Church  Authority




Moral  Issues

















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.

Jeremiah 31:31-33
“ … 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 Lord Almighty.”

This family bond is accomplished by the swearing of an oath. This can be seen in the following biblical passages:

Ezekiel 16:8 
“… 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.  

Hebrews 8:6  
“Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.”  NAB   

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. 

Hebrews 7:22
“to that same degree has Jesus (also) become the guarantee of an (even) better covenant.”

Psalm 12:7 
“The promises of the LORD are sure … sevenfold refined.”

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 Peter 3:21.  

Galatians 3:27 tells us that we are “...Baptized into Christ.”    

You were “...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 said.’” 
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 over …”

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 pledge.

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.





NEW   Cool  Catholic  Graphics

See  Articles  at