In the Fulness of Time/Part 34
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|Matthew 7:6 reads, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine,…” Who or what are referred to as “dogs” and “swine”? Dr. Figart explains, and tells us how these sayings relate to the Messiah and to the coming Kingdom.|
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 lacerate you.”
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 sinning brother!
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. 56).
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!”