Beware of the dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the false circumcision
A warning sign is only able to serve its purpose if the one who reads it understands what it says. It’s for this reason that one preparing for a driving test must memorize the meanings of road signs. If one is able to identify the threats behind each of the yellow triangles, he will have a much greater chance of avoiding serious injury or death while on the road.
Paul warns the believers in Philippi to watch out for several types of danger that may step out in front of them while they travel through life; it would be wise for us to listen to his advice. Once we understand what Paul’s warning point to, it will be much easier to recognize the threats that seek to entangle us.
“Beware of the dogs.” I bet you had no clue this “name” went back as far as this. In first century Palestine, the word dog was reserved for those that antagonized others and represented a constant threat them. The orthodox Jews often used it to describe the Christians, but here, Paul is probably referring to the group of men that followed him from town to town preaching against the message of Christ. It is important that you remember there are people out there whose main goal in life is to attack Christianity. Once you understand their characteristics and motives, it will be much easier for you to recognize their idle threats, dismiss them, and continue on in your faith. Never forget, however… if you’re doing the will of the Lord, they will always be following you.
“Beware of evil workers.” Once again, Paul is warning us about a group of opponents who preach something other than the truth. The evil workers that Paul is referring to are actually a group of people who proclaimed to be “good workers.” They profess that one must earn his way to heaven by the good works he does. As you grow as a Christian, be careful not to fall into this trap. Good works should always be a fruit of your relationship with Christ, but they are not the basis of it. You are saved by God’s grace alone; when you place too much emphasis on your works, you rob Christ of His glory.
Finally, “Beware of the false circumcision.” Circumcision was a religious sign the Jews embraced as a witness to their possession by God. Here, Paul is warning us not to be taken in by those who put so much importance on the outward appearance of their faith. Once again, the religious duties we perform, like going to church, the Lord’s Supper, and even baptism, mean nothing if our hearts are not right. True believers are changed on the inside first, then the outside. As you mature in your faith and make commitments to the Lord, heed Paul’s warning: Make sure your commitment is on the inside (to God) before you make it on the outside (to friends and family).
There are many more warnings and instructions found within the Bible. The greater your knowledge of these become, the wiser your decisions will become as well. I encourage you to take advantage of this resource you have before you.
How will you avoid the danger if you don’t understand the warning signs?