We have established that Jesus fulfilled the law, and in Matthew 5:17-48 provided various interpretations of law that emphasized compliance of the heart as opposed to literal compliance of pharisaical interpretations. See answer by Jack Douglas to the question: What does it mean for Jesus to fulfill the law?

However, in Matthew 5:33-35, Jesus said:

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 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 take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. ESV

Is the statement by Jesus to not take an oath an example of new law being written?

  • Would this question have not been more clear if for example you had used the scripture 38“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; etc..here we see a radical departure from the Old Testament! What do you think? Feb 22, 2015 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


Moses received the Law from the Lord Almighty at Sinai, and he was the mediator/law giver to the Children of Israel.

Exo 19:3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Exo 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: Exo 19:6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Jesus the Messiah, of Whom Moses was a type, ascended upon a mountain and provided the Law of Christ to His disciples.

Mat 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him:

Gal 6:1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.*

There are a few contrasts between the covenant at Sinai and the New Covenant of Christ we should notice. First, the covenant at Sinai found its fulfillment in Christ. Christ, through His blood, enacted a better covenant--one with better promises.

Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a ministry the more excellent, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises.

As implied in the previous verse, the New Covenant is different in purpose and in scope from the old.

What we find in Matthew 5 is not a new set of written laws, but an expounding of a law written on the believer's heart. It has nothing to do with the rigidness of the Mosaic Law (obey and live, disobey and die), It has everything to do with yielding to Christ because of a changed heart and our desire to submit to His kingdom rule.

Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them After those> days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws on their heart, And upon their mind also will I write them;

Second, the mountain of the Lord was not approachable to those who were to adhere to the covenant law in Moses' day (see Ex 19:12). But Jesus, our New Law Giver, spoke to His own directly. As the writer of Hebrews wrote, "(God) has spoken to us in his Son" (Heb 1:2). In this we see how God's children are welcomed into the throne of grace by the blood of His beloved Son (Heb 4:16).

Heb 12:18 For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, Heb 12:19 and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them: Heb 12:20 for they could not endure that which was enjoined, If even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; Heb 12:21 and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: Heb 12:22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, Heb 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, Heb 12:24 and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel.

I hope all this answers your question. If so, I advise a book titled: In Defense of Jesus, the New Lawgiver, by John Reisinger. http://www.amazon.com/In-Defense-Jesus-New-Lawgiver/dp/1928965245


In general, Jesus did 2 things with respect to the law:

  1. He correctly interpreted the law, against a culture that had a corrupt understanding; (see the Sermon on the Mount - Matt ch. 5-7).

  2. He fulfilled the law, meaning he established its requirements perfectly

Some argue that if Jesus did not “abolish” the law, then it must still be binding, except that any reasoned example can easily be shown to be either 'traditions of men' or 'misinterpretation'.

For example, the plain prohibition against boiling a kid in her mother's milk found in Exodus 34:26b has been interpreted in the traditions of men to mean - "meat and milk cannot be served in the same dish at the same time". (Really??! is that really what the Exodus verse means?)

This is an example of why we must be careful when speaking of the 'law' to distinguish our meaning between the Law given by YHWH from the one illustrated in the traditions of man - Matt 23:23

Specifically in your example, if YWHW is without variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17) than his law, which reflects his character, must also be (Matthew 5:17-18).

Any misunderstanding here must reflect our understanding then.

In pointing out that if your word were true; your 'yes' were 'yes' and your 'no' 'no'; your word alone would suffice since it was true (as God's word is true). No swearing would be necessary since your word would be expected to be true in all circumstances.

Just as Jesus had shown the spirit of adultery was the lusting in one's heart; and the spirit of murder was the hating in one's heart; Jesus showed that having to swear to convince others ones word was true would be unnecessary if one's word was always true.

ANSWER: In this example, Jesus was NOT establishing new law but interpreting existing law, explaining how it would be unnecessary if people's words were true.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.