Beware of dogs - The Jews, who have here the same appellative which they formerly gave to the Gentiles: because the Gentiles were not included in the covenant, they called them Dogs; and themselves, the children of the Most High. Now, they are cast out of the covenant and the Gentiles taken in; therefore they are the dogs, and the Gentiles the children.
Evil workers - Judaizing teachers, who endeavored to pervert the Gospel.
The concision - Κατατομην· The cutting or excision; not περιτομην, the circumcision: the word is used by the apostle to degrade the pretensions which the Jews made to sanctity by the cutting in their flesh. Circumcision was an honorable thing, for it was a sign of the covenant; but as they now had rejected the new covenant, their circumcision was rendered uncircumcision, and is termed a cutting, by way of degradation.
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 1 Kings 14:11; 1 Kings 16:4; 1 Kings 21:19. They are held as unclean, and to call one a dog is a much stronger expression of contempt there than with us; 1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Kings 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; Matthew 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.
Beware of evil workers - Referring, doubtless, to the same persons that he had characterized as dogs The reference is to Jewish teachers, whose doctrines and influence he regarded only as evil We do not know what was the nature of their teaching, but we may presume that it consisted much in urging the obligations of the Jewish rites and ceremonies; in speaking of the advantage of having been born Jews: and in urging a compliance with the law in order to justification before God. In this way their teachings tended to set aside the great doctrine of salvation by the merits of the Redeemer.
Beware of the concision - Referring, doubtless, also to the Jewish teachers. The word rendered “concision” - κατατομή katatomē- means properly a cutting off, a mutilation. It is used here contemptuously for the Jewish circumcision in contrast with the true circumcision. Robinson, Lexicon. It is not to be understood that Paul meant to throw contempt on circumcision as enjoined by God, and as practiced by the pious Jews of other times (compare Acts 16:3), but only as it was held by the false Judaizing teachers. As they held it, it was not the true circumcision. They made salvation to depend on it, instead of its being only a sign of the covenant with God. Such a doctrine, as they held it, was a mere cutting off of the flesh, without understanding anything of the true nature of the rite, and, hence, the unusual term by which he designates it. Perhaps, also, there may be included the idea that a doctrine so held would be in fact a cutting off of the soul; that is, that it tended to destruction. Their cutting and mangling the flesh might be regarded as an emblem of the manner in which their doctrine would cut and mangle the church - Doddridge. The meaning of the whole is, that they did not understand the true nature of the doctrine of circumcision, but that with them it was a mere cutting of the flesh, and tended to destroy the church.
It is not God's will that we should seclude ourselves from the world. But while in the world we should sanctify ourselves to God. We should not pattern after the world. We are to be in the world as a corrective influence, as salt that retains its savor. Among an unholy, impure, idolatrous generation, we are to be pure and holy, showing that the grace of Christ has power to restore in man the divine likeness. We are to exert a saving influence upon the world. CH 592.1
“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4. The world has become a lazar house of sin, a mass of corruption. It knows not the children of God because it knows Him not. We are not to practice its ways or follow its customs. Continually we are to resist its lax principles. Christ said to His followers, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. It is the duty of physicians and nurses to shine as lights amid the corrupting influences of the world. They are to cherish principles which the world cannot tarnish. CH 592.2Read in context »
Please read the second and third chapters of Philippians, and the first chapter of Colossians. There are lessons there that we all should study. Paul writes, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.... Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” TM 221.1
Our workers should use the greatest wisdom, so that nothing shall be said to provoke the armies of Satan and to stir up his united confederacy of evil. Christ did not dare to bring a railing accusation against the prince of evil, and is it proper that we should bring such accusation as will set in operation the agencies of evil, the confederacies of men that are leagued with evil spirits? Christ was the only-begotten Son of the infinite God, He was the Commander in the heavenly courts, yet He refrained from bringing accusation against Satan. Speaking of Him, Isaiah says, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” TM 222.1Read in context »