Sacrament and Oaths Definitions -
An overview of the Sacraments
“Sacrament” comes from the Latin word
“sacramentum” which means an oath. An oath is a promise that relies on
God’s strength and power.
In examining the importance and meaning of oaths in
can be helpful to examine its meaning and purpose in the court system. When
a person is sworn in under oath they put their hand on the Bible and say,
“I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
So, [please] help me God.”
By invoking God’s Holy Name the person is asking for
God’s help, but also calling upon himself a curse if he lies. Society
depends on a good judicial system which is dependent on witnesses telling
the truth. Since it can be very hard to tell if a person is lying the Court
requires witnesses to be sworn in under oath. Thus we can see that oaths
call upon God for help it performing a task that might be otherwise
difficult if only human strength was relied upon.
We can see the Biblical importance of oaths when we
examine how God establishes covenants with His people. To make a covenant
is to establish a family bond.
“ … I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel … I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:16-18
“ … I will live with them and move among them, and I
will be their God and they shall be my people. … and I will be a father to
you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the
This family bond is accomplished by the swearing of
an oath. This can be seen in the following biblical passages:
“… I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant
with you; you became mine, says the Lord GOD.” NAB. Also see
Psalm 105: 8-9, Ez 16:59, 17:13, Lk 1:72-73. )
However, Jesus came to give us an even better
Covenant than what the Jews had.
“Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.”
To make an oath is to make a promise and to invoke
God’s Holy Name to that promise. When Jesus makes a promise His Holy Name
is already attached to it, so Jesus’s promises are His oaths.
“to that same degree has Jesus (also) become the
guarantee of an (even) better covenant.”
“The promises of the LORD are sure … sevenfold
Therefore, Jesus has established the New Covenant by
these better promises, His better oaths. When Jesus established the New
Covenant, He made a new and better family bond with His people by His oaths.
The Hebrew word for “seven” is “sheba.” (Strong’s #
7651) The word “sheba” is built on the Hebrew verb “shaba - to swear an
oath.” (Strong’s # 7650) Because of the close connection of the Hebrew
words for “oath” and “seven” it could be said that when God established a
covenant with His people by His oaths that He “seventhed” Himself to them.
In fact, when the Jews broke the laws of the Old Covenant they did not
remove themselves from the Covenant, but rather brought upon themselves the
sevenfold curses of the Covenant. Deuteronomy 28:16-20.
Because we Christians have a much better covenant
than what the Jews had it could be said that God has promised Himself, or
oathed Himself, or “seventhed” Himself to us in a much better way than what
He had done with the Jews. Therefore, it is appropriate that God has given
us seven Sacraments which are based on God’s power that build and strengthen
the family bonds that He makes with us by His seven Sacraments.
When Jesus says “Amen, Amen...” in
John 3:35, He is giving us His oath that
baptism will give us saving grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so
that we might be made fit and ready for heaven. And so we read how it is
that “...Baptism which saves you ...” 1
tells us that we are “...Baptized into Christ.”
“...washed, you were
sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in
the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11. This tells us what happens at baptism.
Also, see Titus 3:5, Acts 2:38-39.
It can be difficult to believe that God can save us
through a simple ritual just as it was difficult for Naaman to believe that
God desired to save him by a simple seven fold washing in the Jordan River.
(See 2 Kings 5:14) Fortunately, Naaman received and followed good advise.
“ ‘My Father’, they said, ‘If the prophet had told
you to do something extra-ordinary, would you not have done it? All the
more now, since he said to you “Wash and be clean” should you do as he
2 Kings 5: 13 ( The number seven signifies covenant.)
And so Naaman, a good example for us, had a change
of heart. He believed that God would be true to His word which He spoke
through His prophet Elisha. Naaman performed the ritual and was saved from
leprosy. God desires to work miracles through simple rituals. Our faith in
His word tells us this is so. (Cf. James 5:14-16 and 1 Samuel 10:1, 9)
Also, see John 13:8-12
“ … Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” … “Whoever
has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all
1 Corinthians 4:1
“Thus should one regard us: As servants of Christ and
stewards of the mysteries of God.”
The English word “sacrament” comes from Old French
word “sacrement,” which comes from the Late Latin word “sacramentum” which
means a mystery, which comes from a Classical Latin word meaning an oath, or
So, in conclusion we can see that the seven
sacraments are quite Biblical and that they are God’s way of bringing us
into His family.
[The book Evangelical Is Not Enough, by Thomas
Howard, shows how rituals portray the beauty and significance of the
important moments in our lives.]
Scott Hahn, Ph. D, does a great job of explaining
the importance of the Sabbath and the number seven and the Sacraments and
how the Old Testament points toward them.