.V. here follows the text of the Elzevirs, ὑπὸ κρίσιν (א, A, B, Latt., Syriac, Coptic), and so avoids the erroneous reading of Stephens, εἰς ὑπόκρισιν (K, L).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

But above all things, my brethren, swear not,.... As impatience should not show itself in secret sighs, groans, murmurings, and repinings, so more especially it should not break forth in rash oaths, or in profane swearing; for of such sort of swearing, and of such oaths, is the apostle to be understood; otherwise an oath is very lawful, when taken in the fear and name of God, and made by the living God, and is used for the confirmation of anything of moment, and in order to put an end to strife; God himself, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and angels, and good men, are in Scripture sometimes represented as swearing: and that the apostle is so to be understood, appears from the form of swearing prohibited,

neither by the heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; of the like kind; such as are forbidden, and cautioned, and reasoned against by our Lord, in Matthew 5:34 to which the apostle manifestly refers; See Gill on Matthew 5:34, Matthew 5:35, Matthew 5:36.

But let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that is, whenever there is an occasion for affirming, or denying anything, let it be done nakedly, simply, and absolutely, without any form of oath annexed to it; for whatever addition of that kind is made comes from evil, and tends to it, and is evil:

lest ye fall into condemnation; by the Lord; for either false, or rash, or profane swearing; for he will not suffer it to go unpunished; see Exodus 20:7. Some copies read, "lest ye fall into hypocrisy"; or dissimulation, and get into a habit and custom of lying and deceiving, as common swearers do; and so reads the Arabic version.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

12. But above all—as swearing is utterly alien to the Christian meek "endurance" just recommended.

swear not—through impatience, to which trials may tempt you (Jas 5:10, 11). In contrast to this stands the proper use of the tongue, Jas 5:13. James here refers to Mt 5:34, &c.

let your yea be yea—Do not use oaths in your everyday conversation, but let a simple affirmative or denial be deemed enough to establish your word.

condemnation—literally, "judgment," namely, of "the Judge" who "standeth before the doors" (Jas 5:9).

James 5:12 Additional Commentaries
Context
Patience in Suffering
11We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. 12But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Cross References
Matthew 5:34
But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;

James 1:16
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.

James 1:19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Treasury of Scripture

But above all things, my brothers, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation.

above.

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity …

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, …

swear not. See on

Matthew 5:33-37 Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, …

Matthew 23:16-22 Woe to you, you blind guides, which say, Whoever shall swear by the …

but. See on

2 Corinthians 1:17-20 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things …

lest.

James 3:1,2 My brothers, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the …

1 Corinthians 11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that you come not together …

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