Bible Answer

Don’t cast our pearls to swine?  Why?

Could you explain the proper interpretation of Matthew 7:6? Given the context of the chapter, I believe it is misinterpreted too much.

Regarding Matthew 7:6, this verse sits in the middle of a three part section of Matthew’s seventh chapter. In verse 1-5, Jesus explains our obligation toward our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. In verses 7-11, Jesus teaches concerning our obligation toward God. In verse 12 Jesus summarizes that we must treat everyone in the way we want to be treated, as Scripture expects.

In between these two sections, Jesus offers a single verse on our obligations to the unbelieving world. Jesus uses dogs and swine as symbols for unbelievers, in that Jews viewed both animals as representative of the unclean Gentile world. Jesus tells the disciples they are not to share what is holy with unbelievers. The question is what was Jesus describing?

In the context of Matthew 7, the likely meaning of what is "holy" is Christian fellowship, practice and intimacy within the Body of Christ. Is the same way Paul teaches that darkness and light have nothing in common, Jesus says we must guard our associations and our readiness to incorporate unbelievers in our close relationships. Jesus says "dogs" will tear us apart and "swine" will trample under the holy and unique experiences of believers, since unbelievers are unable to appreciate such things.

Many interpret Jesus statement to include a warning against sharing the Gospel repeatedly with unbelievers who have shown disregard and even hostility toward the truth. This interpretation is also consistent with the overall context of Matthew 7 and is in keeping with the Bible's general view of evangelism. Faith is a gift (Eph 2:8-9) and God alone creates new faith through the Spirit, so our obligation toward unbelievers should not include an expectation that we can produce a changed heart. Only God can affect such change, so we are to guard against the Good News being treated lightly (i.e., throwing it to dogs and swine).

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to suggest that Matthew 7:6 relieves Christians from the requirement to share the Gospel or pursue unbelievers. Jesus isn't suggesting that we shouldn't try to reach the lost, but He is teaching that our desire to convert should not cause us to press beyond what God permits.