Mark 7:27 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 7:27, NIV: First let the children eat all they want,' he told her, 'for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs.'

Mark 7:27, ESV: And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Mark 7:27, KJV: But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

Mark 7:27, NASB: And He was saying to her, 'Let the children be satisfied first, for it is notgood to take the children’s bread and throw it to thedogs.'

Mark 7:27, NLT: Jesus told her, 'First I should feed the children--my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.'

Mark 7:27, CSB: He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, because it isn't right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

What does Mark 7:27 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Matthew gives more context to this particular encounter. This Canaanite woman is begging Jesus to free her demon-possessed daughter, while the disciples beg Jesus to send her away (Matthew 15:23). Once Jesus has the disciples' attention, He tells the woman, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). The stage is set to demonstrate the faith and wisdom of a Gentile woman.

She responds by kneeling before Him. She is a Gentile from a nation that treats Jews poorly. She likely knows how little respect Jewish religious leaders have for Gentile women (John 4:9). She is educated enough to understand and respond to Jesus' riddles. But right now she humbles herself before the Jewish Messiah (Matthew 15:22) and says, "Lord, help me" (Matthew 15:25).

The woman understands Jesus' metaphor. The "children" are the Jews (Deuteronomy 14:1) and "bread" is God's provision in whatever form it may take. She is the "dog," and although He uses a diminutive form of the word that means household pet—rather than an insulting remark—it's still not very flattering.

Despite the cultural baggage behind the Jewish tradition of calling Gentiles "dogs" and Jesus' seeming dismissal, the woman catches something that the disciples will take years to understand: Jesus the Messiah came for the Jews first but not only (Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16–17). She takes the chance that if Jesus has plans to reach the Gentiles later, He can make an exception and save her daughter now.

Some scholars have a different view. Instead of great theological significance, the interaction may have more to do with the household setting. The term "dog" is diminutive, meaning the household pets that get the scraps the children drop. The children are the disciples who need rest and nourishment (bread). The woman is disturbing their peace, and it is Jesus' priority to make sure His disciples get what they need before yet another person steals His attention. It's possible the woman recognizes the metaphor in the setting—she as household puppy who is distracting the Master from the children—and not as a racial slur.

And Jesus may be reluctant because if He heals her daughter there's no telling who she will tell. He might once again become swarmed by mob (Mark 4:1; 5:21; 6:34), this time Gentiles in search of magic.

More likely, He isn't reluctant at all. He just wants the situation to be clear: that He also came for Gentiles, that she is clever and able to understand His teaching, and that the disciples have hardened their hearts to what Jesus is trying to teach them (Mark 8:17) and think too much of themselves and their position with Jesus (Mark 10:13–16).