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TEXT : “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: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne.” - Matthew 5:33, 34.

COMMENT: An oath is a solemn affirmation, or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed. By the oath, one seeks God’s vengeance, and renounces His favour, if what is affirmed is false. A false oath is called perjury; or, as in this place, forswearing.  For us to be reliable or trustworthy we must stand by our words.

According to Bible scholars, the Jewish Rabbis have in the course of time introduced a number of oaths which they felt people should not consider as binding. They taught for instance, that the people could swear by the temple, by the head, by heaven or by the earth. But so long as they did not swear by the name of God, such oaths could be broken. Apparently this was the abuse which Jesus Christ was correcting in the passage under reference. The new rule Christ introduced was that Christians should not swear at all. Rather, they should be bound by their words so that their yes, should be yes, and their no, no. Once people know that this is the character of the Christian, they will not require him to swear before believing what he had said.  As Christians we should stand by our words and not make promises we do not intend to keep. This is particularly important when making vows to God. Inability to keep promises had led to the breakup of friendships, relationships, marriages, families, businesses and so on.

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