I’ve looked into another thread about this, and I have copied and pasted one of their replies concerning those saying it’s hyperbole below:
Origen: “And with respect to the precepts enjoined in the Gospels, no doubt can be entertained that very many of these are to be literally observed, as, e.g., when our Lord says, But I say unto you, Swear not at all.”
Gregory Thaumaturgus: “…by all manner of means to avoid an oath, especially one taken in the name of God.”
Gregory Nazianzen: “How much more ascetic is the Gospel than the Law! You shall not forswear yourself is the Law; but you are not to swear at all, either a greater or a lesser oath, for an oath is the parent of perjury.”
John Chrysostom: “Again he who swears, says He, even if he fulfil his oath, does the works of the wicked one.”
Are we to say they meant, it is ok to swear if you think it is necessary? Would they have said the same with regard to divorce at the sermon on the mount?
Does Gregory consider it an oath? He certainly condemns oaths: “you are not to swear at all, either a greater or a lesser oath, for an oath is the parent of perjury”. However; in a apologetic context, trying to remove the stain of the blatant oaths in Paul, comments that ““God is my witness,” and “God knows :” those words are not an Oath, but an assurance of things unbroken." So we certainly have context for him not considering his own words an oath. However, let’s say he did swear, and that he considered it swearing, for the sake of argument.
If it is an oath: again I ask, does Nazianzen’s action as a priest, putting an oath in his writing, make his later condemnation of oaths as a bishop in an episcopal oration and in a directed polemic against swearing null and void? Does it lessen the meaning because he once swore? Must then the same be said when Augustine comments on sexual immorality due to his own history with sexual immorality?
“But you, if you heed nothing else, reverence at least that book, which you reach forth in putting the oath; and open the Gospel, which you take in hand when you bid swear; and when thou hear what Christ there declares concerning oaths, shudder and desist! What then does He there say concerning oaths? But I say unto you, Swear not at all. And do you convert the Law which forbids swearing into an oath. Oh, what contempt! Oh, what outrage!” (chrysostom)
This concept, that the early Christians prohibited all oaths, is one that is not often commented on in modern history books. As F.D. Bruner points out: “… the history of the interpretation of this Command has been a history of evasions.” Few wish to admit that this command was taken literally in the first few centuries, as it would have theological implications on how it should be interpreted now. However; those who have commented say quite simply that “In the earliest Church, especially in the East, almost without exception, Jesus’ Command against oaths was taken literally.” (Bruner p. 234). Later: “‘The entire tradition of the Great Church since the early Middle Ages almost unanimously set Matt 5:33-37 aside and accepted oaths, even though often with a bad conscience.” (Luz, p. 319).