What does Matthew 23:21 mean?
ESV: And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.
NIV: And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.
NASB: And the one who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells in it.
CSB: The one who takes an oath by the temple takes an oath by it and by him who dwells in it.
NLT: And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it.
KJV: And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
NKJV: He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus continues to show just how foolish the teaching of the Pharisees is when it comes to the issue of swearing oaths to create binding agreements. It's more than merely unwise: Jesus has declared "woe" upon them in judgment for leading the people of Israel astray in this way (Matthew 23:15–20).

Swearing by the temple of God amounts to the same as swearing by God Himself, since He "lives" in the temple. The Pharisees had declared that swearing by the temple was meaningless. Jesus is showing that swearing by the temple would be the same as swearing by God Himself. No oath could be more binding, or more dangerous for the one making it.

It's important to understand that Jesus is not teaching people to swear by the temple. He has taught people not to use such "added on" enhancements to their promises, at all. Instead, Christ taught His followers to let their "yes" or "no" stand on its own (Matthew 5:33–37). What Jesus does here is prove that the scribes and Pharisees have neither a spiritual nor a logical basis for their teaching on oaths.
Verse Context:
Matthew 23:13–36 contains seven layers of condemnation, from Jesus, towards the religious leaders of His era. Each of these is introduced with the word "woe," which is an exclamation like "oh!" or "alas!" Pronouncing God's judgment on these men, He repeatedly describes them as "blind" and "hypocrites." Convincing others of their views only adds victims to hell. They follow the letters of manmade law to the tiniest detail but miss the real meaning of Scripture: God's heart for justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Their outer appearance of righteousness hides inner lives full of greed, self-indulgence, hypocrisy, and lawlessness. Those in Jesus' generation will pay for many of the righteous people unjustly killed in the past.
Chapter Summary:
After thoroughly dismantling scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in debate, Jesus even more thoroughly condemns these religious leaders for their religious hypocrisy. They do all their religious acts and works to be seen and approved of by other people. Jesus pronounces God's judgment on the scribes and Pharisees in a series of seven "woe to you" statements. He repeatedly calls them "blind" and "hypocrites." He concludes with a lament for Jerusalem and her children who rejected His protection. God's judgment is coming.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 23 concludes Matthew's multi-chapter account of all of Jesus' interactions in the temple during the last week before His arrest and crucifixion. After silencing the religious leaders with parables and brilliant responses (Matthew 21—22), He pronounces God's judgment on the scribes and Pharisees in a series of seven "woe to you" statements. Jesus mourns for the judgment that will come on Jerusalem for her rejection of God. This leads Jesus to leave the temple, sadly remarking on its impending destruction (Matthew 24:1–2). As the disciples ask about this, Jesus begins an extended teaching on the end times in chapter 24.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/28/2024 6:57:25 PM
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