Matthew 5:33-42 Further supplements to the Law CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the last part of Matthew 5, Jesus enhances three additional areas of the law: oaths (v.33-37); retribution (v. 38-42); and neighborly love (v. 43-48). In this study, we will examine the first two of these three. Keep in mind that the reason Jesus supplemented the law with these augmentations was so that his followers would be like God (their Father, Ex. 4:22) in their works (v. 48).
Oaths – According to the law, they were not to forswear themselves, Lev 19:12. To forswear means to swear falsely to perjure oneself.
Jesus’ instruction was to swear not at all (Jas 5:12):
· Not by heaven; that’s God’s throne (Is 66:11). Christians often slip here with expressions like “heavenly days” or “thank heavens.”
· Not by earth; that’s God’s footstool (Is 66:11). The typical oaths here are “my lands” or “land’s sakes.”
· Not by Jerusalem; that’s the city of the King (Ps 48:1-2).
· Not by your head; God made it, not you (Ps 139:15-16). People often say, “As sure as I live” or “As sure as I’m breathing.” They’ll even swear, “I’ll be d_____.”
There’s only one exception and that’s an oath on the name of the Lord. God swore by himself in Is 45:23. Old Testament saints were told to swear by his name (Deut 6:13) and some did (Ps 63:11). The high priest invoked the name of God in Jesus’ trial (Matt 26:63) and we used to swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”
In verse 37 we find the conclusion of this admonition. Mean what you say. Your “yes” should mean “yes” and your “no” should mean “no.” No expletives or oaths should be necessary to confirm or strengthen what you say. The more people add to their yes’s and their no’s, the more they lie.
Retribution – “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was a judicial retribution against harmful actions (Ex 21:24; Deut 19:21). So, the Lord told his disciples to go beyond just the judicial demands of the law. He told them to give more than what the law demanded:
· When smitten (like Paul was in Acts 23:1-3) turn the other cheek.
· When sued (as in the case of collecting a debt, Job 24:9) give them your coat and cloak.
· When compelled to go (as in the case of carrying a burden, Matt 23:4) go an extra mile.
· When asked to give (as in the case of publicans, Lk 3:13, or poor people, Lk 3:10-11) do it.
These instructions were given to Jesus’ Jewish disciples under the law. For Christians, our instructions on these matters are found in the Pauline epistles.
· Smiting – Don’t take revenge – Rom 12:17-21
· Lawsuits – Don’t go to court against a brother – 1 Cor 6:7
· The extra mile – Bear one another’s burdens – Gal 6:2
· Giving – Help out those who truly need help – Eph 4:28; but don’t get swindled (2 Thes 3:10-12).