Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! (Philippians 3:2 NKJV)
In America, we treat our dogs as our children. They are well fed and cared for. They often sleep in our beds. I am an experienced dog trainer, having trained and handled dogs to the highest level of success in performance events. The most intelligent breeds can learn a vocabulary of several hundred words. The equivalent human vocabulary is found in children under two years old. Many of us completely personify dogs, and we discuss things with them as if they could understand every word. I don’t mean to offend your furry baby. Dogs are a cool part of God’s creation and I’m sure glad He made them, but compared to humanity, they….well, they don’t compare in spite of our personification of them.
In much of the rest of the world today and in Paul’s world of the first century, dogs were street animals, they roamed about in packs, surviving on scraps of trash and whatever else they could find to eat. Dogs were reviled and ridiculed. Among themselves, the Jews used the word dog as a term of derision for gentiles. In Lightfoot’s commentary he wrote of Paul’s use of the term here –
The herds of dogs which prowl about Eastern cities, without a home and without an owner, feeding on the refuse and filth of the streets, quarreling among themselves, and attacking the passer-by, explain the applications of the image.
Paul is using the term to define small minded, Jewish influenced legalists, who quarreled among themselves in the church in Philippi and attacked passers-by within the body of Believers. These dogs without a home still exist today in the church, prowling in the same manner.
How can we distinguish who to listen to in an age where through the internet we have access to Christian content on UTube, and millions of Podcasts and blogs? The answer is very simple. Our first focus should be to seek our answers in the bible. If you fail to understand a verse, find other verses that speak to the same subject. When you’ve read all the verses and are still confused, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to interpret. for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21) The Spirit who inspired is still the best teacher of what he originally said. God tore the veil to reveal that we now have personal access to Him. He wrote the bible through people and for people, not just for scholars.
Having done thses things if you are still uncertain, you now have access to all of the great biblical commentators, free of charge and searchable by verse or subject with one mouse click on sites like Bible Gateway or StudyLight. The written works of church fathers like Luther, Calvin, Matthew Henry, Spurgeon, Lightfoot, Clark, and resources like Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament and Strong’s Concordance are all easily available at no cost and have stood the test of scrutiny by many and people, preachers, teachers scholars over an extended period of time.
Who are you listening to? Are there barking dogs in your life deflecting your attention from the simple truth of God? Authentic people of God spend their time lifting Him and not tearing down others. Assocoate with other Christians and begin to spiritually drill down deeper into the bible. God will guide your steps in the process if you ask Him.