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Read Introduction to 2 Peter


“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’”


This verse clenches the idea that these latter verses deal with non-Christian false teachers. God never calls His own people “dogs” or “sows” anywhere in the Bible. Nonbelievers are everywhere called dogs, sows, goats, donkeys, foxes, and wolves. The latter are unclean animals. God calls His own people sheep, lambs, and oxen. God forbids a donkey and an ox to plow together because one is clean and the other an unclean animal. God never mixes the two.

But it has happened to them according to the true proverb:

Both dogs and pigs in the first century were unclean animals and creatures to be avoided. People did not have dogs for pets.

This verse explains how a person can become thoroughly acquainted with Christ’s person and work and still not accept His message. This verse explains why false teachers are lost.

‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’

Peter quotes this phrase from Proverbs 26:11.

Watching a dog eat his vomit is a gross site. Most of us who have had dogs have watched this spectacle. The vomit here is false religion. The dog reverts to type. He never was anything but a dog. His dog nature determines his eating habit. Dogs eat vomit. False teachers teach false doctrine. They are true to type.

The Bible depicts Gentiles as “dogs.” The dog represents Gentile false teaches. A Gentile is an unbeliever. For a dog to behave any differently, you would have to give the dog a different nature. He needs something different than a dog nature. False teachers need something different than their own natural natures.

and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’

False prophets are never what they seem to be, and they always return to their true nature. We can clean a pig, but the pig will return to his pigsty. False teachers will always revert to false teaching. The pigsty is the natural habitat of the pig. False teaching is the natural habitat of the false teacher.

The “sow” represents the Jewish false teacher. He can clean himself, but he will revert to his false teaching. He always goes back to his false teaching. False teachers clean up the outside. They try to reform their overt behavior, but they never came to a place of personal regeneration. Without regeneration, they always revert to religion.

Peter mentions a return for both the dog and the sow. When a religionist goes back to his religion before he came to exposure to Christ, he acts like a dog or sow – they always revert to type.   If you want the sow to act differently than a sow, you have to give him a nature different from a sow nature. In that case, he would no longer be a sow.

We are naturally born with a proclivity to hate God and love religion. We are born selfish. We want our own way. Then we become renegades by choice. We revolt against God’s truth. That is the way it is unless something intervenes to change our hearts (1:4). The longer we stay in revolt against God, the more difficult it is to change. We cannot change unless God changes us. Otherwise, everything in us will revolt against God.  

Both the dog and the sow “return” to their former state. They revert to type. Note what Peter said in his first epistle,

1 Peter 2:25, “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

A true sheep returns to his Shepherd. There is a big difference between a reformed false teacher and a true Christian. There is all the difference in the world between a washed sow and dirty sheep! One returns to his mire and the other to his Shepherd.


There is all the difference in the world between dirty sheep and a washed sow.


It is love’s labor’s lost to clean someone who’s nature and desire is to reject Jesus as their Savior.

Many ministries are in the business of washing sows and amusing goats instead of presenting an unvarnished gospel. These ministries also leave true sheep famished for spiritual food. Sheep cannot find green grass or water for their soul. False teachers trod down the grass and polluted the water with distortions of God’s Word. All they find is the “vomit” of false teaching.