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"FILTH ... AND OFFSCOURING,"

... BOTH ARE PAUL'S OWN WORDS ... DESCRIBING HIMSELF!"

Study here, verse by verse, 1st Corinthians 4:11-13.

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the OFFSCOURING of all things unto this day."

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1:

This Text, so foreign to western thought, gives a stark view of Paul's ministry. These verses, while certainly fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, are also auto-biographical.

Paul is talking about himself and his current companions!

It's not a glamorous picture.

This is the same Paul who wrote, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2nd Timothy 3:12

Now, it's true that Paul was not always in prison! Far as we know, only Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians and Philemon, of course 2nd Timothy also, were written from Roman prisons. There were times when the Apostle actually "abounded" with good things! He himself said: "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

But, from the very start of his Christian life, Paul was informed by the Lord that his experience as a Believer would be one of "suffering." Here are God's very words to Ananias concerning Paul: "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Acts 9:16

Jesus suffered. But as no other one ever suffered. He died on Calvary that we might be saved.

John the Baptist suffered. He was decapitated for a certain sermon he preached, concerning adultery!

Peter suffered. He even wrote what many yet today call the "Epistles of Suffering."

John suffered. The beloved Disciple was banished to the small Isle called Patmos, just off the coast of Asia Minor. There he may have been in some kind of labor camp. Forced labor!

Jeremiah suffered. Again and again he did.

History says that Isaiah the Prophet was sawn half in two by wicked King Manasseh.

Abel suffered, being killed by his brother Cain. That confrontation was over the issue of blood sacrifice too!

So did Stephen suffer. Stoned to death, yet used of God to help convict Saul of Tarsus of his sins!

Every great Christian in the Bible suffered it seems!

Think of Joseph and Job and so many more.

Then I ask, will we always be exempt?

Perhaps not!

I know of no Scripture Passage that guarantees Americans or Europeans or anyone else ease of life and freedom from sickness or poverty or pain or discomfort!

Do you?

Job 14:1 pretty well sums it up: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."

So, in this Text, 1st Corinthians 4:11-13, we get a glimpse of Paul's life, troubles and all!

The reality of it is presented in Verse 11.

The right way, the Bible way, to handle such adversity is taught us in Verse 12.

And then, astonishingly, the way the world views us is announced in Verse 13.

Let's get busy!

Oh, by the way, I am not saying that we Believers are going to endure the coming time of Tribulation that is to overtake the whole earth!

I believe the Rapture of the Church will occur first. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Revelation 3:10 records the words of Jesus to His Church, His "Bride!"

But that does not mean that things might not deteriorate in our Country.

Already there is an anti-Christian bias beginning to swell! Truth the spirit of anti-Christ is already at hand!

We who love Jesus may be mocked, ridiculed and even assaulted before many more years pass.

If so, we need to be prepared!

We need to be conditioned!

We need to know what's coming!

Paul teaches us in the Text at hand.

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

But remember this too, Glory to God! "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." 2nd Timothy 2:12

Thank you, Lord.

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 11:

Here Paul makes a startling statement: "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace." 1st Corinthians 4:11

After years of being saved, this precious Man of God still faces this kind of mistreatment!

"Even unto" translates "achri" in Greek. It means something like this "as far as." It is based upon "akron" and its cognates, meaning the end or terminus of something. Right up to this very second ... Paul hungers! To this exact "point" (in Greek "akmen") of time!

"Present" is "arti" in Greek. It adverbially means "just now." In the immediate present! In real time! "Arti" is a relative of the verb "airo." Remember this! We're coming back to it when we get to the last Verse in our Text! "Airo" just means "to lift up."

"Hora" is a loan word, "hour." It in the King James Text means "hour, day season or instant." A certain fixed allotment of time!

"Both" is a conjunction here, "kai" by actual spelling, usually just meaning "and." That of course gives it a copulative sense. It also can introduce a cumulative sense to a clause. That it surely does here. All these trials cumulatively are occurring in Paul's life! Not one after the other! Concurrently!

If it's in a copulative sense only, then Paul and his companions are all experiencing these hardships. This is likely true also. That is at least Paul and Sosthenes, according to 1st Corinthians 1:1.

Now to our verbs for the day.

"Hunger" translates "peinao." It comes from "peno," to toil for one's next meal! Paul in such dire circumstances! Many Christians today, especially in the West, know nothing of such deprivation. We have much to eat, too much often! What would we do, how would we react, if our Christianity cost us our next meal .... and the next?

Yes, we have plenty of physical food, much of it killing us now, but spiritually we are starving and don't even know it!

With Paul it was the very opposite! He was spiritually very well fed, but skin-and-bones according to the flesh.

This hungering is a present tense kind of thing too. It lasted and lasted! Might have even been the norm, year after year!

Then Paul "thirsted" too! "Dipsao" means "to suffer because of dehydration." Nothing to drink! No milk, no fruit of the vine, and if in prison without help, no water either! However this verb is subjunctive, telling us that this condition may not have been permanent. Subjunctives list possibilities, at least at times. One cannot live many days without any water at all. Many Americans would "die" if they didn't have their daily "fixes" of caffeine, Coke or Pepsi or whatever! Or coffee or tea!

If serving Jesus cost us all that, what would we do?

It might be a good idea to being weaning ourselves off a lot of that stuff right now! Just in case times get hard! "Just in case," I said! Mark it down! Difficult days are coming to sinful Nations! No exceptions!

Now the word "naked." In Greek "gumneteuo" can mean absolutely nude, but also carries the idea of being poorly clad, not owning enough clothes to keep oneself warm in winter! Present tense is used here too, on-gong action. Paul never really had sufficient clothing!

Preacher, not Paul! Didn't he have a great wardrobe? Read it: "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." Timothy, it's winter. Please bring my coat! I had to leave Troas rather unexpectedly and left it there! I'm cold now in this jail cell! Yes, Paul, poorly clothed!

Some so-called "Christians" today, "Baptists" rather let me say, I suspect would sooner deny their creeds, their professed faith, before they would lose their wardrobes!

By the way, our English word "gym" or "gymnasium" comes from "gumnos" in Greek. It literally means "stark naked!" All the Greek games, the forerunners of the Olympics, were played by absolutely naked athletes! Greek/Roman culture had come to nearly worship the trim, healthy human form, male or female! America is not far behind, is she? "Gumniteuo" actually means "to strip" in Paul's language.

The Paul says that he has recently been "buffeted." This passive voice verb, "kolaphizo," means "to hit with the fist!" To strike, to administer a blow, especially to the head! Paul hit! The first time this verb is used in the New Testament, Jesus is the Victim. "Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands," says Matthew 26:67.

Each week Preachers speak to many who would probably deny their faith if actual physical attack were involved!

We expect commendation, pats on the back or head, not licks with a hand or fist! Christians today must be pampered and babied, or they will be "offended," hurt feelings you know!

Today's Verse again: "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace."

"No certain dwellingplace" translates one Greek verb. "Astateo" means "no place to stand" by actual definition. "A" means "without." Then "histemi" means "to stand." In today's language Paul just said that he was homeless! Jesus often was too! "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 both ascribe these words to our Lord.

Most any person you know, who appears to be relatively dedicated too, might balk at the idea of losing his or her home for the cause of Christ!

After all, Preacher, "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Yes, that's what 1st Timothy 5:8 says.

But if it's either "lose your house" or "deny the Lord Jesus" ... what's your answer?

Any hesitation?

And Paul here is not crying or sulking or feeling sorry for himself! He's just stating the facts!

No sign of discouragement at all!

He obviously plans to keep serving Jesus!

He even believes "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." He wrote that in 2nd Timothy 3:12.

Maybe we "silk couch" Christians had better at least adopt the mindset that things might get a little rough, even before the pre-tribulation  Rapture!

Perhaps we should mentally and spiritually prepare for such eventualities!

After all, we are certainly admonished to "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." And these very words flowed from the pen of the great General himself, Paul the Apostle!

Paul, a real Christian who could hunger, thirst, lack warm clothing, face an angry mob, and sleep under the trees ... without even thinking of retreating one step in the spiritual Battle!

Ponder that!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 12:

Today's verse is transitional to our Text.

It really concludes the thought of its back-door neighbor and begins a new thought for its front-door neighbor!

Paul writes: "And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it." 1st Corinthians 4:12

In addition to the great Apostle's hunger and thirst and nakedness and beatings and homelessness is to be added ... his "labour."

This verb is spelled "kopaio" and means "to toil until exhausted!" It's a very strong word! It's more simple form, "kopto," means "to cut." To hit something so hard with a pre-formed "die" (as in tool-and-die working) that it leaves its stamp, its impression upon its target!

To work that hard, that vigorously!

"Kopaio" here is a present tense verb in the active voice and indicative mood. Naturally since Paul is the speaker the verb is also in the 1st person singular form as well.

This kind of labor was pretty much for Paul a way of life!

Then he adds another "work" verb! "Ergazomai" means "to be engaged in physical activity." It gives us our English word "energy," for example. This present participle, a verbal adjective really, is in the "middle" voice in Greek, something English lacks. The "middle" voice means that the action being advanced changes the agent involved! Paul is not the same man after working with his hands like this for so long!

It is believed that the noun for "hands," in Greek "cheir," is related to what has become our word "chasm!" It is also associated with yawning! See it? It pictures one's open hands, lifted heavenward, palms up, needing to be filled!

Paul the tentmaker!

That word, his occupation much of the time, is "skenopios." It uses the word for "skin" or "cloth" or even a "vessel" and blends it with a verb, "poieo," meaning "to do," but better yet "to make" something. "Poieo" becomes our word for poet! Or a poem, something lovely indeed! Acts 18:3 uses this word in reference to Paul and Aquila and Priscilla.

Next, our verse begins a list.

"Being reviled," Paul again suffers. But this time it's not physical. "Liodoros" means "to reproach, to vilify." In its adjective form it means "abusive."  In English, "revile" means "to declare something or someone worthless." In John 9:28 the Pharisees "reviled" Jesus! And Peter tells us what Jesus did, how He reacted, when He was reviled. "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." 1st Peter 2:23

Paul here behaves like Jesus, His Saviour and Example!

"Being reviled, we bless," he says!

They call Paul worthless! Paul calls them blessed!

The verb "bless" is "eulogeo," to say something good by grammatical definition. "To praise," culturally speaking. Here's another present indicative active verb expressed as a first person plural. This is Paul's normal behavior when cursed! Jesus has certainly made a difference in the heart of this former Jewish legalist!

But still again, Paul is "persecuted." Now "dioko" means "to chase" after someone, with the intent of doing them harm! Now we have another present participle, but this time in the passive voice. Paul is not hurting anyone! His enemies are trying to do him harm though! The word here blends "deos," meaning "dread," and "diako" (from "diakanos," the "deacon") meaning "to run errands!" Running after someone to terrorize them! To hurt them! Maybe even to kill them!

But when persecuted, Paul responds by "suffering" the situation as from the Hand of God! Yes, he says: "Being persecuted, we suffer it."

To "suffer" something means "to hold up" under it! To "forbear" it! To remain under the load, without grumbling or complaining, trusting God to remove it in His time. Here's another middle voice verb. Such endurance will change a man or woman! For the better if experienced in the Power of the Holy Spirit! Our word is spelled "anekomai," a combination of "ana" and "echo." 

What a verse we have studied today!

What a testimony Paul has!

What a model this presents us all!

What a challenge!

And tomorrow, Lord willing, we shall learn even more about the world's real opinion of us who are saved!

It's not always real good either!

Jesus said it. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." John 15:18

Then, we need not be surprised.

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 13:

The world today would call such language "self-effacing." It perhaps reflects what today's psychologists would term "a poor self image."

Let me tell you what it really is! Divinely inspired Holy Ghost written Scripture, that's what!

"Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." 1st Corinthians 4:13.

First let's discuss that paradox.

"Being defamed, we intreat." The words here are easy. "Defamed" in Greek is spelled, and you will recognize it immediately, "blasphemeo." It means "speech that hurts or injures" someone. "Blapto" means "to hurt." And "pheme" means "report or fame." Hurting someone's name or reputation or testimony. Paul has been belittled and slandered maliciously! He's been called an imposter and a crook and a liar, just to start the list! This present participle is telling us that this "gossip" continued for some time, maybe years!

Yet, did Paul retaliate?

No!

Following Jesus' command, the great Apostle "intreated" those around him! This verb is spelled "parakaleo" and is again quite familiar to Bible students. It's the Name for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that Jesus loved to use so much! It means "to call to one's side." To snuggle up to a person, putting your arm around them, walking down the same road they're traveling, and speaking into their ear words of comfort and help and encouragement! Strengthening them for anything that lurks ahead!

This is the main verb of the opening clause here. Present tense, active voice, indicative mood, 1st person plural! As long as the enemy slanders ... Paul will encourage, especially the saints!

But even as the Preacher does this, he realizes what the world really thinks of him! It's too bad that we don't!

Numerous professing Christians, with the emphasis on "professing" right now, believe they can be friends with Jesus and friends with the world simultaneously! It can't be done! Even if the so-called saint is willing to try it, the world will not cooperate! We will let James, the Lord's Brother (half-brother really) answer: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

How does the world evaluate us?

The Holy Spirit told Paul to use two specific words in this context. "We are made as the filth of the world, and are the OFFSCOURING of all things unto this day!" Excuse my exclamation point! I just could not help it! This is astounding! Yet many Baptists deny it to this day! Just can't believe someone doesn't "like" them!

The verb translated "are made" must be mentioned. "Ginomai" means "to come into existence!" It nearly has the idea of being "born!" Generated! Maybe here we could say "regenerated!" We had no trouble with the world before we were saved, born-again! But then ... the war started! Listen to Jesus: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is the world, especially its riches! The verb here is aorist, telling us that the act is now complete. Proof that it happened when God saved you!

The noun "filth" is spelled "perikatharma" and is profound. Literally it is the scum that is cleaned off a pot or pan or vessel of some kind, washed into the sink when one scrubs the item! "Kathairo" means "to cleanse, to purge." "Peri," a preposition to us, just means "all around" something. See the filth!

But this word family also came to mean ritual cleansing and later even spiritual cleansing in the New Testament! Cleaning a vessel to make it worthy of being used at Passover, for example! That's ritual in nature. Or even the iniquity that is washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord! That's spiritual!

Paul is extremely close to saying that the world considers him the "problem," not the "solution!" I've heard that lately. A few weeks ago Atlanta's major newspaper published an article in its "A" section, prominently displayed on the editorial page, a long article, not merely a "letter to the editor," which said that the "poison" infecting the world today is not religion! No! It is monotheism! That's the belief in One God! Polytheism, according to the genius who wrote this piece, is just fine!

That's, in my mind anyway, almost identical to calling Christianity the "filth" of the world!

We who believe in One God manifest in a Triune Manner ... we are poison!

Paul admits to being, in the estimate of the world in which he lived, pollution and defilement and really a whole lot worse!

When are we Christian going to "wake up" and realize that we are strangers and pilgrims here and now? Seeking a city to come!

Again I'll use the verse: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." Jesus said that too, in John 15:18.

We should accept that hate, not pitying ourselves over it! Wear it as a badge of honor! The Apostles did! "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Acts 5:41

We have still to discuss the noun "offscouring." That can best be done tomorrow I think. One can't handle too much of this at once!

Think of Paul's rewards in Heaven! Yes, the Judgment Seat of Christ is coming! "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." 2nd Timothy 2:12

Any "scum" been reading here today?

Scum in the eyes of the world and the devil its ruler ... but blood-washed sanctified, justified children of God in the eyes of Heaven!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, CONCLUSION:

The only remaining word in our Text to be analyzed is "offscouring." Paul said, "We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." He is speaking of himself and his companions, using the first person plural verb as he does.

"Offscouring" is a translation of "peripsema." It's from a blended background. "Peri" means "around, all around" something. And "psao" means "to rub hard" on something. It's similar in one way to the word behind "filth," yet different too! "Perikatharma" and "peripsema" both begin with the same prefix, but from there they part company etymologically.

The word behind "filth" is a more sacred word than is the word on which "offscouring" is hinged. I would call "peripsema" downright heathen really, until the Holy Spirit here rescues it and sanctifies it in the Pauline corpus.

It means, more fully explained; "to wipe around, to wipe off, to clean out." As a noun, "what is wiped off or rubbed off." That which is "valueless, refuse, trash, rubbish." It can even imply the instrument by which the cleaning is accomplished: "the sweat-cloth, the bath-towel, the filthy-rag!" Look at Isaiah's take on the subject, although in a completely different context: "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Then the Lord forgave us, cleansed us, redeemed us! Oops! I've jumped a rabbit! Back to our main thought!

However, "offscouring" or "peripsema" has an added nuance of meaning. Something that "filth" or "perikatharma" lacks.

In ancient days, among the heathen of that time, a practice was prominent in which some person was sacrificed to the gods if a terrible natural disaster occurred! Crop failure, volcanic eruption, some decimating plague, anything like that. The "sacrifice" was designed to satisfy the angry gods, appeasing their fury! The "victim" was occasionally chosen at random, conscripted really, but more often volunteered for the role! Dedicated to die ... for his loved ones, friends, neighbors, city or nation!

But, get this!

The Kings or Senators or wealthy somehow never seemed to get the "urge" to do this! It was always the poor, the outcast, the diseased, the despicable, at times even condemned criminals! I guess the gods did not mind the quality of the sacrifice, just the fact of the sacrifice would do the job!

When these people died, often drowned so as no to contaminate the land, or burned alive outside the city limits, they were called among other things, "peripsema," our very word here for "offscouring!"

While we cannot be sure, and are dealing with a heathen background, Paul may have had this terrible cultural practice in mind as he wrote these words! After all, the Corinthians were imbued with that godless background! Actually it was not godless, but filled with many gods, hundreds of them, all of them false too!

If so, Paul is saying that he is willingly prepared to be the "offscouring" of the world if such an act will help the Corinthians conquer their sins and grow in the grace of God! It's implied here that he would even die for their welfare! This of course is stated explicitly elsewhere! "I die daily." Or, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Or, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you Corinthians!"

There is no redemptive death implied here! Only Jesus could die for the lost, washing away the sin of those who trusted Him, repenting sincerely. Paul's just a good leader, willing to be defaced for those he wants to serve! For Christ's Sake and Honor and Glory!

Paul then would be also admitting himself to be not among the "mighty" or "noble" of the earth! Just a common man, maybe even below that! A bond-slave really, of Jesus Christ and God's people, specifically now the Corinthians! A prisoner of the Lord!

Back to our Verse, today's part of it. Autobiographically Paul says, "We are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

Next notice the word "all." Really "all things" because it's a substantive. "Pas" is the Greek adjective. Looks to me like it's serving as a pronoun though. One of the key tenets in the "sacrifice" scenario I've described today is this: the "victim," the "volunteer," the "low-life" who is about to die freely admits in a "formula" spoken before the last deed ... that he is dying for "all!" Yes, "pas" specifically!

Does Paul use this word on purpose?

Since there are no "accidents" in the Bible, I must believe so!

Paul is fully willing, maybe even eager, to be the "offscouring and filth" of the world ... if the Corinthians profit thereby, spiritually profit in Christ Jesus that is! All the Corinthians too! Paul is willing to decrease more and more, if Jesus is increased more and more ... in the lives of his converts, his spiritual children!

Sounds like John the Baptist! "He must increase, but I must decrease."

More of Jesus, Preacher? Yes!

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now." Galatians 4:19 reveals Paul's heart throb! Christ in them! Growing day by day! To the Colossians he writes: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Amen!

And lest we think Paul's poor image in the eyes of the world was temporary, he adds: "unto this day."

"Eos arti" in Greek, "until this moment!"

It's still going on ... right now, means the Apostle!

And Paul lets it happen!

He does not fight back!

Rather, look at our three Verse Text, he "blesses and forbears and encourages" during the whole ordeal!

No curses!

No bitterness!

No revenge here either!

Just a willingness to "present his body a living sacrifice!" And then, if necessary, a dead one too!

Valiant Paul!

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Nearly his last words!

The world hates us!

Always has!

Always will!

Get accustomed to it!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

Let's do one more thing as this Bible Study Series ends. Let's read the whole Paragraph, our Text, also called a "pericope," one more time. Let it impact you as the Holy Spirit internalizes it. "Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

This is mature Christianity!

 

THis short bible study should have changed us forever! may god brand it into our hearts! "filth" and "offscouring" they call us! yet we seek to love the very ones who hate us so! willing to suffer that they might come to know the truth, the lord jesus christ in all his glory!

                                                                                              

 

 

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