Beware of Dog

August 3, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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I happen to like dogs in general. I wouldn’t want one living in my house, and it’s frustrating to have to take care of the one that was supposed to be my kids’ dog now that they don’t want to feed him or play with him any more, or give him his flea medicine, but dogs, in my opinion, are still the best kind of pet to have.

It is tough, however, to find anything good about dogs in the Bible. There are dogs eating the dead flesh of evil people (I Kings 14:11, I Kings 16:4), dogs lapping up blood (I Kings 21:19-24, I Kings 22:38, Psalm 68:23) and licking sores (Luke 16:21), dogs that will get you if you mess with their ears (Proverbs 26:17), dogs stirring up trouble in the flock of sheep (Job 30:1), dumb dogs (Isaiah 56:10), greedy dogs (Isaiah 56:11), and dogs eating their own vomit (Proverbs 26:11, II Peter 2:22). There is a popular cartoon movie called All Dogs Go to Heaven, but apparently not! (I like to think that my two favorite dogs, Trigger and Clarence, are going to be there, but I can’t guarantee it from Scripture.)

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision

Philippians 3:2

Dogs in Bible times, in the ancient Middle East, were scavengers, and were considered unclean by the Jewish people. They weren’t pets like they are today. They were thought of the way we think of rats today. Because they were not pets, they were semi-wild animals, and they did not have owners or “masters.” Like people, a dog who has himself for a master is a very sad dog.

Philippians 3:2 is a warning against false teachers and church infiltrators who taught salvation by works or by grace plus works. These “dogs” were disturbing the flock, and, like mean little yapping dogs, they were following the Apostle Paul around and snapping at his heels wherever he went. The “evil workers” were not just workers who happened to be evil. They were evil because they told people that their salvation was based on “works.”

The use of the word “concision” was a pointed insult at the false Jewish teachers who were teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved. “Concise” means to make shorter. If “circumcision” means to “cut around,” then “concision” means to “cut short.” Those who were being circumcised based on the belief that this act played a part in their salvation were really just mutilating themselves. So this verse was a stinging jab at those who were encouraging people to “cut themselves short.”

If I see a sign on a fence that says “Beware of Dog,” my tendency is to want to stay far away. If you have ever been near a pond wearing nice clothes when a swimming dog decides to emerge onto the bank near you, you know it behooves you to back away as far as you can, because you are about to get wet when he starts shaking out his fur. If professing Christian believers with an agenda of works righteousness insist on skulking in among a church fellowship like dogs, and then shaking off their dirty beliefs all over everyone, the Bible says to “beware” of them. Stay as far away from them as possible, until the Shepherd can come over and crack them on the head with His staff.


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