WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD IN VAIN”?
Exo 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
To take the name of God in vain means to swear falsely by using the
name of Yahweh to confirm your lie.
CLARKE COMMENTARY ON THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
“Thou shalt not swear falsely by the name of Jehovah thy God.” The
Hebrew word which answers to “in vain” may be rendered either way. The
two abuses of the sacred name seem to be distinguished in Lev_19:12
Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt
thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
(“Profane the name”) see Eze 36:20 as follows:
Eze 36:20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went,
they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the
people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
When a sinful people claim to be people of the Lord they profane his
JESUS SPEAKING OF THE THIRD COMMANDMENT (Mat 5:33)
Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old
time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord
MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY on Mat 5:33:
We have here an exposition of the third commandment…I. It is agreed on
all hands that it forbids perjury, forswearing, and the violation of
oaths and vows. This was said to them of old time, and is the true
intent and meaning of the third commandment. Thou shalt not use, or
take up, the name of God (as we do by an oath) in vain, or unto
vanity, or a lie.
ADDITIONAL VERSES ON FALSE SWEARING:
Zec 5:4 I will bring it [the curse] forth, saith the LORD of hosts,
and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of
him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst
of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the
Mal 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a
swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and
against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in
his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the
stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY ON THE THIRD COMMANDMENT:
“…By false swearing, which, some think, is chiefly intended in the
letter of the commandment; so it was expounded by those of old time.
Thou shalt not forswear thyself, Mat_5:33. One part of the religious
regard the Jews were taught to pay to their God was to swear by his
name, Deu_10:20. But they affronted him, instead of doing him honour,
if they called him to be witness to a lie
ADDITONAL VERSES CONCERNING SWEARING:
Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and
to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Heb 6:16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for
confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
Jam 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by
heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your
yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Mat 23 :22: And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne
of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
It is clear that the third commandment did not refer to swearing by
the name of God as the Israelites were commanded to do so. But rather
to false swearing – using the name of God to confirm a lie.
Modern Christianity has trivialized sin by saying the third
commandment refers to using the name of “God” in an irreverent
manner. They say that using “God” in a disrespectful way is a sin
just as murder or adultery is a sin. This brings sin down to a level
of simply muttering a few syllables rather than the true meaning of
willful sin as being wicked intentional rebellion against God’s
The book of Hebrews describes the one who commits “willful” sin” in
this way: (Heb 10:29)
“…who hath trodden under foot the Son of God,
and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith
he was sanctified, an unholy thing,
and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.”
True, it is wrong to use the word “God” in a disrespectful manner
but it is not committing “sin”. If it were willful sin then anybody
who did so would not be born of God for John states:
1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.
1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil;
If we take a close look at the language of the Bible it is easy to
see that using the word “God” cannot possibly be taking the NAME of
God in vain – because the word God is not a name but a TITLE. In
English, Greek and Hebrew the words which mean God refer to a title in
the same way that President or King are titles. “God” was a title
used to describe the Father, Jesus, Satan and even Moses. It would
be impossible to take the name of God in vain by saying “God this” or
“God that” because God is not a name – it is a title.
Here are some comments about the Greek and Hebrew use of the words
which are translated “God” in the Bible.
Griddlestone's Synonyms Of The Old Testament on the Hebrew word
"We have seen that the name ELOHIYM  is properly
A TITLE… " (p.39)
Thayer's Greek Lexicon on THEOS (God):
"4 ...Hebraistically i.q. God's representative or
vicegerent, of magistrates and judges, Jn. 10:34 sq. after
Ps 82:6 ("...ye are gods)
As children of God we have a natural inclination and desire to
respect Yahweh and Yeshua and not to speak of them in a disrespectful
way. We instinctively know that we should honor them whenever we
refer to them. However to say it is sin to use the word “God” (or
any other equivalent pronoun) in an improper way is to trivialize the
true nature of willful sin; which in turn serves Satan’s purpose of
deceiving us into believing that we cannot cease to commit sin.