Run In Such A Way That You May Win prints and framed art include these verses:
Don't you know that those who run in a race all
run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Several theological emphases stand out in 1 Corinthians and are related to the daily living of Christians as well as to the corporate testimony of the worshipping church. For example, in chapter 15 Paul sets forth valid reasons for believing in the bodily resurrection of Christ and relates this to Christ's second coming. And in chapter 11 the doctrine of the Lord's Supper is effectively taught, along with the admonition for Christians to take it seriously.
In chapters 5 and 6 Paul speaks forcefully against the incident of incest and adultery in the church and condemns all sexual immorality. The practical problem of whether a Christian should marry and how he should conduct himself in a married or unmarried state is adequately discussed in chapter 7. In the sixth chapter the thorny problem of believers taking other believers into secular court is faced and Christian arbitration suggested. The believer's Christian liberty versus his responsibility to his Christian brother is clearly delineated and explained in chapters 8 and 10. The subjects of Christian gifts and their use for the church, as well as orderly conduct in church services, are fully expounded in chapters 12 to 14.
Although 1 Corinthians revolves around the theme of problems in Christian conduct in the local church, it is from beginning to end an epistle that reveals Paul's pastoral care. This epistle has to do with progressive sanctification, the continuing development of holiness in the believer. Great emphasis is placed upon problems with which the church copes, but Paul expresses himself in a personal manner while addressing practical problems of the church, demonstrating a unique interest in their spiritual welfare. In fact, the trademark of this epistle is the personal pronoun I, which appears repeatedly in every chapter. Also, Paul asks several rhetorical questions in this letter, repeatedly inquiring, "Do you not know . . . ?"
Specifically, as it relates to the verses featured in Run in Such A Way That You May Win, Paul gives a strong exhortation for Christian self-denial, using himself as an example and employing athletic figures familiar to the Corinthians at their own Isthmian athletic games, which were hosted every other year by the people of Corinth. The particular events he refers to are running and boxing. In verses 24 and 25 Paul assumes their common knowledge by employing the Greek phrase ouk oidate, "don't you know" of the foot race in the stadium. Every Corinthian should run as these runners do, with an intense effort to capture the prize. By the words "strict training," Paul refers to the athlete's self-control in diet and his rigorous bodily discipline. He observes that the athletes train vigorously for a "corruptible crown," namely a laurel or celery wreath that would eventually wither away. But the Christian's crown, eternal life and fellowship with God, will last forever (reference Revelation 2:10).
Paul continues his sports analogy in verses 26 and 27, stipulating that he does not contend like an undisciplined runner or boxer. He states that he aims his blows against his own body, beating it black and blue, referencing the Greek term hypopiazo (see the same word in Luke 18:5). The picture is graphic: the ancient boxers devastatingly punishing one another with knuckles bound with leather thongs. And so by pummeling his body, Paul enslaves it in order to gain the Christian prize. The ancient keryx was the herald in the Greek games who announced the rules of the contest, but the Christian herald--i.e., preacher--not only announces the rules but "plays" in the game as well. Paul had not only to preach the gospel but also to live the gospel. The Christian, confident of God's sovereign grace, is nevertheless conscious of his battle against sin.
Sources: Expositor's Bible Commentary, New Testament: Zondervan Reference Software. Class Notes, New Testament Epistles; Dr. Dwight Kim, Capital Bible Seminary, (Lanham, Maryland).
Photo Credits: Seattle Support Group
No Verse Stands Alone!
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