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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

1 Corinthians 9



Other Authors
Verses 22-27

The apostle Paul is here giving a description of the way in which he made everything help toward the fulfillment of his desire to be a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. He longed to be the means of winning souls; he desired that, at the last, his Master might be able to say to him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant;” And therefore, everything with which he had to do was made to bend in that direction.

1 Corinthians 9:22-24. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?

No matter if twenty or a hundred had entered for the race, “but one receiveth the prize.” Alas! out of these who appear to be running in the Christian ministry, how many will be prizetakers at the last? And out of those who seem to be running the race of the Christian life, how many will win the prize? Ah, Lord, thou knowest!

1 Corinthians 9:24. So run, that ye may obtain.

Do not speculate about what others will do, or not do, but see to your own running: “So run that ye may obtain.” Salvation is all of grace; but when a man is saved, he still has to run the Christian race and to be a runner as long as he lives.”

1 Corinthians 9:25. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.

Here Paul is alluding to the athletic games and pugilistic encounters of the time. It was a matter of common notoriety that every man, who was going to fight, or wrestle, or run, had to get himself into proper condition, — to “go into training,” as we say in similar cases nowadays.

1 Corinthians 9:25. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

The athletes who completed in the Grecian games, passed through great self-denials and mortifications of the flesh, in order that every part of their bodily frame might be tough and strong when they came forward to wrestle, or to run, or to fight. “Now,” says Paul, “if they do all that to gain a crown of parsley,” — which was generally the crown given, — truly,” a corruptible crown,” — “how much more ought we to do in order to win a crown that fadeth not away, — ‘an incorruptible crown’!”

1 Corinthians 9:26. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

He would not leave a stone unturned, as it were, that he might gain the prize; he put out all his strength in the name of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:27. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:

The Greek word, according to some, implies getting his body into the same position as a man does, when, in a pugilistic encounter, he gets his adversary’s head under his arm, and smites him with all his might, So Paul says concerning his body, “I bring it into subjection and take care that it feels the full force of my will.” According to other interpreters, the verse may be read, “I drag my body off as a slave;” just as in some of those ancient fights, the victors dragged away their antagonists as slaves, Paul accounted his body to be as a slave to his soul, and dragged it behind him in chains.

1 Corinthians 9:27. Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be castaway.

The Greek word, which is translated “a castaway” is “adokimos.” It might better have been rendered “disapproved.” It certainly has no such meaning as that which has been generally given to it. Paul was not afraid of being cast away by God at the last. What he aimed at was this, — as he had entered the lists, as a Christian minister, to fight for Christ, to wrestle against principalities and powers, to seek to win souls for Christ, he must keep his bodily powers and passions so in subjection that, at the last, when the prizes were distributed, he would be found to have won his. This is quite another matter from being “a castaway” from salvation and eternal life. Paul was saved and he knew it; and some of us know, to a certainty, that we are saved; but we also know that there is another crown to be won, which the Lord will give to his servants who win in the great fight with sin. To win this crown is our high ambition and we long to hear the Master say to each one of us, in that day, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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