Matthew 5:33-42 (On Swearing Oaths and Resisting Evil)

Mat 5:33-37   See again Mat 5:20: what is the third example that Jesus gives in which our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven?  What is the purpose of swearing an oath or taking a vow?  See Num 30:2, Heb 6:16.  What is the binding nature of an oath or vow?  See Lev 5:4-5, Jos 9:15-20, 10:1-10, 2Sa 21:1-6, Hos 10:4.  Considering our fallen nature that is fickle and prone to sin, that we cannot make a single hair of our heads white or black (Mat 5:36) and that we do not know what our life will be like tomorrow (Jam 4:14), what is the great danger of rashly making an oath or taking a vow?  See again the example of the Israelites’ oath to the Gibeonites, as well as Mar 6:23-28.  Into what sort of hypocrisy does the swearing of oaths lead?  See Mat 26:74, 23:16-22, and consider how children will extract from one another a “promise” to not tell, or require a surety by asking “honest to God?”, or “cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?”, etc…  In this light, what is Jesus’ point in Mat 5:34-36: are oaths more or less binding depending upon who or what one swears by?  What then is Jesus’ teaching in regard to the making of oaths?  See Mat 5:34.  As Christians, should we need to swear an oath as a guarantee of our veracity?  See Mat 5:37, Jam 5:12.  What should we do if called upon to testify in a court of law and “swear” to tell the truth?  See again Mat 5:37.  Is it necessary for God to swear an oath as a guarantee of His veracity?  What does this teach us about the certainty of something when He does so?  Cf. Gen 22:15-18, Isa 45:23, Jer 22:5, Heb 6:13,17-18.

Mat 5:38-48   What is the fourth example that Jesus gives in which our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven?  Rather than being a license to pay back evil with evil as it is often thought of today, in what way was the principle of lex talionis actually a means of restraining retaliation for an offense?  Think: is it not (fallen) human nature to requite evil with even more evil?  If a person hits me once, does not our fallen nature want to hit back twice so as to not only requite the original offense but also punish it as a means of “teaching them a lesson”?  If left to ourselves, would not our law be “eyes for an eye”, “teeth for a tooth”, or indeed the law of the jungle, “if you offend me, I will kill you” (think Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc…)?  How has the principle of lex talionis become a central part of our American legal system for dispensing justice?  Think: can a person be put to death for misdemeanors like jaywalking, speeding, or shoplifting?  We see then that the lower Mosaic law restrains human nature so as to requite evil in measured amounts that might from our perspective be considered to be an equitable recompense; what does the higher law of Jesus teach about requiting evil at all?  See Mat 5:39-42, Rom 12:17-21, Pro 20:22, 24:29.  Why do you think this is?  Who alone is all seeing and all-knowing, even of the thoughts and intentions of a person’s heart, so as to be able to requite men’s evil with complete justice?  See 1Co 4:5, Rom 2:16, Heb 4:13, Luk 12:2.  Does this higher law of Christ mean that the evil of men will never be requited?  See Rom 12:19, Deut 32:35,43, Psa 94:1-3.  Does it mean that the governments of men do not have the responsibility to restrain evil with the threat of punishment?  See Rom 13:1-4.  What examples do we find in the Old Testament that God has always required that men not take vengeance themselves for evil committed against them but to “leave room for the wrath of God” and trust that He will sovereignly requite the wicked with complete justice and righteousness?  See Lev 19:18, 1Sa 25:26, Pro 24:17-20,29.  Clearly, Mat 5:38-42 apply to us as individuals; do they apply to the church corporately?  To a society in general?  Are we to understand Mat 5:39 to mean that if a murderer should threaten our family, or an evil nation our country, that we should not resist them?  See again the balancing principle in Rom 13:1-4 of the responsibility that rightful authority has to protect those under that authority and consider: does this principle apply as well to the authority of husbands, fathers, parents?  Note: Mat 5:41 is a reference to the Roman law that allowed a soldier to compel a civilian to carry his pack from one mile marker to the next; cf. the example of Simon of Cyrene in Mat 27:32.

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