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The Offscouring of the World

November 6, 2021

I continue to believe that 1 Corinthians is one of the most applicable books to Christians in America. Paul focuses on reproving the divisions taking place in the church of Corinth by asking, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Co. 1:13). I’m amazed at even the parallels about sports in Corinth. One of the amazing archaeological finds that confirms Scripture is a slab found in Corinth that said that Erastus was “aedile” of the city. An aedile was a city manager who oversaw building maintenance, the markets, and the organization of the sports events. This is a fascinating confirmation of a “random” reference in Romans 16:23 to a man named Erastus in Corinth who was “chamberlain” or manager. Archaeology confirms that Corinth was a city that loved sports. How amazing is that in light of Paul’s use of sports analogies in his letter to them (1 Co. 9:24-27)?.

As I read 1 Corinthians 4 today, I came across a familiar verse, “Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”(1Co. 4:13). I decided to look deeper into the words translated, “filth” and “offscouring.” The word for filth is perikatharmata (περικαθάρματα). Thayer defines this word as, “the most abject and despicable men.” The word for offscouring is peripsēma (περίψημα). Thayer also explains this word to mean, “dirt rubbed off” or scraped off. Both words are related to the Greek practice of taking someone they thought was a despised and worthless criminal and sacrificing them in order to expiate, or be a ransom, for the rest of the people. This means the people viewed as being sacrifices for others were the most worthless, despicable people in the world who could be viewed like dirt you scrape off your sandals before you walk through a house. In this context, consider Paul preaching that Jesus Christ was the sacrifice for our sins. Consider what he said to the Corinthian Church in his other scriptural letter to them: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” (2Co. 5:21). Does it make even more sense now what he had to write in his first letter, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God,” (1Co. 1:18)? Or, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (1Co. 1:23). Paul was explaining to Greeks that the most wonderful Being in the universe, that made all things, and that should be worshiped, did something reserved for the scum of all the earth. No wonder we see Paul explain that his message was mocked.

This should lead us to consider something; does everyone love us and our message? Paul was mocked on numerous occasions for preaching Christ. Jesus told us to not be surprised when the world hates us, because it first hated him (1 Jn. 3:13, Jn. 15:18). I think what we need to realize is that we should expect that as we stand for Christ in this world, and preach the cross of Christ, that some people will despise us. I fear that sometimes, especially with young believers, we think that if we are faithfully living as Christians that everyone will love us. We find it odd, and perhaps think we have done something wrong, if some people despise us. Praise God if they do! We preach a message that is radically opposed to the wisdom of this world (1 Co. 3:18-20). We should not expect that we will have peace with all people as we live for and preach Christ. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,” (Mat. 10:34). By God’s grace and power may we be prepared, and may we prepare the next generation, to be considered fools for the glory of Christ. That is how we will know that we are preaching the truth.

From → Miscellaneous

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