Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.…
Jews regarded the Gentiles as dogs (Matthew 15:22, et seq.). The unclean feeding of these animals - the scavengers of Eastern cities - was supposed to be analogous to the Gentile freedom in eating all kinds of meats. St. Paul turns the tables, and calls the Judaizers who feed upon carnal ordinances dogs in comparison with Christians who live on the higher spiritual food.
I. CONTEMPTUOUS LANGUAGE MAY BE OCCASIONALLY PERMITTED IN CONTROVERSY. It is a most dangerous weapon. Rarely is it called for. Only they who have great kindness of heart can use it safely, and these people are the most loth to employ it at all. Still, even Christ called Herod a fox and spoke of casting pearls before swine. Contempt should only be for the baseness of a character, never for the human soul in which that baseness dwells. But there are some habits and thoughts which we should heartily despise, and which can be best condemned by contempt.
II. OPPROBRIOUS EPITHETS ARE APT TO REVERT ON THE HEAD OF THOSE WHO COIN THEM Jews who regard the Gentiles as dogs merit the same name when they cling to lower thinking and living than is consistent with Christianity. In despising others we may be preparing the way for contempt to fall on ourselves.
III. LACK OF SPIRITUALITY IS THE ROOT OF UNCLEANNESS. The Judaizers are dogs because they cling to carnal ordinances. The unspiritual is carnal, and the carnal in its unrestrained exercise is the unclean. Therefore the remedy for impurity of thought and action is not the observance of rigorous ritual, but the cultivation of a spiritual tone of mind.
IV. AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE REQUIRED TO SHUN THE FIRST APPROACH TO WHAT IS UNHOLY. The carnal ordinance must be avoided because it is the first step towards the carnal sin. We ought not to ask how far we can go safely in the direction of evil, but rather to strive to keep as far as possible away from it. Even the company of those who are unholy must be shunned. We are not only not to behave like the dogs; we are to beware of the dogs. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.