God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 36

The Off-Scouring

In contrast to the religious system, which secures acceptability, honor, prestige and respectability before the community and the world, Paul was viewed as the “off-scouring of all things.”

Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day (I Corinthians 4:13).

Paul was viewed as “filth” and “off-scouring”! Let’s look at these words briefly:

Filth – James Strong[1] defines this word as “refuse.” Noah Webster[2] defines it as, “Dirt; any foul matter; any thing that soils or defiles; waste matter; nastiness.”

Off-scouring – now, there is an interesting word. Strong defines it as “off-scrapings (fig. scum).” Webster defines it as, “That which is scoured off; hence, refuse; rejected matter; that which is vile or despised.”

Every time I think of this passage and Paul’s use of the word “off-scouring,” I am reminded of the kitchen sink. When I grew up, my mother mainly used iron pans in her cooking. After something extra good had been fired-up in the iron skillet, inevitably the time came for cleanup. The iron skillet was placed down into a pan of clean water and a scouring pad was applied. When the job was complete, noting else could be washed in that water! In fact it was good-for-nothing water. It was one of the nastiest sinks of water one would ever want to see. It was filled with off-scouring. Anybody thirsty? Of course not! This is disgusting.

That was the world view of Paul. He was “scum.” If we are seeking to be recognized and accepted by the world, we will have to follow another course other than Paul’s.

Instead of bearing the simple names of who we are in Christ, such as saint or brother, leaders of religious movements would prefer titles that would be more acceptable to the world – titles that would identify who they are in the system, such as “Reverend,” “Doctor,” “Founder,” “Director,” “President,” etc. How impressive they all sound! They seem to make us something before the eyes of the world, and give some type of legitimate standing; but are we not already something, and do we not already have a standing? Why would we want to have something more than what we already have in Christ?

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

[1]James Strong, Strongs Exhaustive Concordance.
[2]Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

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