You go down town to the park where there are always people begging for money; selling something; preaching some message. So you circulate around to see what new doctrines are in the air.
Over there is a new guy, talking earnestly to a small group. You pick up a few words of his discourse: “Now you must understand that the heart of my message is” …and he rips out what you could have sworn was a dirty word!
You do a double-take, and draw closer. Sure enough, it happens again: “The truth is that the power for living, being right with God, and eternal life comes only one way, through &#)#*%^@” – and he utters a filthy word.
You might even shout back: “Hey buddy – there are kids running around here, there are ladies present; can’t you talk about something more pleasant than that word?”
My point is that, that is how it would have seemed in 1st century city like Corinth or Philippi, if you had run into a man who calls himself Paul the apostle.
And his dirty word? It’s one of the first vocabulary words my students learn in Greek 1, this because it is used so often in the New Testament:
It is σταυρος/stauros.
In Latin, crux.
But let’s go back to that public obscenity. It is revealing to study what a society regards as obscene language. In English our “dirty words” usually have to do with sex, sexual organs, or toilet words. But in ancient Rome one of the very worst obscenities was “I in malam maximam crucem” = “Get really badly crucified!!” It was a shocking profanity. (more…)