Brief Commentary on Philippians 3:2

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” (Phil 3:2) 

Dogs are used in a negative context consistently throughout Scripture. Interestingly, they are in the context of Psalm 22 – a messianic psalm concerning the betrayal, and crucifixion, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Examples:

(Exo 22:31) “And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.”

(1 Ki 14:11) “Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it.”

(Psa 22:16-20) “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. {17} I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. {18} They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. {19} But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. {20} Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.”

I believe the “dogs” could be a reference to almost any group – Jews, Gentiles, whatever. In scripture dogs are symbolic of opportunistic, greedy people bent on destruction, or feeding on destruction. In the context it could be a reference to false brethren/prophets/etc.. See also Titus 1:10-16, which doesn’t specifically mention the dog,but certainly uses animalistic characteristics to describe false teachers. “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: {11} Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. {12} One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. {13} This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; {14} Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. {15} Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. {16} They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

The concision is an interesting term and relates to mutilation. Paul’s view by this time is that the rite of circumcision is a physical mutilation. That is why Paul was teaching the Jews who lived among the Gentiles that they should no longer practice it. (Acts 21:21) “And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

Paul teaches us that we have been circumcised with an operation “not made with hands” and which is an “operation” of God (Col. 2:10-12). We can conclude that any self-effort, or religious practice, that we would employ in an attempt to deal with our flesh would in essence be a mutilation (an unsuccessful operation). It violates what Christ accomplished for us at Calvary, and is a denial of the completeness believers find in Christ Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: