Did you know that the Apostle Paul uses the games as a metaphor to teach us spiritual things?
[Steve Myers] Are you watching the Olympics? The Winter Olympics are exciting, amazing. It’s really interesting to watch all the competitors competing in the various events during the Winter Olympics. One of the things that came to my mind as I thought about the Winter Olympics, watched some of the snowboarding and the different events, my mind went to the ancient games because ancient games seem to be mentioned in the Bible.
In Greece everyone would converge on the Isthmian Games - that’s a tough word to say, the Isthmian Games. They were sort of like the ancient Olympics where the athletes would come together and every two years they would compete in the spring. And they would race and they would wrestle and they would box and some of the traditional things we would think of with the discus and the javelin and all of those kinds of things. There was also singing. Can you imagine singing competitions in the Olympics? Actually happened in the ancient days.
But one of the things that brought to my mind was that the Apostle Paul actually wrote about the games , referred to them in several sections of his writings. In fact, he mentions specific things four times throughout his writings. Now, one of those is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24 1 Corinthians 9:24Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.
American King James Version×. In fact, some of the scholars will actually postulate that maybe Paul was actually in Corinth during these games and that’s why this terminology of the athletics come to mind in some of his writings.
So let’s notice what he writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24 1 Corinthians 9:24Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.
American King James Version×. He says, “Don’t you 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.” Now a difference between the ancient games and today - today they’ve got the gold, the silver, and the bronze. Back in that day? One prize. Second place was the first loser. They didn’t get any prize. The prize was the winner of the competition, and they received a crown. In fact he mentions that crown in the following verse. He says, “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. They do it to obtain a perishable crown…” Almost like leaves, in fact some say it was like celery that they would fashion into a crown type little thing and stick on peoples’ heads. And yet Paul says that’s not what we’re running for. That’s not our goal. He says we are competing for an imperishable crown. So he says, “Therefore I run thus not with uncertainty” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. 25 And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: 27 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.
American King James Version×).
So as you watch the games keep the Apostle Paul in mind. Maybe you can look up those other three sections where he mentions athletic events and makes those comparisons to the games of his day. Keep those things in mind, and keep the Bible in mind. Look up those passages and realize we need to fix our minds on the goal that’s ahead. Focus on winning that imperishable crown because ultimately the finish line is the Kingdom of God.
That’s BT Daily . We’ll see you next time.