Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 9:24 - 9:27

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 9:24 - 9:27


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

C. Exhortation to earnest self-denial as the condition of obtaining an incorruptible crown; and a warning against carnal security

1Co_9:24 to 1Co_10:13

24Know ye not that they which run in a race [race-course, óôáäßῳ ] run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain [really lay hold of it, êáôáëÜâçôå ]. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery [contends for a prize, ὰãùíéæüìåíïò is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown [chaplet, óôÝöáíïí ]; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight 27[box, ðõêôὲõù ] I, not as one that beateth the air; But I keep under [beat black and blue, ὑðùðéÜæù ] my body, and bring it into subjection [enslave it, äïõëáãùãῶ : lest that by any means, when I have preached [been a herald, êçñýîáò ] to others, I myself should be a castaway [a rejected one, ὰäüêéìïò ].

1Moreover [For, ãὰñ ], brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2And were all baptized [had themselves baptized, ἐâáðôßóáíôï ] unto Moses in the cloud and 3in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Bock that followed them [out of a spiritual, following Rock, ἐê ðíåõìáôéêῆò ἀêïëïõèïýóçò ðÝôñáò : and that Rock was Christ. 5But with many [most, ôïἰò ðëåßïóéí ] of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown [strewed about, êáôåóôñþèçóáí ] in the wilderness. 6Now these things were our examples [became types for us, ôýðïé ἡìῶí ἐãåíÞèçóáí ] to 7the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted; Neither be [become, ãßíåóèå ] ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt [put to the full test, try fully, ἐêðåéñÜæùìåí ] Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as 11some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all [om. all] these things happened unto them for ensamples [typically, ôõðéêῶò ]1Co : and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come [last of the ages have come, ôὰ ôÝëç ô . áἰþíùí êáôÞíôçêåí ]. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13There hath no temptation taken [trial seized upon, ðåéñáóìὸò ἐßëçöåí ] you but such as is common to man [human, ἀíèñὠðéíïò ]: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with [in the midst of (Tyndale), óýí ôῷ ð .] the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1Co_9:24-27. [Having in the last verse (23) of the previous selection mentioned, as the second reason for the renunciation of his rights, his desire that he might thereby become partaker of the Gospel with those he labored for, he next proceeds] to bring home to the consciousness of his readers the extent of that self-denial and earnest endeavor which is requisite for the full attainment of the blessing in question. This he does by a reference to the Grecian games which were celebrated in their vicinity, viz., the Isthmian games. [“It must be remembered in reading the Apostle’s allusions, that from the national character and religion of the Greeks, these games derived an importance which raised them above the degrading associations of modern times. How intense an interest these contests still excited may be seen from Suetonius’ graphic description of the agony of Nero in his desire to succeed; an exaggerated instance, doubtless; but yet illustrative of the general feeling. The stadium, or race-course, of which he speaks, was not a mere resort for public amusements but an almost sacred edifice, under the tutelage of the patron deity of the Ionian tribes, and surrounded by the most solemn recollections of Greece, its white marble seats rising like the foundation of a temple in the grassy slope, where its outline may still be traced, under the shadow of the huge Corinthian citadel, which guards the entrance of the Peloponnesus. The race, in which all run; the pugilistic contests, in which they strove notto beat the air,” were not merely exhibitions of bodily strength, but solemn trials of the excellence of the competitors in the ‘gymnastic art,’ which was to the Greeks one-half of human education. As the friends and relatives watched with breathless interest the issue of the contest, they knew that the victor would be handed down to posterity by having his name sung in those triumphal odes, of which Pindar’s are the extant model, and his likeness placed in the long line of statues which formed the approach to the adjacent temple. The ‘prize’ which he won from the appointed judges, who sat in state at the end of the course, was such as could awaken no mean or mercenary motives; its very simplicity attested its dignity; it was a garland of the Grecian pine, which still, under its classical name, clothes with its light green foliage the plains of the Isthmus, and which was then consecrated to the sea-god, around whose temple its groves were gathered. (See Conybeare and Howson, 20).—The application of the metaphor of the race to the progress of the Christian, here occurs for the first time. Afterwards, compare Php_3:12; Php_3:14; 2Ti_4:7-8 : Heb_12:1. Stanley.].—Know ye not.—[An abrupt and forcible appeal to a familiar fact, analogous to the ease in hand, fraught with obvious lessons]—that those who run in the race-course.—Here is the first illustration—the race ( äñüìïò )—run all, but one receiveth the prize?—The âñáâåῖïí is the prize ( ᾶèëïí ) awarded by the arbiter ( âñáâåýò ), [“Lat., bravium, Iren. IV. 7, whence the English, “bravo.” Wordsworth]. The point thus made is stated by Osiander in the practical remarks: “The danger of failing of the end of our faith thro’ a lack of persistent earnestness—the large number of the called, and the few that are chosen; or, as mere running on the course does not ensure the prize, so simple companionship with those who are striving for salvation does not ensure its attainment.”—Hence he briefly and forcibly enjoins.—So run that ye may obtain.—The simplest interpretation here would be to refer ïὔôù , so to ἐíá that, in the sense of ῶóôå , as: ‘so run as to obtain.’ But it certainly would be more in accordance with usage to make the reference to what precedes: ‘as that one runs who obtains the prize, so run ye in order that ye may obtain.’ [Alford, on the contrary, makes the allusion more general: “after this manner, viz., as they who run all, each endeavoring to be the one who shall receive the prize; for the others strive as earnestly as he.—The ïὔôùò is presently particularized by one point of the athletes’ preparation being specially alleged for their initiation”]. After “obtain,” the word ‘prize’ must be supplied as the object understood. The use of the êáôáëáâåῖí suggests the personal effort shown in the matter, literally: ‘that ye may seize, or grasp, the prize;’ as in 1Ti_6:12, ἐðéëáâÝóèáé , in distinction from which the simple ëáìâÜíåéí would denote the mere receiving, or accepting the thing presented. The recommendation accordingly is to a course of conduct corresponding to the laudable race of him who wins the victor’s wreath, in order that they may obtain possession of salvation, [may ‘work it out’].—That for this an earnest self-denying course was requisite, he shows from the example of the combatants.—now every one.—[“The äÝ , now, specifies, referring back to ïὕôùò . And the emphasis is on ðᾶò , every one, thus showing ïὕôùò , so, to refer to the ðÜíôåò , all, who ôñÝ÷ïõóéí , run.” Alford].—that strives.—The general term, ἀãùíßóåóèáé , includes indeed in itself the idea of running in the race; but here the primal reference is to the preparatory training. [“The article ( ὁ áãùíéæüìåíïò ) brings out the man as an enlisted and professed agonistes (or athlete), and regards him in that capacity. Had it been ðᾶò äÝ ἀãùíéæ ̈ üìåíïò , the sense would have been, ‘now every one while contending,’ etc., making the discipline to be merely accidental to his contending—which would not suit the original antitype, where we are enlisted for life.” Alford].—is temperate in all things.—To this there belongs self-control in every particular: abstinere venere et vino, and especially a strict diet, to make one light, nimble and fit for the conflict. [“The discipline lasted for ten months preparatory to the contest, and was at this time so severe, as to be confined to the professional athletes. The diet is thus described by Epictetus: ‘Thou must be orderly, living on spare food; abstain from confections; make a point of exercising at the appointed time, in heat and in cold; nor drink cold water or wine at hazard;—in a word, give thyself up to thy training-master as to a physician, and then enter on the contest.” Stanley].—But as the prize set before the Christian agonistes is nobler than that which awaits the earthly athlete, so much the more ready must the former be to practice that self-denial which is the condition of success.—they indeed.—[ ìὲí ïὖí , connects it with the general train of thought, and ìåí gives emphasis.” Jelf, § 730, b.].—[The ellipsis here must be supplied from the previous clause: ‘practice temperance’].—in order that they may receive a corruptible crown.—Such was the prize of the racer in the Isthmian games, a mere garland of pine leaves; [and elsewhere, of olive, parsley or bay leaves].—but we—He here includes himself in their ranks as a fellow-contestant. The ellipsis must be again supplied as above—yet carrying the implication of a higher sort of temperance, even a moral one, according to the nature of the contest entered into.—an incorruptible.i. e., blessedness and glory eternal as the reward of grace (comp. 2Ti_4:8; Jam_1:12; 1Pe_5:4).—In 1Co_9:26 f., he turns now to speak of himself particularly, showing his own method of training and striving as an example.—I then.—[ Ἐãþ is emphatic,—recalls attention from the incidental exhortation and reminiscence of the Christian state to the main subject, viz., his own abstinence from receiving support and its grounds.’ Alford]. ôïßíõí , serves to introduce particulars under a general proposition (Passow). So here where Paul comes to present himself as a specimen of the true athlete, who has put himself through a thorough discipline.—so run as not uncertainly—sc., ‘running.’ ἈäÞëùò , either, unobserved, unmarked, in contrast with one who distinguishes himself and makes himself noted, or, which corresponds better with the parallel clause, uncertainly, (1Ti_6:17), viz., in reference to the goal, being certain of the issue. “In direct course to the goal.” Meyer. (There are various modifications of this interpretation in relation to the goal itself, or to the reaching it, or to the way thereto, comp. Osiander),—so fight I.—He here passes over to another kind of contest, viz., boxing ( ðõêôåýù ).—as not striking the air.—This refers to those random strokes which instead of hitting the antagonist, spend themselves in the air; and not to the sham fight which is preparatory to the real conflict. He is representing himself as engaged in actual fight, and not in the safe prelude to it, as Chrys., Theoph. and others. The whole verse is a description of one occupied in the very heat of the conflict. In the positive exhibition of his conduct, he abandons the participial construction (as in 1Co_4:14), which a further explanation renders necessary, because he passes out of the metaphor to the literal fact.—but I bruise my body.—Here we have the adversary mentioned on which he was thus planting his effective blows. It was his body (“the body of the flesh,” Col_2:10); the “members,” Rom_7:23, as the seat of sin—that which in its affections and lusts was ever hostile to the inner man—the spirit. His energetic treatment he expresses by a term borrowed from the pugilistic combats: ὐðùùéÜæåéí , to smite under the eyes, so as to make them black and blue; more generally, to batter, to benumb. According to Osiander, he means by it the mortification of the flesh by privations, labors, sufferings endured in consequence of his devotion to his calling, and, especially, of his renunciation of all right to support. We might also conceive an implication here of ascetic severities, such as fasting and the like,—but not to self-flagellation [the absurd practice of which grew out of an abuse of this expression].—and bring it into subjection. äïõëùãùãåῖí implies a complete conquest, quasi servum trahere—“so as to bring the body under the control of a moral will.” (Meyer, Ed. 3). His motive for this he expresses negatively.—lest somehow, having proclaimed to others.—By êçñýîáò , it is questioned whether Paul intended the preaching of the Gospel, which the word elsewhere means in the New Testament; or whether in the prosecution of his metaphor he alludes to the functions of a herald. The latter is the more probable, as the term ἀäüêéìïò in the next clause, belongs to the same category. The herald is one who calls the champions into the lists and proclaims the names of the victors. Paul also was a herald, who summoned men to the Christian warfare, announced the terms of the conflict, and was himself also a combatant.—I myself should prove rejected. ἀäïêéìïò [unworthy, disapproved, reprobate]; by this we are not to understand ‘disqualified for the conflict,’ but ‘unsuccessful in the issue.’ [“An examination of the victorious combatants took place after the contest, and if it was found that they had contended unlawfully, or unfairly, they were deprived of the prize and driven with disgrace from the games.” Alford]. Apostolus suo timore nos terruit; quid enim faceit agnus, ubi aries tremuit? “If we compare this passage, in which Paul so earnestly suggests the possibility of his own short-coming below the true standard of a Christian life, with 1Co_9:18, from which the Romanists would fain draw their doctrine of an opus supererogativum, implying a distinction between consilia evangelica and precepta (general Christian duties), we shall readily see how far removed Paul was from fancying that he could do aught transcending his moral obligations—a notion which stands in direct conflict with the whole ethical view of the Apostle.” Neander. [“What an argument and what a reproof is this! The reckless and listless Corinthians thought they could safely indulge themselves to the very verge of sin, while this devoted Apostle considered himself as engaged in a life-struggle for his salvation. The same Apostle, however, who evidently acted on the principle that the righteous scarcely are saved, and that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, at other times breaks out in the most joyful assurance of salvation, and was persuaded that nothing in heaven, earth or hell could ever separate him from the love of God. The one State of mind is the necessary condition of the other. It is only those who are conscious of this constant and deadly power of sin, to whom this assurance is given. In the very same breath Paul says, ‘O wretched man that I am!’ and, ‘Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory,’ Rom_7:24-25. It is the indolent and self-indulgent Christian that is always in doubt.” Hodge].

See 1Co_10:1 ff for DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL and HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.

Footnotes:

[The Apostle terrifies us with his own fear; for what shall the lamb do when the ram trembles]?