What does 1 Corinthians 9:27 mean?
ESV: But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
NIV: No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
NASB: but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
CSB: Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
NLT: I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been describing his life of self-sacrifice to win others to faith in Christ using the metaphor of competition. He has compared himself to an athlete who practices self-control in training in order to win the race. Paul's race leads to a prize, as well, the crown of Christ's recognition for his faithful efforts.

Now Paul says this is why he is able to stay motivated. He practices self-control in much the same way as an athlete in training continues to discipline his body with strict self-control over diet, exercise, sleep, and other behaviors. The Greek term Paul uses for "discipline" here is hypōpiazō, which literally refers to beating something black-and-blue. In common use, it implies giving someone a black eye! Paul says he "beats up" his body, like a boxer, to toughen himself for the sake of his spiritual stamina.

Paul remains in this state of continual training because he does not want to be disqualified. He is not talking about losing his salvation as a result of sin. Paul's own teaching is very clear that salvation is a gift, not something that comes as a result of strenuous effort (Ephesians 2:8–9). The prize he is running for is the crown of recognition from Christ that he has served well. In his case, this will include the lives of all of those who have believed in Jesus as a result of his preaching. The context is Paul failing to obtain his goal of winning others, not somehow earning salvation.

Paul recognizes that it is possible for even him to be disqualified of his prize. The runner in a race is disqualified for running off the course, either intentionally or through ignorance. The boxer is disqualified for violating the rules, as well. Paul understands it is not guaranteed that he will finish well. He is not assured of a successful ministry. Nor is he promised to be effective in witnessing to others.

Given what Paul writes in the following chapters, he likely has in mind not just the loss of a crown in eternity. He probably has in mind the Lord's discipline in life for Christians who engage in sinful behaviors. He wrote in chapter 5 about discipline for someone flaunting his sexual sin. He will soon describe God's discipline of His people in the past and the present.
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 5/26/2024 4:44:48 PM
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