1 Corinthians 4:13
Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
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(13) The filth of the world.—The word here used for “filth” occurs only in one other passage in the LXX. Proverbs 21:18, where it has the idea of an additional expiatory sacrifice. Perhaps the word is used here by the Apostle to include that idea in the sufferings, the description of which here reaches a climax. It is not only that we are the filth and off scouring of all men, but we are so for the sake of others.

4:7-13 We have no reason to be proud; all we have, or are, or do, that is good, is owing to the free and rich grace of God. A sinner snatched from destruction by sovereign grace alone, must be very absurd and inconsistent, if proud of the free gifts of God. St. Paul sets forth his own circumstances, ver. 9. Allusion is made to the cruel spectacles in the Roman games; where men were forced to cut one another to pieces, to divert the people; and where the victor did not escape with his life, though he should destroy his adversary, but was only kept for another combat, and must be killed at last. The thought that many eyes are upon believers, when struggling with difficulties or temptations, should encourage constancy and patience. We are weak, but ye are strong. All Christians are not alike exposed. Some suffer greater hardships than others. The apostle enters into particulars of their sufferings. And how glorious the charity and devotion that carried them through all these hardships! They suffered in their persons and characters as the worst and vilest of men; as the very dirt of the world, that was to be swept away: nay, as the offscouring of all things, the dross of all things. And every one who would be faithful in Christ Jesus, must be prepared for poverty and contempt. Whatever the disciples of Christ suffer from men, they must follow the example, and fulfil the will and precepts of their Lord. They must be content, with him and for him, to be despised and abused. It is much better to be rejected, despised, and ill used, as St. Paul was, than to have the good opinion and favour of the world. Though cast off by the world as vile, yet we may be precious to God, gathered up with his own hand, and placed upon his throne.Being defamed - Greek, Blasphemed, that is, spoken of and to, in a harsh, abusive, and reproachful manner. The original and proper meaning of the word is to speak in a reproachful manner of anyone, whether of God or man. It is usually applied to God, but it may also be used of people.

We entreat - Either God in their behalf, praying him to forgive them, or we entreat them to turn from their sins, and become converted to God. Probably the latter is the sense. They besought them to examine more candidly their claims instead of reviling them; and to save their souls by embracing the gospel instead of destroying them by rejecting it with contempt and scorn.

We are made - We became; we are so regarded or esteemed. The word here does not imply that there was any positive agency in making them such, but simply that they were in fact so regarded.

As the filth of the earth - It would not be possible to employ stronger expressions to denote the contempt and scorn with which they were everywhere regarded. The word "filth" περικαθάρματα perikatharmata occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly denotes filth, or that which is collected by sweeping a house, or that which is collected and cast away by purifying or cleansing anything; hence, any vile, worthless, and contemptible object. Among the Greeks the word was used to denote the victims which were offered to expiate crimes, and particularly men of ignoble rank, and of a worthless and wicked character, who were kept to be offered to the gods in a time of pestilence, to appease their anger, and to purify the nation. Bretschneider and Schleusner. Hence, it was applied by them to people of the most vile, abject, and worthless character. But it is not certain that Paul had any reference to that sense of the word. The whole force of the expression may be met by the supposition that he uses it in the sense of that filth or dirt which is collected by the process of cleansing or scouring anything, as being vile, contemptible, worthless. So the apostles were regarded. And by the use of the word "world" here, he meant to say that they were regarded as the most vile and worthless men which the whole world could furnish; not only the refuse of Judea, but of all the nations of the earth. As if he had said "more vile and worthless people could not be found on the face of the earth."

And are the off-scouring of all things - This word (περίψημα peripsēma) occurs no where else in the New Testament. It does not differ materially from the word rendered "filth." It denotes that which is rubbed off by scouring or cleaning anything; and hence, anything vile or worthless; or a vile and worthless man. This term was also applied to vile and worthless people who were sacrificed or thrown into the sea as an expiatory offering, as it were to purify the people. Suidas remarks that; they said to such a man, "be then our περίψημα peripsēma," our redemption, and then flung him into the sea as a sacrifice to Neptune. See Whitby, Calvin, Doddridge.

Unto this day - Continually. We have been constantly so regarded. See 1 Corinthians 4:11.

13. defamed, we entreat—namely, God for our defamers, as Christ enjoined (Mt 5:10, 44) [Grotius]. We reply gently [Estius].

filth—"the refuse" [Conybeare and Howson], the sweepings or rubbish thrown out after a cleaning.

of all things—not of the "World" only.

Being defamed, we entreat: we are blasphemed, Gr. that is, spoken evil of, which is the same with defamed in our language, men speak all manner of evil of us to take away our reputation; but we entreat God for them: the word signifieth to exhort, entreat, comfort, we exercise ourselves in all pious and charitable offices toward them, who are most uncharitable toward us.

We are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day: here are two words used, which signify the most vile, abject, contemptible things in the world, excrements, sweepings of houses. The apostle by these two words signifies, that no persons could be more base, vile, and contemptible than they were, nothing more despised, or in less esteem: he speaketh not this as complaining, or in any discontent at what he saw was the will of God concerning them; but to show them the difference betwixt the apostles, and them and their teachers, and possibly reflecting upon them, as being in some degree guilty of this scorn and contempt of them, or at least, more than they ought, neglecting them under these mean and afflictive circumstances.

Being defamed, we entreat,.... Being blasphemed, as the word signifies, being evil spoken of, our good name taken away, and characters hurt; we entreat or pray to God for them, that he would convince them of their evil, give them repentance unto life, and remission of their sins, according to Christ's direction, Matthew 5:44 and in imitation of his example, Luke 23:34 or we entreat them; so the Syriac version reads it, , "we beseech them": not to blaspheme and speak evil of us, since it will be to their own hurt; we give them smooth words, and soft language, not rendering railing for railing, or reviling for reviling:

we are made as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things unto this day; referring, as some think, to Lamentations 3:45 or to the lustrations and expiations among the Heathens, who when any calamity was upon them, particularly a plague among them, used to take one of the refuse of the people, and sacrifice him by way of expiation; or any living creature, as a sheep which with imprecations they cast into a river, or into the sea, fancying it carried away all the contagion along with it; hence, by way of reproach, such that were under disgrace, and were ejected, and exiled, were called "purgations"; the refuse of the people, by which the rest were purged (u) or the reference is to any dirt, or filth in common, swept out of houses, and trodden under foot; and so expresses the mean and abject condition of the apostles, and with what disdain and contempt they were treated in the world: all which shows that they were far from reigning as kings; and whilst this was their case, who were at the head of the interest of Christ, it must be a vain conceit of the Corinthians, that they reigned as kings without them.

(u) Vid. Turnebi Adversaria, l. 19. c. 22. & 26. 7. & 27. 16.

Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the {h} filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

(h) Such as is gathered together by sweeping.

13. we are made as the filth of the world] The word here translated filth means (1) that which is removed by cleansing and (2) an expiatory sacrifice, one who is delivered up to destruction, like Jonah, to save others as guilty as himself. St Paul does not assert that he is such a sacrifice, but that he is like one, because by his sorrows and sufferings many souls are brought to Christ. Cf. Colossians 1:24, and Bp Wordsworth in loc.

and are the offscouring] Literally, as the offscouring. This word in the original is derived from a verb signifying to rub, scrape, shave. It has similar significations to the preceding: (1) that which is removed by rubbing, (2) a sacrifice for the benefit of others. Suidas in his Lexicon states that it was a custom among the Greeks in times of calamity to cast a victim into the sea as a sacrifice to appease Poseidon, the god of the sea, with the words, “Be thou our offscouring.” In virtue of the humiliations and distresses endured by St Paul, he represents himself as becoming the refuse of mankind, in order that by this means he may bring blessings innumerable within their reach. So Tob 5:18, “Let the money be sacrificed as nought for the sake of the child;” and Ignatius (to the Ephesians, ch. 8), “I am your offscouring,” i.e. I am undergoing these afflictions for your sakes, and similarly in the Epistle attributed to St Barnabas (ch. 6), in all which places the same word is used.

of all things] Better, of all men.

1 Corinthians 4:13. Περικαθάρματα περίψημα) both words are used for filth, by which not only men utterly outcast, but those devoted as an expiation for others, are denoted. כפר, περικάθαρμα δικαίου, ἄνομος, the wicked shall be a ransom for the upright, Proverbs 21:18. τὸ ἀργύριον περίψημα τοῦ παιδίον ἡμῶν γένοιτο, let money be as refuse in respect of our child, Tobit 5 :(18)26: add Jeremiah 22:28, where עצב נכזה has been translated by some περίψημα φαῦλον, vile offscourings, Hesychius: περίψημα, περικατάμαγμα, ἀντίλυτρα, ἀντίψυχα, ἤ ὑπὸ τὰ ἴχνη πάντων. περίψημα in Eustathius is, σπόγγισμά τι, something wiped away with a sponge, and therefore more subtle [smaller and less perceptible] than λῦμα; the latter word, λῦμα, is a less forcible term than κάθαρμα, the meaning of which the περὶ strengthens. Wherefore Paul calls himself and the apostles περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμουπερίψημα, the offscouring not only of a persecuting world, but of all men [Engl. Vers. “of all things”], although they do not persecute us; the world hates us; all men despise us.—ἕως ἄρτι, until now) an epanalepsis [a repetition of the same words in the beginning of a preceding member and in the end of the following member of a sentence. end.], comp. 1 Corinthians 4:11, at the beginning.

Verse 13. - Being defamed, we entreat. The expression "we entreat" is very general. It may mean "we entreat men not to speak thus injuriously of us" (Calvin); or "we exhort them to do right." As the filth of the world. The Greek word katharmata has a technical sense, in which it means "men devoted to death for purposes of expiation" (homines piaculares). The word perikatharnmta has the sense of "sin offerings" in Proverbs 21:18; Tobit 5:18. It is, however, doubtful whether this meaning of the word could have been at all familiar to Greek readers, and it is only in a very general and distantly metaphorical sense that the sufferings of God's saints can be regarded as, in any sense of the word, vicarious. It is better, therefore, here to retain the sense of "refuse" (purgamenta, things vile and worthless). The offscouring of all things; perhaps rather, of all men. The word peripsema means "a thing scraped off," and this word also was used in expiatory human sacrifices, where the formula used to victims thus flung into the sea, in times of plague or famine, was, "Become our peripsema' ('Schol. on Ar.;' Plut., 456). Thus in Tobit (5:18), Anna the wife of Tobias says, "Let the money be used as a peripsema for the child;" and Ignatius uses the phrase, "I am your peripsema." From this and the similar phrase in the Letter of Barnabas," I am the peripsema of your love," it seems to have become a current expression of tenderness among Christians, "I am your peripsema." But in this case also it may be doubted whether the sacrificial idea was present in the apostle's mind. He is thinking of scenes which he had already faced and would have to face hereafter, when mobs shouted against him that he was "a pestilent fellow" (Acts 24:5) and not fit to live (Acts 22:22). 1 Corinthians 4:13Defamed (δυσφημούμενοι)

Publicly slandered; while reviled refers to personal abuse.

Intreat (παρακαλοῦμεν)

See on consolation, Luke 6:24, and see on comfort, Acts 9:31. The sense is, we strive to appease by entreaty.

Filth - offscouring (περικαθάρματα - περίψημα)

The former word is from περικαθαίρω to cleanse all round. Hence that which is thrown off in cleansing; refuse. Κάθαρμα the refuse of a sacrifice. So Aeschylus. Electra says: "Should I, like one who has carried away refuse (καθάρμαθ) from a purification, after tossing away the urn, go back again with unturned eyes?" ("Choephoroe," 90). In Proverbs 21:18, Sept., it occurs in the sense of ransom. Some find an allusion here to an ancient Athenian custom of throwing certain worthless persons into the sea in case of plague or famine, saying Be our offscouring! These persons were called περικαθάρματα offscourings, or περιψήματα scrapings, in the belief that they would wipe away the nation's guilt. Ignatius says to the Ephesians, περίψημα ὑμῶν I am your offscouring. The sense is twofold: I am as the meanest among you; and I devote my life for you. In the middle of the third century, περίψημά σου had become a common expression of formal compliment: your humble servant. See Lightfoot, "Apostolic Fathers," on Ignatius to the Ephesians, 8. "Compare Lamentations 3:45, and Tobit 5:18. Περίψημα that which is scraped or scoured off. Both words only here in the New Testament.

This tremendous piece of irony justifies the numerous allusions which have been made to Paul's vehemence and severity. Thus Dante, in his vision of the Earthly Paradise, pictures Paul:

"Two old men I beheld, unlike in habit,

But like in gait, each dignified and grave.

One (Luke) showed himself as one of the disciples

Of that supreme Hippocrates whom Nature

Made for the animals she holds most dear,

Contrary care the other (Paul) manifested,

With sword so shining and so sharp, it caused


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