'Do Not Cast Pearls Before Swine' - Matthew 7:6 Meaning

"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." (Matthew 7:6 NKJV)

pearls before swine

Do Not Cast Your Pearls Before Swine

Read the various translations of Matthew 7:6, where the phrase "pearls before swine" originated:

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you." (American Standard Version)

"Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." (English Standard Version)

"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." (New King James Version)

"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." (New International Version)

Understand the full context of this Bible verse with the preceding scriptures, Matthew 7:1-6:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."

The Meaning of Matthew 7:6

Dogs and Swine refer to heathen peoples, but would also include Jews who do not practice virtue. According to Christian teaching, dogs are those so immersed in evil that they show no hope of change, while swine are those who habitually live immoral and impure lives. "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh." (Philippians 3:1-2)

"Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." (Revelation 22:11-15)

The pearls are the inner mysteries of the Christian faith, including Christ's teachings (Matthew 13:46) and the sacraments. These holy things are restricted from the immoral and unrepentant, not to protect the holy things themselves, for Christ needs no protection. Rather, we protect the faithless people from the condemnation that would result from holding God's teaching and sacraments in contempt.

As Christ did not answer the blasphemous questioning of Herod as an act of compassion, to not bring greater condemnation upon him. Early Christian St. Ambrose sees Herod as a figure representing all unrighteous people who, if they do not recognize Jesus as the Christ, will never understand His words nor recognize His miracles. "When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer." (Luke 23:8-9)

Bible Verses about Dogs and Swine

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."

Matthew 8:28-32
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.

Matthew 15:26
And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Philippians 3:2
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Proverbs 26:11
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

Revelation 22:15
Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Read more from the Parables of Jesus Christ

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