2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2–3, NKJV)
Christ’s apostle boldly described those who perverted the gospel (i.e., false brethren) by demanding Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved; They were false brethren (Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:4-5; 5:4). For emphasis, Paul gave one warning three times. (1) Beware of dogs (v. 2). Feral dogs lived in packs, scavenging for food (Ps. 59:6; 1 Kings 14:11). We must be alert against false teachers who attack and consume souls (Gal. 1:6-10; Jude 4). (2) Beware of evil workers (v. 2). Their works are wicked; Do not give them quarter (Ps. 119:115; Phil. 2:18-19). (3) Beware of the mutilation (v. 2). The doctrine of binding circumcision for salvation did nothing to remove sin because it was only a physical incision. By contrast, Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) are “the circumcision” (the covenant people of God, whose hearts are circumcised, Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11-13). Next, Paul gave three counterbalancing descriptions of Christians. (1) Christians worship God in the Spirit (v. 3). The word “worship” denotes service to God. We serve God according to the truth that the Spirit revealed, not by the error of the “dogs” (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:5-6). (2) Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus (v. 3). We have joy in Christ and do not take pleasure in evil things (Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Rom. 12:15). (3) Christians have no confidence in the flesh (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ does not depend on physical pedigree, performance, and promotion. Paul refused to trust in such things (Phil. 3:4-7). Brethren, be alert to error and those who teach it. Serve God with the confidence of the truth of the gospel.
Jesus has warned us not to judge lest our unrighteous measure of judgment condemns us (Matt. 7:1-2). Jesus forthrightly judged (condemned) hypocritically judging others while ignoring ourselves (Matt. 7:3-5). James reinforced this truth, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Jesus went on to imply we must judge several things: (1) What is holy and what are pearls, and (2) Who are dogs and swine. Holy things are pure, blameless, and set apart to God and His service. Your pearls would be your precious things. The gospel, salvation, faith, and heavenly treasures are among the holy and valuable things we judge to be great treasures. Dogs and swine were unclean under the Law of Moses and used by Christ as figures of impure, contemptible character and conduct (cf. Deut. 23:18; 2 Kings 8:13). But the dogs and swine in this passage have two legs, not four. So, take care to live holy and not defile yourself with evil companions (1 Cor. 15:33). Judge error from the truth and avoid the “dogs” who hold God’s truth in contempt and with their false doctrines (Phil. 3:2-3). Oh yes, we must judge what is right to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good (Luke 12:57; Rom. 12:9). God’s word of truth is holy. It identifies our pearls, and those whose sin and error identifies them as dogs and swine. Beware. They will turn on you when given a chance. Come out, be separate, and do not touch what is unclean (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1).
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! (Philippians 3:1–2, NKJV)
Identifying enemies of the truth and warning against those who destroy souls with their false doctrines and sinful conduct is not pleasant. Undoubtedly, that is why many refuse to do it. They prefer to let others do the hard work of exposing “the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18; Eph. 5:11). Yet, Paul said doing so was necessary for the spiritual safety of the Philippian Christians. He did not see this work as bothersome, and he would not neglect it (v. 1). He gives three warnings concerning those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame—who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:20). 1) Beware of dogs. Isaiah described the irresponsible watchmen (leaders) of Israel as “dumb” (silent), lazy, and “greedy” (Isa. 56:10-11). There are still people who scavenge for the souls of the innocent, like pack dogs. Jesus warned of these “dogs” (Matt. 7:6). 2) Beware of evil workers. You will know the false prophets who speak in the name of the Lord by their fruit when they stray from the commands of God (Matt. 7:15-21; Psa. 119:115). 3) Beware of the mutilation. Those who bound physical circumcision on Gentiles for salvation were mutilators who put confidence in the flesh instead of the Spirit (Phil. 3:3; Gal. 6:12-13; Col. 2:11-12). That is what error always does and why it must be resisted (Jude 3).
11 Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory. 12 “Come,” one says, “I will bring wine, and we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; Tomorrow will be as today, and much more abundant.” (Isaiah 56:11–12, NKJV)
By the time Isaiah spoke God’s word to a rebellious people, the prophets, priests and kings of Israel had become consumed with greed, self-interest and sinful indulgence. Instead of being God’s watchmen, warning Israel of danger, they were blinded by personal gain (Isaiah 56:10). The shepherds were fleecing God’s sheep (Ezekiel 34:1-6). The Lord God brought His judgment upon them for their faithless dereliction of duty (Ezekiel 34:7-10). Today, those who are charged with leading God’s people, teaching and warning them from God’s word of sin’s danger, must refuse the temptation of personal advancement and lure of personal gain. Elders of churches have become corporate CEOs tending capital, instead of shepherds tending souls (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28). Gospel preaching has become a career path, instead of a servant’s calling (2 Timothy 4:1-5). All the while, Christians starve for spiritual guidance, while “greedy dogs” indulge themselves. Harsh words? This warning is intended to convict and convert, lest a worse fate befall all who serve themselves, instead of serving the Lord and His people.
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6, NKJV)
An unwillingness to make any moral and religious judgments puts a person at odds with Jesus. After warning against making hypocritical judgments in Matthew 7:1-5, He commands us to make several judgments. We must judge what is “holy” and are “pearls”, as well as who are “dogs” and “swine” (the two-legged kind). Then, we must judge when not to give holy things to the dogs and when not to cast pearls before swine. But, are these judgments left up to our personal assessment? No, because God’s word tells us about holy things and true valuables (cf. Matt. 13:44-46). He identifies the figurative dogs and swine for us (cf. Phil. 3:2). The Scriptures reveal God’s judgments. We shall test ourselves against His judgments conform our lives to His words. When evil people despise God’s truth we must judge when to “shake off the dust” from our feet and move to others who will hear and respect the gospel of Christ (Matt. 10:14-15). (Or, have you reached a point where you will not judge something and someone as evil?) “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).