Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. –Philippians 3:1-3
· Introductory Thoughts
Beware: (991), “to see,” is applied to mental vision, and is sometimes used by way of warning “to take heed” against an object, Mark 8:15; 12:38; Acts 13:40; Phil. 3:2 (three times); in Col. 2:8, rv, “take heed,” marg., “see whether. See behold. [i]
· Compare to Psalm 37:37 (Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.) So weather good or bad we are to mark men. Follow the right and beware of those who are wrong.
I am not being judgmental, Paul implores us here to beware of them and how can we do this if we do not know their characteristics? Do we expect them to identify themselves? The only judgment we are to make is to reach a conclusion based on the evidence presented. We need to mark certain individuals who cause divisions and offences in the church. This is not to say we are condemning them nor is this statement or term meant to ridicule or belittle anyone. It is meant as a natural illustration to teach a spiritual truth. We see three things here to be wary of:
Dog, an animal frequently mentioned in Scripture. It was used by the Hebrews as a watch for their houses, Isa. 56:10, and for guarding their flocks. Job 30:1. Then also, as now, troops of hungry and semi-wild dogs used to wander about the fields and the streets of the cities, devouring dead bodies and other offal, 1 Kings 14:11; 21:19, 23; 22:38; Ps. 59:6, and thus became so savage and fierce and such objects of dislike that fierce and cruel enemies are poetically styled dogs in Ps. 22:16, 20. Moreover the dog being an unclean animal, Isa. 66:3, the epithets dog, dead dog, dog’s head, were used as terms of reproach or of humility in speaking of one’s self. 1 Sam. 24:14; 2 Sam. 3:8; 9:8; 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13.[ii] When I use to take the bus to work, sometimes in the early morning hours in Arlington I would run across a pack of dogs wondering the neighborhood, usually 6-8 in number and even the smallest of them are brave, even mean in a the protection of the pack of larger dogs and I would go out of my way to avoid them for the sake of my safety.
Evil workers– ( 2Cr 11:13 ), “deceitful workers.” Not simply “evildoers” are meant, but men who “worked,” indeed, ostensibly for the Gospel, but worked for evil: “serving not our Lord, but their own belly” ( Phl 3:19 ; compare Rom 16:18 ). Translate, “The evil workmen,” that is, bad teachers (compare 2Ti 2:15 ).[iii]
Concision- (2699), lit., “a cutting off” (“down,” “to cut”), “a mutilation,” is a term found in Phil. 3:2, there used by the apostle, by a contemptuously, for the Jewish circumcision with its Judaistic influence, in contrast to the true spiritual circumcision.[iv]
This word is only found in the Bible here but the verb form of it, katemno, is found in the septuangi, a transcript from around 285 AD in 1 Kings 8:28 when we are reading the accounts of the prophets of Baal cutting themselves in an attempt to get the attention of their god in the battle with Elijah.
His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. –Isaiah 56:10-11
· Wild dogs by definition have no master
They do what they want when they want. Their only concern is for what they can get out of it. They have no concern about God, his church, or his people. All they do is the result of self-determination or self-direction. They owe no allegiance to God, Christ, the Bible, the Pastor, or other members. They do what they want, when they want, with whom they want. They will not be subject to rules, regulations, guidelines, leaders, or any other thing they consider restrictive to their own desires and plans. Ultimately, whatever they do is for self-gain or self-satisfaction.
· Wild Dogs have no permanent home
They come and go at will. They seldom stay at one place any length of time. When the fancy strikes them they are off again and are not seen until they want or need something. There can be several factors involved in this. Scarcity of food, quarrels with other dogs or simply wonderlust, the inability to stay in one place any length of time due to lack of attachments or roots. Like hobos or gypsies they are described in 1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
· Wild Dogs are ill-tempered
They are constantly fighting among themselves and others and need to be cautioned in accordance of the Bible: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another…(Galatians 5:15)
· Wild Dogs feed on dead things
They feed on the dead, rotten, garbage. The dogs “licked the sores of Lazarus” (And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. –Luke 16:21) and will eat what he vomited up. They are consumed with their own fleshly efforts. Like the Judiazers Paul talks about in verse 2 who wanted to add keeping of the law to salvation, weather it is circumcision, or plans, tithing, programs, etc.
· Wild Dogs are sneaky or devious
They roam at night, frequenting dark places. Out in the light of day they tend to hide or try to fit in but they attack when they have numbers (at the time their pack is larger than the one they are attacking) and in secret places where they are not likely to be found out.
· Jesus’ warning: 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 7:6
The dogs and swine refer to those who have deliberately rejected the message of truth. These particular animals were especially repulsive to Jesus’ audience. The connotation in verse 6 is not that we should not present our message to those who are the outcasts of society, for Jesus Himself went to the poor sinners among His people. Rather, the idea is that it is futile to continue to present truth to those who have refused what they have already heard. A man cannot appreciate new truth until he has responded to the truth which he has already received. Since the context deals with the matter of discernment and judgment, it may rightly be assumed that there is a proper place for such activity in the Christian’s life. The main difference between judgment and discernment is that a judge merely pronounces a verdict, while discernment seeks a solution.[vi]
Two thoughts: Warn the wild dogs but there comes a point where the will not listen and we need stop warning and do something.
Wild dogs should not be given pre-eminence, should not hold positions of power or authority in the assembly.
· The end of these dogs
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.) –Philippians 3:18-19
Their end is there destruction if there is not any repentance and turning to the Lord God.
And they will bring down and hurt many of the innocent in the processes. I have more to say on this topic and will finish my thoughts next time.
[i] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
[ii] William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997.
[iii] Jamieson, Robert; A.R. Fausset; and David Brown. “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians.” Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 19 Feb 2000. 10 Jul 2007.
[iv] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
[v] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
[vi] Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.