The Meaning of Matthew 7:6 Explained

Matthew 7:6

KJV: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

YLT: Ye may not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, that they may not trample them among their feet, and having turned -- may rend you.

Darby: Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them with their feet, and turning round rend you.

ASV: 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.

What does Matthew 7:6 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Jesus" disciples had a responsibility to pass their knowledge of the kingdom on to others so they, too, could prepare for it. Jesus gave them directions about this responsibility in this verse. This exhortation balances the one He just gave ( Matthew 7:1-5). The disciples could be too naive and fail to be discerning (cf. Matthew 5:43-47).
Pigs were typically unclean, wild, vicious animals. Likewise most dogs were not domestic pets but unclean, wild, despised creatures. This verse contains a chiastic construction. The dogs turn and tear to pieces those who give them special gifts, and the pigs trample under foot the pearls thrown before them (cf. Proverbs 11:22). What is holy and the pearls in this illustration evidently represent the good news announcing the kingdom. The pigs and dogs probably do not represent all Gentiles but people of any race who react to the good news by rejecting and turning against those who bring it to them (cf. Matthew 10:14; Matthew 15:14). [1]
"As with other parts of Jesus" teaching, the point is not an absolute prohibition, because then the disciple could not share the gospel with those who are not responsive. Rather, the point is that the disciple is not obligated to share with those who are hard-hearted." [2]

Context Summary

Matthew 7:1-12 - Judging Self Asking God Serving Others
There is abundant need for a right and sound judgment, illumined by the Spirit of truth; but there is a world of difference between it and the censorious and critical opinions which we are apt to form and utter about others. Human nature is fond of climbing up into the judgment seat and proclaiming its decisions, without hearing both sides or calling witnesses. Beware of basing your judgment on idle stories and gossip. In any case, do not utter it, if it be adverse, unless you have first prayed about it and sought to turn the sinner from the error of his ways. Let God search you, before you search another. See Psalms 139:23-24; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Hebrews 4:12.
We ask for a gift; we seek for what we have lost; we knock for entrance. Only a door stands between us and Christ! He will not give us stones or serpents, even if we clamor for them; but He will never fail to give good things-and above all His Holy Spirit-only we must ask for them.
The Roman Emperor Severus was so charmed with the Golden Rule that he had it inscribed on the walls of his palace. Let us inscribe it on our hearts and act on it in the power of the Holy Spirit, who sheds God's love abroad in the hearts of those who believe. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 7

1  Do Not Judge
7  Ask, Seek, Knock
13  Enter through the Narrow Gate
15  A Tree and Its Fruit
24  The Wise and the Foolish Builders
28  Jesus ends his sermon, and the people are astonished

Greek Commentary for Matthew 7:6

That which is holy unto the dogs [το αγιον τοις κυσιν]
It is not clear to what “the holy” refers, to ear-rings or to amulets, but that would not appeal to dogs. Trench (Sermon on the Mount, p. 136) says that the reference is to meat offered in sacrifice that must not be flung to dogs: “It is not that the dogs would not eat it, for it would be welcome to them; but that it would be a profanation to give it to them, thus to make it a skubalon, Exodus 22:31.” The yelping dogs would jump at it. Dogs are kin to wolves and infest the streets of oriental cities. [source]
Your pearls before the swine [τους μαργαριτας μων εμπροστεν των χοιρων]
The word pearl we have in the name Margarita (Margaret). Pearls look a bit like peas or acorns and would deceive the hogs until they discovered the deception. The wild boars haunt the Jordan Valley still and are not far removed from bears as they trample with their feet and rend with their tusks those who have angered them. [source]
That which is holy [τὸ ἅγιον]
The holy thing, as of something commonly recognized as sacred. The reference is to the meat offered in sacrifice. The picture is that of a priest throwing a piece of flesh from the altar of burnt-offering to one of the numerous dogs which infest the streets of Eastern cities. [source]
Pearls before swine [μαργαρίτας ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων]
Another picture of a rich man wantonly throwing handfuls of small pearls to swine. Swine in Palestine were at best but half-tamed, the hog being an unclean animal. The wild boar haunts the Jordan valley to this day. Small pearls, called by jewellers seed-pearls, would resemble the pease or maize on which the swine feed. They would rush upon them when scattered, and, discovering the cheat, would trample upon them and turn their tusks upon the man who scattered them. [source]
Turn [στραφέντες]
The Rev. properly omits again. The word graphically pictures the quick, sharp turn of the boar. [source]
Rend [ῥήξωσιν]
Lit., break; and well chosen to express the peculiar character of the wound made by the boar's tusk, which is not a cut, but a long tear or rip. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 7:6

Philippians 3:2 Dogs []
Rev., correctly, the dogs, referring to a well-known party - the Judaizers. These were nominally Christians who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but as the Savior of Israel only. They insisted that Christ's kingdom could be entered only through the gate of Judaism. Only circumcised converts were fully accepted by God. They appeared quite early in the history of the Church, and are those referred to in Acts 15:1. Paul was the object of their special hatred and abuse. They challenged his birth, his authority, and his motives. “'Paul must be destroyed,' was as truly their watchword as the cry for the destruction of Carthage had been of old to the Roman senator” (Stanley, “Sermons and Lectures on the Apostolic Age”). These are referred to in Phlippians 1:16; and the whole passage in the present chapter, from Phlippians 3:3to Phlippians 3:11, is worthy of study, being full of incidental hints lurking in single words, and not always apparent in our versions; hints which, while they illustrate the main point of the discussion, are also aimed at the assertions of the Judaizers. Dogs was a term of reproach among both Greeks and Jews. Homer uses it of both women and men, implying shamelessness in the one, and recklessness in the other. Thus Helen: “Brother-in-law of me, a mischief devising dog” (“Iliad,” vi., 344). Teucer of Hector: “I cannot hit this raging dog” (“Iliad,” viii., 298). Dr. Thomson says of the dogs in oriental towns: “They lie about the streets in such numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one's way over and amongst them - a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street; and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any European city. The imprecations of David upon his enemies derive their significance, therefore, from this reference to one of the most odious of oriental annoyances” (“Land and Book,” Central palestine and Phoenicia, 593). See Psalm 59:6; Psalm 22:16. Being unclean animals, dogs were used to denote what was unholy or profane. So Matthew 7:6; Revelation 22:15. The Israelites are forbidden in Deuteronomy to bring the price of a dog into the house of God for any vow: Deuteronomy 23:18. The Gentiles of the Christian era were denominated “dogs” by the Jews, see Matthew 15:26. Paul here retorts upon them their own epithet. [source]
1 Timothy 2:9 Adorn themselves [κοσμειν εαυτας]
Present active infinitive after βουλομαι — boulomai understood. Old word from κοσμος — kosmos (arrangement, ornament, order, world). See note on Luke 21:5 and note on Titus 2:10. See note on 1 Corinthians 11:5. for Paul‘s discussion of women‘s dress in public worship. In modest apparel (εν καταστοληι κοσμιωι — en katastolēi kosmiōi). Καταστολη — Katastolē is a late word (a letting down, καταστελλω — katastellō of demeanour or dress, arrangement of dress). Only here in N.T. Κοσμιος — Kosmios is old adjective from κοσμος — kosmos and means well-arranged, becoming. W. H. have adverb in margin (κοσμιως — kosmiōs). With shamefastness Old word for shame, reverence, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 12:28. Sobriety (σωπροσυνης — sōphrosunēs). Old word, in N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 2:15, and Acts 26:15 (Paul also). Not with braided hair Old word from πλεκω — plekō to plait, to braid, for nets, baskets, here only in N.T. Cf. 1 Peter 3:1 And gold (εν χρυσιωι — en chrusiōi). Locative case with εν — en repeated. Some MSS. read χρυσωι — chrusōi Both used for gold ornaments. Or pearls See note on Matthew 7:6 for this word. Or costly raiment (η ιματισμωι πολυτελει — ē himatismōi polutelei). ιματισμος — Himatismos a common Koiné{[28928]}š word from ιματιζω — himatizō to clothe. Πολυτελης — Polutelēs old word from πολυς — polus and τελος — telos (great price). See Mark 14:3. [source]
1 Timothy 2:9 With shamefastness [μετα αιδους]
Old word for shame, reverence, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 12:28. Sobriety (σωπροσυνης — sōphrosunēs). Old word, in N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 2:15, and Acts 26:15 (Paul also). Not with braided hair Old word from πλεκω — plekō to plait, to braid, for nets, baskets, here only in N.T. Cf. 1 Peter 3:1 And gold (εν χρυσιωι — en chrusiōi). Locative case with εν — en repeated. Some MSS. read χρυσωι — chrusōi Both used for gold ornaments. Or pearls See note on Matthew 7:6 for this word. Or costly raiment (η ιματισμωι πολυτελει — ē himatismōi polutelei). ιματισμος — Himatismos a common Koiné{[28928]}š word from ιματιζω — himatizō to clothe. Πολυτελης — Polutelēs old word from πολυς — polus and τελος — telos (great price). See Mark 14:3. [source]
1 Timothy 2:9 Not with braided hair [μη εν πλεγμασιν]
Old word from πλεκω — plekō to plait, to braid, for nets, baskets, here only in N.T. Cf. 1 Peter 3:1 And gold (εν χρυσιωι — en chrusiōi). Locative case with εν — en repeated. Some MSS. read χρυσωι — chrusōi Both used for gold ornaments. Or pearls See note on Matthew 7:6 for this word. Or costly raiment (η ιματισμωι πολυτελει — ē himatismōi polutelei). ιματισμος — Himatismos a common Koiné{[28928]}š word from ιματιζω — himatizō to clothe. Πολυτελης — Polutelēs old word from πολυς — polus and τελος — telos (great price). See Mark 14:3. [source]
1 Timothy 2:9 Or pearls [η μαργαριταις]
See note on Matthew 7:6 for this word. Or costly raiment (η ιματισμωι πολυτελει — ē himatismōi polutelei). ιματισμος — Himatismos a common Koiné{[28928]}š word from ιματιζω — himatizō to clothe. Πολυτελης — Polutelēs old word from πολυς — polus and τελος — telos (great price). See Mark 14:3. [source]
Revelation 17:4 With gold and precious stone and pearls [χρυσιωι και λιτωι τιμιωι και μαργαριταις]
Instrumental case. Χρυσιωι — Chrusiōi is cognate with the participle. Λιτωι τιμιωι — Lithōi timiōi is collective (Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16; Revelation 21:19). There is a ζευγμα — zeugma also with μαργαριταις — margaritais (Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16; Revelation 21:21), for which word see Matthew 7:6. Probably John is thinking of the finery of the temple prostitutes in Asia Minor. [source]
Revelation 21:21 Twelve pearls [δωδεκα μαργαριται]
These gate towers (πυλωνες — pulōnes) were mentioned in Revelation 21:12. Each of these (cf. Isaiah 54:12) is a pearl, one of the commonest of jewels (Matthew 7:6; Matthew 13:46; 1 Timothy 2:9). [source]
Revelation 17:4 In purple and scarlet [πορπυρουν και κοκκινον]
Accusative retained after this passive verb of clothing, as so often. Πορπυρους — Porphurous is old adjective for purple (from πορπυρα — porphura), in N.T. only here and John 19:2, John 19:5. See preceding verse for κοκκινος — kokkinos Perfect passive participle of χρυσοω — chrusoō old verb, to gild, to adorn with gold, here alone in N.T.With gold and precious stone and pearls (χρυσιωι και λιτωι τιμιωι και μαργαριταις — chrusiōi kai lithōi timiōi kai margaritais). Instrumental case. Χρυσιωι — Chrusiōi is cognate with the participle. Λιτωι τιμιωι — Lithōi timiōi is collective (Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16; Revelation 21:19). There is a ζευγμα — zeugma also with μαργαριταις — margaritais (Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16; Revelation 21:21), for which word see Matthew 7:6. Probably John is thinking of the finery of the temple prostitutes in Asia Minor.Full of abominations Agreeing with ποτηριον — potērion “cup” (neuter singular accusative). Some MSS. read γεμων — gemōn (nominative masculine like εχων — echōn in Revelation 17:3, quite irregular). For βδελυγματων — bdelugmatōn (genitive after γεμον — gemon) see Matthew 24:15; (Mark 13:14), common in the lxx for idol worship and its defilements (from βδελυσσω — bdelussō to render foul), both ceremonial and moral. See Jeremiah 15:7.Even the unclean things of her fornication (και τα ακαταρτα της πορνειας αυτης — kai ta akatharta tēs porneias autēs). Either the accusative after γεμον — gemon as in Revelation 17:3 (and full of the unclean things of her fornication) or the object of εχουσα — echousa like ποτηριον — potērion f0). [source]
Revelation 22:15 The dogs [οι κυνες]
Not literal dogs, but the morally impure (Deuteronomy 23:18; 2 Kings 8:13; Psalm 22:17, Psalm 22:21; Matthew 7:6; Mark 7:27; Philemon 3:3). Dogs in the Oriental cities are the scavengers and excite unspeakable contempt.The sorcerers (οι παρμακοι — hoi pharmakoi). As in Revelation 21:8, where are listed “the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters,” all “outside” the holy city here as there “in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, the second death.” Both are pictures (symbolic language) of hell, the eternal absence from fellowship with God. Another time Jesus spoke of “the outer darkness” (εις το σκοτος το εχωτερον — eis to skotos to exōteron Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30), outside of lighted house, as the abode of the damned. Another symbol is the worm that dies not (Mark 9:48).Every one that loveth and maketh a lie An interpretation of πασιν τοις πσευδεσιν — pāsin tois pseudesin (all liars) of Revelation 21:8 and of ποιων πσευδος — poiōn pseudos (doing a lie) of Revelation 21:27. Satan is the father of lying (John 8:44) and Satan‘s home is a congenial place for those who love and practise lying (2 Thessalonians 2:12). See 1 John 1:6 for not doing the truth and see also Romans 1:25; Ephesians 4:25. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 7:6 mean?

Not give that which [is] holy to the dogs nor cast the pearls of you before the pigs not lest they shall trample upon them with the feet of them and having turned they tear to pieces you
Μὴ δῶτε τὸ ἅγιον τοῖς κυσίν μηδὲ βάλητε τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων μή‿ ποτε καταπατήσουσιν αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτῶν καὶ στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν ὑμᾶς

δῶτε  give 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: διδῶ 
Sense: to give.
τὸ  that  which  [is] 
Parse: Article, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἅγιον  holy 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ἅγιος  
Sense: most holy thing, a saint.
τοῖς  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
κυσίν  dogs 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: κύων  
Sense: a dog.
μηδὲ  nor 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: μηδέ  
Sense: and not, but not, nor, not.
βάλητε  cast 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: βάλλω 
Sense: to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls.
μαργαρίτας  pearls 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: μαργαρίτης  
Sense: a pearl.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
ἔμπροσθεν  before 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἔμπροσθεν  
Sense: in front, before.
χοίρων  pigs 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: χοῖρος  
Sense: a swine.
ποτε  lest 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: πότε  
Sense: when?, at what time?.
καταπατήσουσιν  they  shall  trample  upon 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: καταπατέω  
Sense: to tread down, trample under foot, to trample on.
ποσὶν  feet 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: πούς  
Sense: a foot, both of men or beast.
αὐτῶν  of  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
στραφέντες  having  turned 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Passive, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: στρέφω  
Sense: to turn, turn around.
ῥήξωσιν  they  tear  to  pieces 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ῥάσσω 
Sense: to rend, burst or break asunder, break up, break through.