“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.”
or with any other oath.
An “oath” is something that restrains a person, an enclosure. It is something pledged or promised with an oath. The idea is that this person makes a promise to cover a lie. The promise is a front for a lie, “As God is my witness, I will…”
Jesus condemned the minute and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the scribes and Pharisees in the matter of adjurations, by which they profaned God’s name.
Paul’s language in Galatians 1:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:27 is consistent with Jesus’ prohibition if we consider the context.
Jews of the first century swore by oaths other than the name of God when they wanted to lie about something.
Mt. 5:33-37, “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
Oaths in the Old Testament served to bind legal contracts in a time when very few written agreements existed. The oath verbally attested something as true. The Word of God does not prohibit taking oaths in court or an oath in marriage. Oaths are wrong when they deceive others. God Himself took oaths in the Bible (He 6:13-17).
God’s unconditional covenants (contracts) are examples of this (e.g., the Abrahamic Covenant, Ge 12-18). God made it compulsive that people take oaths in the Old Testament (Ex 22:10-11; Nu 5:19-22; 6:2f; 30:2f; Ps. 15:1–4). Paul took oaths (Ac 18:18; Ro 1:9; 2 Co 1:23; 11:31).
God expects the believer to be open and frank in his communications.
Here is the way we make false oaths today: “I swear on my mother’s grave. I swear on a stack of Bibles. I cross my heart and hope to die.” All these attempts at persuasion are fabrications and dishonesty.
Mt 23:16-11, “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.”
A spiritual believer should be candid, frank, and open in his communications. A carnal believer makes patsies of people by pseudo oaths. They love to blame other people for their mistakes.