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ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων ὡσπερεὶ τῷ ἐκτρώματι ὤφθη κἀμοί. (1Co 15:8 BGT)

And last of all, as like to the abortion, he appeared also to me.

The word ἐκτρώματι generally does seem to be used for a baby that dies more than a baby that is born in a strange way. To try to make it make sense many translators connect this to the idea of being born at the wrong time or way, but other commentators point out there is no extant example of it being used for any baby that did not die, and the three uses in the LXX are all clearly dead babies.

Could the dative here be translated as "as pertaining to an abortion" rather than "as appearing to the abortion," in other words, Paul thought of himself as connected to an abortion.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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  • 1
    The concept is of premature birth, not a miscarriage.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 1 at 13:40
  • Duplicate. The meaning in my view could be more of a curse, like cursing someone that it had been better if you were not born, to someone who is the worst. He is saying that to himself as a born dead, the inauspicious worst condemned person by using that phrase.
    – Michael16
    Sep 1 at 14:11
  • One should note that “abortion” does not always mean that one has purposefully chosen to perform some act that causes the premature delivery of the fetus so as to cause its demise. In medical jargon, a miscarriage is also known as a spontaneous abortion. Sep 1 at 17:16
  • A discarded fetus (an invalid birth, ultimately meant to be thrown away to the trash, or buried unceremoniously); the last of the last, a pariah. It is tentatively speculated that it might also refer to his induced or premature (spiritual) birth, on the road to Damascus (as opposed to others, whose conversion to Christianity was somewhat slower and more natural, after being Christ's disciples for years).
    – Lucian
    Sep 1 at 18:40
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1 Cor. 15:8 — Paul and the abortion

1626 [e] ektrōmati ἐκτρώματι , untimely birth, abortion, premature birth.

1 Corinthians 15:8 Amplified Bible

And last of all, as to one untimely (prematurely, traumatically) born, He appeared to me also.

As to one prematurely born:

Saul had a vision of Jesus in heavenly glory, it was as if Saul had been granted the honor of being born, or resurrected, to spirit life ahead of time, centuries before that resurrection was to occur.

Acts 9:3-9 NASB

3 Now as he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the [a]voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he [b]could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Acts 9:17-19 NASB

17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like fish scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.

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  • Up-voted +1. A premature birth, not a miscarriage.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 1 at 13:41
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The Biblical word for miscarriage, untimely birth, or abortion is undifferentiated into these separate categories as we would today. There is no way to determine if it means a still birth or simply a premature birth. However, based on a comparison with Old Testament references to such a birth, we can infer that it likely does usually address a situation where the unborn does not survive.

Consider, for example, Psalm 58:8.

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. (Psalm 58:8, KJV)

This passage clearly refers to the "untimely birth" as addressing an individual who would "not see the sun." In other words, such a one does not survive.

Nor would the "untimely birth" be expected to survive in the cases depicted in Job or Ecclesiastes.

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. (Job 3:16, KJV)

If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. (Ecclesiastes 6:3, KJV)

Clearly, Paul did not die at birth, so this sort of "untimely birth" cannot be what he means.

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15:8, KJV)

The expression "as of one born out of due time" starts with the adverb "as". In Greek this is the word "ὡσπερεὶ," and it can mean "just as if" or "as it were." In other words, Paul is not intending to speak literally. As such, it cannot be assumed that he is speaking of an abortion which ends in the death of the unborn. It may well be that he is referencing a spiritual birth which has come well out of its time (whether early or late).

Based on the context, it seems he was actually coming late to a knowledge of Christ. Rather than being a preemie, Paul's (spiritual) birth was delayed.

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As others have pointed out, the word is often used to speak of a premature baby. Often they would not survive.

Paul's Greek name, Paulus, means "little."

It seems plausible that Saul/Paulus was born a preemie but survived, albeit a small man. If so, it would be among the catalog of weaknesses the beset him and made him an unlikely choice for the daunting task the LORD had in mind for him:

[2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB20] (7) Because of the extraordinary [greatness] of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! (8) Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. (9) And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (10) Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

[1 Corinthians 15:8-11 NASB20] (8) and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (9) For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (11) Whether then [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

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  • "The word is often used to speak of a premature baby" — the problem is I have yet to see one actual example from any source, although some claim this, no example is ever given.
    – Dizerner
    Sep 1 at 23:39
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The operative word in 1 Cor 15:8 is ἔκτρωμα (ektróma) which BDAG gives the meaning:

a birth that violates the normal period of gestation (whether induced as abortion, or natural premature birth or miscarriage [...] or birth beyond term) untimely birth. So Paul calls himself, perhaps, taking up a an insult (ektróma as a term of contemptin Tzetzes [XII AD], Hist. Var. 5, 515 Kiessl.; Straub 48f) hurled at him by his opponents 1 Cor 15:8 (in any case the point relates to some deficiency in the infant [...] Paul confesses himself to be unworthy of being a full-fledged apostle) ...

Thus, ἔκτρωμα (ektróma), because it is a hapex legomenon, appears to be any birth that is somehow abnormal due to timing as documented above. Thus, I do not believe that "abortion" is the only sense in which this word is used - it means any birth that, for any reason, is "untimely", including abortion. For example:

Thus, most modern versions render it, "untimely birth" - an apparently pejorative term in some circles.

  • NIV: abnormally born
  • NLT: born at the wrong time
  • ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, ASV: untimely born/birth
  • KJV, NKJV: born out of due time
  • Amplified: untimely (prematurely traumatically) born
  • HCSB: abnormally born
  • CSB, CEV: born at the wrong time

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