1 Corinthians 4:13


Monday, 26 May 2014

…being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. 1 Corinthians 4:13

In the previous verse, Paul began a list of things which demonstrated the lowly and unappreciated state of the apostles. He continues that list in this verse to show the difficult circumstances they faced and yet how they handled them. He begins with “being defamed, we entreat.”

In essence, they are cursed or held in great contempt by those they encounter. However, they turn the proverbial cheek and “entreat.” Rather than biting back, they plead for grace between themselves and the offending party. Instead of cursing them and wishing their destruction, they look to reconciliation and hopes of their salvation.

Paul then notes how they are actually considered in the eyes of their persecutors by saying, “We have been made as the filth of the world.” The word translated as “filth” carries a technical sense to it. In essence, it concerns men who are set apart for death in order to provide expiation. A comparable concept, although death is not mandated in this instance, is found in the Old Testament book of Leviticus which reads –

“Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’  He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” Leviticus 13:45, 46

The unclean person is cast outside the camp in order to carry away the infection from it. This is the kind of thing that Paul is intimating in how he is treated. In addition to this he says he and the other apostles are considered “the offscouring of all things until now.” The word here finds its roots in a verb which indicates rubbing, scraping, or shaving and so carries a similar idea to what he said about being filth. In order to be cleansed, they look at Paul and the others as something which needs to be first removed. If one were to think of cutting away hair which was full of chewing gum, the picture would be appropriate.

Life application: The apostles were willing to endure great verbal and even physical abuse for the sake of the gospel. A time is probably coming, and it may be prior to the rapture, where all who call on Christ will be faced with similar persecution. Be ready to follow Paul’s example when the time comes.

Lord God, the world is quickly degrading into perversion, wretchedness, and immense ungodliness. It’s hard, very hard, to stand against these things without losing composure. Help me Lord to be strong in my moral convictions while still being graceful towards those who revile me. It’s a tough stand to take, but if hearts can be changed by this, then it will be worth it. Be with me and guide me each step of the road. Amen.

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