Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

Carl Pollard

Today I walked in on someone purloining. I was scared and confused because honestly…I don’t even know what purloining is.  Does this word confuse you? Well you’re in luck because you just clicked on an article dedicated to defining the word “purloin.” You may be thinking to yourself, “self, why would I read an article on the word purloin?” And to that I would say, “because there isn’t another article I’ve seen on this topic, and no one knows what it means.” 

The Bible is our most valuable possession we have here on earth, so our goal should be to understand what it says. There have been times that I’ve read verses that have used some confusing words, and instead of trying to understand what it means, I just skipped over it and kept reading. But there are some valuable insights that we can gain from looking more in-depth at these words. Let’s define purloining as it is seen in scripture. 

Titus 2:10 says, Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (KJV). Purloining here is the Greek word “nosphivo”which is only found 3 times in New Testament,  and only translated as purloining in one verse.  The Greek word is translated as, “to put aside for oneself, to keep back, to steal.” This word originally was used as a descriptor of what the Roman soldiers would do when they were looting. They would be tempted to hold back treasure for themselves as they plundered cities, rather than giving the full amount to the Roman Empire. They would steal and hold back, and that’s exactly how Paul uses this word in Titus 2:10. 

Going back to this verse, how is this term used in context? Verse 10 is the launching point for the rest of Paul’s point in chapter one.  When he says “purloining” he’s referring to bondservants and their attitude towards their master.  Rather than pilfering and stealing, they should show faith in God to take care of them. In essence this verse is an appeal to live in accordance to the teachings of God in everything. Servants who were not Christians would steal and cheat from their masters any chance they could get. As Christians we are to have a faith in God to provide for us, not stealing and being dishonest. 

In summary, if you were to use this in everyday conversation, you could say something like, “I have never purloined in my life, “Purloining is wrong” or, “I’m going to teach my kids to be honest and not run around purloining.” Or you could just say “steal” or “withhold” instead.  Although a few translations chose to use an interesting word to convey this idea of stealing, the point is still very valid for us today. I challenge each one of us to have faith in God to provide, to trust that His commands are in our best interest, and to rely on God to take care of our needs rather than purloining. I also challenge each one of us to use this word as many times as possible in the upcoming new year. 

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