Oaths and Vows



The oath is the invoking of a curse or God’s wrath and displeasure upon one’s self if one has not spoken the truth, or if one fails to keep a promise

The act of making an oath is swearing – they go hand in hand.

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Hebrews 6:16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.
Hebrews 6:17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,
Hebrews 6:18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Define Vow:

a solemn promise or assertion ; specifically : one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition, usually in exchange for favor with God.

Interesting a person that is bound by a vow is called a Votary

Latin vot(um)

vow, votary and vote come from the same root

When we vote, we are in a sense making a vow to back a candidate

Another reason to add to why we don’t vote in political elections

The Rules of Vowing

Sin to break

Deuteronomy 23:21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.

It is also voluntary

Deuteronomy 23:22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you.

Ties in with lying and taking God’s name in vain.

Psalms 56:12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You,

To be performed faithfully

Psalms 15:1 A Psalm of David. LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

Psalms 15:4 …He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

We are to do our part without delay

Psalms 50:14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—

Ecclesiastes 5:5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

The “Vows Chapter”

Numbers 30 (whole chapter)

Rules specifically concerning a vow: Making – Keeping – Overruling (Authority and Responsibility)

Numbers 30:1 Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: [not from Moses] Numbers 30:2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

[bound to fulfill all its terms]

(specifically addresses when is it not binding?)

There is an hierarchy of authority and responsibility implied. The husband is the head of the wife.

Numbers 30:3 “Or if a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth,
Numbers 30:4 and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand.
Numbers 30:5 But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the LORD will release her, because her father overruled her.

God will remove the bond because of her father’s authority. This, however, does not undo any actions she may have already put into place.

Bringing a vow into marriage

Numbers 30:6If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself,
Numbers 30:7 and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand.
Numbers 30:8 But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and the LORD will release her.

If she makes a vow and brings it into the marriage…

Now notice what happens if a woman has no immediate authority over her:

Numbers 30:9 “Also any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.

We see the importance that God places on authority.

By a married woman in marriage

Numbers 30:10 “If she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath,
Numbers 30:11 and her husband heard it, and made no response to her and did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand.
Numbers 30:12 But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and the LORD will release her.
Numbers 30:13 Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void.
Numbers 30:14 Now if her husband makes no response whatever to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her; he confirms them, because he made no response to her on the day that he heard them.
Numbers 30:15 But if he does make them void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.”

The responsibility that goes with the decision.

Undo what God has bound

If not done right away, but the next day or later, the man will bear the sin.

Leviticus 5:1 ‘If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter—if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.

Numbers 30:16 These are the statutes which the LORD commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, and between a father and his daughter in her youth in her father’s house.

If/Then (common formula for making a vow)

It is an agreement. If God does this, we will do such and such. Not the other way around. Not for things that we are supposed to be doing…automatic blessing there any way.

Example Of Hannah

1 Samuel 1 Hannah’s Vow

1 Samuel 1:8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle[c] of the LORD.
1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.
1 Samuel 1:11 Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 


So Eli thought she was drunk
But Hannah answered that she was sorrowful
So Eli said, “ God … grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”

1 Samuel 1:24 Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls,[g] one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young.
1 Samuel 1:25 Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli.
1 Samuel 1:26 And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD.
1 Samuel 1:27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.
1 Samuel 1:28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.

Rash Vows

Danger of inconsiderately making

Proverbs 20:25 It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, And afterward to reconsider his vows.

Here is why God said this:

Example of Jephthah

He was described as a “man of valor” and who judged Israel for six years and we also find him as an outstanding example in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11:32) one of those that will be in the Kingdom of God]

Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.
Judges 11:30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands,
Judges 11:31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” [ offering which was wholly given to God; not just in part] Judges 11:32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
Judges 11:33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
Judges 11:34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
Judges 11:35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.” [he couldn’t do something as illegal] Judges 11:36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.”
Judges 11:37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”
Judges 11:38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains.
Judges 11:39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.

Rather than vow call on the existing promises of God. “Jephthah learned a mighty lesson. He discovered, through this tragedy, the real lesson of faith — that one does not have to vow to God in order to have Him perform what He has promised. What God expects is that we learn to trust Him in everything. “

Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus’ Warning About Oaths

Matthew 5:33 Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’
Matthew 5:34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
Matthew 5:35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Matthew 5:36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.
Matthew 5:37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Two of the rules that we went over interpreting which Old Testament laws

  1. New Testament insights

  2. The underpinnings of God’s laws, even if they are no longer binding have a spiritual principle behind them

By removing the oath and vows Jesus Christ has actually made this more binding in a sense.

The oaths were given to put an end to a matter typically – as if to give more weight to honesty

An oath for an honest person is unnecessary

An oath for a dishonest person was ineffective

In these respects an oath really was of little effect

What Jesus Christ is saying here is that we are to be honest all the time


From the beginning to swear was unnecessary

Because it was something often you should have been doing any way

Also because you couldnt make God do it

James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

The New Testament and Vows

Acts 18:18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

Acts 18:23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.


Most of the instruction regarding vows is decidedly for not making one, mostly out of lack of necessity to make one as well as all the trouble we can get into when we are not careful in making one, BUT…

IF we need to make one than we:

Need to consider all the aforementioned

Consider our motives

is it to get

God knows our needs

Does God already promise what we are asking?

Knowing all that we know there are vows that we SHOULD take:

The vows we are to take (very serious)


We should only enter this fully aware that this is our once chance at salvation so therefore we should be of an age adult responsibility and thoroughly count the cost (Luke 14) with the counsel of a minister.


When make this vow we need to realize that it is a vow to God for life that is made to show very important aspects of the plan of God (some that are seen in Ephesians 5).