Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself…
I. This precept does not absolutely forbid all use of oaths. An oath is a solemn appeal to God, as a witness of the truth of what we declare, and of our sincerity in what we promise. Oaths are assertory and promissory.
1. It is not uncommon for Scripture to use general expressions, which are to be understood in a qualified sense.
2. From the reasons of the charge and other passages of Scripture. Oaths are necessary in civil society: they are of Divine institution; St. Paul used them; God swears by Himself.
II. CHRIST CONDEMNS —
2. Customary swearing in common conversation.
3. As we may not use the Divine name wantonly so neither may we swear by any of God's creatures.
4. He forbids all rash imprecations.
5. All scoffing at religion, contempt of the writings of God, and all sporting with Scripture. Profane language is a sure evidence of a bad disposition of mind. It tends to produce greater hardness and to extinguish all reverence: it is most pernicious in its consequences:it is unreasonable yet infectious; it heaps guilt upon the soul.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
I. The Christian Jaw in regard to oaths (Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2).
II. The Christian law of retaliation.
III. Practical lessons. The sin of perjury is said to be growing appallingly frequent. Whilst technical vows are no longer in harmony with the liberty of the new dispensation, still the spirit of the vow by which one dedicates himself to Divine service is as sacred and as useful as ever. Avoid using expressions that are in the nature of an oath without having its technical form. Outright profanity is a terrible sin, as useless as it is hardening. What a confession of man's proneness to lie, is his habitual appeal to God as a witness of the truth! The law of retaliating love laid down by Christ shows Him to be the one and supreme Teacher.
(J. S. Doolittle, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: