Matthew 5:34

34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;

Matthew 5:34 in Other Translations

34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.
34 You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.
34 But I tell you, don't take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God's throne;

Matthew 5:34 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 5:34

But I say unto you, swear not at all
Which must not be understood in the strictest sense, as though it was not lawful to take an oath upon any occasion, in an affair of moment, in a solemn serious manner, and in the name of God; which may be safely done: but of rash swearing, about trivial matters, and by the creatures; as appears by what follows,

neither by heaven;
which is directly contrary to the Jewish canons {m}, which say,

``they that swear (Mymvb) , "by heaven", and by earth, are free.''

Upon the words in ( Song of Solomon 2:7 ) , "I adjure you" it is asked F14,

``by what does she adjure them? R. Eliezer says, by the heavens, and by the earth; by the hosts, the host above, and the host below.''

So Philo the Jew says F15 that the most high and ancient cause need not to be immediately mentioned in swearing; but the "earth", the sun, the stars, (ouranon) , "heaven", and the whole world. So R. Aben Ezra, and R. David Kimchi, explain ( Amos 4:2 ) . "The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness"; that is, say they, (Mymvb) , "by heaven": which may be thought to justify them, in this form of swearing; though they did not look upon it as a binding oath, and therefore if broken they were not criminal F16.

``He that swears (Mymvb) by heaven, and by the earth, and by the sun, and the like; though his intention is nothing less than to him that created them, this is no oath.''

The reason why it is forbidden by Christ to swear by heaven, is,

for it is God's throne;
referring to ( Isaiah 66:1 ) where he sits, the glory of his majesty shines forth, and is itself glorious and excellent, and not to be mentioned in a vain way; and especially, for the reason Christ elsewhere gives, ( Matthew 23:22 ) that "he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon"; so that they doubly sinned, first, by openly swearing by that which is God's creature; and then, by tacitly bringing God into their rash and vain oaths.


F13 Misn. Shebuot, c. 4. sect. 13.
F14 Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 10. 4.
F15 De Special. leg. p 770.
F16 Maimon. Hilch. Shebuot, c. 12. sect. 3.

Matthew 5:34 In-Context

32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’
34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.

Cross References 2

  • 1. James 5:12
  • 2. Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 23:22
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