Dogs and Pigs

dogs pigs 1

Q. How do you apply Mt 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

A. First, know the immediate context. In Mt 7:1-5 our Lord was talking about judging, whereas in Mt 7:7-11 He was teaching about asking. So we know our Lord was not referring to literal dogs and pigs, but speaking figuratively. What do these animals represent in Scripture? We have to understand the broader biblical context.

Both are unclean animals not fit to be offered to God as sacrifice, nor suitable for the Jews to consume.
Phil 3:2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.
• 2 Pet 2:22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
• Prov 26:11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly.
• Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

So dogs are evildoers, fools who repeat their folly. They are sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters and liars. Similarly pigs are those who resist cleansing and return to the mud.

What about pearls? Within the verse pearls to pigs are compared to what is sacred to dogs. So we know from the parallelism that pearls represent something holy. Pearls appear in:
Mt 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
• Rev 21:21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

So we know they are precious and related to the kingdom of heaven and the new Jerusalem. This is reinforced in the preceding and following chapters in Matthew, in which Jesus was teaching about heaven (Mt 6:20) and the kingdom of heaven (Mt 6:33, 8:11). Drawing these clues together we conclude that pearls represent those precious truths that show how a person can enter the kingdom of heaven through the narrow gate and the narrow way.

So what the Lord is saying is do not give the gospel, the way of salvation, to people who refuse to listen, who are unrepentant, and who in fact resist and oppose those who give them the good news. Not only do they not treasure the gospel, they will trample it under their feet as worthless, and even attack those who witness to them. This is collaborated in the synoptic gospels :
Mt 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (See also Mk 6:11, Lk 9:5)
This does not mean that you never present the gospel to them, because otherwise how will you know their reaction. But having done so and they rejected it, do not try to force it down their throat, as they will not appreciate it and may become even more resistant. Instead, pray for them and wait for a more opportune time, then move on to other receptive prospects who will welcome the message and bear fruit. Time is short, don’t waste it on those who do not value the gospel but see it as trash.

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