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.
talking about himself and his current companions!
It's not a
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
suffered. But as no other one ever suffered. He died on Calvary
that we might be saved.
Baptist suffered. He was decapitated for a certain sermon he
preached, concerning adultery!
suffered. He even wrote what many yet today call the "Epistles
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!
suffered. Again and again he did.
that Isaiah the Prophet was sawn half in two by wicked King
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!
Christian in the Bible suffered it seems!
Joseph and Job and so many more.
Then I ask,
will we always be exempt?
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!
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
astonishingly, the way the world views us is announced in Verse
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
But that does
not mean that things might not deteriorate in our Country.
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
We need to
know what's coming!
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."
this too, Glory to God! "If we suffer, we
shall also reign with Him." 2nd Timothy 2:12
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 2, VERSE 11:
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
After years of
being saved, this precious Man of God still faces this kind of
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.
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
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.
is a present tense kind of thing too. It lasted and lasted!
Might have even been the norm, year after year!
"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!
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
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!
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!
"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
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.
Preachers speak to many who would probably deny their faith if
actual physical attack were involved!
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!
again: "Even unto this present hour we
both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and
have no certain dwellingplace."
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.
person you know, who appears to be relatively dedicated too,
might balk at the idea of losing his or her home for the cause
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
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!
plans to keep serving Jesus!
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
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!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 3, VERSE 12:
is transitional to our Text.
concludes the thought of its back-door neighbor and begins a new
thought for its front-door neighbor!
"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!
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!
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.
verse begins a list.
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
behaves like Jesus, His Saviour and Example!
"Being reviled, we bless," he says!
They call Paul
worthless! Paul calls them blessed!
"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
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!
persecuted, Paul responds by "suffering" the situation as from
the Hand of God! Yes, he says: "Being
persecuted, we suffer it."
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
What a verse
we have studied today!
testimony Paul has!
What a model
this presents us all!
Lord willing, we shall learn even more about the world's real
opinion of us who are saved!
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:
today would call such language "self-effacing." It perhaps
reflects what today's psychologists would term "a poor self
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.
discuss that paradox.
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
Yet, did Paul
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!
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?
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"
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
"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!
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.
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."
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
or "peripsema" has an added nuance of meaning. Something that
"filth" or "perikatharma" lacks.
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!
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!"
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!
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
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?
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
John the Baptist! "He must increase, but I
More of Jesus,
"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."
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!"
going on ... right now, means the Apostle!
And Paul lets
He does not
at our three Verse Text, he "blesses and forbears and
encourages" during the whole ordeal!
willingness to "present his body a living sacrifice!" And then,
if necessary, a dead one too!
"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!
--- 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
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