BUT I DISCIPLINE MY BODY AND MAKE IT
MY SLAVE : alla hupopiazo (1SPAI) mou to soma kai doulagogo (1SPAI):
(Discipline: 1Co 9:25 4:11,12 6:12,13 8:13 Ro 8:13 2Co 6:4,5 11:27
Col 3:5 2Ti 2:22 1Pe 2:11) (Make it my slave: Ro 6:18,19)
Win...What it takes
1Cor 9:24 - Determination
1Cor 9:25 - Discipline
1Cor 9:26 - Direction
1Cor 9:27 - Denial
As noted earlier, Paul now applies the
example from the Greek sports arena directly to himself ("I
discipline...I myself") and does so that he might present himself as
an example or model for other believers to imitate (cp 1Co 4:16, 11:1, 1Th
1:6, cp Heb 6:12, He 13:7, 3Jn 1:11).
(buffet, batter, beat my body black and blue) (5299)
from hupo = under + ops = eye) means literally to strike under the eye a
description of an "uppercut" to use modern pugilistic parlance. To strike in
this manner was generally considered to be a "knockout" punch by the ancient
Greek boxers. The idea then is to strike hard and heavy on one's face,
rendering it "black and blue." Recall that (apparently not in the first
rounds but only in later rounds according to some sources) the boxers wore
gloves (the "cestus") made of leather bands and tied into knots in addition
to being embedded with metallic objects composed of lead and iron! It is not
surprising that these gloves obtained the nickname of "limb-breakers!"
speaks of this as Paul's continual practice which clearly implies a
continual need. Peter alerts us to the fact that our innate "home grown"
"fleshly lusts...wage war (present
continually) against the soul." (1Pe 2:11). Imagine you are fighting an
opponent with "brass knuckles" and when the bell sounds for the next round,
you let down your guard and are absolutely pummeled! Beloved, this is
exactly what happens when we let down our guard in our fight against our
flesh -- we are easily and thoroughly defeated! Paul is giving us his
example to imitate so that we might experientially live daily as "more than
conquerors in Christ." (Ro 8:37KJV).
A KEY TO USEFULNESS
IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Marvin Vincent writes of...
A most interesting account is given by
Rodolfo Lanziani, “Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries, ” of the
exhuming at the foundation of the Temple of the Sun, erected by Aurelian, of
a sitting bronze statue of a boxer. The accompanying photograph shows the
construction of the fur-lined boxing-gloves secured by thongs wound round
the forearm half-way to the elbow. The gloves cover the thumb and the hand
to the first finger-joints. The writer says; “The nose is swollen from the
effects of the last blow received; the ears resemble a fiat and shapeless
piece of leather; the neck, the shoulders, the breast, are seamed with
scars.… The details of the fur-lined boxing-gloves are also interesting, and
one wonders how any human being, no matter how strong and powerful, could
stand the blows from such weapons as these gloves, made of four or five
thicknesses of leather, and fortified with brass knuckles.”
Vine adds that hupopiazo
to beat the face black and blue. It
indicates the suppressive treatment of the body, not merely the physical
frame, but that regarded as the instrument of the inward passions and lusts;
not the bruising of the body itself, but rigid self-denial in order
to keep oneself spiritually fit.
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Comment: Note that "rigid self
denial" is not just me resisting temptation in my own strength. That's just
another name for legalism. No, self denial is more accurately designated
"Spirit enabled self denial". Yes, I must make a conscious choice to deny
the strong desires that continually come from my fallen flesh (My
responsibility - Php 2:12-note)
but God provides the "want to" (the desire) and the power (God's provision -
Fight your sinful impulses with
all your might
as a boxer fights an opponent
could hardly give us a more vivid picture of his willingness to severely discipline
his own body than the picture invoked by the verb hupopiazo!
In secular Greek hupopiazo was
used figuratively to "describe cities terribly scourged and afflicted by
war, bearing the marks of devastation." (Thayer)
Hupopiazo is used one other
time in the NT in a figurative sense to describe a widow importuning the
judge and giving him intolerable annoyance ...
yet because this widow bothers me, I will
give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear
me out.'" (Luke 18:5)
Comment: Some think that Luke may
intend the literal meaning, that is, that this woman would take out her
frustration on the judge not just with verbal assaults but also physical
assault! Interesting, but I do not think that is the intended meaning in
this context. The idea seems more that she is pestering the judge, greatly
annoying him, and wearing down his resolve. Perhaps the best way to express
this woman's action is that she "browbeat" him.
Jesus presented a similar
instruction to anyone who desires to truly be His disciple...
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If
anyone (continually) wishes to come after Me, let him
this is not "optional" but a clear command to do this now! Do it
effectively! Don't delay!) himself (reflexive pronoun referring action of
denial back to the "anyone" and with
[deny] the doubly emphasizes that this is our personal responsibility to
initiate and participate in), and take up his cross, and follow Me. For
whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life
for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the
whole world, and forfeits
Comment: Just as Paul is not going
to force us to discipline ourselves, neither is Jesus. It is our
prerogative, our volitional choice, the decision of our will. "Will I follow
Jesus today" is the question we must confront ourselves with each morning!
Will you today? Will I? Surely we can take a "furlough" today. Remember our
mortal enemies (world,
devil) never fall back
or call a truce and neither can we if we would seek to be more like Jesus
each day. We must (symbolically) take up our cross by voluntarily submitting
to die to self (self interests, harsh words, our right to retaliate ["get 'em
See "Covenant Defender"],
an unforgiving spirit ["I'll forgive them over my dead body!", "You don't
understand what they did to me!"-See
self-gratification ["Just one more time!"] in all its deceptive, delectable
disguises, and the list goes on, a list unique and as varied as each of us
My body (4983)
(soma) - We do well to not
forget the maxim that much (most) of our temptation to sin comes from
within our own body (Jas 1:14, 15-note), specifically from the fallen
flesh that still resides in every
believer and will do so until we are glorified (free finally from the
punishment, the power, the presence and the pleasure of
Earlier Paul reminded the saints who
were living in the "sin"-uous city of Corinth (see "Corinthianize")
that their body now belonged to God...
Food is for the stomach, and the stomach
is for food; but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is
not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the
command to continually flee because the enemy is continually assaulting our
mind and heart with evil desires) immorality. Every other sin that a man
commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own
body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the
Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your
own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify (give a proper
opinion of the great, majestic, supernatural, invisible) God in your body
(by you grace infused, Spirit enabled words and works). (1Co 6:13, 19-note,
Jesus called for a variation of
"buffeting" one's body in His Sermon on the Mount...
You have heard that it was said, 'YOU
SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a
woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if your right eye makes you stumble,
it out, and throw
it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body
perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right
hand makes you stumble, cut
it off, and throw
it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body
perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mt 5:27, 28-note,
Mt 5:29, 30-note)
(Note: All verbs in red
= Command to do this without delay! Do it effectively! It is serious and
demands urgent attention!)
Comment: In these picturesque
examples of Paul (1Co 9:27) and Jesus, note that neither was calling for a
literal physical response which has been a common misinterpretation (and
misapplication)! Just as the physical beating of Paul's body could never
into submission, neither could gouging out one's eye or cutting off one's
hand control the evil desires of the
One would still have the other eye to view inappropriate content on
television or the internet! The point is that both Jesus and Paul are
calling for radical (grace infused, Spirit enabled) discipline
(not physical mutilation or asceticism) in light of the deadly seriousness
of sin. Do I really believe sin
is that deadly? If we do, we
will heed the warnings of Jesus and Paul to get serious about sin. If that
means getting rid of your TV men, than let it be! Whatever keeps you from
running the grace race and fighting the faith fight needs to be
"jettisoned!" (cp He 12:1-note,
as John Owen said [paraphrased] "Kill sin before it kills you."
- Owen's classic is not easy reading but it is worth the effort >
Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers Christian
Classics Ethereal Library or read John MacArthur's Master
Seminary Journal article -
Mortification of Sin)
Notice that the phrase "buffet my
body" obviously is related to the example of the Greek athlete's
exercise of "self control" described in 1Co 9:25. While the former
might be classified as a discipline and the latter as denial
(or vice versa), the charge, the means and the effects are similar -- growth
in holiness, godliness, Christlikeness (~progressive sanctification). For
believers both discipline and denial call for dependence on divine grace and
the Helper (Jn 14:16), Who supplies the power (dunamis)
necessary to fulfill the objective (cp Acts 1:8, Remember that even Jesus
depended on the "power of the Spirit" Lk 4:14, Acts 10:38 leaving us an
example to follow in His steps 1Pe 2:21-note).
Do not misinterpret what Paul is
saying here - he is not saying that he subjects his physical body to
literal blows or severe discipline as one might in asceticism, where
adherents practice self-denial and strict self control (eg, abstaining from
foods and other physical pleasures, abstaining from normal relations with
one's spouse, etc) in an attempt to attain a higher level of "spirituality".
In fact Paul distinctly warned the Colossians of the futility of such
"Do not handle, do not taste, do not
touch!" (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)-- in
accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters
which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and
self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against
fleshly indulgence. (Col 2:21, 22, 23-note)
Scofield comments: By creating a
reputation for superior sanctity, as some did, they did not really honor God
but only satisfied the flesh.
John Calvin in describing how
Paul's words "buffet my body" have been misinterpreted (and thus misapplied)
the monks of long ago, wanting to comply with this direction, thought out
many disciplinary exercises; for they used to sleep on benches; they forced
themselves to keep unduly long night vigils; and, in their way of life, kept
clear of all luxuries.
This describes the kind of self-discipline necessary in order to be a
winning spiritual athlete. We must bring our bodies into subjection so that
our flesh, with its evil desires, does not dominate us and lead us into sin
that will divert us from the goal of godliness and Christ-likeness and
winning others to Christ. When we honor the Lord Jesus Christ and focus on
loving God and obeying him, motivated by a "glance" at
the eternal reward that awaits those who run with faith, this eternal
perspective will bring out our best efforts. But dear brother or sister in
Christ, make no mistake, this "once in a lifetime" race will require
strenuous effort, but as Paul has emphasized repeatedly, it is effort
that is possible ONLY by being continually strengthened by God's Spirit and
the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2Ti 2:1-note).
Commenting on this warning to the
Corinthians (and to all believers of all ages) John MacArthur
The athlete’s disciplined self–control is
a rebuke of half–hearted, out–of–shape Christians who do almost nothing to
prepare themselves to witness to the lost—and consequently seldom do. (MacArthur,
J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press
Paul was saying that if the Olympic
and Isthmian athletes exercised such great discipline (giving up the
good and the better for the best) and self–control in all things, why
can't you Corinthian Christians? In this same line of thought we need to
remember that Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Me and life will be easy.” He said,
“Follow Me, and life will be tough, but your prize will be worth it
in the end.” The Christian life is not a race to see who comes in first, but
an endurance run to see who finishes faithfully. Remaining faithful to the
finish makes us true winners. We are judged by what we finish, not by what
Paul is not advocating the
medieval practice of self-flagellation. He is using figurative language and
illustrating the need for constant moral and physical discipline. The
possibility he systematically fought was the possibility of his body getting
the upper hand.
Make it - "It" is his body.
Paul gives us a parallel picture of what it means to "buffet one's body"
in Romans 6 writing...
do not let sin reign
=command + negative particle = "Stop letting the Sin
continue to reign in your physical body")
in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and
do not go on presenting
the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;
yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you,
for you are not under law but under grace. (Ro 6:12-14)
Comment: Paul is commanding the saints in Rome to stop letting Sin
reign as "king" which is diametrically opposed to Paul's affirmation that he
makes his body his slave.
Adam Clarke writes that...
The apostle considers his
body as an enemy with which he must contend; he must mortify it by
self-denial, abstinence, and severe labor; it must be the slave of his
soul, and not the soul the slave of the body, which in all
unregenerate men is the case.
John MacArthur is probably correct when he writes that...
Most people, including many
Christians, are instead slaves to their bodies. Their bodies
tell their minds what to do. Their bodies decide when to eat, what to eat,
how much to eat, when to sleep and get up, and so on. An athlete cannot
allow that. He follows the training rules, not his body. He runs when he
would rather be resting, he eats a balanced meal when he would rather have a
chocolate sundae, he goes to bed when he would rather stay up, and he gets
up early to train when he would rather stay in bed. An athlete leads his
body; he does not follow it. It is his slave, not the other way around.
J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press
HOW DOES ONE
MAKE THEIR BODY
Men cannot "master" their body in their own natural strength. They
must put to death sins (and lusts) under the control and empowerment of the
Spirit. Writing to the Romans Paul warns his readers...
if you are living (present
tense = continually) according to the flesh, you
must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death (KJV =
tense = continually) the deeds of the body, you
will live. (Ro 8:13-note)
Kenneth Wuest comments
on Ro 8:13: Assuming
that a person lives habitually under the dominion of the evil nature, Paul
says, that person is about to be dying. The verb is present in tense, and
therefore durative in meaning, indicating habitual action. The individual
who lives habitually under the dominion of the evil nature is an unsaved
person. That one is on the way to final death in the Lake of Fire. But the
person who by the Holy Spirit habitually puts to death the deeds of the
body, will live. That person is a saved person. (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
John MacArthur explains
the first part of Romans 8:13 this way: The
apostle is not warning genuine believers that they may lose their salvation
and be condemned to death if they fall back into some of the ways of the
flesh. He has already given the absolute assurance that “there is therefore
now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1-note).
He is rather saying that a person whose life is characterized (Ed:
continually) by the things of the
not a true Christian and is spiritually dead, no matter what his religious
affiliations or activities may be. If he does not come to Christ in true
faith, he must die the second death under God’s final judgment. (MacArthur,
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)
need to understand what Paul is not saying. He is not saying
believers won't ever sin or from time to time fall back into patterns of sin
they had before they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Clearly legitimate
children of God do fall back into sin when their focus turns away from Lord
and His sufficiency and onto themselves and to the things of the world.
Stated another way, there may be times in a believer's life when a snapshot
might show that person as if they were living according to the flesh,
but over time they would exhibit evidence of progress in holiness.
Neither is Paul suggesting that a believer should “Let go and let
God”, a philosophy promoted by some who advocate a so-called "deeper
life", in which one progressively rises to higher and higher levels of
spirituality until sin and even temptation are virtually absent! As long as
a believer is in his or her earth suit, they will be subject to the passions
of the wily evil
and will daily (cp Lk 9:23 -
"daily") need to keep putting sins to death by the power of the indwelling
Holy Spirit and His ever sufficient supply of grace. Only in heaven will our
need for this "practical" or "progressive" sanctification (growth in
holiness) come to complete and final end, for when we see Christ, we shall
be like Him (1Jn 3:2, 3 - What is He like? Holy of course. Sinless.
Glorified.) Until the consummation of our blessed hope (Titus 2:13-note),
all believers are admonished to continually be about the Father's business
of putting sin to death by the Spirit (cp Col 3:5-note).
Ray Pritchard comments:
I once heard Dr. Ryrie call Romans 8:13
the most important single verse on the spiritual life in the New
Testament. He liked it because it contains a beautiful balance. There is
"if by the Spirit"
—and there is our part—
"you put to death."
Spiritual growth comes when we do our
part as we rely upon the Holy Spirit’s enablement. True spirituality is
neither entirely passive ("Let go and let God") nor entirely active
("I’ve got to do this all by myself"). This verse balances a
moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude
Is the spiritual life dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes!
I cannot do it without God.
God will not do it without me.
(Think of the) illustration about a car
versus an elevated train. One operates on the storage principle
(You put gas in the tank and you drive it. You burn the gas and when you're
out of gas, you stop, you get more gas, you run it again, you burn it, you
get more gas, you keep on driving until you run out. You're constantly
running and stopping, running and stopping, filling and refilling.), the
other on the contact principle (You have the two rails on the
outside and the electrified third rail in the middle. What is it that keeps
the elevated train going? As long as the train stays in contact with that
third rail in the middle, it will go and go and go and never stop. Too many
people think that walking with the Holy Spirit is like riding in a car. You
get filled with the Holy Spirit and you get run down and you get filled up
again and you get run down. So they're constantly up and down, up and down,
being filled and emptied, being filled and emptied. That's not the Christian
life of the New Testament.) The Christian life operates on the contact
Just as the train moves forward as long
it stays in contact with the third rail, even so your spiritual life moves
forward as you stay in constant contact with the Holy Spirit.
The whole question of the Spirit-filled
life resolves itself into this: Are you keeping in contact with the Holy
Spirit? Your job—your only real job as a Christian—is to stay in contact
with the Spirit --
Day by day.
Hour by hour.
Moment by moment...
How well have you been staying in
contact? (Read his
including his discussion of "Three Faulty Ways to Live the Christian Life")
Paul states a parallel truth in Colossians in the form of a command...
the members of your earthly body as
to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to
idolatry. (Col 3:5-note)
Comment: Note that in this verse nekroo is in the
(signifies one makes a volitional choice).
Vine says nekroo
conveys the "sense of destroying the strength of, depriving of power,
with reference to the evil desires which work in the body". Paul is
saying in essence "Put an end to the life of" your bodily members and
functions in regard to immoral purposes.
This command to mortify the evil fleshly desires is another way of saying "I
buffet my body and make it my slave".
Make it my slave (1396)
doulos [word study]
= servant, slave + ago = to lead, bring) means literally to
bring into a state of servitude, to make a salve, to bring into a state of
subjection. Used only here in the Bible. Note that while the body per se is
not evil, it is the "base of enemy operations", the camp from which
launches its missiles of anti-God impulses and desires that if not deflected
by the shield of faith always result in death and destruction to our
This is a description of what I would
call "Spirit empowered self denial" and begs the question "Are
you a "slave" to your body? Does your body give the orders?"
If "yes" then clearly you are not denying your fleshly lusts and it follows
that you are not surrendered to the the Holy Spirit -- He is not filling,
controlling and empowering you.
A T Robertson writes that the
verb doulagogeo "is the metaphor of the victor leading the vanquished
as captive and slave."
The use of the
signifies that Paul continually brings his body into subjection. The
implication of course is that the body continually seeks to have its
way and gratify its sinful desires. This reminds me of the continual
struggle Paul describes in Galatians 5 after commanding us to continue walk
in dependence on and empowerment by the Spirit...
But I say,
to continually conduct yourself) by the
Spirit, and you will not carry out the (evil, sinful) desire of the flesh.
its desire (epithumeo
identifies this battle of opposing desires as a lifelong struggle)
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in
opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you
please. (Gal 5:16-note,
Comment: As an aside note the
order (1) Walk by the Spirit and (2) You will not carry out
the desires of the flesh. You are probably saying "That's obvious!" It is,
but the trap many believers fall into is to first "not carry out the
desires of the flesh" and think that they by so doing they are now walking
by the Spirit. That inverts the order and subverts the power of the Spirit.
As we learn to surrender our wills to the Spirit (and this is a lifelong
process I believe), we experience His desire and His power, both of which
are opposed to and superior to the desire and power of the flesh. The result
is we don't carry out the desire of the flesh. Notice Paul does not say
"Walk by the Spirit and you will not experience the desires of the flesh."
In fact verse 17 indicates we will experience the evil desires of the flesh
for the rest of our earthly lives.
Vine adds that Paul (and all
believers) should be continually...
treating (the body) as a bondslave,
refusing the indulgence of its desires, and making it constantly subordinate
to the spirit. If our body gets the upper hand of us we are marred in
spirit. Our natural desires should be those over which we act as complete
masters. For this we need the help of the Holy Spirit which (Who) is ever
available, but we need also the spiritual determination to respond to His
power and direction.
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Adam Clarke has an interesting
note on doulagogeo alleging it was a term used in wrestling and...
which signifies to trip, and give the antagonist a fall, and then keep him
down when he was down, and having obliged him to acknowledge himself
conquered, make him a slave.
Jerome Bible Commentary says
that "make it my slave" is....
perhaps an allusion to the custom of
humiliating the vanquished boxer. The winner of a boxing match would throw a
rope about his vanquished opponent and drag him about the arena to the
cheers and jeers of the crowd.
Spurgeon also has an
interesting remark noting that doulagogeo...
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 cave;” 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.
David Lowery writes that...
Paul would not let his body
master him (cf. 1Co 6:12); sometimes he denied even its demand for rightful
privileges and pleasures (1Co 8:9) for a greater good (1Co 10:33).
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor
Someone has written that "The body is a bad master though it may be a
good servant." Yes, if you truly make it your slave as did Paul.
J C Ryle adds that...
Once the body was a perfect
home for a soul--now it is all corrupt and disordered, and needs constant
watching. It is a burden to the soul--not a helper; a hindrance--not an
assistance. It may become a useful servant, but it is always a bad master.
Dearly beloved of God, do you control the appetites of your body (the
flesh) or are you allowing those appetites to control you?
While your salvation is secure, your present usefulness as a vessel of honor
and your future reward at the
bema are not guaranteed.
Faithful service is sure to be rewarded, yet this is the reward of grace and
not a merited award. (Geoffrey B. Wilson)
Lehman Strauss writes that...
The Apostle Paul never left
his first love. He feared being disqualified at the Judgment Seat of Christ
(1Co 9:27; 2Co 5:10). That first love burned in his soul until his head was
removed on the executioner's block....
The contest (struggle)
against defilement is real. Paul treated his body, not as his master,
but as his servant, lest, by any chance, after he had exhorted others, he
might discover in the end that he was disqualified from the competition. We
are not shadow boxing. The old man is real and active and wicked. The flesh
is at war with the Spirit. The new man, by the implanted Word of God, must
dictate to the old nature. Failure here spells failure in effective service
for Jesus Christ, and failure in service will mean loss of rewards at the
Judgment Seat of Christ. My brother, your refusal to obey the Word of God
might not disqualify you as a Christian, but it certainly will disqualify
you as a contestant for rewards. The sad condition of the church is the
tragedy of its castaways, men and women who are failing in the matter of
self-discipline. Many Christians are in real peril of failing to fulfil the
purpose in their high calling and thereby stand in jeopardy of being
disapproved when our Lord will reward His faithful servants. Those who stand
the test in that day will be the men and women whose lives brought forth the
sweet, pure fruit of the engrafted Word. Oh, beloved brother, what will the
harvest be when we all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ?
SUBJUGATING MY BODY
BY CONSECRATION AND PRAYER
It strikes me that another way to make my body my slave is to offer it to
the Lord each day for His good pleasure (Ro 12:1-note)
and to "watch and pray" (Mt 26:41-note)
with prayers such as those of the psalmist in Psalm 119...
Establish Thy word to Thy
servant, as that which produces reverence (holy fear, not trembling dread)
for Thee. (Ps 119:38-note)
Establish my footsteps in
Thy word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. (Ps 119:133-note)
Do you see the common denominator in this two great prayers? Remember too
that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Pr 9:10). What a
great mindset (and heart attitude) with which to begin each day!
SO THAT AFTER I HAVE PREACHED TO
OTHERS I MYSELF WILL NOT BE DISQUALIFIED: me pos allois keruxas (AAPMSN)
autos adokimos genomai. (1SAMS): (So that after: 1Co
13:1, 2, 3 Ps 50:16 Mt 7:21, 22, 23 Lk 12:45, 46, 47 13:26,27 2Pe 2:15) (Disqualified:
Jer 6:30 Lk 9:25 Acts 1:25 2Co 13:5,6)
kerux = a herald - one who acts as the
medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma =
the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald
or act as a public crier, the town official who would make a
proclamation in a public gathering.
In the context of the Greek games, the
proclaim the conditions of the games,
display the prizes, exhort the combatants, excite the emulation of those who
were to contend, declare the terms (rules) of each contest, pronounce the
name of the victors, and put the crown on their heads. (Clarke)
He would also announce the names of any
contestants who were disqualified. Paul saw himself as both a
"herald" and a "runner." He was concerned lest he get so busy trying to help
others in the race that he ignore himself and find himself disqualified.
Kerusso like its synonym
is especially used of preaching the gospel with the distinction lying in the
literal significance where kerusso signifies to proclaim as a herald
means to announce a good message
or declare good tidings.
Be disqualified - There are 3 general ways "disqualified"
has been interpreted:
(#1) Some feel when Paul
says disqualified he is teaching a person can be saved and then lose
his salvation (be "disqualified"), a view that is in conflict with
the main New Testament teaching regarding salvation. If a person is truly
saved, they are saved to the uttermost and can (will) never fall away. (cp
Jn 10:27, 28, 29). This is not what Paul is teaching.
(#2) Others feel
disqualified refers to eternal damnation. They reason that if there is
absolutely no evidence in an individual's life that he or she is running the
grace race or fighting the good fight of holiness, then such a person very
likely does not possess the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:9) and is most likely not a
new creation in Christ (2Co 5:17). In other words an individual who says
they are "saved" and never practices self-discipline ("self control" 1Co
9:25, "discipline...body" 1Co 9:27)
As MacDonald puts it
"Thinking of the false teachers
and how they indulged every passion and appetite, Paul sets forth the
general principle that if a person does not keep his body in subjection,
this is proof that he never really was born again; and although he might
preach to others, he himself will be disqualified."
(#3) A third
interpretation of disqualified is that Paul is not speaking of
salvation per se but of service. Paul is not suggesting that he might be
lost, but that he might not stand the test as far as his service was
concerned and might be rejected for the prize. This interpretation fits the
meaning of the word disqualified in the athletic context. Paul is
saying that if after having preached to others, he fails to discipline
himself which might result in his being qualified from service and
subsequent rewards. Most modern commentaries favor this interpretation.
Now let's look at the interpretation by one of America's most highly
respected expositors, Dr John Piper on the meaning of disqualified...
Paul will warn the Corinthians
in the next chapter (1Co 10:12), "Let anyone who thinks that he stands take
heed lest he fall." Now Paul applies it to himself. "If I do not take heed,
if I give way to some of the impulses of my body, I could find myself on the
slippery slope of disobedience away from Christ, and get to the end of my
life and hear the judge of the race say, 'Disqualified! Yes, you prophesied
in my name. Yes, you cast out demons in my name. Yes, you did many mighty
works in my name. But you left the racetrack of faith and love and
righteousness. You are disqualified. Depart from me. I never knew you (Mt
The best evidence perhaps that
this is what Paul means is the use of the word "disqualified" (adokimos) in
Paul says, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine
yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ
is in you—unless you are disqualified." The word is exactly the same one
from 1Corinthians 9:27. To be disqualified means that Christ is not
in you. The race has been run in vain. It was a sham. (1Corinthians 9:23-27 Olympic Spirituality 1
- Beyond the Gold) (Bolding added)
Clearly Dr Piper holds interpretation #2 which emphasizes the point that
excellent expositors are in disagreement on the most accurate interpretation
Albert Barnes on adokimos...
The simple idea of Paul is,
that he was afraid that he should be disapproved, rejected, cast off; that
it would appear, after all, that he had no religion, and would then be cast
away as unfit to enter into heaven. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Most of the expositors and commentators that I have consulted favor
interpretation #3. In truth, both interpretations describe bad
consequences, although #2 is far more serious for it speaks of
eternal separation from God. But interpretation #3 speaking of loss
of usefulness for service and of future rewards is also quite serious.
Regardless of the interpretative view we hold, we can all agree that running
a disciplined race to glorify God should be the chief end of our existence
and our new life in Christ. As we read comments such as these where clearly
excellent commentators disagree, may we strive to take the approach of
ancient Bereans (Acts 17:11-note)
William MacDonald says it this way...
In any event, the passage
is an extremely serious one and should cause deep heart-searching on the
part of everyone who seeks to serve the Lord Christ. Each one should
determine that by the grace of God he will never have to learn the meaning
of the word (adokimos) by experience.
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
Kenneth Wuest paraphrases the last half of 1Co 9:27 as "I myself
should be disqualified [from further Christian service]."
Henry Morris writes that...
The Greek for "castaway"
(adokimos) means literally "disapproved," but it does not suggest being
discarded altogether. Paul had just written about losing all rewards but
still being saved (1Corinthians 3:15), and he realized that this could
become possible even for him. (Defender's
Study Bible Online Notes)
W A Criswell observes that...
Paul's assurance of
salvation (cf. 2Ti 1:12) and his confidence in the security of the believer
(cf. Ro 8:30, 31) go hand-in-hand with self-discipline and watchfulness (1Co
10:12). There is no hint of any possible loss of salvation in the text. Paul
disciplines himself rigorously so that he will not become "disqualified."
This final word is adokimos (Gk.), suggesting the idea of
"disapproved." Paul does not fear loss of salvation, but rather loss of his
work and influence as a minister of Christ.
W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas Nelson)
Everett Harrison writes that...
The emphasis in the NT
falls rather on self-discipline as the key to dedicated usefulness in the
kingdom of God (1Co 9:24-27) (Colossians: Christ All Sufficient. Everyman's
Scofield writes that in using adokimos...
The apostle is writing of
service, not of salvation. He is not expressing fear that he may fail of
salvation but of his crown.
The renowned Presbyterian expositor Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote
godly fear made him live
like a runner in a race, hurling himself toward the goal with no thought of
any other circumstance. His great anxiety was that he might be a castaway
even though he had preached to others (1Co 9:27). He had not the slightest
fear that he would be cast away from salvation, but he knew that it was
possible for him to live in such a way that he would stand disapproved
before the Judgment Seat of Christ. He might waste his time on
secondary things; he might commit sin which, though confessed and forsaken,
would cause him to lose opportunities and time which could never be
We must understand that
everything we do,
everything we say,
everything we think,
everything we are,
has a relationship to God.
Each act, each word, each
thought, each moment of life contains the possibility of sin. Each sin, like
a coin, has two sides. If a Christian tells a lie, the "heads" side is sin,
the "tails" side is a work. The sin side has been dealt with forever by the
death of our Lord, but the work side will face him at the Judgment Seat of
"What shall I do?"
may be the cry of the believer when these truths are borne in upon him.
There is only one answer. God deals with us in the moment which we are
living now. Look back over life in one hasty glance and cry out to the Lord
that the whole tangled skein (a length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and
knotted) needs to be cut loose by Him and the threads freshly woven into His
pattern. He will hand you fresh skeins whenever you desire them from Him.
Then you can say,
"This one thing I do,
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I
press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ
Jesus" (Php 3:13, 14).
May we be thankful from the
depths of our being that we deal with the God Who is the God of ever fresh
beginnings. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans
As a Point of Departure – Volume 9: God's Discipline)
(castaway, disapproved) (96)
from a = without +
dokimos = tested and thus reliable or acceptable) refers to that which
is rejected after a trial or examination because it fails the test. It means
to put to the test for the purpose of being approved, but failing to meet
the requirements. Adokimos describes that which does not prove
itself to be such as it ought and which is therefore disapproved and
useless. For example, "sterile soil" (see Hebrews 6:8) is unfit for
fulfilling its purpose.
In short adokimos describes
that which is worthless, spurious, unqualified, disqualified, corrupted, not
approved. Adokimos was commonly used of metals that were rejected by
refiners because of impurities (eg, Isa 1:22 uses adokimos to refer to dross
[the scum or impurities floating on the top of heated metal]). The dross was
discarded, and adokimos therefore came to convey the sense of
worthlessness and uselessness.
James Montgomery Boice describes an interesting secular use of
adokimos that helps us understand the meaning...
Silver and gold coins were made
quite roughly in those days, not milled to exact sizes as our coins are, and
people would often cheat with them by carefully trimming off some of the
excess metal. We know they did this because hundreds of laws were passed
against the practice. After people had trimmed away enough metal, they would
sell it for new coins. When coins had been trimmed for a long time, they
eventually got so light that the merchants would not take them anymore; then
a coin was said to be adokimos, "disqualified." This is what
Paul is referring to. He is saying that he does not want to be
disqualified, but rather to be judged "fit" as a result of his
sufferings and self-discipline. (An Expositional Commentary – Romans, Vol 2:
The Reign of Grace Romans 5-8).
The KJV Bible Commentary notes that "disqualified"...
must not be construed to
suggest that Paul was afraid of losing his salvation. His subject is still
Christian liberty, and his point is that sometimes the mature Christian will
have to restrict himself in order to accomplish the ultimate task.
E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible
adokimos, which means ‘which has not stood the test’; it was used of
disqualification in the Games. Paul’s fear was not that he might lose his
salvation, but that he might suffer loss through failing to satisfy his Lord
(cf. 3:15). (Morris, L. Vol. 7: 1Corinthians: An introduction and
commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL:
Vine adds that adokimos...
does not mean a castaway,
as in the authorized version., but disapproved as a result of not
standing the test, and here it means disapproved, and so rejected
from present testimony, with loss of future reward. Such a possibility
should be so appalling and abhorrent to any servant of Christ, that he
should follow the apostle’s example, which is here given, not simply as a
record of his own life, but as a guide to us in all our circumstances. We
need to remember also that the apostle is here speaking of the
responsibility and joy of winning souls for Christ (Context = 1Co 9:22, 23).
To save others should be the pursuit of our lives. The conflict and its
issues are so tremendous, that we should never forgo any means of spiritual
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Adokimos - 8x in 8v in the NAS - Ro1:28-note;
1Co 9:27; 2Co 13:5-note,
2Co 13:6; 2Ti 3:8-note;
In the context of the Greek games the idea of "disqualified"
implies that there was a judge who made the assessment that the runner
(boxer, etc) did not deserve either to compete or did not deserve the prize.
The parallel of course is the great judgment by the Righteous Judge at the
believer's bema seat at which time Paul might be deemed unworthy of
receiving the prize.
bema [word study]
was the stand on which the judges
stood to observe and evaluate the actions of athletes in the Olympic
contests. If any athlete broke a rule, one or more of the judges (referees
or umpires) would point to him and cry, “Adokimos!"
(that is, “Disqualified!”). And thus he missed the prize (victor’s wreath --
see discussion of
stephanos [word study])
regardless of the place he finished in the race or contest (see discussion
of the necessity for athletes to compete according to the rules in 2Ti 2:5-note).
Likewise, when an event was completed, the contestants stood before the
hear the judges’ announcement of the results, and to receive such reward as
might properly be theirs. This is a uniquely fitting illustration to make
clear to us the fact that service and life are to be evaluated by our Lord,
with possible reward (cf Lk
16:2). The fear of the possibility happening at the end of his
race, served as a strong negative motivator in Paul's life.
Henry Alford on "rejected"...
from the prize, not, as some
commentators, from the contest altogether. An examination of the victorious
combatants took place after the contest, and if it could be proved that they
had contended unlawfully, or unfairly, they were deprived of the prize and
driven with disgrace from the games. So the Apostle, if he had proclaimed
the laws of the combat to others, and not observed them himself, however
successful he might apparently be, would be personally rejected as adokimos
as unqualified in the great day. And this he says with a view to shew them
the necessity of more self-denial, and less going to the extreme limit of
their Christian liberty. (The
New Testament for English Readers)
Paul expresses the irony that
without this strict discipline, when all is said and done and the secrets of
his heart are brought into the light of God’s judgment (1Co 4:4, 5), he
himself, the teacher, might fail the final test of complete faithfulness to
Christ (“in all things,” 9:25NRSV). This should not be seen as a loss of
salvation but a loss of Christ’s commendation, as in 1Co 3:12, 13, 14, 15
(Ro 14:10, 11, 12; 2Co 5:9, 10). (The IVP New Testament commentary series.
Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press)
ESV Study Bible...
Disqualified (Gk. adokimos,
“not approved, not standing the test”) in this context means “disqualified
from receiving rewards”.
As Adam Clarke says...
To prevent this (rejection,
disqualification), he ran, he contended, he denied himself, and brought his
body into subjection to his spirit, and had his spirit governed by the
Spirit of God. Had this heavenly man lived in our days, he would by a
certain class of people have been deemed a legalist; a people who widely
differ from the practice of the apostle, for they are conformed to the
world, and they feed themselves without fear.
John MacArthur notes that...
Many believers start the
Christian life with enthusiasm and devotion. They train carefully for a
while but soon tire of the effort and begin to “break training.” Before
long they are disqualified from being effective witnesses. They do not have
what it takes, because they are unwilling to pay the price. The flesh, the
world, everyday affairs, personal interests, and often simple laziness
hinder spiritual growth and preparation for service. Even good things can
interfere with the best. Fulfillment of freedoms can interfere with
fulfillment of love. Following our own ways can keep others from knowing the
Way. Souls are won by those who are prepared to be used when the Spirit
chooses to use them.
J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press
To reiterate although clearly there is disagreement on the meaning of
disqualified in this verse but most commentators I have consulted favor
that disqualified does not equate with losing one's salvation. For
even disqualified athletes did not lose their citizenship (cp the believer's
citizenship...in heaven - Php 3:20). The athletes who failed
to meet the requirements could not participate at all in the games and with
it he lost the opportunity to win a prize. In context this suggests that a disqualified believer might be "put on the shelf" and no
longer be useful to the Master (see 2Ti 2:21-note,
note also that 2Ti 2:22-note
parallels Paul's teaching on "self control" and "buffeting his body") for
His good work, which would in turn lead to suffering loss of potential
rewards! Irregardless of how we interpret disqualified, it is clear that
Paul meant to paint a serious picture of the Christian's race. In light of
May each of us
on this solemn warning that we may not hear...
Earlier in this same epistle Paul had alluded to the believer's
appearance at the Bema Seat of Christ at which time they might be in
potentially "disqualified" for a reward...
According to the grace of God
which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and
another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is
Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for
the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire
itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he
has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is
burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as
through fire. (1Co 3:10-15)
Comment: This meaning of
this passage is clear - If our works pass the test, we receive a reward. If
they are burned up, we lose the reward, but we are still saved "yet so as by
Thomas Watson: As God will put
a veil over his people's sins, so he will in free grace set a crown upon
J Vernon McGee...
The translation "castaway"
is unfortunate. The Greek word is adokimos, which means "not
approved." Paul is thinking of the judgment seat of Christ where the rewards
are given. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians he will talk about the
fact that we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ where
awards are given. Paul says that he is out on that racetrack trying to run
so that he will get a reward. That is the reason he preaches the gospel as
he does. Paul has liberty. This is the choice that he has made. I
think every Christian ought to work for a reward. We do not work for
salvation; that is a gift given by the grace of God. My friend, if you are
going to get a reward, you will have to work for it. If you are going to get
a reward, then you had better get out on the racetrack and start moving....
Paul's goal was to run the
Christian race in such a way that the One who is at the end of the race --
the Lord Jesus -- would be able to reward him and be able to say, "Well
done, thou good and faithful servant" (Mt. 25:21). A child of God is to
"strive"; God intends that he win the race. Every child of God needs to
In effect, Paul is saying,
"When I come into His presence I don't want to be disapproved. I
don't want the Lord Jesus to say to me, 'You have failed. Your life should
have been a testimony but it was not.' " Oh, my friend, you are going to
hear that if you are not living for Him! I know we don't want to hear these
things, but we need to face the facts....
Paul exercised himself -- that
is, he didn't give in to the desires of his body -- because he did not want
to come before God's presence some day and be disapproved. My friend,
whoever you are or wherever you are, it is time to take your sitting-up
C H Spurgeon writes that...
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 other many things: enter
thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Charles Simeon nicely summarizes 1Cor 9:24-27 emphasizing that
Paul is teaching that his zeal in ministry was motivated by two essentially
1. A hope of gaining the
This is manifestly implied in
his words: and such a hope is the main spring of activity to every Christian
that is under heaven. The Apostle well knew, how infinitely an unfading
crown of glory surpasses the perishable chaplets that were awarded to the
victors in the different games. He could not endure the idea, that others
should take so much pains to obtain a corruptible crown, which vet only one
would win; and that he himself should be remiss in seeking an incorruptible
crown, which all who contended earnestly for it must obtain. The securing of
this he felt to be the one thing needful; and therefore he determined to
make it the one object of his ambition.
2. A fear of losing it—
The person who executed the
office of herald in the different games, introduced others, and encouraged
them to the contest, but did not contend himself. But the Christian herald,
who stirs up and encourages others to engage in the race or combat, must
himself both run and fight: and, if he do not engage with his whole heart,
however he may have animated others, he himself will not be deemed worthy of
the prize. Now the Apostle felt that the same exertions were necessary for
him as for all others; and that peculiar guilt and shame would attach to
him, if he, after having preached successfully to others, should at last
fail of success himself. On this account therefore he laboured to “destroy
the whole body of sin.” He was conscious that the smallest advantage gained
by his bodily appetites might be attended with the most fatal consequences;
and therefore he strove to “mortify his earthly members,” and to “crucify
his flesh with its affections and lusts.”
Simeon then goes on to apply these truths to four groups (one has
to read his exposition slowly because of his older English but your efforts
will be rewarded)...
1. Those who are satisfied
with the name and profession of Christianity—
Were such a life as yours
sufficient to obtain the prize, there were no propriety (Ed: Fitness;
suitableness; appropriateness - references to exercising self-control in all
things, disciplining one's body, bringing into subjection - these are strong
figures) in such figures as the Apostle has used in the text. Be assured,
that, if St. Paul found such exertions necessary for himself (Ed: And
recall that he switched to the first person in 1Co 9:26, 27), they are no
less so for you: and, that if he could not get to heaven without them, much
less can you (Ed: He is not saying that Paul or your or my efforts
"merit" or "earn" our way to heaven. The idea is that such efforts are
"works" that reflect a genuine faith, much like James teaches in chapter 2
2. Those who have relaxed
It is not the beginning well,
but the enduring to the end, that will avail to the saving of the soul. Some
indeed will say, “Once a child of God, and always so:” but God warns you,
that if any man turn back, his soul shall have no pleasure in him. It is
only by a patient continuance in well-doing that you can obtain the glory
and honour and immortality which you profess to seek for. The labour that
has been bestowed upon you is all in vain, if you do not maintain your
steadfastness even to the end. “Be not weary therefore in well-doing; for in
due season you shall reap, if you faint not.”
3. Those who are discouraged
through apprehensions of failure—
Well might all be discouraged,
if success depended on our own strength. But “God has laid help upon One
that is mighty;” and it is our privilege to be “strong in the Lord and in
the power of his might.” However weak therefore you yourselves are, and
however powerful your enemies, you have no reason to despond, since,
“through the strength of Christ you can do all things.”
4. Those who are “contending
earnestly for the faith” and practice of the Gospel—
You know not indeed the precise
measure of your course: but it is pleasing to reflect, that it may very soon
be terminated, and that the prize shall be adjudged, not to the one who
surpasses all others, but to all who “run their race with patience.”
Methinks, the Saviour, the Judge of all, is holding forth the prize to you;
and the whole host of heaven are witnesses of your exertions. Consider the
countless multitudes that are already crowned, and that have bid an
everlasting adieu to all the dangers of warfare, and the fatigues of
running. Soon your hour also shall arrive: only, whenever it may arrive, let
it find you exerting yourselves with all your might; that you may be able to
say with your dying breath, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown
of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me; and
not unto me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Kistemaker has an interesting analysis of this last clause writing
The negative in the clause "so
that... I myself not become disqualified" relates to the content of this
and the immediately preceding chapter (chap. 8). While proclaiming the good
news, Paul enjoyed apostolic freedom. But he denied himself certain foods so
as not to offend the weaker brothers, refused remuneration for his services,
and thus became all things to all people to advance the gospel.
TO PREVENT DISQUALIFICATION
New creature in Christ
Prepare at least 10 months for
Swear to that before a statue of Zeus
Confess with mouth
Jesus as Lord
Compete within specific rules -
fail any requirements = automatic disqualification
Compete within the rules
Even pagans understood something of the truth that Paul conveys in this
passage, which is sad because those who were outside of Christ "ran" toward
an entirely different "finish line". For example someone reminded
Diogenes, the cynic
Thou art now an old man, rest
from thy labors.
If I have run long in the race,
will it become me to slacken my pace when come near the end; should I not
rather stretch forward?" (Diog. Laert., lib. vi. cap. 2. sec. 6.)
This example of Diogenes' mindset even though advanced in age surely
convicts many genuine believers who are in their 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.
Surely most have heard a fellow believer say "The Bible does not teach
retirement", which I think is an accurate statement. The question is what
are these older presumably more spiritually mature believers doing in regard
to their race? It strikes me that a crying need is for spiritual mature
older men to disciple younger men in their late 20's and their 30's, which
can be a difficult time for many of these men spiritually. Where are the
older men? Being a grandparent is great but that does not give you a pass to
not keep pressing on. If a pagan like Diogenes can do it (with no promise of
a future prize after death), why cannot we do it who have great motivation
of a promised prize (or the alternative a prize missed because we failed to
"buffet our bodies").
A W Tozer...
Before the Judgment Seat of
Christ my service will not be judged by how much I have done but by how much
of me there is in it.
BROTHER DONKEY - "I discipline
my body and bring it into subjection, lest...I myself should become
disqualified."-- 1 Corinthians 9:27
One of the early church leaders referred to his body as "Brother Donkey."
Like that hardy animal with a reputation for being stubborn, his body served
him well as long as he placed it under firm discipline.
In today's Scripture reading, the apostle Paul wrote about this matter of
self-discipline. Using analogies from athletic competition, he said we must
be just as zealous about our spiritual training as athletes are when they
compete for a prize. That's a big order when you consider the hard work and
personal discipline that a world-class athlete endures to become an Olympic
Paul said, "I discipline my body" (1Co 9:27). The Greek term for
"discipline", says the scholar Henry Alford, means "to strike heavily in the
face, to render black and blue." The apostle was speaking figuratively, of
course, but his message is clear. If we want to be winners of our spiritual
marathon, we must discipline ourselves: reading the Bible, praying, loving
self-sacrificially, forgiving freely, and rejecting every sinful thought and
Lord, help me always to do what is right and to reject sin so that I will
never become disqualified in my service for you.-- Herbert Vander Lugt
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
If you'd be a winner,
Over every sin,
You must yield your mind and body
To God's discipline.
Victory is the fruit
of dedication and discipline.
MAKE YOUR BODY LISTEN - "I
discipline my body and bring it into subjection." -- 1 Corinthians 9:27
The apostle Paul was serious about the gospel. He gave himself to the task
of serving God with the same dedication that an athlete devotes to
preparation for competition. While athletes train for a temporal prize, Paul
endured tremendous hardship to win an eternal reward.
Although he had experienced several years of fruitful ministry, the apostle
had every reason to quit. On five occasions he had felt the searing bite of
39 lashes as leather cords tore into his flesh (2Co 11:24). He was also
beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked, and he endured hunger, thirst, cold, and
many other troubles (2Co 11:25, 26, 27).
Paul's body must have rebelled each time he prepared to go to another place
of service. I imagine it told him, "Look, Paul. I'm tired and hurt. I've
done enough. Why do you insist on such insane acts of love for these
difficult people? There's no way I'm going to risk more abuse. It's time to
But Paul disciplined his body. "I know you hurt," I can hear him say. "I
would like to give in to you. But for the gospel, for Christ's kingdom, for
Jesus Christ Himself, I have to keep going. And I can't go without you. Come
Paul made his body his servant and the servant of the gospel. Are we as
determined to serve Christ? -- Haddon W. Robinson
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Do you ever feel like quitting?
Where did Jesus find the strength to continue to minister? (Mt. 14:13, 23;
When you're working
for Jesus, it's always too soon to quit.
Grooves Of Grace —A man was
traveling in Canada one springtime when frost and melting snow made it
nearly impossible to drive farther. He came to a crossroads and saw a sign
that said, “Take care which rut you choose. You will be in it for the next
25 miles.” That’s a wise warning for all of us—and not just when we’re
driving in rough road conditions.
Whenever we come to a crossroads in life, what choice do we make? In other
words, in what direction will we travel and what habits—which ruts of
routine—will we establish?
A habit is a pattern of behavior that we follow consistently. We need to
decide prayerfully what habits we will practice. Will our habits be mere
ruts of routine? Or will they become “grooves of grace”?
Paul referred to his life’s journey as
a race. He learned that the only way to stay the course was to “discipline
[his] body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27). That implied
establishing a consistent pattern of godly behavior.
Good health habits are important, but spiritual disciplines are far more
important. Are we choosing to develop consistent habits of prayer, Bible
reading, and kindness?
A habit is just a rut of routine. But good spiritual discipline can
transform our ruts into grooves of grace. — by Vernon C. Grounds
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, keep me in Your
groove of grace,
The chosen path for me;
Your will I daily will embrace
Until eternity. —Hess
In the beginning we make our habits;
in the end our habits make us.
Remarks. 1. The human side of
the Christian life is strongly emphasized in the figure of the race; but
along with this we must take the other side of the truth. Without the grace
of God we cannot run. Mark the striking combination in Phil. 2:12, 13. 2.
Notice the apostle’s self-distrust. He is not ashamed to confess that he
brings his body into subjection, “lest by any means, after that I have
preached to others, I myself should be rejected.” Compare such outbursts of
confident assurance as Ro 8:38, 39, and 2Ti 1:12, and regard the one as the
complement of the other. Self-diffidence goes hand-in-hand with genuine
assurance. A lesson for all Christians, and especially for all preachers.—B.
The pulpit commentary