Matthew 7: Of Hogs and Dogs

Matthew 7: Of Hogs and Dogs

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matt 7:6).

In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus condemns unrighteous judgment (cf John 7:24).  I believe most agree that those who were often guilty of such were the scribes, Pharisees and other Jewish rulers of the day.  They were quick to condemn the guiltless (Matt 12:1-8) without considering their own sins (Matt 23:23-28).

With this in mind, I am inclined to believe that the dogs and the hogs of verse 6 are these same hypocritical, judgmental scribes and Pharisees.  This leads us to ask the question, “If this identification is accurate, how could the Jews offer what was holy to the dogs or cast pearls before swine?”

I believe Jesus is here confirming to the Jews that their service to God was to be given to God, and not done to please the Jewish leaders of the day.  Genuine service to God was going to put the Jews at odds with the Jewish leaders and posed a direct challenge to their presumed authority.

Consider how the apostles, having been with Jesus for some time, worried about the scribes and Pharisees.  In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees, and in verse 11 spoke of what truly defiles a man.  The apostles, concerned with how the scribes and Pharisees responded to what Jesus had said, implored, “Do You not know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Jesus then further rebuked the Pharisees, noting their lack of divine approval (v 13), and calling them blind leaders of the blind (v 14).

Thus, Jesus was assuring His disciples that their service to God would not stand or fall based upon the approval or disapproval of the Pharisees.  They were to give what was holy (the sacred things of religious service) to God, not caring what the Pharisees thought.  Their pearls of great price (cf Matt 13:45-46) were not to be presented for approval to those who would have no part in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:28), but rather treasured as coming from their heavenly Father.

In like fashion, genuine service to God is not done for the approval of men (cf Matt 6:1-8), neither will it always be approved, even by those who claim membership in the kingdom.  Nevertheless, we press on, looking for the reward that comes from above (Col 3:23-24).

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