This Document last revised on June 23, 1996.
Matthew 7:6 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.
Matthew 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Revelation 21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
I first heard the phrase 'stringing pearls' in a teaching of Zola Levitt. It was used in the time of Jesus to describe a common method of expounding upon the scriptures practiced in the Jewish Synagogues in Galilee and Judea. A speaker would hold forth on a theme of his choice and cite verses from different parts of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms as part of his teaching. The scriptures are compared to pearls and the train of thought that connects them is a string joining the pearls. So pearls were understood to symbolize verses of Holy Scripture.
This helps us understand Matthew 7:6 quoted above. "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine " Here dogs and swine (unclean beasts) stand for unclean, unholy perhaps reprobate people. The intent of the verse is a warning against carelessly sharing the Word of God in dangerous circumstances. (This of course in not the same as boldly proclaiming the Gospel. The difference is in discerning, by the Holy Spirit, what to say, when to say it and who to say it to! That is to say, we cannot judge by outward appearance whether the persons we are dealing with are 'swine' or 'lost sheep'.)
Now of course to proclaim the Gospel is to share Jesus. As the pearls are the written Word of God, Jesus in the Living Word. And the merchant seeking pearls in Matthew 13:45 is willing to sell out for the Pearl of Great Price, Jesus himself!
Since we have just cited two references to pearls, we have strung two pearls! A third one is found in Revelation 21:21, the gates of pearl in the Heavenly city. In John 10.7 "...said Jesus unto them ...I am the door of the sheep". And in John 14.6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." So if Jesus is the door and Jesus is the way and if Jesus is the Pearl of Great Price, then clearly the entrance to heaven is by a gate of Pearl as seen in Rev. 21:21!
And that's what we mean by stringing pearls. Let's take another example of stringing pearls, as it relates to the word of God.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; " Col 2:14
Here we have the mention of how Jesus took the handwriting of ordinances which was against us and nailed it to his cross. It's certainly not clear exactly what that means but some comparisons may help us. The ideas here include the word of God and the cross. Lets add some pearls: We preach Christ and him crucified. (1st Cor. 2:2) His name is called the Word of God. (Rev. 19:13) The word was with God and the Word was God. (John 1:1) Keep in mind that Jesus is identified with the Word of God; that he is God; that He is the Word of God; that the Word of God is God. If Jesus nailed the handwritten ordinances (the Law or the Word) to his cross it is a reference to Jesus being nailed to the cross, by Jesus. This is the paradox of God offering himself as the perfect sacrifice. ("AndAbraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering " Gen. 22:8) When Jesus spoke of laying down his life he said: "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:18
Now consider the passage in John where Pilate has an inscription written: "And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS." John 19:19 Verse 20 tells us that it was written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin. Now take that and filter out the Latin (types don't have to be exact) and you have reference to a writing in Greek and Hebrew. The original texts of the Bible are in Greek and Hebrew. To say "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is to give a short, seven word, summation of the Bible! Now note that Pilate is the author. In this context, Pilate is acting and speaking as a type of God the Father. It is he who judges Jesus, and who says "I find no fault in this man. And still it is he who requires, and gives the order for Jesus death. Next, this writing is nailed to the cross. And finally when Jesus enemies challenge Pilate on what he had done, "Pilate answered, What I have written I have written." John 19:22 Which is a reference to the immutability of the Word of God. In John 10:35 we read "... unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; " So here is another expression of the Word and the Cross. The Word is on the Cross!
Now in another place (Matt. 22:37-40) we find Jesus being asked about the two great commandments in the Law (the Word). These are: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and soul and mind and " and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." To add these pearls to our string we must include Jesus summation. "On these two hang the whole of the Law and the Prophets." (verse 40) The first principle, to love God, forms the basis of our relationship with Him. If we are in a right relationship with the Father, we can stand upright before God. This is known as a vertical relationship. The second principle, to love our neighbor, forms the basis of our attitude toward our fellow man. If we have that attitude right, we are reaching out to our fellow man. This is the proper horizontal relationship. When you stand upright and reach out to both sides, your body takes the shape of a cross. On this cross, the right vertical and horizontal relationships, everything else depends. You can easily make a case that you need both relationships working. If one fails the other will also. There is another paradox here, not only is the Word on the cross, the word is the cross!
Now notice Jesus used the word 'hang'. "On these two 'hang' the whole of the Law and the Prophets." The Law and the Prophets are the rest of the scriptures, the pearls. The reference to the Cross here is only implied, but the use of the word 'hang' confirms this conclusion. On this cross hangs the Son of God who is the Word of God, the Pearl of Great price. And without that cross we would not be able to stand upright before God nor reach out to our lost brothers.
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