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"Beware of Dogs"
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers..."
Beware of dogs - Dogs in the east are mostly without masters; they wander at large in the streets and fields, and feed upon offals, and even upon corpses; compare 1Ki_14:11; 1Ki_16:4; 1Ki_21:19. They are held as unclean, and to call one a dog is a much stronger expression of contempt there than with us; 1Sa_17:43; 2Ki_8:13. The Jews called the pagan dogs, and the Muslims call Jews and Christians by the same name.
The term dog also is used to denote a person that is shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, and contentious, and is evidently so employed here. It is possible that the language used here may have been derived from some custom of affixing a caution, on a house that was guarded by a dog, to persons approaching it. Lenfant remarks that at Rome it was common for a dog to lie chained before the door of a house, and that a notice was placed in sight, "Beware of the dog." The same notice I have seen in this city affixed to the kennel of dogs in front of a bank, that were appointed to guard it.
The reference here is, doubtless, to Judaizing teachers, and the idea is, that they were contentious, troublesome, dissatisfied, and would produce disturbance. The strong language which the apostle uses here, shows the sense which he had of the danger arising from their influence. It may be observed, however, that the term dogs is used in ancient writings with great frequency, and even by the most grave speakers. It is employed by the most dignified characters in the Iliad (Boomfield), and the name was given to a whole class of Greek philosophers, the Cynics. It is used in one instance by the Saviour; Mat_7:6.
By the use of the term here, there can be no doubt that the apostle meant to express strong disapprobation of the character and course of the persons referred to, and to warn the Philippians in the most solemn manner against them.
— Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
Beware of dogs,.... By whom are meant the "judaizing" teachers, who were for imposing the works and ceremonies of the law upon the Gentiles, as necessary to salvation; and they have the name retorted on them they used to give to the Gentiles; see Mat_15:26; nor should they think it too severe, since the Jews themselves say, "the face of that generation (in which the Messiah shall come) shall he, "as the face of a dog".
The apostle calls them so, because they returned to Judaism, as the dog to its vomit, 2Pe_2:22; and because of the uncleanness in which many of them lived, and the impudence they were guilty of in transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ, and putting themselves upon an equal foot with them; as also for their calumny and detraction, their wrangling with the apostles, snarling at their doctrines, and biting them with the devouring words of reproach and scandal: likewise, they may be styled dogs for their covetousness, being such greedy ones as in Isa_56:10, with feigned words making merchandise of men; and for their love of their, bellies, which they served, and not Christ, and made a god of, Phi_3:19.
Moreover, because they were without, as dogs are, Rev_22:15; having gone out from the communion of the saints, because they were not of them; or if among them, yet not true members of Christ, nor of his mystical body; all which are so many arguments why the saints should beware of them, and why their persons, conversation, and doctrine should be avoided.
— John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He cautions them to take heed of those false teachers: To write the same thing to you to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe; that is, the same things which I have already preached to you; as if he had said, "What has been presented to your ears shall be presented to your eyes: what I have spoken formerly shall now be written; to show that I am still of the same mind." To me indeed is not grievous. Observe,
1. Ministers must not think any thing grievous to themselves which they have reason to believe is safe and edifying to the people.
2. It is good for us often to hear the same truths, to revive the remembrance and strengthen the impression of things of importance. It is a wanton curiosity to desire always to hear some new thing. It is a needful caution he here gives: Beware of dogs, Phi_3:2. The prophet calls the false prophets dumb dogs (Isa_56:10), to which the apostle here seems to refer.
Dogs, for their malice against the faithful professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting them. They cried up good works in opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil workers: they boasted themselves to be of the circumcision; but he calls them the concision: they rent and tore the church of Christ, and cut it to pieces; or contended for an abolished rite, a mere insignificant cutting of the flesh.
— Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible