Matthew 23:22
And he that shall swear by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sits thereon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:13-33 The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him. Yet it is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety will be reckoned double iniquity. They were very busy to turn souls to be of their party. Not for the glory of God and the good of souls, but that they might have the credit and advantage of making converts. Gain being their godliness, by a thousand devices they made religion give way to their worldly interests. They were very strict and precise in smaller matters of the law, but careless and loose in weightier matters. It is not the scrupling a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained out; but the doing that, and then swallowing a camel, or, committing a greater sin. While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners' hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts' lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.The throne of God - Heaven is his throne, Matthew 5:34. It is so called as being the place where he sits in glory. Jesus says, here, that all who swear at all do, in fact, swear by God, or the oath is good for nothing. To swear by an altar, a gift, or a temple is of no force unless it be meant to appeal to God himself. The essential thing in an oath is calling God to witness our sincerity. If a real oath is taken, therefore, God is appealed to. If not it is foolish and wicked to swear by anything else. 20-22. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, &c.—See on [1349]Mt 5:33-37.Ver. 16-22. Our Saviour here showeth the false doctrine which the Pharisees, for their own gain, taught the people concerning oaths. God had commanded that they should fear and serve the Lord their God, and swear by his name, Deu 6:13 10:20. He that sweareth by any person, or thing, doth two things:

1. He attributes to the thing, or person, by which he sweareth, a knowledge of the heart and the secret intention.

2. He calleth upon the person, or thing, by which he sweareth, to be his judge, or to take a revenge upon him, in case he doth not believe in his heart what he affirms or denieth with his words to be true or false; otherwise an oath is no security at all.

From whence appeareth, that it is unreasonable for any to swear by any other than God, who alone can have a knowledge of the truth, and security of the heart; and that he who sweareth by any creature committeth idolatry in his heart, and in his heart doth indeed blaspheme, paying a Divine homage to a creature, and attributing to the creature what only agreeth to the Creator. The Pharisees, as it seemeth, had taught the people, that it was lawful to swear by the creature, but all oaths by creatures did not bind to the performance of the thing promised by such oaths: if a man swear

by the temple, or by the altar, it was nothing, no man was bound by such oaths to perform the thing for which such oaths were given as a security. But if any man swear by

the gold of the temple, or by a gift which he brought to the altar, these oaths did bind him. By the gold of the temple is not to be understood the golden vessels used in the temple, nor the golden plates with which the several parts of the temple shined; but the gold which was brought as an offering into the temple, and put into the treasury there; of which, and of the gifts, the priests and officers about the temple had a considerable share, which made them equalize an oath by these to an oath made by the name of God itself.

1. Our Saviour here showed the unreasonable folly of the tradition, and calleth them for it blind guides; for in reason, the temple sanctifying the gold must itself be more especially holy, that is, separate for a holy use. The temple was holy, so was the altar, before the gold was brought into it, but the gold was not holy till it was brought into the holy place, and there offered.

2. He lets them know, that oaths by the creatures once made did oblige, as much as if they had been made by God himself. They were indeed sinfully made, for men ought not to have sworn by creatures; but being made, those who made them were bound to perform them, if the matter of them were not sinful. For he that swears

by the altar, swears by it, and by all the things thereon; and he who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwelleth therein; and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. For none who sware by inanimate things could possibly be imagined to call these things, which he knew had no life, no sense, no knowledge, to be a witness to the truth of his heart, as to what he believed, or what he intended. So as though he that sweareth by the creature be a profane swearer, yet he is bound by his oath, he indeed swearing by the God of those creatures. He hath reason to repent of the profane and unlawful form of his oath, but if the matter be what he may without sin perform, he is bound by his oath to the performance of it. And he that shall swear by heaven,.... As the Jews were wont to do in common, but did not look upon such an oath as obligatory on them; See Gill on Matthew 5:34, though such an one

sweareth by the throne of God; for heaven is God's throne, where he sits, and, in an eminent manner, displays the glory of his majesty:

and by him that sitteth thereon, by God himself. Thus swearing by anything that has any relation to God, is implicitly swearing by him; and therefore ought to be considered as binding, as if he was expressed in it; since an appeal cannot be made to things inanimate, nor indeed to any creature, but to God, the searcher of hearts.

And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the {s} throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

(s) If heaven is God's throne, than he is without doubt above this entire world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 22. - By heaven. The Talmndists affirm that an oath "by heaven" or "by earth" was not binding, on the ground, probably, that these were mere creatures. Christ again dissipates such sophistries. To swear by the creature is virtually to swear by the Creator. A brute, inanimate thing cannot be witness to an oath; he alone can be appealed to who owns all. Thus we "kiss the book," calling God to witness our words. Christ had already given a lesson to his followers on this subject in the sermon on the mount (ch. Matthew 5:34-37). He inculcates true reverence, that fear and awe of God's dignity and God's presence which constrains a man to avoid all profaneness and carelessness in regard to things that are concerned with God.
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