Since I was a kid, I've absolutely loved dogs; they're fun, they love you unconditionally, never ever want to disappoint you, and they greet you when you walk in the door better than any person ever can. As I was reading through Philippians 3, I was hoping to hear some wise words from my favorite apostle Paul- but instead, he starts warning me about my favorite pet.
With that said, I think it’s a perfect verse to explain on this Weird Verse Wednesday!
“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”
Why was Paul warning us about dogs?
As always, in order to understand any verse in scripture, we can’t make immediate assumptions. In this verse, Paul wasn’t warning us not to have dogs as pets; he was talking about a specific group of people called Judaizers. First off, the dogs we know and love today weren't exactly the same dogs Paul experienced; most dogs during his time were in wild packs- they would steal food and go on scavenger hunts to survive. With that said, people wouldn’t really want them around because the dogs were in it for themselves. Similarly, the Judaizers are living for their own interests.
Who were the Judaizers?
Paul was warning the Philippians about the Judaizers because they were false teachers. In most of his epistles, Paul is constantly speaking out against false teaching. Paul speaks again about these group of people in Titus and calls them “insubordinate, empty talkers, and deceivers.” The Judaizers taught and believed that faith in Christ was not enough for salvation; they believed the Old Testament law was mandatory in addition to the gospel.
As Christians, how are we actually saved?
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul gives us a very clear answer to the aforementioned question; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It is clear that that Judaizers were clearly wrong about their requirements for salvation. Circumcision couldn’t save the Judaizers; Jewish tradition couldn’t save them either! Paul was warning us not to listen to anyone that says otherwise!
What does that mean for us?
Jesus Christ paid the debt for your sins. There is absolutely nothing you can do to earn your spot in heaven. All the Judaizers had to do was accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and that’s all you have to do too. Legalism holds no weight in scripture. Effort should be evident in our lives as a response for our love for Christ but in no shape or form is your effort going to earn your spot in heaven. We should obviously respond to the reality that God is our ultimate judge by glorifying him in our lives- but it is a completely wrong to teach people that their actions will help earn a place in eternity with God. Love you guys!