Honest Criticism: Matthew 7:6
"Give not that which is holy unto the
dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they
trample them under their feet, and turn again and
Right before we become involved with
this verse, we need to remind ourselves once more that
these chapters of Matthew are specifically the message of
the Messiah/King, introducing the program of His Kingdom,
which was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. It is
true, "He came unto his own (things
idia, neuter) and his own (people,
idioi, masculine) received him not"
(John 1:10); and we can ask, "What would have happened to
the Cross, or to our salvation, if His own people had
received Him?" The simple answer is that they did not
receive Him as their Messiah/King, and this made possible
the Cross and our salvation.
What is the point of bringing up such a
question? It is to remind us that He was presenting a
genuine offer of a prophetic, earthly Kingdom
with specific rules and ethical principles which, by the
way, will one day be established on earth when
Jesus Christ returns as Messiah/King! This is why we
closed last month’s article with the statement that
honest criticism is essential against the unbeliever
and even the believer, according to John 7:24 and I
Corinthians 5:3 where Paul judged the Church
because they had not judged and excommunicated the
Now the question arises, how does this
coincide with Christ’s words, "turn the other cheek"
(Matthew 5:29)? Let’s see how verse 6 helps to distinguish
between personal offenses and official offenses against
the Truth. In 7:3-5 Jesus used the term "brother"
but now in verse 6 refers to "dogs" (kunos)
and "swine" (choiros).
Metaphorically these terms refer to men of impure minds.
Peter, (II Peter 2:22), Paul, (Philippians 3:2) and John
(Revelation 22:15) all refer to "dogs" as
unregenerate men; in addition, II Peter 2:22 uses the word
"sow" (hus) in a similar way.
Wuest remarks: "The word dogs was a term of reproach among
both Greeks and Jews… Gentiles of the Christian era were
called dogs by the Jews…. The dogs were the mangy,
flea-bitten vicious, starved scavengers of the oriental
streets." (Philippians in the Greek New Testament;
Kenneth Wuest. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1956, p.
The command of Christ is "Give not
that which is holy" to these animals. If the "dogs"
are the vicious, wicked, unregenerate men, then "that
which is holy" refers to the message of the Kingdom of
Heaven being preached by the disciples. In like manner the
"pearls" refer to those same precious truths
which are considered so worthless by the "swine" of
humanity, that they will not only reject the message but
will "turn again" and maul the messengers.
Did not the Messiah/King warn about such reviling,
persecuting and evil speaking in 5:10-12? Later, in 10:14
a similar command is given: "And whosoever shall not
receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of
that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet."
In that context Jesus calls such unbelievers "wolves"
(10:16). This was actually fulfilled in Acts 13:44-52 when
"the Jews stirred up... and raised persecution
against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their
borders, But they shook off the dust of their feet against
them." Whether these dogs and swine were the Jews
of Acts 13, the Judaizers of Philippians 3:2 or
subsequently the Gentiles of the Roman Empire in Paul’s
experiences in Acts 24-28, they were all guilty of
rejecting the message of Christ and were those "who
hath trodden under foot the Son of God" (Hebrews
10:29). To the true disciple, therefore, honest
criticism of such persons is not only allowable
but is essential! The truth will always be
repugnant to the wicked!
For a full discussion about Christ’s
positive attitude to laws of capital punishment in the Old
Testament, consult the previous articles in this series
which deal with Matthew 5:17-48 (Parts 13-22). Let me just
repeat here that Christ never repudiated the teachings of
the Old Testament; rather, He said that He did not come to
destroy the Law but to fulfill it, and gave strict
adherence to laws dealing with murder. Further, if He had
abolished capital punishment, He would have contradicted
the New Testament as well, namely, Romans 13:3-7 where
Scripture says "For rulers are not a terror to good
works but to the evil…. For he is the minister of God to
thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be
afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is
the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him
that doeth evil" (13:3-4). In the context of
13:3-7 the term "minister of God" is used 3 times,
and the method of execution, "the sword", is
definitely listed! So, even Christians are commanded to be
in subjection to such government, since it is of God.
Finally, in Revelation 19:15, when the
Messiah/King returns to earth, "And out of his mouth goeth
a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations,
and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth
the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty
God." All this will come to pass "in
the fulness of time!"