Many have seen the warning signs on a fence or door: “Beware of the dog.” Dogs can be vicious and dangerous, even the snippy little “ankle biters.” Did you know that the Bible warns Christians to “beware of dogs”?
Many of us love our furry friends. Dogs are often called “Man’s best friend,” and they are certainly wonderful companions and servants. Dogs serve mankind in many ways, whether as simple companions barking when someone knocks on our door, or as guide dogs, police dogs, rescue dogs, or trackers and detectors of drugs or explosives.
But dogs have undesirable traits, such as chewing, digging, scavenging, and rolling in smelly, disgusting things. When I was a child, my family had a beagle who loved to bring home the most foul-smelling “presents.” Some dogs are also noisy, uncontrollable, untrainable, aggressive, and destructive. Perhaps that is why “dog” is used as a pejorative, an epithet of contempt to disparage an individual or group. There are many epithets and “dog” is a popular one. We may say, “The world has gone to the dogs”, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world”, “I have been working like a dog”, “He’s leading a dog’s life”, or “He is a dirty dog”, etc.
For instance, in 1 Samuel 17:43, the giant Philistine warrior, Goliath, said to the youthful David, who was obviously not a warrior, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” David was unarmed except for a staff and a sling. Goliath cursed David by his gods, but most people know the outcome of this matchup, as the “underdog” David easily vanquished the champion warrior. Another example is 2 Kings 8:13, where Hazael asks Elisha, “But what is your servant—a dog, that he should do this gross thing?”
When Christ gave his “Sermon on the Mount,” He instructed His followers: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” It is obvious that Christ is giving instruction to not give the gospel, the truth, the “pearl of great price,” to those unwilling to hear it, who are, metaphorically, dogs and swine. Everyone is not being called at this time, and if their mind is unopened, they are still blinded by Satan. Christ continued by saying the way and the gate to life is narrow, and few would find it.
In Matthew 15, a woman of Canaan (a Gentile), came to Jesus and cried out for mercy that He would heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus said He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. But the woman persisted, and Christ answered, “It is not good to take the children’s (Israel) bread and throw it to the little dogs (Gentiles).” The woman recognized His statement was true, but said, “True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Christ exclaimed that her faith was great and granted her request, her daughter being healed from that very hour.
In his epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul warns, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (Philippians 3:2). Paul was not referring to our furry friends, but using the word “dog” as a symbol of false teachers who would prey on them, particularly those teaching that circumcision was required for salvation (Acts 15:1), which continued to be a matter of contention. In other epistles, Paul spoke of false teachers preaching a perverted gospel (Galatians 1:7, 9), and false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13). Paul was warning the Philippian Christians to beware of them.
Likewise, we must all beware of false teachers. In the Tomorrow’s World program and in our literature, we encourage listeners to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, King James Version, American Standard Version) from your own Bible and find out what the Bible REALLY says.