Dogs outside the city

In Revelation 22, it says that the dogs do not enter the heavenly city of New Jerusalem

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Who are these dogs? Why are they called “dogs”? In today’s world, dogs are considered man’s best friend and one of our best pets. But in the ancient world, dogs were seen as violent stray animals in the wild that were unclean.

Some people think that only Israelites are saved, and they teach that these dogs refer to the Gentiles. They refer to this interaction between Jesus and the Gentile Canaanite woman.

Matthew 15

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

Jesus called the Gentile woman a “dog” who was not supposed to receive the blessing of the “children” (Israelites). It’s because the Gentiles were outside of God’s covenant blessings with Israel under the Law of Moses. So it may seem from this passage that Jesus only came to save the Israelites. But the gentile woman persisted in faith and received her reward. This proves that she was not a “dog” anymore but a child who received the blessing by faith.

We see that after Jesus died on the cross, salvation was freely given by grace through faith to both Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:1-22). This is why Jesus Christ gave the blessing to the Gentile by grace through faith.

Paul said, that the children of God are those who have faith in Jesus – irrespective of being circumcised or uncircumcised, Jew or Gentile, male or female!

Galatians 3

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 5

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Paul addressed the Pharisees as the “dogs” who trusted in the flesh (human effort) who were trying to gain salvation by mutilating the flesh (cutting off the foreskin). These dogs were boasting in the Law but the Christians were the true circumcision – those who have the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ – and not trusting in the law.

Philippians 3

Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh

Under the Old Covenant, the Jew was circumcised and the Gentile was uncircumcised. The Jew was the child of God and the Gentile was the “dog”. But the Law could not save anyone and Paul said that the “true Jew” was not the one who was circumcised physically but whose heart was made clean by the Holy Spirit – through faith in Christ.

Romans 2

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

In the old covenant, the Jews were commanded to be circumcised to keep the law. This traces back to Abraham – who was commanded to be circumcised – as a seal of righteousness of the faith he had before the circumcision. Abraham was not righteous by circumcision but by faith (trusting) in God instead of trusting in his own strength.

Romans 4

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Why then was circumcision given in Genesis 17? It’s because Abraham was as good as dead and could not have children. Circumcision was the sign that he was unable to have children – it was a sign that he trusted in God and not in the flesh. So he had to cut off the flesh of the foreskin of the reproductive organ. (A sign of not trusting in his human strength).

The Gentiles were called the “dogs” or “uncircumcised” – because they trusted in the flesh by not getting circumcised. The Gentiles were against the people of God (Israel).

Psalm 59:5-8

You, Lord God Almighty,    you who are the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. They return at evening, snarling like dogsand prowl about the city.See what they spew from their mouths—the words from their lips are sharp as swords, and they think, “Who can hear us?” But you laugh at them, Lordyou scoff at all those nations.

Ezekiel 44

“9 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites.”

But in the time of Christ, Jesus died on the cross and canceled the law in his body on the cross.

Ephesians 2

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Jesus Christ is the true circumcision of God – who was crucified for us. His flesh was torn apart on the cross – when He died with us on the cross. Those who trust in Jesus are baptized with Him into His death and resurrection – to be forgiven of all sins.

Colossians 2

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 

When a person stops trusting in his own flesh/works but trusts in Jesus, he is spiritually circumcised – he is crucified with Christ – not trusting in his works – but raised with Christ in the righteousness of God. He is circumcised in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

But the Pharisees trusted in circumcision and were trying to convert Gentile Christians to the law by circumcision in the 1st Century.

Under the old covenant, the “dogs” were the uncircumcised Gentiles who did not believe in the God of Israel.

But now, under the new covenant, the “dogs” were those who trusted in circumcision! The tables had turned!

The word “dog” was simply a metaphor – When we look at the spirit of the passages, we see that the core attribute of the “dog” is unbelief in God’s grace – but trusting in the flesh (human strength/wisdom/rules).

The dogs are those who do not believe in Jesus but trust in themselves.

This is why in Revelation 21, we see that there are no “dogs” but the unbelievers are in the lake of fire.

Revelation 21

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Compare that to Revelation 22

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

If we compare both passages, we see there are murderers, idolaters, liars, practicers of magic arts, sexually immoral.

But then we see “dogs” in Revelation 22 and “unbelievers” in Revelation 21. Therefore the “dogs” are the unbelievers! The “dogs” are simply another word for those who do not trust in Jesus but trust in their own flesh!

The “dogs” are not restricted to “Gentiles” or “Pharisees” but anyone who does not believe in Christ.

If you believe in Jesus, you are not a “dog” – But you are child of God if you believe in Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit lives in you and there is no fear or condemnation for you.

Romans 8

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

But for those who do not believe

– this is the day of salvation. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved!

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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