Philippians 3:2
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
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(2) Beware of (the) dogs.—In Revelation 22:15 “the dogs” excluded from the heavenly Jerusalem seem to be those who are impure. In that sense the Jews applied the word to the heathen, as our Lord, for a moment appearing to follow the Jewish usage, does to the Syro-Phœnician woman in Matthew 15:26. But here the context appropriates the word to the Judaising party, who claimed special purity, ceremonial and moral, and who probably were not characterised by peculiar impurity—such as, indeed, below (Philippians 3:17-21) would seem rather to attach to the Antinomian party, probably the extreme on the other side. Chrysostom’s hint that the Apostle means to retort the name upon them, as now by their own wilful apostasy occupying the place outside the spiritual Israel which once belonged to the despised Gentiles, is probably right. Yet perhaps there may be some allusion to the dogs, not as unclean, but as, especially in their half-wild state in the East, snarling and savage, driving off as interlopers all who approach what they consider their ground. Nothing could better describe the narrow Judaising spirit.

Of evil workers.—Comp. 2Corinthians 11:13, describing the Judaisers as “deceitful workers.” Here the idea is of their energy in work, but work for evil.

The concision.—By an ironical play upon words St. Paul declares his refusal to call the circumcision, on which the Judaisers prided themselves, by that time-honoured name; for “we,” he says, “are the true circumcision,” the true Israel of the new covenant. In Ephesians 2:11 (where see Note) he had denoted it as the “so-called circumcision in the flesh made by hands.” Here he speaks more strongly, and calls it a “concision,” a mere outward mutilation, no longer, as it had been, a “seal” of the covenant (Romans 4:11). There is a still more startling attack on the advocates of circumcision in Galatians 5:12 (where see Note).

Php 3:2. Beware of dogs — Unclean, unholy, rapacious men, who, though they fawn and flatter, would devour you as dogs. He probably gave them this appellation also, because they barked against the doctrines of the gospel, and against its faithful teachers, and were ready to bite and tear all who opposed their errors. Our Lord used the word dogs in the same sense, when he commanded his apostles not to give that which is holy to dogs. Perhaps, by calling them dogs, the apostle might intend to signify likewise, that, in the sight of God, they were now become as abominable, for crucifying Christ, and persecuting his apostles, as the idolatrous heathen were in the eyes of the Jews; who, to express their detestation of them, gave them the name of dogs; a title which the apostle therefore here returns upon themselves. Revelation 22:15, the wicked are called dogs: without are dogs. Beware of evil workers — Of those Judaizing teachers, who, while they cry up the law, and pretend to be strenuous advocates for good works, are, in fact, evil workers; sowing the seeds of discord, strife, contention, and division, among the simple, humble, and formerly united members of Christ, and acting in direct opposition, not only to the gospel, the true nature of which they do not understand, but even to the most important precepts and grand design of the law itself, for the honour of which they appear to be so zealous. Macknight renders the expression, evil labourers, in opposition to the appellation of fellow-labourers, with which the apostle honoured those who faithfully assisted him in preaching the gospel. The same false teachers he calls false apostles, and deceitful workers, or labourers, 2 Corinthians 11:13; because, instead of building, they undermined the Church of Christ, by removing its foundation; beware of the concision — Circumcision being now no longer a rite of entering into covenant with God, the apostle will not call those who used it the circumcision; but coins a term on purpose, taken from a Greek word used by the LXX., Leviticus 21:5, for such a cutting of the flesh as God had forbidden. Dr. Macknight renders the word the excision: an appellation, says he, “finely contrived to express the pernicious influence of their doctrine; and perhaps also to signify the destruction which was coming on them as a nation.” He adds, “the account given of these wicked men, Romans 16:18; Galatians 6:12; Titus 1:11, shows that they deserved all the harsh names given them in this place.”3:1-11 Sincere Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus. The prophet calls the false prophets dumb dogs, Isa 56:10; to which the apostle seems to refer. Dogs, for their malice against faithful professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting them. They urged human works in opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil-workers. He calls them the concision; as they rent the church of Christ, and cut it to pieces. The work of religion is to no purpose, unless the heart is in it, and we must worship God in the strength and grace of the Divine Spirit. They rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in mere outward enjoyments and performances. Nor can we too earnestly guard against those who oppose or abuse the doctrine of free salvation. If the apostle would have gloried and trusted in the flesh, he had as much cause as any man. But the things which he counted gain while a Pharisee, and had reckoned up, those he counted loss for Christ. The apostle did not persuade them to do any thing but what he himself did; or to venture on any thing but that on which he himself ventured his never-dying soul. He deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the knowledge of Christ, by faith in his person and salvation. He speaks of all worldly enjoyments and outward privileges which sought a place with Christ in his heart, or could pretend to any merit and desert, and counted them but loss; but it might be said, It is easy to say so; but what would he do when he came to the trial? He had suffered the loss of all for the privileges of a Christian. Nay, he not only counted them loss, but the vilest refuse, offals thrown to dogs; not only less valuable than Christ, but in the highest degree contemptible, when set up as against him. True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men, their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his word. Let us see what the apostle resolved to cleave to, and that was Christ and heaven. We are undone, without righteousness wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty. There is a righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a complete and perfect righteousness. None can have benefit by it, who trust in themselves. Faith is the appointed means of applying the saving benefit. It is by faith in Christ's blood. We are made conformable to Christ's death, when we die to sin, as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by the cross of Christ. The apostle was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties in his work. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ.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.

2. Beware—Greek, "Have your eye on" so as to beware of. Contrast "mark," or "observe," namely, so as to follow Php 3:17.

dogs—Greek, "the dogs," namely, those impure persons "of whom I have told you often" (Php 3:18, 19); "the abominable" (compare Re 21:8, with Re 22:15; Mt 7:6; Tit 1:15, 16): "dogs" in filthiness, unchastity, and snarling (De 23:18; Ps 59:6, 14, 15; 2Pe 2:22): especially "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Php 3:18; Ps 22:16, 20). The Jews regarded the Gentiles as "dogs" (Mt 15:26); but by their own unbelief they have ceased to be the true Israel, and are become "dogs" (compare Isa 56:10, 11).

evil workers—(2Co 11:13), "deceitful workers." Not simply "evildoers" are meant, but men who "worked," indeed, ostensibly for the Gospel, but worked for evil: "serving not our Lord, but their own belly" (Php 3:19; compare Ro 16:18). Translate, "The evil workmen," that is, bad teachers (compare 2Ti 2:15).

concision—Circumcision had now lost its spiritual significance, and was now become to those who rested on it as any ground of justification, a senseless mutilation. Christians have the only true circumcision, namely, that of the heart; legalists have only "concision," that is, the cutting off of the flesh. To make "cuttings in the flesh" was expressly prohibited by the law (Le 21:5): it was a Gentile-heathenish practice (1Ki 18:28); yet this, writes Paul indignantly, is what these legalists are virtually doing in violation of the law. There is a remarkable gradation, says Birks [Horæ Apostolicæ] in Paul's language as to circumcision. In his first recorded discourse (Ac 13:39), circumcision is not named, but implied as included in the law of Moses which cannot justify. Six or seven years later, in the Epistle to Galatians (Ga 3:3), the first Epistle in which it is named, its spiritual inefficiency is maintained against those Gentiles who, beginning in the Spirit, thought to be perfected in the flesh. Later, in Epistle to Romans (Ro 2:28, 29), he goes farther, and claims the substance of it for every believer, assigning the shadow only of it to the unbelieving Jew. In Epistle to Colossians (Col 2:11; 3:11), still later, he expounds more fully the true circumcision as the exclusive privilege of the believer. Last of all here, the very name is denied to the legalist, and a term of reproach is substituted, "concision," or flesh-cutting. Once obligatory on all the covenant-people, then reduced to a mere national distinction, it was more and more associated in the apostle's experience with the open hostility of the Jews, and the perverse teaching of false brethren.

Beware; he cautions all, both officers and people: and though the original word doth signify to look with mind and eye, yet it is also frequently rendered, to take heed, Mark 8:15 12:38 8:9,23,33 1 Corinthians 16:10 2Jo 1:8.

Of dogs; of those dogs, (with the article emphatically proposed), a metaphor borrowed from those voracious, fierce, impure animals, whose price was not brought into the Lord’s house, Deu 23:18 Proverbs 26:11 Isaiah 66:3 2 Peter 2:22; to connote the false apostles, who endeavoured to corrupt the gospel with Judaism and profaneness, even antichristianism; compare Psalm 22:16,20 Mt 7:6 15:26 Revelation 22:15. Some think the apostle may allude unto the proverbial speech: Take heed of a mad dog, forasmuch as false teachers, being acted as with a certain madness, would bite Christ and his apostles, and tear his body; and these mad dogs were the more dangerous, in that they did not bark so much as bite. Hence they say, Take heed of a dumb dog and still watcher. There were of several sorts, enemies to the cross of Christ, Galatians 5:12 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15; some more secret, as Absalom against Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:22, pretending contrary to their practice, 2 Kings 8:13 13:22. Our Saviour bade his disciples beware of such, Matthew 10:17, which he found to be of this temper, Psalm 22:16,20 55:15; though some of them were but dumb dogs, Isaiah 56:10: some such there were amongst the Philipplans, who, notwithstanding their fair pretext, were enemies to the cross of Christ, did secretly disparage his true apostle, and tear his flock: see Philippians 3:18, with Philippians 1:15,16.

Beware of evil workers; such as pretended to labour in promoting the gospel of Christ, but secretly were doing mischief amongst Christians, not serving the glory of Christ but their own bellies, Philippians 3:18,19; being, as he elsewhere calls them, deceitful workers, 2 Corinthians 11:13, glorying in the flesh, Galatians 6:13.

Beware of the concision; by an elegant allusion to the name circumcision, which rite the Jews did glory in, and some false teachers of Christianity, after the time of reformation, did urge as necessary to salvation, and require it from others, Acts 15:1 Galatians 5:2,4 Ga 6:12. These Paul here, in a holy sarcasm, charges the Philippians to take heed of, under the contemptible name of the concision, or cutting off, intimating that the exterior part of that typical work, which was done in the cutting off the foreskin, was now, from the coming of Christ, altogether made a mere cutting off the skin, condemned by God in the heathens, as a profane incision, Leviticus 19:28 21:5, where the LXX. use the same preposition in the compound word, the apostle here doth in contempt of the thing; which could now bring nothing of profit, nothing of holiness, nothing of honour to any Christian, could no more avail or advantage a man now, than if it were conferred on a beast, being no seal of the covenant now, but a stickling for that rite (when abolished by Christ) which was a mere rending of the church, and in that effect a cutting off from it, Galatians 5:10,12. And the apostle doth three times significantly repeat this word,

beware of these enemies to Christian purity and unity, to show how necessary it was to avoid their insinuations, against which he is more sharp in his Epistle to the Galatians. 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 Matthew 15:26; nor should they think it too severe, since the Jews themselves say (p),

"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, 2 Peter 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 Isaiah 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, Philippians 3:19. Moreover, because they were without, as dogs are, Revelation 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,

Beware of evil workers: meaning the same persons, who were deceitful workers, did the work of the Lord unfaithfully, walked in craftiness, and handled the word of God deceitfully, endeavoured to subvert the Gospel of Christ, and the faith of men in it; who worked from bad principles, and with evil views; and notwithstanding their large pretensions to good works, teaching that justification and salvation were by them, which notion the apostle tacitly refers to in this character; yet were of bad a character, and such as Christ will reject another day as workers of iniquity; a character they deservedly bear, if there was no other reason for it than their preaching the doctrine of salvation by men's own works of righteousness, and who, and their ministry, are by all means to be shunned,

Beware of the concision; the men of the circumcision, as the Arabic version renders it; they chose to be called so, but the apostle would not give them that name, but calls them the "concision"; or "the concision of the flesh", as the Syriac version renders it; referring either to the cuttings in the flesh, forbidden Leviticus 21:5; or to the circumcision of the flesh rather, which they valued themselves upon, and were for introducing among the Gentiles, whereby they made sad divisions, and cutting work among the churches; and were some of them at least "cut" off, as the Ethiopic version renders it, from the churches; and who, as much as in them lay, cut themselves off from Christ, and rendered him unprofitable to them; see Galatians 5:2.

(p) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the {b} concision.

(b) He alludes to circumcision; and while they were boasting in it, they broke apart the Church.

Php 3:2. This is now the τὰ αὐτά which he had previously written, and probably in the very same words. At least this seems to be indicated by the peculiar expressions in themselves; and not only so, but it serves also to explain the relation of contrast, which this vehement “fervor pii zeli” (Calvin) presents to the tender and cordial tone of our epistle. That lost epistle had probably expressed the apostle’s mind at length, and with all the warmth of controversy, for the warning of his readers as to the Judaizing false teachers. How entirely different is the tone in which, in the present epistle, he speaks (Php 1:15 ff.) of teachers likewise of an anti-Pauline type, and labouring, indeed, at that time in his immediate neighbourhood! Comp., moreover, the remark after Php 1:18. Those who refer τὰ αὐτά to the χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ, labour in very different ways to establish a connection of thought with βλέπετε κ.τ.λ.; as, for instance, Wiesinger: that Paul wished to suggest, as a ground for the reiterated summons to joy in the Lord, the danger which was threatening them from the men described; Weiss: that the readers were to learn e contrario, on what the true Christian joy was, and on what it was not, based.

βλέπετε] not: be on your guard against, etc. (which would be βλ. ἀπό, Mark 8:15; Mark 12:38), but as a calling attention to: behold! (1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 10:18), with a view, however, to warn the readers against these men as pernicious, by pointing to the forbidding shape in which they present themselves.

τοὺς κύνας] a term of reproach among the Jews and the Greeks (frequently in Homer, who, however, also uses it without any dishonourable reference; see Duncan, Lex. ed. Rost. p. 674); used by the latter specially to denote impudence, furious boldness (Hom. Il. 8:289; Od. 17:248; Anth. Pal. 9:302), snappishness (Pollux, On. 5:65), low vulgarity (Lucian, Nigr. 22), malice and cunning (Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 18), and the like, see generally Wetstein; used also among the Jews in similar special references (Isaiah 56:10 f.; Deuteronomy 23:18; Revelation 22:15, et al.), and, because dogs were unclean animals, generally to denote the profane, impure, unholy (Matthew 7:6; Psalm 22:17; Revelation 22:15; Schoettgen, Hor. I. p. 1145); hence the Gentiles were so designated (see on Matthew 15:26). In this passage also the profane nature and demeanour of the false teachers, as contrasted with the holy character of true Christianity, is to be adhered to as the point of comparison (Chrysostom: οὐκέτι τέκνα Ἰουδαῖοιὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ καὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀλλότριοι ἦσαν, οὕτω καὶ οὗτοι γεγόνασι νῦν). Any more special reference of the term—as to shamelessness (Chrysostom and many others, including Matthies, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald), covetousness (both combined by Grotius), snappishness (Rilliet, and older expositors, following Ambrosiaster, Augustine, and Pelagius), envy, and the like; or to the disorderly wandering about in selfishness and animosity towards those who were living peaceably in their Christian calling (Hofmann), to which Lange fancifully adds a loud howling against Paul,—is not furnished by the context, which, on the contrary, follows it up with yet another general designation, subjoining, namely, to that of the low, unholy character (κύνας) that of the evil working: τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτ. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:13. The opposite: 2 Timothy 2:15; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 57. Ἐργάζονται μέν, φησιν, ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ κακῷ, καὶ ἀργίας πολλῷ χεῖρον ἔργον, ἀνασπῶντες τὰ καλᾶς κείμενα, Chrysostom; comp. Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact. They, in fact, laboured in opposition to the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith.

τὴν κατατομήν] the cutting in pieces (Theophr. H. pl. iv. 8. 12), a word formed after the analogy of περιτομή, and, like the latter in Php 3:3, used in a concrete sense: those who are cut in pieces! A bitter paronomasia, because these men were circumcised merely as regards the body, and placed their confidence in this fleshly circumcision, but were wanting in the inner, spiritual circumcision, which that of the body typified (see Php 3:3; Romans 2:28 f.; Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 2:11; Acts 7:51). Comp. Galatians 5:11 f. In the absence of this, their characteristic consisted simply in the bodily mutilation, and that, from the ideal point of view which Paul here occupies, was not circumcision, but concision; whilst, on the other hand, circumcision, as respected its moral idea, was entirely independent of the corporeal operation, Php 3:3. Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 439, ed. 2. This qualitative distinction between περιτ. and κατατ. has been misunderstood by Baur, who takes the climax as quantitative, and hence sees in it a warped and unnatural antithesis, which is only concocted to give the apostle an opportunity of speaking of his own person. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact justly lay stress on the abolition of the legal circumcision as such brought about through Christ (the end of the law, Romans 10:4),—a presupposition which gives to this antinomistic sarcasm its warrant.[150] A description of idolatry, with allusion to Leviticus 21:5, 1 Kings 18:28, et al. (Storr, Flatt, J. B. Lightfoot; comp. Beza), is quite foreign to the context. It is erroneous also to discover here any indication of a cutting off of hearts from the faith (Luther’s gloss), or a cutting in pieces of the church (Theodoret, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Hammond, Clericus, Michaelis, Zachariae, and others), against which the necessary (comp. Php 3:3) passive signification of the word (not cutters in pieces, but cut in pieces) is decisive.

The thrice repeated βλέπετε belongs simply to the ἘΠΙΜΟΝῊ of earnest emotion (Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 315; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 341 [E. T. 398]), so that it points to the same dangerous men, and does not, as van Hengel misconceives, denote three different classes of Jewish opponents, viz. the apostate, the heretical, and the directly inimical. The passage quoted by him from Philostr., Vit. Soph. Php 2:1, does not bear upon the point, because in it the three repetitions of ἔβλεψε are divided by ΜῈΝΔΈ. Weiss also refers the three designations to three different categories, namely: (1) the unconverted heathen, with their immoral life; (2) the self-seeking Christian teachers, Php 1:15-17; and (3) the unbelieving Jews, with their carnal conceit. But the first and third categories introduce alien elements, and the third cannot be identified with those mentioned at Php 1:15-17, but must mean persons much more dangerous. In opposition to the whole misinterpretation, see Huther in the Mecklenb. Zeitschr. p. 626 ff. All the three terms must characterize one class of men as in three aspects deserving of detestation, namely the Judaizing false teachers. As is evident from τ. κατατομήν and Php 3:3 ff., they belonged to the same fundamentally hostile party against which Paul contends in the Epistle to the Galatians. At the same time, since the threefold repetition of the article pointing them out may be founded upon the very notoriety of these men, and yet does not of necessity presuppose a personal acquaintance with them, it must be left an open question, whether they had already come to Philippi itself, or merely threatened danger from some place in its vicinity. It is certain, however, though Baur still regards it as doubtful, that Paul did not refer to his opponents in Rome mentioned in Php 1:15 ff. (Heinrichs), because in the passage before us a line of teaching must be thought of which was expressly and in principle anti-Pauline, leading back into Judaism and to legal righteousness; and also because the earnest, demonstrative βλέπετε, as well as ἈΣΦΑΛΈς (Php 3:2), can only indicate a danger which was visibly and closely threatening the readers. It is also certain that these opponents could not as yet have succeeded in finding adherents among the Philippians; for if this had been the case, Paul would not have omitted to censure the readers themselves (as in the Epistle to the Galatians and Second Corinthians), and he would have given a very different shape generally to his epistle, which betrays nothing but a church as yet undivided in doctrine. His language directed against the false teachers is therefore merely warning and precautionary, as is also shown in Php 3:3.

[150] Luther’s works abound in sarcastic paronomasiae. Thus, for instance, in the preface to his works, instead of De cret and De cretal, he has written “Drecket” and “Drecketal” [Germ. Dreck=dregs, filth]; the Legenden he calls Lügenden, the Jurisperitos he terms Jurisperditos; also in proper names, such as Schwenkfeld, whom he called “Stenkfeld.” In ancient authors, comp. what Diog. L. vi. 2, 4 relates of Diogenes: τὴν Εὐκλείδου σχολὴν ἔλεγε χολήν, τὴν δὲ Πλάτωνος διατριβήν κατατριβήν. Thuc. vi. 76. 4 : οὐκ ἀξυνετωτέρου, κακοξυνετωτέρου δέ. See also Ast, ad Plat. Phaedr. p. 276; Jacobs, Delect. epigr. p. 188. For the Latin, see Kühner, ad Cic. Tusc. p. 291, ed. 3.Php 3:2. It is difficult to understand how anyone could find three different classes in these words (e.g., Ws[22]., who divides them into (a) unconverted heathens, (b) self-seeking Christian teachers, (c) unbelieving Jews. See also his remarks in A. J. Th., i., 2, pp. 389–391). The words are a precise parallel to Paul’s denunciations of Judaising teachers in Galatians and 2 Corinthians. Cf. Galatians 1:7; Galatians 1:9; Galatians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 2:17. The persistent and malicious opposition which they maintained against him sufficiently accounts for the fiery vehemence of his language. To surrender to their teaching was really to renounce the most precious gift of the Gospel, namely, “the glorious liberty of the sons of God”. For, in Paul’s view, he who possesses the Spirit is raised above all law. Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:17, and see Gunkcl, Wirkungen2, etc., pp. 96–98.—βλέπετε. Thrice repeated in the intense energy of his invective. Literally = “look at” them, in the sense of “beware of” them. It is not so used in classical Greek. Apparently some such significance as this is found in 2 Chronicles 10:16, βλέπε τὸν οἶκόν σου, Δαυείδ. Frequent in N.T. (see Blass, Gram., p. 87, n. 1). He would have used a stronger word than βλ. had the Judaisers already made some progress at Philippi. There is nothing to suggest this in the Epistle. But all the Pauline Churches were exposed to their inroads. At any moment their emissaries might appear.—τοὺς κύνας. Only here in Paul. Commentators have tried to single out the point of comparison intended, some emphasising the shamelessness of dogs, others their impurity, others their roaming tendencies, others still their insolence and cunning. Most probably the Apostle had no definite characteristic in his mind. κύων was a term of reproach in Greek from the earliest to the latest times. E.g., Hom., Il., xiii., 623. Often in O.T. So here.—τ. κακ. ἐργ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13, ἐργάται δόλιοι. We have here clear evidence that the persons alluded to were within the Christian Church. They did professedly carry on the work of the Gospel, but with a false aim. This invalidates the arguments of Lips[23]., Hltzm[24]. and M‘Giffert (Apost. Age, pp. 389–390), who imagine that the Apostle refers to unbelieving Jews, probably at Philippi.—τ. κατατομήν. A scornful parody of their much-vaunted περιτομή. W-M[25]. (pp. 794–796) gives numerous exx. of a similar paronomasia, e.g., Diog. Laert., 6, 24, τὴν μὲν Εὐκλείδου σχολήν ἔλεγε χολήν, τὴν δὲ Πλάτωνος διατριβὴν κατατριβήν. Lit. = “the mutilation”. Their mechanical, unspiritual view of the ancient rite reduces it to a mere laceration of the body. The word occurs in CIG., 160, 27; Theophr., Hist. Plant., 4, 8, 10; Symm. on Jerem., xlviii., 37 = notch, cutting, incision. It is only found here with any reference to circumcision.

[22] . Weiss.

[23] Lipsius.

[24] tzm. Holtzmann.

[25] Moulton’s Ed. of Winer’s Grammar.2. Beware of] Lit., “see.” For this use of the verb, cp. Colossians 4:17; 2 John 1:8.

dogs] Lit. and better, the dogs. He refers to a known and defined class; and these evidently were those Judaistic teachers within the pale of the Church to whom he has referred already (Php 1:15) in another connexion and in a different tone. These Pharisee-Christians very probably called the uncircumcised, and (from their point of view) non-conforming, converts, “dogs,” as the Pharisees-proper called all Gentiles; cp. Matthew 15:26-27, for words alluding to this use of the term. The habits and instincts of the dog suggest ideas of uncleanness and wantonness; and its half-wild condition in Eastern towns adds the idea of a thing outcast. Thus everywhere in Scripture the word “dog” is used in connexions of contempt, reproach or dread: see e.g. 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13; Psalm 22:16; Psalm 22:20; Psalm 59:6; Ecclesiastes 9:4; Matthew 7:6; Revelation 22:15.—The Apostle “here turns the tables” on the Judaist, and pronounces him to be the real defiled outcast from Messiah’s covenant, rather than the simple believer, who comes to Messiah not by way of Judaism, but direct. The same view is expressed more fully Galatians 5:2-4.—It is just possible that the word “dog” refers also to positive immorality underlying, in many cases, a rigid ceremonialism. But this is at most secondary here. See below Php 3:18-19, and notes, for another “school” more open to such charges.

evil workers] Better, the bad work-men. He refers to the same faction under another aspect. Very probably, by a play on the word “worker,” he censures them as teaching a salvation by “works,” not by faith. (See e.g. Romans 3:27; Romans 4:2; Romans 4:6; Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2; Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5.) As if to say, “They are all for working, with a view to merit; but they are bungling workmen all the while, adjusting wrongly the fabric of the Gospel, and working not rightly even what in itself is right.” Cp. 2 Corinthians 11:13 for a passage where the same double meaning seems to attach to this word.—For the other side of the truth of “working” see Php 2:12, and notes.

the concision] “The gashing, the mutilation.” By this harsh kindred word he satirizes, as it were, the rigid zeal of the Judaist for bodily circumcision. In the light of the Gospel, the demand for the continuance of circumcision in the Church, as a saving ordinance, was in fact a demand for a maltreatment of the body, akin only to heathen practices; cp. e.g. 1 Kings 18:28.

Cp. Galatians 5:12, with Lightfoot’s notes, for a somewhat similar use of words in a kindred connexion. Lightfoot here remarks on the frequent occurrence in the N.T. of verbal play. See e.g. the Greek of Acts 8:30; Romans 12:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Wyclif curiously, and without any support in the Latin, renders this clause, “se ye dyuysioun”; Tyndale and Cranmer, “Beware of dissencion (dissensyon).”Php 3:2. Βλέπετε, see) A vehement Anaphora,[29] See, and you will avoid; a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent.[30] The antithesis is σκοπεῖτε, observe, mark,[31] Php 3:17; for Php 3:17 returns to this topic, wonderfully tempered by reproof and exhortation.—τοὺς κύνας, the dogs) Undoubtedly he used this appellation often in their presence, Php 3:18, and he now brought it to the recollection of the Philippians; and hence they would more easily understand it than we. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:5. The three members of the following verse correspond, by a retrograde gradation (descending climax), to the three clauses of this verse; so that the dogs are the false apostles and carnal men, who do not trust in Christ, but in the flesh, and are slaves to foul lusts [utter strangers to true holiness, although exulting in the name of Jews.—V. g.], Php 3:19. So the term dogs is applied to ἐβδελυγμένοις, those to be abominated, Revelation 22:15; comp. Revelation 21:8; or in other words, the abominable, impure (βδελυκτοὶ, ΜΕΜΙΑΜΜΈΝΟΙς), Titus 1:16; Titus 1:15, strangers to holiness, Matthew 7:6; quite different from Paul, living and dying; for in life they abound to overflowing in the vices of dogs, in filthiness, unchastity, snarling, 2 Peter 2:22; Deuteronomy 23:19 (18); Psalm 59:7; Psalm 59:16; and they are most of all the enemies of the cross of Christ, Php 3:18; comp. Psalm 22:17; Psalm 22:21 : and in death they are dead dogs (by which proverb something of the vilest sort is denoted): comp. Php 3:19. That saying is applicable to these, which is commonly used, Take care of the dog.[32] The Jews considered the Gentiles as dogs; see at Matthew 15:26; they are now called dogs, who are unwilling to be the Israel of God.—τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας, evil workers) who do not serve God; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:13.—τὴν κατατομὴν, the concision) A Paranomasia [See Append.]; for he claims for Christians the glorious name of the circumcision (περιτομῆς) in the following verse. The circumcision of the body was now useless, nay hurtful. See κατατέμνω on the prohibition of cutting the flesh, Leviticus 21:5; 1 Kings 18:28. He speaks not without indignation.

[29] Repetition of the same word at the beginnings of several clauses.—ED.

[30] See, instead of avoid, which is its consequence.—ED.

[31] So as to follow; not as here, See so as to avoid.—ED.

[32] Εὐλαβοῦ τὴν κύνα, cave canem, used to be written near the door of ancient houses to guard strangers against the dog kept in the ostium or janua. At Pompeii, “in the house of the tragic poet,” there is wrought in the Mosaic pavement, “Cave canem,” and the figure of a fierce dog. See Gell’s Pomp.—EDVerse 2. - Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. The connection is, as given in ver. 3, Rejoice in the Lord, not in the flesh; have confidence in him, not in the ceremonies of the Jewish Law. Compare the same contrast in Galatians 6:13, 14. There is certainly something abrupt in the sudden introduction of this polemic against Judaizing, especially in writing to Philippi, where there were not many Jews. But there may have been circumstances, unknown to us, which made the warning necessary; or, as some think, the apostle may have written this under excitement caused by the violent opposition of the Jewish faction at Rome. Beware; literally, mark, observe them, to be on your guard against them. The dogs. The article must be retained in the translation. The Jews called the Gentiles "dogs" (comp. Matthew 15:26, 27; Revelation 22:15), i.e. unclean, mainly because of their disregard of the distinction between clean and unclean food. St. Paul retorts the epithet: they are the dogs, who have confidence in the flesh, not in spiritual religion. Evil workers; so 2 Corinthians 11:13, where he calls them "deceitful workers." The Judaizers were active enough, like the Pharisees who "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte;" but their activity sprang from bad motives - they were evil workers, though their work was sometimes overruled for good (comp. Philippians 1:15-18). The concision (κατατομή, cutting, mutilation); a contemptuous word for "circumcision" (περιτομή). Compare the Jewish contemptuous use of Isbosheth, man of shame, for Eshbaal, man of Baal, etc. Their circumcision is no better than a mutilation. Observe the paronomasia, the combination of like-sounding words, which is common in St. Paul's Epistles. Winer gives many examples in sect. lxviii. Beware (βλέπετε)

Lit., look to. Compare Mark 4:24; Mark 8:15; Luke 21:8.


Rev., correctly, the dogs, referring to a well-known party - the Judaizers. These were nominally Christians who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but as the Savior of Israel only. They insisted that Christ's kingdom could be entered only through the gate of Judaism. Only circumcised converts were fully accepted by God. They appeared quite early in the history of the Church, and are those referred to in Acts 15:1. Paul was the object of their special hatred and abuse. They challenged his birth, his authority, and his motives. "'Paul must be destroyed,' was as truly their watchword as the cry for the destruction of Carthage had been of old to the Roman senator" (Stanley, "Sermons and Lectures on the Apostolic Age"). These are referred to in Philippians 1:16; and the whole passage in the present chapter, from Philippians 3:3 to Philippians 3:11, is worthy of study, being full of incidental hints lurking in single words, and not always apparent in our versions; hints which, while they illustrate the main point of the discussion, are also aimed at the assertions of the Judaizers. Dogs was a term of reproach among both Greeks and Jews. Homer uses it of both women and men, implying shamelessness in the one, and recklessness in the other. Thus Helen: "Brother-in-law of me, a mischief devising dog" ("Iliad," vi., 344). Teucer of Hector: "I cannot hit this raging dog" ("Iliad," viii., 298). Dr. Thomson says of the dogs in oriental towns: "They lie about the streets in such numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one's way over and amongst them - a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street; and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any European city. The imprecations of David upon his enemies derive their significance, therefore, from this reference to one of the most odious of oriental annoyances" ("Land and Book," Central palestine and Phoenicia, 593). See Psalm 59:6; Psalm 22:16. Being unclean animals, dogs were used to denote what was unholy or profane. So Matthew 7:6; Revelation 22:15. The Israelites are forbidden in Deuteronomy to bring the price of a dog into the house of God for any vow: Deuteronomy 23:18. The Gentiles of the Christian era were denominated "dogs" by the Jews, see Matthew 15:26. Paul here retorts upon them their own epithet.

Evil workers

Compare deceitful workers, 2 Corinthians 11:13.

Concision (κατατομήν)

Only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb occurs in the Septuagint only, of mutilations forbidden by the Mosaic law. See Leviticus 21:5. The noun here is a play upon περιτομή circumcision. It means mutilation. Paul bitterly characterizes those who were not of the true circumcision (Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11; Ephesians 2:11) as merely mutilated. Compare Galatians 5:12, where he uses ἀποκόπτειν to cut off, of those who would impose circumcision upon the Christian converts: "I would they would cut themselves off who trouble you;" that is, not merely circumcise, but mutilate themselves like the priests of Cybele.

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