Beware Of The Dogs
Series: An Eschatological Mix
BEWARE OF THE DOGS
In the early days of Jesus's ministry He cautioned His disciples; beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Mt.7:15). The apostle Paul gave multiple warnings concerning these aberrant and abhorrent sowers of discord. To the church in Philippi he penned a threefold alarm: beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision (Philp.3:2-3). In a face-to-face meeting with the Ephesian elders, Paul forewarned - - Be on guard...after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-31). Paul had personally tangled with these “canines” and alluded to this clash in a letter to the Corinthians, saying, I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus (1Cor.15:32). Paul alters his metaphor slightly in his letter to Timothy at Ephesus, affirming: I was delivered out of the lion's mouth (2Tim.4:17). Peter may have borrowed from Paul's analogy when he wrote: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1Pet.5:8). John closes the apocalypse depicting the tree of life in the new Jerusalem standing as a greeting to those who wash their robes, yet he makes it clear - - outside are the dogs (Rev.22:14-15).
Be it wolves, dogs, wild beasts or lions, these word pictures all refer to the same group: hardcore Judaizers determined to curtail Paul's proclamation of a law-free gospel. They were spoken of as evil workers and their deeds were devilish. In the brief exhortations given to the seven churches of Asia a phrase is coined, the synagogue of Satan, to emphasis their anti-christian endeavors . cf. Rev.2:9, 13 & 24 and 3:9. Indeed, John doesn't mince words in calling these false teachers “antichrists” (1Jn.2:18 & 22). Concerning them John notes, they went out from us, but they were not really of us (1Jn.2:19). He describes them as “deceivers” Specifically, they denied that Jesus was the Christ and were labeled as those who do not not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (1Jn.2:26 & 2Jn.7).
Had Christ come to empower Israel and bless her standing as a chief instrument of Jehovah's restoration plan (Acts 1:6), these Jewish zealots would have pledged their fullest allegiance. But Jesus was put to death in the flesh (1Pet.3:18) and His death on the cross became a stumbling block that they could not process (1Cor.1:23). They rightly understood that Jesus' action as Israel's Messiah was a call for them to do the same. For them, the declaration of Christ regarding the destruction of the temple (Mt.24:1-2) was simply unacceptable. The intensity of their animosity is seen early in Acts in connection with the stoning of Stephen. What triggered such? “We have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us (Acts 6:14).
Terry Siverd / Cortland Church of Christ