"Skubala?" The Apostle Paul Uses the Word "Shit" in the Bible

This shocked me. In Philippians 3:8 (KJV), the Apostle Paul says,

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

In our English translation of Scripture, we read several deviations of what was commonly referred to as animal excrement in Paul’s day. The NIV translation says “garbage,” the ESV says “rubbish,” and The Message translation says “dog dung.”

Of all places, Urban Dictionary actually gives some helpful insight into the use of this word in this passage. The word that Paul uses was a Greek term called “skubala.” 

"This is a Greek word that is the equivalent to the modern English word "shit." Skubala is a rare word, used only in Philippians 3:8 in the New Testament. Dung, rubbish, refuse, and a loss are various inaccurate translations of the Greek word. No translation accurately translates this term to its modern English equivalence: "shit." The word means "excrement" either animal or human."

Wait, so you’re telling me that the APOSTLE PAUL (one of God’s most anointed and renowned evangelicals in the history of the early church) used a CUSS WORD in SCRIPTURE? Hold the phone.  

There must be something wrong with this. Paul would have never used such a dirty word in an inspired text. Or would he?

I believe Paul uses the word “shit” in this passage because he is trying to create an incredibly stark and extreme contrast between the the “things” of the world, and the pursuit of Christ. It’s serious business.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that this example automatically condones the use of foul language for Christians. Scripture is very clear that we are to not let any foul language cross our lips (Exodus 20:7, Ephesians 4:29).

Paul used what would have been the equivalent of a “four letter word” in his time to help communicate the message of the gospel. How does that affect us? How do we rationalize through that fact?

Just something to think about.