Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Hogs and Dogs

The little parable of Jesus’ about the hogs and dogs, in Matthew 7:6, can be read as a context-less saying or a context-ual saying. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; do not throw your margaritas [Greek word for “pearls”] before the hogs.” But what might this saying mean? Which view below do you agree with?
Some say it deals with not letting the unconverted to the Lord’s Supper.
Some say it slows down teaching esoteric Christian teaching to the unbelievers.
Some say it encourages evangelists not to spend too much time with the hard-of-heart.
Some say it is like Matt 10:5-6, and prevents the Gentile mission (during the life of Jesus).
Others, however, suggest it must be read in context. In which case it would balance the tendency for many to overdo the summons not to be judgmental in 7:1-5. While the follower of Jesus is expected to be thoroughly merciful, there are limits. And the hogs and dogs saying summons his followers to be discerning in the other direction.
I agree that 7:1-5 is about the need to tone down judgmentalism. I see no reason, and no natural interpretation, to interpret 7:6 alone this line. Instead, it is best to see here a parable about the need for the followers of Jesus to be discerning and wise (cf. Matt 10:16) in their engagement with others.
There is a time to show your cards; a time to fold them up and lay them on the table. The gospel is sacred work; Jesus’ followers are summoned to be wise in its dispensation. Here’s an example for me: when sectarians come to my house, I treat them with respect, and I engage them, but I have simply decided not to spend my time trying to persuade them of what they know I think. Unless I detect an opening, I simply keep my time short.

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Duane Young

posted January 25, 2006 at 6:58 am

I think you are very correct in your analysis. God is the author of both life and new life (life from above), and, provides nourishment for both. We are (often) his instruments. Pearls would be dreadful nourishment for hogs. Besides it would be STUPID to give your pearls to hogs even assuming they would eat them (they are probably too smart to try!). So make a good judgment and provide appropriate nourishment to others as opportunity presents itself.
We of course might nourish a hungry hog quite appropriately–at least to the hog’s craven thinking at the time.

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posted January 25, 2006 at 8:48 am

I would like your thoughts on the possibility that in this passage (in Mark 7), which follows cautionary words about the approach utilized by the Pharisees and teachers of the law, might be an enacted parable in which Jesus models the wrong and then the right way to respond to the searching heart, having just taught verbally on the issues.
Thanks – I enjoy your blog. -Rick

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Scot McKnight

posted January 25, 2006 at 9:42 am

Thanks for this, and I think I know what you are saying, but I’m not sure. Can you re-phrase some of this?

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Tyler Watson

posted January 25, 2006 at 10:37 am

I like what Eugene Boring has to say on Mt 7.6: something to the extent that it is easier to say what it does not mean than to say what it does mean. Still, I’m intrigued by Stassen and Gushee’s interpretation that pearls and holy things relate to the treasures Jesus discussed in the previous chapter. So the message of 7.6 is along the lines of don’t give your worship or allegiance to things that aren’t God. In the end it is a confusing verse and I don’t have a very strong view.
By the way, I really like the site. I’ve been reading for a while, but this is the first time I’ve commented.

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posted January 25, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Gosh, I thought I was so articulate the first time… ; )
I’ll try to be more specific, but remember, I’m not affirming this interpretation, I am asking for help in clarifying whether it might be accurate.
In Mark 7 you have the Pharisees and teachers critiquing Jesus and the Disciples because they are not “doing it right” – the ceremonial washing of the hands neglected suggests uncleanness. Jesus responds with his own critique of their complicity with dishonor of parents via their upholding of illegitimate use of the corban principle. Then he goes on to identify the true source of uncleanness – the heart.
Next thing that happens is the syrophoenician woman (who doesn’t apparently have a name – which must’ve been a drag at dinner parties. “Hi, I’m the syrophoenician woman”…)
Anyway, I have the feeling that Jesus may be role-playing: first the follow-the-right-rules appraoch of the Pharisees and Teachers as he replies dismissively “is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs”; then his own approach in which the purity and compassion of his heart responds to believing, enduring faith whenever he sees it: “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter”.
I almost sense Jesus, after that remark, glancing at me the reader as if to ask “There you go: two ways of responding. Which do *you* think brings greater glory to my Father?” And now *I’m* in the story, having to choose how I will live out the reality of Christ in me.
This is what I meant by an enacted parable. He doesn’t just tell it, he lives it, he does it.
Does that make sense?

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Cory Aldrich

posted January 25, 2006 at 11:11 pm

We read thru this portion of Matthew a couple weeks ago, and I posted a thought on this (link). In brief: The pearls are the Kingdom, and the dogs/pigs are those who would co-opt the Kingdom for their own benefit.

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posted January 26, 2006 at 6:02 pm

I’ve always leaned towards that idea that the gospel is precious, as is our effort in presenting it, and if the audience isn’t willing to even consider what you are saying, then why waste your breath.
I’m reminded of a story that Josh McDowell once told of a debate that he was having with another person about the truth of the bible. He then said, “Look, if I can show you infallible proof that Christ walked the earth and was a legitamate figure of history, will you believe?” The man replied, “No.” Mr. McDowell then said, “Well then, we have nothing to discuss then do we?”

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posted January 27, 2006 at 3:35 pm

I’ll be sharing from this text in a couple of weeks in the course of walking our way through Matthew this year. I’ll keep an eye here to see what insights I can glean… So far I’ve found much help in Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” though i’m still thinking on his take here (which by-the-way seems to be echoed in Duane Young’s comment (1)).

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