look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—[phillipians 3:2-3]
take yourself out of american culture where the pet dog is an idol and is seen as a cute furry companion or even a family member. when paul refers to dogs here, it isn’t a term of endearment. many of the dogs during paul’s time were aggressive, without owners, malnourished, feral and dangerous. each of the five times that this word (κύων) is mentioned in the new testament are in incredibly negative context.
so when searching for a term for those who require ritual following as an addition to the Gospel, paul chooses a vile, leper sore licking [luke 16:21], vomit eating dog [2 peter 2:22]. we are despicable and are doers all kinds of evil when we require what God does not, we are preaching a false Gospel.
paul says to beware of “those who mutilate the flesh” which can also be translated as “those of the false circumcision”. this contrasts “those of the true circumcision”, and he goes on to talk about what “true circumcision” is:
for we are the circumcision: who have been saved from our sin by the grace of God.
for we are the circumcision: who worship by the Spirit of God.
for we are the circumcision: who glory in Christ.
for we are the circumcision: who die to ourselves, and put no confidence in our flesh.
for we are the circumcision: who live from the joyful overflow of Christ’s work, to give, to serve, to die, to suffer with Christ!
circumcision is not outward, but a condition of the heart. o! let us not be feral dogs! let us put no confidence in the flesh, in works, in ritual, in earning of our salvation, but wholly rest in Christ and his work, in a spirit of gratitude and reverence!
all glory be to Christ!