Matthew 23:21

21 and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it

Matthew 23:21 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 23:21

And whoso shall swear by the temple
As we have before seen they used to do, and as appears from what the poet says F23:

Ecce negas, jurasque mihi per templa tonantis Non credo: jura, verpe, per Anchialum.

In which he intimates, that if the Jew swore by the temple, he would not believe him; as well he might not, since such an oath was accounted nothing; but bids him swear by Anchialus, that is, by (hwla) (yx) , "Chi Eloah", or (Nwyle yx) , "Chi Alon", or "Elion, the living God", or (Mlweh yh) , "Chi Haolam, he that lives for ever" F24; and suggests, that he should then believe him. Now our Lord, though he did not allow of such swearing, yet justly argues, that he that sweareth by the temple, not only "sweareth by it", which could not be a witness of what was swore; but he must be interpreted to swear by the inhabitant of it, and by him that dwelleth in it; that is, God, for whom it was built, to whom it was dedicated; where he was worshipped, and where he vouchsafed to reside; taking up his dwelling between the cherubim upon the mercy seat, in the most holy place; from whence he communed with men, and gave tokens of his presence; and who only could be the proper witness of the truth, or falsehood, of what was swore; and therefore an oath, by the temple, ought to be looked upon as if made by God himself, and so to be sacred and binding.


F23 Martial. Epigr. l. 11. Ep. 60.
F24 Vid. Selden. Prolegomena ad lib. de Successionibus.

Matthew 23:21 In-Context

19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred
20 So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it;
21 and 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 upon it.
23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.