What does 1 Corinthians 9:24 mean?
ESV: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
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.
NASB: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
CSB: Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.
NLT: Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
KJV: Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
NKJV: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Verse Commentary:
Paul launches into a new metaphor in this verse, but his theme is still willingness to set aside personal rights and freedoms for the good of others. This text continues to argue the Christians in Corinth should be willing to give up eating meat offered to idols, even though they are free to do so, if it will cause those who are weaker in faith to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:1–7).

Paul's new metaphor compares living in service to Christ to athletic competition. He likely had in mind the Olympic games, as well as the Isthmian games which took place every other year in Corinth. Foot races were a common event in such competitions. Corinthian society was highly competitive.

In that context, Paul's readers would agree that in any race, only one runner wins. Why participate if you're not going to try to win? Paul urges them to do what it takes to win. His point is not that only one Christian can succeed, spiritually speaking. Or that we are in a contest against brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul is referring only to the effort and dedication exhibited by the athletes: that is what the believer should duplicate in their pursuit of Christ.

The following verses will explore what it takes for runners to win races and for Christians to be successful in living for Christ.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 9:24–27 builds a metaphor comparing Paul's foregoing freedoms, in order to win people to faith in Christ, with an athlete training to win a prize. Both voluntarily give up things to which they are otherwise entitled. That requires self-sacrifice and a tough approach to one's own feelings. They do this for the sake of victory. But the athlete can win only a wreath that will quickly die. In contrast, Paul aims to win a prize that will live forever. He also trains himself in this way to avoid being disqualified before crossing the finish line.
Chapter Summary:
Paul encourages Christians to willingly give up their ''rights'' for the good of those who are weak in their faith. Paul shows that he, too, has given up his rights, including the right as an apostle to receive financial support from those he serves. Instead, he boasts that he serves the Corinthians without any compensation, even at great cost to himself. Paul describes himself as an athlete competing for the prize of a crown in eternity. His point is for believers to pursue godliness, and the good of others, with that kind of commitment.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 8 ended with Paul's declaration that he would give up his right to eat any meat rather than cause a brother in Christ to stumble. He shows in this chapter that he is already giving up his right as an apostle to be financially supported by those he serves. He doesn't want anything to get in the way of anyone believing the gospel. He limits his freedoms further by becoming all things to all people to win some for Christ. He disciplines himself like an athlete in training, to get a prize and to avoid being disqualified. The next passages will expand on this idea of distinguishing what is ''allowed'' from what is ''best.''
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 6/22/2024 6:15:45 PM
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