by Richard Laue

This content is part of a series.

Swearing (16 of 17)
Series: The Epistle of James
Richard Laue
James 5:12

Swearing - what comes into your mind when you hear that word? Dirty words? Profanity? Something you have trained yourself to not do when your parents can hear? Something you wouldn't do at church?

Noah Webster, in his New World Dictionary (Second College Edition), defines swearing as follows:

1. To make a solemn declaration with an appeal to God or something held sacred for confirmation (to swear on one's honor) (on a stack of Bibles).
2. To make a solemn promise; vow. ("Until death do us part.")
3. To use profane or obscene language; to curse. (Blankity, blank, blank, blank, blankity, blank. Bleep, bleep, bleepity, bleepity, bleep.)
4. Law to give evidence under oath. ("I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.")

In the Scriptures there are two words; and essentially, together they carry the same idea as Webster's definition (except for item 3). The word for oath is "horkos," and it means to promise. The word for swear is "omnumi," and it means to make a solemn promise or to state an important truth.

In the Old Testament there are lots of vows and oaths that were made. Turn to Matthew 5:33 ... "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord." (NIV) . . "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.'" (NAS)

Exodus 20:7 ... "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Deuteronomy 5:11 repeated.)

Leviticus 19:12 ... "And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord."

Numbers 30:2 ... "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to al ...

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