“Focus on the Finish” (1 Corinthians ). The analogy of comparing “athletic completion” to “Christian living” is a theme often repeated in scripture. RUN THAT YOU MAY WIN! 24Don't you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? 24 - NIV: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
: 1st corinthians 9 24
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1st corinthians 9 24 -
See the exegesis of for more detail about the relationship between chapters 8, 9, and Paul offers himself and his personal conduct as an illustration of the principle that he established in chapter 8—that the Christian needs to consider the sensibilities of other people. Paul establishes his credentials as an apostle—and notes his special relationship to the Corinthian church, for which he was the founding pastor He then establishes that he has the same rights as others—the right to food and drink—the right to marry—the right to require payment for his services as a pastor a.
That is the point! In chapter 8, Paul called Corinthian Christians to subordinate their personal rights to eat meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of the gospel.
Now he is saying that he himself has sacrificed certain of his rights to better proclaim the gospel. He is a living illustration of the principle that personal rights are less important than the proclamation of the gospel and the spiritual well-being of people who might hear that proclamation. Paul talks about being under obligation to preach the Gospel His reward for faithfulness to this obligation is the satisfaction of making the Gospel free of charge Give no occasions for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God; even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.
Run like that, that you may win. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I fight like that, as not beating the air, 27but I beat Greek: hypopiazo my body and bring it into submission doulagoyo , lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.
Paul introduces an athletic metaphor to illustrate his point. Just as runners in a footrace must practice certain disciplines to make it possible for them to win a race, so also Christians must practice certain disciplines to make it possible for them to win the spiritual prize.
Scholars have noted that Corinth probably hosted the Isthmian games, which were named after the Isthmus of Corinth an isthmus is a narrow strip of land that connects two larger land masses—Corinth was located on an isthmus that connected northern and southern Greece. These games included various contests, such as racing, boxing, and wrestling. The Corinthians would have been very familiar with these athletic contests and the disciplines required to win them.
It is possible, therefore, that Paul is tailoring his metaphors to fit what the Corinthian know. In an athletic contest, only one person can win first prize, but athletics often provide lesser prizes as well. Nevertheless, the second-place winner usually feels more like a loser than a winner, because first place was the goal. We must be careful not to make too much of this phrase, because the spiritual prize that Paul is illustrating is not limited to one winner.
Many people will win a place in the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, this phrase contains a warning. Just as there are winners and losers in athletic contests, so also there will be winners and losers when it comes to spiritual prizes. Paul emphasizes running the spiritual race in such a way as to win the spiritual prize. That raises the question of works versus grace. Can we win salvation by our own efforts—by applying spiritual disciplines?
However his counsel about running in such a way as to win the spiritual prize shows that the way we live is a significant component of winning the spiritual prize. Most of the effort required for winning a footrace or any contest takes place before the day of the race. Winning today requires practicing yesterday—and the day before—and the day before that. It also requires disciplines of other sorts, having to do with sleep, diet, studying the competition, developing strategy, etc.
The game in which the competitor competes is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the effort lies below the surface, out of sight. What disciplines do we need to observe to win the spiritual prize? Traditional Christian disciplines include Bible reading, prayer, and fasting. However, other disciplines come to mind as well. Jesus emphasized feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty something to drink, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, and visiting the prisoner Matthew Few Christians do all of these things, and none do them perfectly.
We all depend on the grace of God. However, spiritual disciplines bring us closer to God—closer to becoming the people God created us to be—better fitted for the kingdom of God.
Today, trophies or Super Bowl rings or Oscars acknowledge big winners. Each of those things has intrinsic monetary value, but that value pales beside their statement that the possessor of the prize is the best of the best. Those prizes had no intrinsic monetary value, but competitors prized them for the same reason that football players prize a Super Bowl ring.
People knew that the one possessing the wreath was the best of the best. Paul contrasts those wreaths, which would soon wither, with the spiritual prize that he is calling Corinthian Christians to pursue. Many people do run aimlessly? They blindly climb a ladder, not having determined whether it is perched against the right wall. Or they simply go through the daily cycle of working, eating, and sleeping that they seem doomed to repeat endlessly—with no apparent purpose except survival.
God has called him to proclaim the Gospel, and he does so tirelessly. He does so, in part, to be faithful to the one who has called him, but he also does so to win the spiritual prize that he is pursuing—the same spiritual prize that he is calling these Corinthian Christians to pursue.
The great irony would if Paul were to proclaim the Gospel to other people presumably in such a manner as to help them to win their salvation while living a life that would disqualify him for that spiritual prize. He is determined not to allow that to happen. He practices spiritual disciplines himself so that he might be fitted for the kingdom of God.
The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words hast, shineth, etc. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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