1 CORINTHIANS 9
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
Depraved as were the Corinthians, they were not successful in corrupting Paul. For over eighteen months he stood the test of their immoral and defiling influences. And the reason for this was-what? This question is more than interesting, seeing that so many in our day fall victims to Gentile environment.
The apostle's safety was certainly not due to any superiority of nature (1 Cor. 9:27), nor to any divine protection which is not available to us (1 Cor. 10:13), nor any blindness on his part to the allurements of this unrighteous people. Then why was it? Shall we say that it was the result of his strong resolution to be faithful, which he made at the commencement of his probation, coupled with his great wish to reach the kingdom?
Partly, but this will not wholly explain the cause. Demas, the apostle's once companion, made this resolution, and also hoped to reach the kingdom, but he allowed the attractions of this present world to conquer him (2 Tim. 4:10).
Then again, we ask, why Paul's safety in wicked Corinth? Not only so, but why should his sojourn there have made him (as his writings show that it did) a better and more perfect man?
Are we not right in saying that it was the way in which he voluntarily, studiously, and unceasingly, kept himself engrossed in the work of the truth? All his arrangements were carried through with that in view. A high standard, but our safety in our respective Corinths depends upon our efforts to reach it.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, March 1911
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
They that run in a race
It is clear that the point he is taking from this illustration is the solemn fact that many run who will never receive the prize. Many complete the course but there is nothing waiting for them at the end. Many are called but few are chosen. Many who understand God's Word will say in that day, "Lord, Lord!" (Matt. 7:22), but will be turned away without recognition. "So run," Paul continues, "that ye may obtain."
Just running is no assurance of God's favour. We must SO run that we may obtain, for many run and obtain nothing. We must know where we are running and keep our mind on it. Paul says (1 Cor. 9:26)—
"I therefore so run, not as uncertainly."
And Solomon exhorts—
"Get wisdom and forsake her not, that when thou runnest, THOU SHALT NOT STUMBLE" (Prov. 4:5, 6, 12).
Paul goes on (v. 25)—
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."
Young's Concordance gives "self-constraint" for "temperance." The idea is discipline in the interests of fitness.
"Now they do it" (he says) "to obtain a corruptible crown (the perishable laurel wreath), but we an incorruptible."
How much more, then, should we practice self-discipline, keeping under our body, bringing it into subjection and ruthlessly stifling the instinctive and unreasoning reactions of the flesh which are the root of all misunderstanding, unpleasantness, strife and trouble, lest—as Paul says—when we have preached to others, we ourselves should be castaways.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 32
THE OLYMPIC GAMES
'...Apostolic comparison took account of these games in ancient times - the races and wrestlings-which were apt figures of the course of Christ's people. "Now they do it," said Paul, "to obtain a corruptible crown (the stephan, or wreath of laurel) but we an incorruptible." Thus the Olympic Games at Athens remind us of our own struggle.
The widening field of competition (for athletes came from America and Australia) seems to coincide with the area of the higher struggle, for both these countries have their contingents of runners and wrestlers in the race and strife for life eternal. The figure of the panting Greek who won the long race from Marathon recalls the apostle's words,
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one obtaineth the prize;" and the account of the trainings undergone his further saying, "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."
Again, it is said that a man is not crowned unless he strive lawfully. He must respect the rules of the games, and cultivate endurance. The apostle did it - finished his course, and fought his fight, and confidently awaited "a crown of righteousness," which is in the hands of Christ to bestow, not only on Paul, but on "all them also that love his appearing." To "him that overcometh" Christ promises "all things." "He that endureth to the end shall be saved."
The Christadelphian, June 1896. p227
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
"I keep under my body, lest I should be a castaway."
"Keep under" is a most feeble and inadequate translation. The Revised Version is a little better: "I buffet my body." But this is still too weak. Rotherham comes closer:
"I beat my body under."
The context and the language show that Paul is using the figure of boxing. "Fight" in verse 26 should be "box." It's pukteo (pook-teh'-o), from which we get the word pugnacious. The root is fist. Not boxing as it is today, but as it was in the stern Roman day. The word here for "keep under" is hupopiazo (hoop-o-pee-ad'-zo) and it literally means to punch beneath the eye, to strike violently in the face. It is a boxing term for knocking out the opponent. Roman boxers in the arena did not use soft padded gloves for mere entertainment. Their hands were wrapped in leather thongs with metal knobs. A writer says, describing them,
"One wonders how any human being, no matter how strong and powerful, could stand the blows from such weapons."
They were accurately called limb breakers. Boxing, in the Roman arena, was a bloody conflict unto death. This is the figure Paul uses of the conflict of his own flesh, and for him it was literally true. As a direct result of his faithful, fearless walk and teaching, he was stoned and left for dead, scourged with whips, and beaten with rods repeatedly. He permanently bore the marks on his battered body, as we read in Galatians. These are harsh realities intended to make us think.
We are not likely to be called upon in these soft, easy, treacherous days to endure these things for the sake of the Truth or the brotherhood, as so many of the faithful have been in the past. The test for us is just the same - whom we will serve, to what extent of faithfulness and completeness we will render that service, and to what extent we will please the flesh?
Bro Growcott - Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
It is ourselves we have to fight. We incline in certain directions pleasing to the flesh; and we have to stand in our own way, and push ourselves back and say, "No, you must not go in those paths which are forbidden to the sons of God." The body we keep under is the whole body, not any one part.
The lust of the eye is as much a lust of the body as the lust that leads to fornication; the lust of the flesh in all its affections, is as much a lust of the body as that which leads to uncleanness. The pride of life is as much an attribute of the body-of the brain part of the body, as that which is more gross and vile in the estimation of men. The whole category is outside of saintship.
A man may keep himself clean in certain directions and be defiled. He may be free from adultery, but a slave to the praise of men and the outside appearances of things. He may be innocent of drunkenness, but given to pride and covetousness. He may be perfectly respectable, according to human ethics, and abominable according to the rule of divine estimation.
We must not forget, "Guilty in one point, guilty of all," is a rule of divine judgment. We must keep the devil's whole host at bay.
...We must fight a real fight. Do not let us pose merely. Do not let us go through the attitudes and beat the air. Do not let us profess the name and attend the meetings, and all the while in private life "walk as other Gentiles walk." We are called to be saints, or holy ones, or those who do the will of God-and not those who merely say, Lord, Lord.
To be such involves self-denial, cross-taking-up, and cross-carrying. It involves the doing of "things," and all the things "that he says," and these relate to the common ways of private life. In this we have to fight ourselves often, for the spirit lusts against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit. This is the battle in which we have to overcome, upon which so much depends.