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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 9:27

but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Adam Clarke Commentary

But I keep under my body, etc. - This is an allusion, not only to boxers, but also to wrestlers in the same games, as we learn from the word ὑπωπιαζω, which signifies to hit in the eyes; and δουλαγωγω, 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. 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.

Lest - having preached to others - The word κηρυξας, which we translate having preached, refers to the office of the κηρυξ, or herald, at these games, whose business it was to proclaim the conditions of the games, display the prizes, exhort the combatants, excite the emulation of those who were to contend, declare the terms of each contest, pronounce the name of the victors, and put the crown on their heads. See my observations on this office in the notes at Matthew 3:17.

Should be a castaway - The word αδοκιμος signifies such a person as the βραβευται, or judges of the games, reject as not having deserved the prize. So Paul himself might be rejected by the great Judge; and to prevent this, 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.

On the various important subjects in this chapter I have already spoken in great detail; not, indeed, all that might be said, but as much as is necessary. A few general observations will serve to recapitulate and impress what has been already said.

  1. St. Paul contends that a preacher of the Gospel has a right to his support; and he has proved this from the law, from the Gospel, and from the common sense and consent of men. If a man who does not labor takes his maintenance from the Church of God, it is not only a domestic theft but a sacrilege. He that gives up his time to this labor has a right to the support of himself and family: he who takes more than is sufficient for this purpose is a covetous hireling. He who does nothing for the cause of God and religion, and yet obliges the Church to support him, and minister to his idleness, irregularities, luxury, avarice, and ambition, is a monster for whom human language has not yet got a name.
  • Those who refuse the laborer his hire are condemned by God and by good men. How liberal are many to public places of amusement, or to some popular charity, where their names are sure to be published abroad; while the man who watches over their souls is fed with the most parsimonious hand! Will not God abate this pride and reprove this hard-heartedness?
  • As the husbandman plows and sows in hope, and the God of providence makes him a partaker of his hope, let the upright preachers of God's word take example and encouragement by him. Let them labor in hope; God will not permit them to spend their strength for nought. Though much of their seed, through the fault of the bad ground, may be unfruitful, yet some will spring up unto eternal life.
  • St. Paul became all things to all men, that he might gain all. This was not the effect of a fickle or man-pleasing disposition; no man was ever of a more firm or decided character than St. Paul; but whenever he could with a good conscience yield so as to please his neighbor for his good to edification, he did so; and his yielding disposition was a proof of the greatness of his soul. The unyielding and obstinate mind is always a little mind: a want of true greatness always produces obstinacy and peevishness. Such a person as St. Paul is a blessing wherever he goes: on the contrary, the obstinate, hoggish man, is either a general curse, or a general cross; and if a preacher of the Gospel, his is a burthensome ministry. Reader, let me ask thee a question: If there be no gentleness in thy manners, is there any in thy heart? If there be little of Christ without, can there be much of Christ within?
  • A few general observations on the Grecian games may serve to recapitulate the subject in the four last verses.
  • The Isthmian games were celebrated among the Corinthians; and therefore the apostle addresses them, 1 Corinthians 9:24; : Know ye not, etc.
  • Of the five games there used, the apostle speaks only of three.
  • Running; 1 Corinthians 9:24; : They which run in a race; and 1 Corinthians 9:26; : I therefore so run, not as uncertainly.

    Wrestling, 1 Corinthians 9:25; : Every man that striveth; ὁ αγωνιζομενος, he who wrestleth.

    Boxing, 1 Corinthians 9:26, 1 Corinthians 9:27; : So fight I, not as one that beateth the air; οὑτω πυκτευω, so fist I, so I hit; but I keep my body under; ὑπωπιαζω, I hit in the eye, I make the face black and blue.

  • He who won the race by running was to observe the laws of racing - keeping within the white line which marked out the path or compass in which they ran; and he was also to outrun the rest, and to come first to the goal; otherwise he ran uncertainly, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 1 Corinthians 9:26, and was αδοκιμος, one to whom the prize could not be judged by the judges of the games.
  • The athletic combatants, or wrestlers, observed a set diet. See the quotation from Epictetus, under 1 Corinthians 9:25. And this was a regimen both for quantity and quality; and they carefully abstained from all things that might render them less able for the combat; whence the apostle says they were temperate in all things, 1 Corinthians 9:25.
  • No person who was not of respectable family and connections was permitted to be a competitor at the Olympic games. St. Chrysostom, in whose time these games were still celebrated, assures us that no man was suffered to enter the lists who was either a servant or a slave, ουδεις αγωνιζεται δουλος, ουδεις στρατευεται οικετης· and if any such was found who had got himself inserted on the military list, his name was erased, and he was expelled and punished. Αλλ 'εαν ἁλῳ δουλος ων, μετα τιμωριας εκβαλλεται του των στρατιωτων καταολου . To prevent any person of bad character from entering the list at the Olympic games, the kerux, or herald, was accustomed to proclaim aloud in the theater when the combatant was brought forth: Μη τις τουτου κατηγορει; ὡστε αυτον αποσκευασαμενον της δουλειας την ὑποψιαν οὑτως εις τους αγωνας εμβηναι· Who can accuse this man? For which he gives this reason: "that being free from all suspicion of being in a state of slavery, (and elsewhere he says of being a thief, or of corrupt morals), he might enter the lists with credit." Chrysost. Homil. in Inscript. Altaris, etc., vol. iii. page 59, Edit. Benedict.
  • The boxers used to prepare themselves by a sort of σκιαμαχια, or going through all their postures of defense and attack when no adversary was before them. This was termed beating the air, 1 Corinthians 9:26; but when such came to the combat, they endeavored to blind their adversaries by hitting them in the eye, which is the meaning of ὑπωπιαζειν, as we have seen under 1 Corinthians 9:27.
  • The rewards of all these exercises were only a crown made of the leaves of some plant, or the bough of some tree; the olive, bay, laurel, parsley, etc., called here by the apostle φθαρτον στεφανον, a corruptible, withering, and fading crown; while he and his fellow Christians expected a crown incorruptible and immortal, and that could not fade away.
  • On the subject of the possibility of St. Paul becoming a castaway, much has been said in contradiction to his own words. He most absolutely states the possibility of the case: and who has a right to call this in question? The ancient Greek commentators, as Whitby has remarked, have made a good use of the apostle's saying, Ει δε Παυλος τουτο δεδοικεν ὁ τοσουτους διδαξας, τι αν ειποιμεν ἡμεις ; "If Paul, so great a man, one who had preached and labored so much, dreaded this, what cause have we to fear lest this should befall us?"
  • On the necessity of being workers together with God, in order to avoid apostasy, Clemens Alexandrinus has some useful observations in his Stromata, lib. vii., page 448, Edit. Oberthur: Ὡς δε, says he, ὁ ιατρος ὑγειαν παρεχεται τοις συνεργουσι προς ὑγειαν, οὑτως και ὁ Θεος την αΐδιον σωτηριαν τοις συνεργουσι προς γνωσιν τε και ευπραγιαν· "As a physician gives health to those who cooperate with him in their cure; so God also gives eternal salvation to them who are workers together with him in knowledge and a godly life." "Therefore," says he, "it is well said among the Greeks, that when a certain wrestler, who had long inured his body to manly exercises, was going to the Olympic games, as he was passing by the statue of Jupiter he offered up this prayer: Ει παντα, ω Ζευ, δεοντως μοι τα προς τον αγωνα ταρεσκευασται, αποδος φερων δικαιως την νικην εμοι· 'O Jupiter, if I have performed every thing as I ought in reference to this contest, grant me the victory!'" May we not feel something of this spirit in seeking the kingdom of God? And can any thing of this kind be supposed to derogate from the glory of Christ? St. Paul himself says, if a man contend for the mastery, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully. Shall we pretend to be wiser than the apostle; and say, that we may gain the crown, though we neither fight the good fight nor finish the course?

  • Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    But I keep under my body - ( ὑπωπιάζω hupōpiazō). This word occurs in the New Testament only here and in Luke 18:5, “Lest by her continual coming she ‹weary‘ me.” The word is derived probably from ὑπώπιον hupōpionthe part of the face “under the eye” (Passow), and means properly, to strike under the eye, either with the fist or the cestus, so as to render the part livid, or as we say, “black and blue”; or as is commonly termed, “to give anyone a black eye.” The word is derived, of course, from the athletic exercises of the Greeks. It then comes to mean, “to treat anyone with harshness, severity, or cruelty;” and thence also, so to treat any evil inclinations or dispositions; or to subject one‘s-self to mortification or self-denial, or to a severe and rigid discipline, that all the corrupt passions might be removed. The word here means, that Paul made use of all possible means to subdue his corrupt and carnal inclinations; to show that he was not under the dominion of evil passions, but was wholly under the dominion of the gospel.

    And bring it into subjection - ( δουλαγωγῶ doulagōgō). This word properly means, to reduce to servitude or slavery; and probably was usually applied to the act of subduing an enemy, and leading him captive from the field of battle; as the captives in war were regarded as slaves. It then means, effectually and totally to subdue, to conquer, to reduce to bondage and subjection. Paul means by it, the purpose to obtain a complete victory over his corrupt passions and propensities, and a design to gain the mastery over all his natural and evil inclinations.

    Lest that by any means - See the note at 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul designed to make every possible effort to be saved. He did not mean to be lost, but he meant to be saved. He felt that there was danger of being deceived and lost; and he meant by some means to have evidence of piety that would abide the trial of the Day of Judgment.

    When I have preached to others - Doddridge renders this, “lest after having served as a herald to others, I should myself be disapproved;” and supposes that there was allusion in this to the Grecian “herald,” whose business it was to proclaim the conditions of the games, to display the prizes, etc. In this interpretation, also, Macknight, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and most of the modern interpreters agree. They suppose, therefore, that the allusion to the games is carried through all this description. But there is this difficulty in this interpretation, that it represents the apostle as both a herald and a contender in the games and thus leads to an inextricable confusion of metaphor. Probably, therefore; this is to be taken in the usual sense of the word “preaching” in the New Testament; and the apostle here is to be understood as “dropping” the metaphor, and speaking in the usual manner. He had preached to others, to many others. He had proclaimed the gospel far and near. He had preached to many thousands, and had been the means of the conversion of thousands. The contest, the agony, the struggle in which he had been engaged, was that of preaching the gospel in the most effectual manner. And yet he felt that there was a possibility that even after all this he might be lost.

    I myself should be a cast-away. - This word ( ἀδόκιμος adokimos) is taken from “bad metals” and properly denotes those which will not bear the “test” that is applied to them; that are found to be base and worthless, and are therefore rejected and cast away. The apostle had subjected himself to trials. He had given himself to self-denial and toil; to persecution and want; to perils, and cold, and nakedness, and hunger. He had done this, among other things, to give his religion a fair trial, to see whether it would bear all these tests; as metal is cast into the fire to see whether it is genuine, or is base and worthless. In doing this, he had endeavored to subdue his corrupt propensities, and bring everything into captivity to the Redeemer, that it might be found that he was a sincere, and humble, and devoted Christian. Many have supposed that the word “cast-away” here refers to those who had entered the lists, and had contended, and who had then been examined as to the manner in which they had conducted the contest, and had been found to have departed from the rules of the games, and who were then rejected. But this interpretation is too artificial and unnatural. 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.

    Remarks On 1 Corinthians 9:27.)

    5. The fact that a man has preached to many is no certain evidence that he will be saved, 1 Corinthians 9:27. Paul had preached to thousands, and yet he felt that after all this there was a possibility that be might be lost.

    6. The fact that a man has been very successful in the ministry is no certain evidence that he will be saved. God converts people; and he may sometimes do it by the instrumentality of those who themselves are deceived, or are deceivers. They may preach much truth; and God may bless that truth, and make it the means of saving the soul. There is no conclusive evidence that a man is a Christian simply because he is a successful and laborious preacher, any more than there is that a man is a Christian because he is a good farmer, and because God sends down the rain and the sunshine on his fields. Paul felt that even his success was no certain evidence that he would be saved. And if Paul felt thus, who should not feel that after the most distinguished success, he may himself be at last a castaway?

    7. It will be a solemn and awesome thing for a minister of the gospel, and a “successful” minister, to go down to hell. What more fearful doom can be conceived, than after having led others in the way to life; after having described to them the glories of heaven; after having conducted them to the “sweet fields beyond the swelling flood” of death, he should find himself shut out, rejected, and cast down to hell! What more terrible can be imagined in the world of perdition than the doom of one who was once a minister of God, and once esteemed as a light in the church and a guide of souls, now sentenced to inextinguishable fires, while multitudes saved by him shall have gone to heaven! How fearful is the condition and how solemn the vocation of a minister of the gospel!

    8. Ministers should be solicitous about their personal piety. Paul, one might suppose, might have rested contented with the remarkable manner of his conversion. He might have supposed that that put the matter beyond all possible doubt. But be did no such thing. He felt that it was necessary to have evidence day by day that he was then a Christian. Of all people, Paul was perhaps Least disposed to live on past experience, and to trust to such experience. Of all people, he had perhaps most reason to trust to such experience; and yet how seldom does he refer to it, how little does he regard it! The great question with him was, “Am I now a Christian? am I living as a Christian should now? am I evincing to others, am I giving to myself daily, constant, growing evidence that I am actuated by the pure principles of the gospel, and that that gospel is the object of my highest preference, and my holiest and constant desire? O how holy would be the ministry, if all should endeavor every day to live and act for Christ and for souls with as much steadiness and fidelity as did the apostle Paul!

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    1 Corinthians 9:27

    I keep under my body … lest … I myself should be a castaway.

    Keeping under the body

    The body is a bad master though it may be a good servant. St. Paul does not wish to be rid of it, but he desires to put it in its proper place.

    I. It is quite essential to a high morality to have a respectful sense of the dignity of the body. What our Lord Himself was pleased to wear, and wears flow, must, on that very account, be honourable, and His teaching and His wonder-works were addressed as much to the body as to the soul. There are times when it is as right to attend to the body as to the soul. Are they not equally the subjects of God’s creation and redemption, of the Father’s care and love? Never look upon it as a pious thing to depreciate the body. We are not depreciating the body when we say, “I keep under the body, and bring it into subjection.” The very connection does away with that thought. For does the racer, the wrestler, the boxer, despise his body? Is not it rather his glory? Is not it because he values it very highly that he so treats it?

    II. With this caution, we may now observe what place the body occupies in connection with the spirit. Originally the whole man was made in the image and after the likeness of God. Then came the fall. It was equally through the body as through the mind. In due time, Christ came, and equally redeemed both. But now here comes in the important distinction which determines everything. In the renewed man a change immediately takes place in his soul, but his body is not changed. That will take place at the resurrection. We all of us have felt the trouble of our bodies. One moment they incite us by their too much strength to pride and self-indulgence, and the next they drag us down to the dust. They are always carrying us too far, or preventing us from going far enough. To every physical temperament there is its own special danger--one to youth, another to age--one to health, another to sickness--to each according to his circumstances and constitution; but to all it is little better than “the body of this death.” But, remember, there is not a member or a nerve in the body but it is capable of being a great sin or a high virtue. Every part admits of sanctification. All are given for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify God. What we have to do is not to destroy anything, but to guide it--not to despise, but to elevate--not to cast off as an enemy, but to employ as a servant. Let me take an instance or two.

    1. There is the love of dress. It is a natural instinct, and is in itself a perfectly innocent thing, And some attention as to personal appearance is inseparable from every rightly-constituted mind. Yet every one knows that the love of dress is one of the greatest temptations of the age--to selfishness, vanity, extravagance, and sin. What shall we do, then, with it? Crush it? No. Employ it, control it, subject it. Always act upon a principle, and lay down for yourselves certain rules which your own judgment and conscience approve: Settle with yourself how much your dress ought to cost in the year, and be faithful to your estimate. Dress in the way that will please those whom you most ought to please, and not to please yourself. Make it a school of refinement and thought. So you will turn a dangerous thing into a good discipline, and a positive grace.

    2. In like manner, as to food. Guide your conscience in this matter by the Bible; then live by your conscience. Take care that you live unselfishly. Remember whom you follow; and among whom, in this world of want and suffering, you are living.

    3. The same consideration will apply to all worldly pleasures and amusements, and all corporeal gratifications. What is meant for pure and holy uses, keep for pure and holy uses. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

    Physical conditions

    This language suggests--

    I. The many-sidedness of scripture, or, its polarity.

    1. One end of a bar of magnetized iron will attract what the other repels. Now break the bar in the middle; and of either half the same will be true. And so you may keep on breaking, until you come to an atom, and even in it the two poles will be found to exist.

    2. As wonderful is the polarity of truth. Take this, “Hath not the potter power over the clay,” &c., and place it alongside of the text. Bring the latter near to a Calvinist, and it repels and is repelled. Bring it near to an Arminian, and it attracts and is itself attracted. And so, vice versa, of the former text. But as in the magnet there is but one force manifesting itself in duality, so with God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God cannot be disappointed; yet man is free.

    3. Let the theologian, then, follow the example of the philosopher who does not say, as he looks upon the needle, “There must be some mistake in the matter”; but “This is a great mystery: yet there are the two poles, and one is as deserving of my attention as the other.”

    II. Responsibility for the lower or physical conditions of spiritual life. As a plant has its enemies which crawl upon the ground, and others which fly in the air, so the spiritual life has its antagonists who meet it on every level. There is the danger from intellectualism, imagination, and the affections. Then also, on the lowest and widest level, in the physical region, there is often the marshalling of forces to oppose all growth in grace. And these are what the apostle alludes to. There is--

    1. The excessive development of physical appetite and passion. That this has the fearful power implied in the text is very evident. Its first and most patent effect is upon the religious life. Take the professor who is given to intemperance. Before you can trace it upon the countenance, or in the domestic sphere, you will be able to note its influence upon the pulse of the man’s religion. The man dies like some trees, from the heart outward. First and foremost dies that within him which is the very core of his manhood--his spiritual sense. There is much with which the indulged vice may make some sort of terms for a time, love of family, desire for a good name, many of the higher tastes, ambitions, and activities. But vice and spiritual life cannot exist together. The life of the one is the death of the other.

    2. Too great absorption in the cares of this world. The Bible tells us to be “Not slothful in business.” But there must be subordination of the temporal interests to the eternal. A man is like a vessel. He can hold so much, and no more. The cares of this world may be poured into his soul in such quantity as to leave room for nothing else. Many a man has no taste, capacity, strength, time, for anything but business. How can the spiritual hold its own in such? Where will you find place for religion? The good seed is choked. And the result is the same if honour instead of wealth fills the man. The condition of danger is, that a man be filled with the cares of this world. And these may be generated by poverty as by affluence. How can a man grow in Christian life who cannot forget his worldly cares long enough to say the Lord’s Prayer? And but one result is possible; the religious life must die of starvation, and the man become a castaway.

    3. The atmosphere of selfish indolence. Work is ordained of God as the one condition of healthful development. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” It is the very ruin of thousands that they have nothing to do. And that which was made the condition of human development at first Christ has lifted up and sanctified to the end of Christian growth and safety. “Son, go work in My vineyard.” “If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross,” &c.

    4. The predominance of irreligious association, or, what is the same thing, living in a bad moral atmosphere. Good air, God’s sunshine--these are more to the body than all else. Let a man breathe in noxious gases day by day, and it makes no difference what other special precautions he may take, his health will be gradually undermined. So is it of moral and spiritual health. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Hence the importance which is laid upon the separation of Christians from the world, and upon tile Christian communion which has been prepared for them. No man is strong enough to stand by himself. And it was never intended that the greater part of any Christian life should be spent outside of all religious association. Conclusion: In view of all that has been said it follows

    1. That Christian cultivation covers a much wider sphere than many seem to think. First in order, as a means of grace, stands the Church. And then, secondly, outside of the means of grace, there are others none the less needful, and whose places cannot be supplied by the Church and her ordinances. What matters it how much a man prays, if he is living in intemperance or impurity? What good will the communion do her who has sunken down into the depths of a perfectly selfish and indolent life? And take the man whose heart is eaten up with the cares of this world. Can the Word of God dwell richly in such a one?

    2. That there is no point in the Christian’s progress at which he can afford to relax in vigilant watch and care of the physical surroundings of his life.

    3. That there is a very wide sphere in which human activity may co-operate with the saving power of God. Many Christian hands are idle because they do not know what to do. To such I say, look at Paul. Hear his words, “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection.” (S. S. Mitchell, D. D.)


    1. The simple etymological sense of the term is “I strike under the eye.” The figure is that of a pugilistic encounter. Paul imagines to himself his body as rising up against his higher nature; and against this foe he directs his well-aimed blows; not to destroy or even mutilate it, but to render it what it always ought to be--the obedient slave of the inner nature.

    2. But, it may be asked, does the apostle teach us that the body is the source of all inward evil? On the contrary, no man exalts the human body more. He represents it as the temple of the Holy Ghost. “Members of Christ.” He prays that our body, as well as our spirit and soul, may be preserved faultless. How, then, are we to understand the phrase?--whence this mysterious collision?

    3. St. Paul is here speaking of his life’s work, in pursuing which he makes a discovery which all of us have to make sooner or later--that he who would conquer a world must be ready to conquer himself. In 1 Corinthians 9:4-6 St. Paul indicates three special respects in which he had turned aside from the reasonable demands of nature for his work’s sake. “Have we not power to eat and to drink?”--that is to say, he might have secured for himself a comfortable competence. “Have we not power to lead about a sister?” &c. He might have surrounded himself with all the pleasures of domestic life. “Have not Barnabas and I power to forbear working?” It certainly did seem reasonable that one who worked so hard for souls should be saved from the weariness of physical toil. And what had he to say to these natural and reasonable demands? Nothing but his work, and the will of God in that work. And when he found nature urging, as nature will, her demands for some degree of consideration, just as our Lord discovered Satan in the person of the disciple who dissuaded Him from the Cross; so the apostle discovered a foe in his own flesh, when that flesh shrank from the path of self-denial, and, smiting his antagonist down, he consigned it to its own proper place; from henceforth thou art to dictate thy terms no longer; thou art slave, and not master!

    4. And now for our practical lesson. We, too, are striving for the mastery in a world which has been devastated by evil. Do we not also find that our bodies rise up and resist the claims made on them by the work which has to be done?

    5. How did St. Paul smite his body down, and reduce it into the condition of a slave? This much surely is obvious--a man is no match for himself! He lets us into the secret by giving us a practical direction: “If ye,” he says, “through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” All turns upon this. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” (W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)


    Look at the chariot-drivers. Do you not see how exceedingly careful and strict they are with themselves in their training-practice, their labours, their diet, and all the rest, that they may not be thrown down from their chariots; and be dragged along by the reins? See what a thing art is! Often even a strong man cannot master a single horse; but a mere boy, who has learnt the art, shall often take the pair in hand, and with ease lead them and drive them where he will. Nay, in India, it is said that a huge monster of an elephant will yield to a stripling of fifteen, who manages him with the utmost ease. To what purpose have I said all this? To show that, if by dint of study and practice we can train into submission even elephants and wild horses, much more the passions within us. (Chrysostom.)


    A friend once asked an aged man what caused him so often to complain of pain and weariness in the evening. “Alas!” said he, “I have every day so much to do; for I have two falcons to tame, two hares to keep from running away, two hawks to manage, a serpent to confine, a lion to chain, and a sick man to tend and wait upon.” “Why, you must be joking,” said his friend; “surely no man can have all these things to do at once.” “Indeed, I am not joking,” said the old man; “but what I have told you is the sad and sober truth; for the two falcons are my two eyes, which I must diligently guard, lest something should please them which may be hurtful to my salvation; the two hares are my feet, which I must hold back lest they should run after evil objects, and walk in the ways of sin; the two hawks are my two hands, which I must train and keep to Work in order that I may be able to provide for myself and for my brethren who are in need; the serpent is my tongue, which I must always keep in with a bridle, lest it should speak anything unseemly; the lion is my heart, with which I have to maintain a continual fight in order that vanity and pride may not fill it, but that the grace of God may dwell and work there; the sick man is my whole body, which is always needing my watchfulness and care. All this daily wears out my strength.” (Preacher’s Promptuary.)

    Spiritual caution

    Observe this was penned towards the close of the apostle’s career. Full of years, and laden with trophies, he still thinks it necessary to keep war with the flesh. View him--

    I. As an aged man. There is no period in which the spiritual warrior may relax his training. Each season of life has its appropriate and dominant passion.

    II. As an advanced Christian. Men may make great advances in religious knowledge, but be imperfect. Consider Paul’s attainments in theology--yet still he struggles; he is still imperfect.

    III. As an experienced minister. A minister may eloquently preach, and people be delighted to listen--to real blessings to which both he and they be strangers. Again, people may be converted, and yet their minister be a castaway. So parents, masters, teachers, may help others to Christ, yet never find Him themselves. Personal religion, including persevering conflict, essential to final salvation. (Homilist.)

    Lest I be a castaway

    I. What is it to be a “castaway”? One who had been pronounced by the judges to be disqualified for the Greek games, or one who, having been permitted to enter into the contest, fails. Or the expression may have reference to metals, which, when the mass has been “proved” to be dross, is rejected. Thus we read of “reprobate silver.” The theological idea of reprobation does not belong to this word, it is simply intrinsic worthlessness, brought to light by the scrutiny of God’s eye, the searching efficacy of His Word, or a providential dispensation.

    1. From whom may we be castaway.

    2. When? In part now; as when a man is excluded from the fellowship of the wise and good. Yet very often this may not be carried into effect; just as in the case of the tares, Christ told His disciples to let them grow together until harvest. The time of final discrimination, then, is the end of the man’s earthly probation. When he departs from this world, he is rejected of heaven. We read of those who were “without,” of the virgins who were cast away; of those to whom Christ will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity.” The most affecting thing in the universe is to be “a castaway,” finally and for ever rejected.

    II. The means which the apostle took to prevent this. The text is only one among many.

    1. He abjured confidence in himself, and his own virtue and excellence (Philippians 3:1-21.). He grounds his hope of eternal life on the atonement of Christ, and resting as he did in Christ, it was impossible for him to be “a castaway.”

    2. He lived, and loved, and laboured by faith (Galatians 2:20). It is when the love of Christ is not present in a man’s heart and mind, that he is in danger of being a castaway. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.”

    3. He kept near to God in prayer. If you cast off prayer, you will be in peril; if you continue in prayer and supplication, you will not.

    4. Taking these points antecedently to the one suggested in the text, our course becomes clear. “But I keep under my body,” &c. Now the apostle does not mean anything ascetical; but that the body was subjected to the reason; and if any one of you has acquired a mastery over the animal appetites and instincts, he is on his way not to be a castaway, but to be approved and glorified of God.

    5. What comes after this is sweet and sacred resignation to the Divine will “I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

    6. The final thing is that Paul laid aside every weight. “This one thing I do,” &c.

    III. The triumphant issue. I know not anyone name which surpasses that of Paul. He is no castaway as respects the honour done to his name in the Church. And then in the world how has his character been appreciated even by those who have rejected his doctrine! What an immense effect have his writings had on the condition of society and on human affairs! Then as respects his admission to heaven, one moment there is the axe of Nero, the next he hears, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (J. Stratten.)

    A Castaway


    1. How earnestly Paul sought the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 9:26). It was long after his conversion that Paul writes in this manner.

    2. One particular in which he was very earnest. “I keep under my body,” &c. (1 Corinthians 9:25).

    3. His reason for all this earnestness--“Lest when,” &c. What is it to be cast away? Wicked men shall be cast away--

    I. From God (Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). From

    1. The fruition of God.

    2. The favour of God--“In Thy favour is life.”

    3. The blessing of God. God is the fountain of all blessing. Separate a man from God finally, and no creature can give him joy.

    II. From the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is now dealing and striving with natural men. When the day of grace is done the Spirit will strive no more--

    1. Through ordinances. There will be no family worship in hell--no Bible, no Sabbath, no preached gospel.

    2. Through providences. There will be no more poverty or riches--no more sickness or bereavements.

    3. Through conscience it will condemn, but it will not restrain.

    III. From all creatures.

    1. The angels will no longer take any interest in you.

    2. The redeemed will no longer pray for you, nor shed another tear for you.

    3. Ministers will no more desire your salvation. It will no more be their work.

    4. Even devils will cast you off. As long as you remain on earth, the devil keeps you in his train; then you will be a part of his torment, and he will hate you and torment you, because you deceived him, and he deceived you.

    IV. From themselves.

    1. The understanding will be clear and full to apprehend the real nature of your misery.

    2. The will in you will be all contrary to God’s will.

    3. Your conscience, God’s viceregent, will accuse you of all your sins.

    4. Your memory will be very clear.

    5. Your anticipations--everlasting despair. Conclusion: Let believers learn Paul’s earnest diligence. A wicked life will end in being a castaway. These two are linked together, and no man can sunder them, (R. M, McCheyne, M. A.)

    Wrecked for two worlds

    Ministers of religion may finally be lost, The apostle indicates that possibility. Cardinal Wolsey, after having been petted by kings, died in darkness. There have been cases of shipwreck where all on board escaped excepting the captain. You all understand the figure. There are men who, by their sins and temptations, are thrown helpless! Driven before the gale, wrecked, cast away. Among the causes of this calamity are--

    I. False lights on the beach. This was often so in olden times. There are all kinds of lanterns swung on the beach philosophical, educational, humanitarian. Men look at them, and are deceived, when there is nothing but the lighthouse of the gospel that can keep them from becoming castaways. Once, on Wolf Crag lighthouse, they tried to build a copper figure of a wolf with its mouth open, so that the storms beating into it the wolf would howl. Of course it was a failure. And so all new inventions for the saving of a man’s soul are unavailing. You might better destroy all the great lighthouses on the dangerous coasts than to put out God’s great ocean-lamp--the gospel.

    II. The sudden swoop of a tempest. A vessel is sailing along in the East Indies; suddenly the breeze freshens; but before they can square the booms the vessel is in the grip of a tornado, and falls over into the trough of the sea, and broadside rolls on to the beach and keels over, leaving the crew to struggle in the merciless surf. And so there are thousands destroyed through the sudden swoop of temptations. Some great inducement to worldliness, or temper, or dissipation comes upon them. If they had time to deliberate, they could stand it; but the temptation came so suddenly, and they perish. It is the first step that costs; the second is easier; and the third; and on to the last. Once having broken loose from the anchor, it is not so easy to tie the parted strands.

    III. Sheer recklessness. The average of human life on the sea is less than twelve years. This comes from the fact that men by familiarity with danger become reckless, and in nine out of ten shipwrecks it is found out that some one was awfully to blame. So men lose their souls. There are thousands who do not care where they are in spiritual things. Drifting in their theology, in their habits, in regard to all the future; but all the time coming nearer and nearer to a dangerous coast. They do not deliberately choose to be ruined;’ neither did the French frigate Medusa aim for the Arguin Banks, but there it went to pieces. (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

    Hell after preaching

    These terrible words teach--

    I. That deliverance from hell deserves the most earnest self-discipline. “I keep under my body”

    I. strike under the eye so as to make it black and blue, a boxing phrase, indicative of strenuous efforts at mortification, as who should say, “I subdue the flesh by violent and reiterated blows.” “And bring it into subjection”; “I lead it along as a slave,” having subjugated it, I treat it as a bondsman, as boxers in the Palaestra used to drag off their conquered opponents. And the reason for this mortification of the flesh is, “lest I should be a castaway.” Self-discipline consists of two things.

    1. The entire subjugation of the body to the mind. The body was intended to be the organ, servant, and instrument of the mind, but it has become the master. The supremacy of the body is the curse of the world and the ruin of man.

    2. The subjugation of the mind to the spirit of Christ. Though the mind govern the body, if the mind is false, selfish, unloyal to Christ, there is no discipline. The mind must be the servant of Christ in order to be the legitimate sovereign of the body.

    II. That the necessity of this self-discipline cannot re superseded by the most successful preaching. Paul had preached as no one else had ever preached; yet his preaching, he felt, did not do the work of self-discipline. Indeed, there is much in the work of preaching that has a tendency to operate against personal spiritual culture.

    1. Familiarity with sacred truths destroys for us their charm of freshness,

    2. A professional handling of God’s Word interferes with its personal application.

    3. The opinions of audiences, favourable or otherwise, exert an influence unfavourable to the life of the soul.

    4. Satan is especially active in opposing the growth of spiritual piety in the preacher’s soul. So that there is a terrible danger that whilst the preacher is cultivating the vineyards of others he is neglecting his own.

    III. The most successful preaching may be followed by ultimate ruin. A “castaway”! Who shall fathom the meaning of this word? A successful preacher “a castaway”! The Tophet of him who has offered mercy to others which he has despised, urged truths on the credence of others that he has disbelieved, enforced laws on others which he has transgressed, will burn with severer fires and peal with more awful thunders. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Corinthians 9:27". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    But I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

    Buffet my body ... is metaphorical and does not refer to any type of flagellation such as was practiced by ascetics as a means of religious discipline. It indicates that every Christian, as Paul did, should exercise the sternest self-control over the body, its desires and appetites being a powerful source of temptation in all people.

    I myself should be rejected ... As Foy E. Wallace, Jr., said: "The translators (in this place) were evidently attempting to circumvent the possibility of apostasy."[22] There is no excuse for rendering the word here [@adokimos] as either "rejected" (English Revised Version (1885)) or "disqualified" (RSV). It means "reprobate" and is so translated elsewhere in the New Testament (Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5,6,7; 2Tim.3:8; Titus 1:16). It is thus crystal clear that the apostle Paul, even after the world-shaking ministry of the word of God which characterized his life, considered it possible that he himself could become reprobate and lose the eternal reward. It was for the purpose of avoiding that possibility that he buffeted his body, walked in the strictest discipline, and devoted every possible effort to the service of the Lord. His example should put an end to all thoughts of "having it made" as a Christian and being certain to win eternal life apart from the most faithful continuance in God's service.

    We must therefore refuse interpretations of this passage such as that of Morris, who said, "Paul's fear was not that he might lose his salvation, but that he might lose his crown through failing to satisfy his Lord."[23] Clearly it was such a view as this that led to the mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 9:27; but the truth is available and clear enough for all who desire to know it.

    The hope of eternal life is not sealed in a single glorious moment in one's experience of conversion; but it is a lifelong fidelity to the risen Lord, the running of life's race all the way to the finish line. As DeHoff wrote:

    Not until every thought and imagination of man's heart is brought into subjection is his conversion complete. In this sense, conversion goes on as long as we live; and we are finally free from sin only when the day dawns and the shadows flee away, and we stand justified in the presence of God with the redeemed of all ages.[24]

    Farrar's analysis of this verse is as follows:

    The word "reprobate" here rendered "a castaway" (KJV) is a metaphor derived from the testing of metals, and the casting aside of those which are spurious. That Paul should see the necessity for such serious and unceasing effort shows how little he believed in saintly works of "supererogation, over and above what is commanded." "When the cedar of Lebanon trembles, what shall the reed by the brookside do?"[25]

    It might be added that this passage also shows how little Paul believed any such doctrine as the "final perseverance of the saints," called also "the impossibility of apostasy."

    [22] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A Review of the New Versions (Fort Worth, Texas: The Foy E. Wallace Jr., Publications, 1973), p. 435.

    [23] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 140.

    [24] George W. DeHoff, op. cit., p. 78.

    [25] F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), Vol. 19, p. 291.

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    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    But I keep under my body,.... The allusion is still to fighters, who, by cuffing and boxing, give their antagonists black and blue eyes, which is the proper signification of the word here used: so it is saidF21Hesychius de Philosophis, p. 48. of Menedemus, that in questions or scholastic exercises, he was so vehement and pugnacious, that he never departed without υπωπια φερων, "carrying away black and blue eyes". This is not to be understood by the apostle of his natural body, and of his keeping it under by immoderate watchings, fastings, and labours, or by whipping and scourging, and lying upon the bare ground, and other such practices; but of the body of sin, the corruption of nature, and of that being laid under some restraints; of the mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit, of crucifying the affections with the lusts, of putting off the old man with his deeds, as concerning the former conversation, and of making no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof: it seems to be the same with what the Jews callF23Tzeror Hammor, fol. 145. 2, 3. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 69. 2. , כובש יצרו, "a subduing of a man's evil concupiscence": who is a strong man? they sayF24Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 1. , הכובש את יצרו, "he that subdues his corruption", according to Proverbs 16:32 and againF25Targum in 1 Chron. viii. 40. .

    "the sons of Ulam were mighty and powerful men, כבשין יצריהון, "subduing their corruptions", as man that draws a bow with wisdom.'

    And bring it into subjection; so as not to serve and obey it in the lusts thereof; but to have the ascendant of it, and government over it, that it does not, and cannot reign as it formerly did: the allusion is still to the combatant, who gets and keeps his antagonist under him, and has the command of him, and throws him on the ground, or drags him about at pleasure:

    lest that by any means when I have preached to others; the Gospel of the grace of God, for their souls' profit and advantage, to gain and save them; and have called upon them so to run, that they might receive and enjoy the incorruptible crown:

    I myself should be a castaway, or rejected, or disapproved of; that is, by men: the apostle's concern is, lest he should do anything that might bring a reproach on the Gospel; lest some corruption of his nature or other should break out, and thereby his ministry be justly blamed, and be brought under contempt; and so he be rejected and disapproved of by men, and become useless as a preacher: not that he feared he should become a reprobate, as the word is opposed to an elect person; or that he should be a castaway eternally, or be everlastingly damned; for he knew in whom he had believed, and was persuaded of his interest in the love of God, and that he was a chosen vessel of salvation, that could not be eternally lost: though supposing that this is his sense, and these his fears and concern, it follows not as neither that he was, so neither that he could be a lost and damned person: the fears of the saints, their godly jealousies of themselves, and pious care that they be not lost, are not at all inconsistent with the firmness of their election, their security in Christ, and the impossibility of their final and total falling away; but on the contrary are overruled, and made use of by the Spirit of God, for their final perseverance in grace and holiness.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    But I keep under my t body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be u a castaway.

    (t) The old man which strives against the Spirit.

    (u) Or, "reproved". And this word "reproved" is not contrasted with the word "elect", but with the word "approved", when we see someone who is experienced not to be such a one as he ought to be.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    keep under — literally, “bruise the face under the eyes,” so as to render it black and blue; so, to chastise in the most sensitive part. Compare “mortify the deeds of the body,” Romans 8:13; also 1 Peter 2:11. It is not ascetic fasts or macerations of the body which are here recommended, but the keeping under of our natural self-seeking, so as, like Paul, to lay ourselves out entirely for the great work.

    my body — the old man and the remainders of lust in my flesh. “My body,” so far as by the flesh it opposes the spirit [Estius] (Galatians 5:17). Men may be severe to their bodies and yet indulge their lust. Ascetic “neglect of the body” may be all the while a more subtle “satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23). Unless the soul keep the body under, the body will get above the soul. The body may be made a good servant, but is a bad master.

    bring it into subjection — or bondage, as a slave or servant led away captive; so the Greek.

    preached — literally, “heralded.” He keeps up the image from the races. The heralds summoned the candidates for the foot race into the race course [Plato, Laws, 8.833], and placed the crowns on the brows of the conquerors, announcing their names [Bengel]. They probably proclaimed also the laws of the combat; answering to the preaching of the apostles [Alford]. The Christian herald is also a combatant, in which respect he is distinguished from the herald at the games.

    a castaway — failing shamefully of the prize myself, after I have called others to the contest. Rejected by God, the Judge of the Christian race, notwithstanding my having, by my preaching, led others to be accepted. Compare the equivalent term, “reprobate,” Jeremiah 6:30; 2 Corinthians 13:6. Paul implies, if such earnest, self-denying watchfulness over himself be needed still, with all his labors for others, to make his own calling sure, much more is the same needed by the Corinthians, instead of their going, as they do, to the extreme limit of Christian liberty.

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    But I buffet my body (αλλα υπωπιαζω μου το σωμαalla hupōpiazō mou to sōma). In Aristophanes, Aristotle, Plutarch, from υπωπιονhupōpion and that from υποhupo and οπςops (in papyri), the part of the face under the eyes, a blow in the face, to beat black and blue. In N.T. only here and Luke 18:5 which see. Paul does not, like the Gnostics, consider his σαρχsarx or his σωμαsōma sinful and evil. But “it is like the horses in a chariot race, which must be kept well in hand by whip and rein if the prize is to be secured” (Robertson and Plummer). The boxers often used boxing gloves (χεστυςcestus of ox-hide bands) which gave telling blows. Paul was not willing for his body to be his master. He found good as the outcome of this self-discipline (2 Corinthians 12:7; Romans 8:13; Colossians 2:23; Colossians 3:5).

    And bring it into bondage (και δουλαγωγωkai doulagōgō). Late compound verb from δουλαγωγοςdoulagōgos in Diodorus Siculus, Epictetus and substantive in papyri. It is the metaphor of the victor leading the vanquished as captive and slave.

    Lest by any means (μη πωςmē pōs). Common conjunction for negative purpose with subjunctive as here (γενωμαιgenōmai second aorist middle).

    After that I have preached to others (αλλοις κηρχαςallois kērūxas). First aorist active participle of κηρυσσωkērussō (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:23), common verb to preach, from word κηρυχkērux (herald) and that is probably the idea here. A κηρυχkērux at the games announced the rules of the game and called out the competitors. So Paul is not merely a herald, but a competitor also.

    I myself should be rejected (αυτος αδοκιμος γενωμαιautos adokimos genōmai). Literally, “I myself should become rejected.” ΑδοκιμοςAdokimos is an old adjective used of metals, coin, soil (Hebrews 6:8) and in a moral sense only by Paul in N.T. (1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5-7; Romans 1:28; Titus 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:8). It means not standing the test (δοκιμοςdokimos from δοκιμαζωdokimazō). Paul means rejected for the prize, not for the entrance to the race. He will fail to win if he breaks the rules of the game (Matthew 7:22.). What is the prize before Paul? Is it that reward (μιστοςmisthos) of which he spoke in 1 Corinthians 9:18, his glorying of preaching a free gospel? So Edwards argues. Most writers take Paul to refer to the possibility of his rejection in his personal salvation at the end of the race. He does not claim absolute perfection (Philemon 3:12) and so he presses on. At the end he has serene confidence (2 Timothy 4:7) with the race run and won. It is a humbling thought for us all to see this wholesome fear instead of smug complacency in this greatest of all heralds of Christ.

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    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https: Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    I keep under ( ὑπωπιάζω )

    A feeble translation, and missing the metaphor. The word means to strike under the eye; to give one a black eye. It occurs elsewhere in the New Testament but once, Luke 18:5(see note). Rev., I buffet. The blow of the trained boxer was the more formidable from the use of the cestus, consisting of ox-hide bands covered with knots and nails, and loaded with lead and iron. So Entellus throws his boxing-gloves into the ring, formed of seven bulls' hides with lead and iron sewed into them (Virgil, “Aeneid,” v., 405). They were sometimes called γυιοτόροι limb-breakersA 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 flat 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.”

    Bring it into subjection ( δουλαγωγῶ )

    Rev., bring in into bondage. Metaphor of captives after battle. Not of leading the vanquished round the arena (so Godet), a custom of which there is no trace, and which, in most cases, the condition of the vanquished would render impossible. It is rather one of those sudden changes and mixtures of metaphor so frequent in Paul's writings. See, for instance, 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:2.

    Having preached ( κηρύξας )

    See on 2 Peter 2:5. Some find in the word an allusion to the herald ( κῆρυξ ) who summoned the contestants and proclaimed the prizes.

    Castaway ( ἀδόκιμος )

    See on Romans 1:28. Better, as Rev., rejected, as unworthy of the prize.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https: Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    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.

    But I keep under my body — By all kinds of self denial.

    And bring it into subjection — To my spirit and to God. The words are strongly figurative, and signify the mortification of the body of sin, "by an allusion to the natural bodies of those who were bruised or subdued in combat.

    Lest by any means after having preached — The Greek word means, after having discharged the office of an herald, (still carrying on the allusion,) whose office it was to proclaim the conditions, and to display the prizes.

    I myself should become a reprobate — Disapproved by the Judge, and so falling short of the prize. This single text may give us a just notion of the scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation; and clearly shows us, that particular persons are not in holy writ represented as elected absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, or predestinated absolutely and unconditionally to eternal death; but that believers in general are elected to enjoy the Christian privileges on earth; which if they abuse, those very elect persons will become reprobate. St. Paul was certainly an elect person, if ever there was one; and yet he declares it was possible he himself might become a reprobate. Nay, he actually would have become such, if he had not thus kept his body under, even though he had been so long an elect person, a Christian, and an apostle.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    27.But I keep under my body (516) Budaeus reads Observo ; (I keep a watch over;) but in my opinion the Apostle has employed the word ὑπωπιάζειν (517) here, to mean treating in a servile manner (518) For he declares that he does not indulge self, but restrains his inclinations — which cannot be accomplished unless the body is tamed, and, by being held back from its inclinations, is habituated to subjection, like a wild and refractory steed. The ancient monks, with a view to yield obedience to this precept contrived many exercises of discipline, for they slept on benches, they forced themselves to long watchings, and shunned delicacies. The main thing, however, was wanting in them, for they did not apprehend why it was that the Apostle enjoins this, because they lost sight of another injunction —

    to take no concern for our flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.
    Romans 13:14.)

    For what he says elsewhere (1 Timothy 4:8) always holds good — that bodily exercise profiteth little. Let us, however, treat the body so as to make a slave of it, (519) that it may not, by its wantonness, keep us back from the duties of piety; and farther, that we may not indulge it, so as to occasion injury, or offense, to others.

    That, when I have preached to others Some explain these words in this way — “Lest, after having taught others with propriety and faithfulness, I should incur the judgment of condemnation in the sight of God by a wicked life.” But it will suit better to view this expression as referring to men, in this way — “My life ought to be a kind of rule to others. Accordingly, I strive to conduct myself in such a manner, that my character and conduct may not be inconsistent with my doctrine, and that thus I may not, with great disgrace to myself, and a grievous occasion of offense to my brethren, neglect those things which I require from others.” It may also be taken in connection with a preceding statement, (1 Corinthians 9:23,) in this way — “Lest I should be defrauded of the gospel, of which others are partakers through means of my labors.”

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

    Scofield's Reference Notes


    (Greek - Ἀδμίν, "disapproved)." Dokimos, without the private a, is translated "approved" in Romans 14:18 ; Romans 16:10; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:12, by the word "tried." The prefix simply changes the word to a negative, i.e. not approved, or, disapproved. The apostle is writing of service, not of salvation. He is not expressing fear that he may fail of salvation but of his crown. See "Rewards"; Daniel 12:3; 1 Corinthians 3:14.

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    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https: 1917.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    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.

    Ver. 27. My body] My body of sin in the whole man, not mine outward man only. If we find the devil practising upon the flesh, the way is not to revile the devil, but to beat the flesh. Give it a blue eye, leave a blot in the face of it, as the word υπωπαιζω signifieth, batter it as those were wont, that tried masteries with plummets of lead; we owe it nothing but stripes, Romans 8:12. It is of a slavish nature, and must be held hard under, δουλαγωγω; as slaves thrust into a mill, or bound to an oar.

    A castaway] Cast out of heaven, as they were out of the fencing schools, that were either cross or cowardly; or that could offend, but not defend. An orator (how much more a preacher!) should be vir bonus dicendi peritus, a good man able to discourse. (Quintilian.) Diogenes blamed those orators that studied bene dicere, non bene facere, to speak well, but not to do accordingly. And Chrysostom saith, Nihil frigidius est doctore verbis solummodo philosophante. Hoc non est doctoris sed hishrionis. A wordy doctor is an unworthy creature, and more fit to make a stageplayer than a preacher.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    The original word may be fitly rendered, I give myself blue eyes; alluding to the olympic game of cuffing, in which the combatants were wont with their blows to beat one another, till they made each other livid, their eyes black and blue. The sense is, that by mortification he used great severity upon himself, contending against and combating with that body of sin and death which did obstruct and hinder him in running the Christian race which was set before him.

    The word it in the Greek is an allusion to the other exercise of wrestling, wherein the antagonists or contenders do strive to cast each other to the ground, and to keep them under. So he, the better to subdue his body of sin, was careful to keep down the body of flesh, which if pampered is apt to rebel.

    He concludes all with a reason why he exercised all this care and caution; namely, That is, lest when he had acquainted them with the laws and rules of Christianity, and proposed to them the way of striving and getting the crown, he himself should at last prove a cast-away, or one unworthy to be approved or rewarded by God.

    From whence observe, 1. That it is possible for him who has been all his life preaching to others, and furthering them in their way to heaven, to be thrown himself into hell at last. Many that have prophecied in Christ's name shall yet perish in his wrath; and such as have cast devils out of others, shall yet be cast to the devil themselves.

    Observe, 2. That such ministers as indulge their unruly appetites, giving the flesh whatever it craves, and can deny it nothing it desires, pampering the body to the prejudice of the soul, go not in St. Paul's road to heaven, but the contrary: they gratify what he mortified, they indulge what he subdued; he administered to the wants, they to the wantonness, of the flesh: he knew that Hagar would quickly perk up, and domineer over Sarah; that the body would quickly expect and command more attendance than the soul, except it were kept under: and for this reason, says our apostle here, 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 cast-away.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https: 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    27.] But I bruise my body ( ὑπωπιάζω, lit. to strike heavily in the face so as to render black and blue,—“ ὑπώπια,— τὰ ὑπὸ τοὺς ὦπας τῶν πληγῶν ἴχνη, ut ait Pollux: sed latius dici sic cœpere ἀφʼ οἱασδηποτοῦν πληγῆς τραύματα, ut ait Scholiastes ad Aristoph. Acharn., Cicero Tusc. 2, ‘Pugiles cæstibus contusi,’ i.e. ὑπωπιαζόμενοι.” Grot. The body is the adversary, considered as the seat of the temptations of Satan, and especially of that self-indulgence which led the Corinthians to forget their Christian combat, and sit at meat in the idol’s temple. The abuse of this expression to favour the absurd practice of the Flagellants, or to support ascetic views at all, need hardly be pointed out to the rational, much less to the Christian student. It is not even of fasting or prayer that he is here speaking, but as the context, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, shews, of breaking down the pride and obstinacy and self-seeking of the natural man by laying himself entirely out for his great work—the salvation of the greatest number: and that, denying himself “solatium” from without: “My hands have been worn away (cf. χεῖρες αὗται, Acts 20:34) with the black tent-cloths, my frame has been bowed down with this servile labour (cf. ἐλεύθερος.… ἐδούλωσα, 1 Corinthians 9:19).” Stanley) and enslave it (‘etiam δουλαγωγεῖν a pyctis desumptum est; nam qui vicerat, victum (vinctum?) trahebat adversarium quasi servum.’ Grot. But this seems to want confirmation. I can find no account of such a practice in any of the ordinary sources of information. Certainly Dares is not made the slave of Entellus in Æn. v.: and Virgil is generally accurate in such matters. I had rather give a more general meaning: that viz. of the necessary subjection, for the time, of the worsted to the prevailing combatant), lest perchance having proclaimed ( κηρ. absolute [answering to our use of preach]: as in Æsch. Eum. 566, κήρυσσε, κῆρυξ, καὶ στρατὸν κατειργάθου (peile). The subject of the proclamation might be the laws of the combat, or the names of the victors (Æn. v. 245), each by one in the capacity of herald: probably here the former only, as answering to the preaching of the Apostles. The nature of the case shews, that the Christian herald differs from the agonistic herald, in being himself a combatant as well, which the other was not: and that this is so, is no objection to thus understanding κηρύξας. “This introduces indeed a new complication into the metaphor: but it is rendered less violent by the fact, that … sometimes the victor in the games was also selected as the herald to announce his success. So it was a few years after the date of this Epistle, in the case of Nero. Suet. Nero, c. 24.” Stanley) to others, I myself may prove rejected (from the prize: not, as some Commentators, from the contest altogether, for he was already in it). 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. Such a person was called ἐκκεκριμένος, and ἀποδεδοκιμασμένος, see Philo de Cherub., § 22, vol. i. p. 152. 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 ἀδόκιμος 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; as Chrys. εἰ γὰρ ἐμοὶ τὸ κηρῦξαι, τὸ διδάξαι, τὸ μυρίους προσαγαγεῖν οὐκ ἀρκεῖ εἰς σωτηρίαν, εἰ μὴ καὶ τὰ κατʼ ἐμαυτὸν παρασχοίμην ἄληπτα, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ὑμῖν. p. 202.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https: 1863-1878.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


    GREAT Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Church of God will hail thee, in all generations, as the faithful servant of the Lord. Truly thou didst see the Lord Jesus, and didst become a witness to his resurrection. Truly the seal of thine Apostleship, the Churches in Christ, are in the Lord. And all the Churches of the saints, in all ages, and generations, find cause to bless the Lord for thy ministry. Yea! we of the present hour, are reaping daily mercies, through the grace of God the Holy Ghost, for thy labors in the Church of Corinth.

    Blessed Jesus! while running the race which is set before us, we would be everlastingly looking unto thee, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And, while the world is engaged in the empty and unsatisfying chase of life, may it be the portion of thy redeemed family, to be always following after thee, forgetting things which are behind, and reaching forth to those which are before, and thus to press towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And do thou, Lord, so bless thy people with the sweet influences of thine Holy Spirit, that we may mortify the deeds of the body and live. And Jesus himself will keep his redeemed from falling, and present them faultless in his own spotless righteousness before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https: 1828.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    1 Corinthians 9:27. ὑπωπιάζω) Eustathius says, ὑπώπια φασὶ τὰς περὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς πληγάς· ἐξ ὧν ἐκ μέρους καιριωτάτου, καὶ το ὑπωπιάζειν, καὶ σώματος ὑπωπιασμὸς μεταφορικῶς, κατα συντηξιν.(83) He at the same time shows, that πρόσκομμα, applies to the foot, as ὑπώτιον to the head; therefore compare πρόσκομμα and τύπτοντες with ὑπωπάζω, 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 7:12.— τὸ σῶμα, the body) A near antagonist, Romans 8:13; 1 Peter 2:11.— δουλαγωγῶ) I lay my hand upon my body, as on a slave, and restrain it; comp. respecting a slave, Sirach 33:25. ὑπωπιάζω, as a pugilist, δουλαγωγῶ, as a runner. The one word is put after the other; the one denotes rather the act, the other the state; the one is weightier than the other; for at first greater austerity is necessary, till the body is subdued.— κηρύξας) κήρυκες were present at the games [who placed the crowns on the brows of the conquerors announcing their names.—V. g.]— ἀδόκιμος, one rejected, cast away) Unworthy of a prize, of a crown. It is a word which was used in the public games.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https: 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Here the apostle informs us how he ran, that he might not run uncertainly; how he fought, so as he might not be like one beating the air:

    I (saith he) keep under my body; and bring it into subjection. By body, here, we must not understand only the apostle’s fleshly part (which we usually call our body); no, nor only our more gross and filthy affections and lusts (as some of the schoolmen have thought); but what the apostle elsewhere calleth the old man, under which notion cometh the sinful inclinations of our will, and corrupt dictates of reason, as it is in man since the fall. All this, as it cometh under the notion of the flesh in many other places of Scripture, and of our members which are upon the earth, Colossians 3:5; so it cometh here under the notion of the body; and, indeed, is that which our apostle calleth the body of death, Romans 7:24. This was the object of the apostle’s action; the object about which he was exercised. For his action, or exercise about this object, is expressed by two words, upwpiazw and doulagwgw the former word (as some think) is borrowed from the practice of those that fought in the afore-mentioned games, who knocked and beat one another till they were black and blue, and forced to yield themselves conquered. The second word signifieth to make one a servant, to bring one under command, so as he will do what another would have him do. By these two words the apostle expresseth that mortification, which he declareth himself to have lived in the practice of, that he might not in his race for heaven run uncertainly, nor in his spiritual fight lose his labour, and reap no more profit than one should reap that spends his time in beating the air. Their sense, who think that this duty of Paul was discharged by acts of mere external discipline, such as fasting, wearing sackcloth, beating themselves, &c., is much too short; these things reach not to the mind of man, his corrupt affections and lusts, which give life to the extravagancy of the bodily members, though indeed they may some of them be good means in order to the greater work. Paul’s meaning was, that he made it his work to deny his sensitive appetite such gratifyings as it would have; to resist the extravagant motions of his will, yea, of his own corrupt reason, so far as they were in any thing contrary to the holy will of God; though, in order to this, he also used fasting and prayer, and such acts of external discipline as his wisdom taught him were any way proper to this end. And this he tells us that he did,

    lest, while he preached to others, he himself should be a castaway: from whence we may observe, that Paul thought such a thing possible, that one who all his life had been preaching to others, to bring them to heaven, might himself be thrown into hell at last; and if it had not, our Saviour would never have told us, that he would at the last day say to some: Depart from me, I know you not, you workers of iniquity; who for their admittance had pleaded: We have prophesied in thy name, Matthew 7:22,23. Nor must we question but Judas, whom our Saviour calls a son of perdition, was a lost man as to eternity, though it be certain that he, as well as the other apostles, was a preacher of the gospel: yea, so far is this from being impossible, that it was the opinion of Chrysostom, that few ministers would be saved. We may also further observe, that such ministers as indulge their body, giving themselves liberties, either more externally in meats, drinks, apparel, pleasures; or more internally, indulging themselves in sinful speculations, notions, affections, inclinations; take a quite contrary road to heaven than Paul took, and think they have a great deal more liberty to the flesh than St. Paul thought he had, or than he durst use.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Keep under my body; literally, beat it in the face, after the manner of a boxer. This represents the severe discipline to which he subjected his appetites and passions according to God’s word. Ministers of Christ who have long preached the gospel, are not on that account sure of heaven. Nor can they safely depend upon any former experience. They must habitually govern their appetites, passions, and conduct by the revealed will of God, or they will be in danger of losing their souls. If this is the case with ministers, it must be with all others; and that hope of salvation which does not lead men to obey the commands of God, will perish at the giving up of the ghost.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Family Bible New Testament". https: American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    27. ὑπωπιάζω. Literally, I strike under the eye, or I beat black and blue. So the ancient Latin version of Irenaeus renders it Corpus meum lividum facio. The Vulgate, less forcibly, castigo. Tyndale, tame. R.V. buffet. The same word is used in Luke 18:5 of the effect of the repeated complaints of the poor widow. Cf. Shakespeare, King John, Acts 2. sc. 1, ‘Bethumped with words.’ The boxers were armed with the cestus.

    δουλαγωγῶ. Literally, lead it into slavery. The body was to be the absolute property of the spirit, to obey its directions implicitly, as a slave those of its master. Romans 6:19. By a series of violent blows on the face, as it were, it was to be taught to submit itself to the dictates of its superior.

    ἀδόκιμος. One rejected after trial. Except in Hebrews 6:8, this word is everywhere else translated reprobate in the A.V., and so here in the Vulgate reprobus. Wiclif, repreuable. No strength of religious conviction, we are here warned, can supply the place of that continuous effort necessary to ‘make our calling and election sure.’ Some have regarded the word κηρύξας here as having a reference to the herald who proclaimed the victor in the games, or announced the conditions of the contest. Dean Stanley reminds us that the victor sometimes announced his own success, and that Nero did so (cf. Suetonius, Nero, c. 24) a short time after this Epistle was written. But this somewhat misses the point of the Apostle’s meaning, which, if it is to be regarded as keeping up the metaphor derived from the games (though this is by no means certain), is, that after having, as herald, proclaimed the victory of others, he himself contends and is worsted, or after having announced the conditions to others, is convicted of having failed to observe them himself.

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    "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https: 1896.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    27. I keep under—Viewing his body as ready, with its fleshly appetites, (the reverse of the temperate of 1 Corinthians 9:25,) to break the certainty and surety of his running, he beat it to discoloration. Note on Luke 18:5, where the same Greek word is used in a slightly different sense. The term is a pugilistic one; literally, to black-eye one. Paul refers not, as the Romanists pervert the word, to any bodily flagellation, any more than beateth the air refers to a muscular blow. Nor, as Mr. Alford well says, does it refer even to “fasting and prayer,” but to the self-subduing and self-denial, as we have specified in note to 1 Corinthians 9:25.

    Bring it into subjection—Literally, enslave it.

    Have preachedHave heralded. The Greek word for preacher in the New Testament is κηρυξ, herald, and to preach is to herald, (the word used here,) that is, to proclaim, to announce, to call. In the games the herald was one who made the proclamations; so that Paul happily uses the word in its double sense. So Chrysostom, quoted by Wetstein, says: “Tell me, I pray you, at the Olympic contests does not the herald stand proclaiming strong and high, ‘Does any one charge that this candidate is a slave? a thief? a man of bad morals?’”

    A castaway—A rejectee, or reprobate, who could not stand the double scrutiny. The first scrutiny was to decide whether he was worthy to enter the games: the second was to decide whether he had so run, honourably and according to rule, as to be entitled to the evergreen chaplet. If not, he was rejected as a reprobate and a castaway. It is by only an apparent confusion that Paul here makes himself play the part both of herald and athlete. In fact, the Emperor Nero did once play both these parts. He was combatant, victor, and chosen herald to proclaim his own triumph.

    This elaborate illustration of the Christian life from the Isthmian games, for the first time drawn by Paul, must have formed a striking picture to the Corinthians, who were so familiar with the animating spectacle. Henceforward the sight of the stadium would awaken higher thoughts. It had a lesson to inspire them to new earnestness in the Christian race to make sure work of winning the incorruptible crown.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

    27. But I keep my body under and subjugate it lest having preached the gospel to others I myself may be disapproved,” i. e., rejected. Many have misapprehended the conclusion here involved, thinking that Paul was contemplating his own forfeiture of salvation in case of failure. This is out of harmony with the facts in the case, as the question of salvation is not under consideration, but the obtainment of that prize set before them which is translation or glorification when the Lord comes. The race-course and the arena are only for the select few who have met the conditions and become contestants. Hence the justification of these contestants is not involved, that being settled as a matter of necessity before they are admitted into the stadium, or the arena. But the prize at the end of the race is involved in ambiguity and depending on the fleetness of the runner and the dexterity of the prize-fighter. Hence the great importance that you judiciously manage your body, “keeping it under and subjugating it” to the dominion of your illuminated spirit and sanctified intellect, making your body, which in itself is but an animal, the mere servitor of your spiritual and intellectual being, now filled and utilized by the Holy Ghost. This is necessary to prepare this mortal to put on immortality, and thus get this material body ready for spiritualization when the Lord comes and translates His saints, of which there is constant liability. If He does not soon appear, we must evacuate these bodies and go away to meet Him, leaving mortality in the dust, awaiting spiritualization. Now, conceive a summary of this grand truth. Regeneration makes you a candidate for the Olympic race, admitting you into the kingdom where the stadium for the runner and the arena for the prize-fighter are located. Then, complete divestiture of every weight and besetting sin constitutes your sanctification for the race or the combat. Then the question still pends, “Shall I run the race successfully and fight the battle courageously so as to be ‘approved’ by my Lord when He comes for His Bride?” As Paul claims to be a perfect runner and heroic prize-fighter, we see him in constant and glowing anticipation of his Lord’s approval in the end. Yet he says that if he is not careful to keep his body under, and subordinate it to the spiritual and intellectual, there is a probability of his rejection at the end of the race, just like many of the Olympic racers failed to win the prize. In that case he does not forfeit a place in the kingdom of God, as that is not in the contest, but was settled before he became a bona fide contestant. But this final disapproval simply means the forfeiture of the prize, i. e., a place in the Bridehood, corroborating innumerable other Scriptures warranting the conclusion that multiplied millions will be saved who are not identified with the Bridehood, but friends of the Bridegroom and children of the kingdom; e. g., all infants, idiots, saved heathens, and innumerable Christians who are “scarcely saved” (1 Peter 4:18), whereas all the members of the Bridehood will have an “abundant entrance” (2

    Peter 1 Corinthians 1:11). Many a loyal citizen who voted for President McKinley has no qualification for an office in his Cabinet. So the Bridehood of Christ involves official qualification as subordinates in the Divine administration in this world, and doubtless many others.

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    Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    In another sense Paul viewed his flesh as his enemy. He recognized the need to exercise strict self-discipline. Obviously Paul was not speaking of self-discipline in the physical realm alone. He also had in mind moral discipline and discipline in the amoral areas of his life including voluntary curtailment of personal rights and liberties (cf. ch8; 1 Timothy 4:8). [Note: See Jerry M. Hullinger, "The Historical Background of Paul"s Athletic Allusions," Bibliotheca Sacra161:643 July-September2004):343-59.]

    We must be careful not to confuse the fear of disqualification with the fear of damnation. Paul had no fear that he would lose his salvation ( Romans 8:1; Romans 8:29-39). In the context what he could lose was a reward. [Note: See Smith, "Can Fallen . . .," pp466-67.] How ironic and pathetic it would be for Paul to forfeit a crown through his own lack of self-discipline or by breaking the Judge"s rules since He had instructed others concerning how to win one.

    This whole chapter is an explanation of the last verse of the preceding chapter. More generally it clarifies the importance of limiting our legitimate liberty as Christians for higher goals, namely, the glory of God and the welfare of other people.

    "Almost in reaction against ... globalization, many people are responding with increasing nationalism, sometimes with almost frightening ethnocentrism. Christians are not immune to these sweeping currents of thought. They, too, can be caught up in flag-waving nationalism that puts the interests of my nation or my class or my race or my tribe or my heritage above the demands of the kingdom of God. Instead of feeling that their most important citizenship is in heaven, and that they are just passing through down here on their way "home" to the heavenly Jerusalem ( Hebrews 12:22-23), they become embroiled with petty priorities that constitute an implicit denial of the lordship of Christ." [Note: Carson, p116.]

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    1 Corinthians 9:27. but (on the contrary) I buffet (or ‘beat down’)(1) my body, and bring it into bondage—as a slave into submission to his master. When he says, ‘I buffet my body,’ he plainly means ‘his whole embodied self, as acting and acted on through the body. So viewed, he expresses his determination to beat down relentlessly all those unholy inclinations of which the body is the external organ.

    lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected—judged unworthy of the prize.

    Note.—Here is a man who elsewhere expresses a confident and joyous assurance of his final salvation, while in this verse he holds forth his final perdition as equally certain, should certain indispensable preventives be neglected. Yes, his Christianity did not teach him that he was to be mechanically kept right, and passively landed on the eternal shore. God had given him, not only “the spirit of power and of love,” but the spirit of “a sound mind,” which led him, in the exercise of a sanctified common sense, to do as he taught his Philippian converts to do, to “work out his own salvation with fear and trembling,” and to do this—not the less but only the more—“because it is God who worketh in us both to will and to work” (Philippians 2:12-13). This is apostolic Christianity. But in luxurious times like ours the question may well be asked—Is the estimate of living Christianity here given—as inseparable from universal and continuous self-sacrifice, in supreme consecration to the one end for which we were “bought with a price”—realized and acted on by those who have experienced its saving power?

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https: 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    1 Corinthians 9:27. The fully-attested reading ὑπωπιάζω (from ὑπὸ and ὤψ, to hit under the eye) continues the pugilistic metaphor and suits Paul’s vehemence; “contundo corpus meum” (Bz(1400)), “lividum facio” (Cod. Claromontanus), “I beat my body black and blue”: a vivid picture of the corporal discipline to which P. subjects himself in the prosecution of his work (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11—esp. κολαφιζόμεθα; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff., Galatians 6:17, 2 Timothy 2:4). ὑποπιάζω ( ὑπὸ; + πιέζω cf. 2 Corinthians 11:32, etc.)—preferred by Hf(1401) and Hn(1402), after Clem. Alex.—giving the milder sense, to force under, subdue, subigo (Cv(1403)), is almost syn(1404) with δουλαγωγῶ.

    P.’s severe bodily suffering, entailed by the circumstances of his ministry, he accepts as needful for his own sanctification (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7),—a physical castigation which tames the flesh for the uses of the spirit (cf. 1 Peter 4:1 f.; also, for the principle involved, Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). The practices of the Middle-Age Flagellants and similar self-torturers have been justified by this text; but Paul’s discipline was not arbitrary and self-inflicted, it was dictated by his calling (1 Corinthians 10:12 b, 1 Corinthians 10:23)—a cross laid on him by the hand of God, and borne for the Gospel’s and the Church’s sake (cf. Colossians 1:24). In Colossians 2:23 he guards against the ascetic extravagances which this passage, perhaps even in his life-time, was used to support.—This “buffeting” of his physical frame enabled P. to “lead (his body) about as a slave,”—as one might do a bullying antagonist after a sound beating. Paul’s physical temperament, it appears, had stood in the way of his success as a minister of Christ; and the hindrance was providentially overcome by the terrible hardships through which he passed in pursuit of his ministry. This experience he commends to the Cor(1405) He had felt the fear, from which the above course of rigorous self-abnegation in the interest of others has saved him, “lest haply, after preaching to others, I myself should prove reprobate” ( ἀδόκιμος γένωμαι): the opp(1406) result to that of 1 Corinthians 9:23.—For κηρύσσω, see 1 Corinthians 1:23; the κῆρυξ at the Games summoned the competitors and announced the rules of the contest. With ἀδόκιμος, rejectaneus, cf. δοκιμάζω, 1 Corinthians 3:13, and note; see 2 Corinthians 13:5 ff., and other parls.—On the Gr(1407) Games, see the Dict. of Gr(1408) and Rom. Antiq. (Isthmia, Stadium); Hermann, Lehrbuch d. gottesdienstl. Alterthümer, § 50; also the supplementary Note on Greek Athletic Festivals in Bt(1409)

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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    I chastise, &c. Here St. Paul shews the necessity of self-denial and mortifications to subdue the flesh, and its inordinate desires. (Challoner) --- Not even the labours of an apostle are exemptions from voluntary mortifications and penance.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

    Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

    1 Corinthians 9:27 but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

    "but I buffet my body"-"to beat black and blue" (Robertson p. 149)

    "In dealing with his body, he doesn"t deliver pats, he delivers hard stunning blows...He"s talking here of being master over his body"s lawful desires..he"s urging them to so master themselves..that their rights and liberties will not become their lord." (McGuiggan p. 132)

    "and bring it into bondage"-"and make it my slave, i.e. make it serve my purposes in the gospel." (Fee p. 439)

    "I myself should be rejected"-i.e. disqualified because he broke the rules of the race. (Matthew 7:22) "I myself should fail shamefully of the prize." (Con)

    Points to Note:

    1. Paul believed that he could forfeit his own salvation, if he became a selfish and complacent man who demanded his rights in every circumstance.

    2. "Very certainly we cannot serve others until we have mastered ourselves; we cannot teach what we do not know; we cannot bring others to Christ until we ourselves have found Him.." (Barclay p. 96)

    3. Colossians 2:23 informs us that we are not to literally beat ourselves.

    4. "He speaks about one who makes the correct announcement but fails to absorb a vital part of that announcement in his own life and actions." (Lenski p. 387)

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    Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https: 1999-2014.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    keep under. Greek. hupopiazo. See Luke 18:5.

    bring . . . into subjection = reduce to slavery. Greek. doulagogeo. Only here. Compare App-190.

    lest that by any means. Greek. mepos.

    when, &c. = having preached. Greek. kerusso. App-121. There is an appropriateness in using here this verb, "to act as a herald". The herald summons the competitors.

    be = become, or prove to be.

    a castaway = disapproved, or rejected (for the prize). Greek. adokimos. See Romans 1:28.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    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. Keep under , [ hupoopiazoo (Greek #5299)] - bruise under the eyes, so as to render the antagonist powerless: to chastise in the most sensitive part (cf. "mortify the deeds of the body," Romans 8:13; 1 Peter 2:11). It is not fasts or macerations of the body which are recommended, but keeping under of natural self seeking; so as, like Paul, to lay ourselves out entirely for the great work.

    My body - the old man. "My body," so far as the flesh opposes the spirit (Galatians 5:17). Men may be severe to their bodies, yet indulge their lust. Ascetic 'neglect of the body' may be all the while a more subtile "satisfying of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23). Unless the soul keep under the body, the body gets above the soul. The body may be a good servant, but is a bad master.

    Bring it into subjection , [ doulagoogoo (Greek #1396)] - as a slave led captive.

    Preached - literally, heralded. Heralds summoned the candidates for the foot-race into the race-course, and placed the crowns on the conquerors, announcing their names. They proclaimed the laws of the combat, answering to the preaching of the apostles. The Christian herald is distinguished from the race heralds in being also a combatant.

    A cast-away - losing the prize myself, after having called others to the contest: qualis vita, finis ita. Rejected by the Judge of the Christian race, notwithstanding having, by my preaching, led others to be accepted (cf. margin, refuse silver, Jeremiah 6:30; 2 Corinthians 13:6, "reprobates"). Paul implies, if such self-denying watchfulness be needed still, with all his labours for others, to make his calling sure, much more is the same needed by the Corinthians, instead of going, as they do, to the extreme limit of Christian liberty. Rather, 'rejected' as to the special 'reward' of those who "turn many to righteousness" (note, 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Daniel 12:3). The context (1 Corinthians 9:18-23) favours this.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (27) But I keep under my body.—Better, but I bruise my body. The word is very strong, and implies to beat the flesh until it becomes black and blue. The only other place the word occurs is in Luke 18:5. The body is spoken of as his adversary, or the seat of those lusts and appetites which “war against the mind” (Romans 7:23; Galatians 5:17).

    Bring it into subjection.—Better, and make it a slave. The idea is carried on that the body is not only conquered, but led captive. We must remember that the language all throughout this passage is figurative, and the statement here refers, not to the infliction of actual pain on the body, but to the subduing of the appetites and passions which are located in it. The true position of our natural appetites is that they should be entirely our servants, and not our masters; that we “should not follow or be led by them,” but that they should follow and be led by us.

    Lest that by any means.—Better, lest having been a herald to others, I myself should be rejected. The image is carried on, and the Apostle says that he has a further motive to live a life of self-denial—viz., that he having acted as a herald, proclaiming the conditions of the contest and the requisite preliminaries for it, should not be found to have himself fulfilled them. It is the same image kept up still of this race, and of the herald who announced the name of the victor, and the fact that he had fulfilled the necessary conditions. It was not the custom for the herald to join in the contest, but the Apostle was himself both a runner in the Christian course, and a herald of the conditions of that race to others. Hence, naturally, he speaks of the two characters, which in the actual illustration would be distinct, as united in one when applied spiritually to himself. The word “cast away” conveys a wrong impression. The Greek word signifies one who had not behaved according to the prescribed regulations.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    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.
    I keep
    25; 4:11,12; 6:12,13; 8:13; Romans 8:13; 2 Corinthians 6:4,5; 11:27; Colossians 3:5; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 2:11
    Romans 6:18,19
    13:1-3; Psalms 50:16; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 12:45-47; 13:26,27; 2 Peter 2:15
    a castaway
    Jeremiah 6:30; Luke 9:25; Acts 1:25; 2 Corinthians 13:5,6

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

    Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

    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 cast-away.

    In opposition to the fruitless or objectless fighting just described, Paul says, I keep under my body; literally I bruise my body. ( ץ ̓ נשניב ́ זש, to smite under the eye, to bruise, to smite, Luke 18:5.) His antagonist was his body, which he so smote, i.e. so dealt with, as to bring it into subjection; literally, to lead about as a slave. Perhaps in reference to the custom of the victor leading about his conquered antagonist as a servant; though this is doubtful. The body, as in part the seat and organ of sin, is used for our whole sinful nature. Romans 8:13. It was not merely his sensual nature that Paul endeavored to bring into subjection, but all the evil propensities and passions of his heart. Lest having preached to others ( ךחסץ ́ מבע), Perhaps the apostle means to adhere to the figure and say, ‘Lest having acted the part of a herald, (whose office at the Grecian games was to proclaim the rules of the contest and to summon the competitors or combatants to the lists,) he himself should be judged unworthy of the prize.' As, however, the word is so often used for preaching the gospel, he may intend to drop the figure and say, ‘He made these strenuous exertions, lest, having preached the gospel to others, he himself should become ( ב ̓ הן ́ ךילןע) a reprobate, one rejected.' What an argument and what a reproof is this! The reckless and listless Corinthians thought they could safely indulge themselves to the very verge of sin, while this devoted apostle considered himself as engaged in a life-struggle for his salvation. This same apostle, however, who evidently acted on the principle that the righteous scarcely are saved, and that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, at other times breaks out in the most joyful assurance of salvation, and says that he was persuaded that nothing in heaven, earth or hell could ever separate him from the love of God. Romans 8:38, Romans 8:39. The one state of mind is the necessary condition of the other. It is only those who are conscious of this constant and deadly struggle with sin, to whom this assurance is given. In the very same breath Paul says, "O wretched man that I am;" and, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory," Romans 7:24, Romans 7:25. It is the indolent and self-indulgent Christian who is always in doubt.

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    Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:

    The Bible Study New Testament

    And bring it under complete control. Paul accepts as necessary the strict discipline of his own body, if he is to win the race. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:1-2. To keep from being rejected. I cannot believe that Paul had any great fear of this, even though it was a possibility. After having called others. At the beginning of the games, a herald called out the names of the contestants, who were then examined to be certain they were qualified to compete. After the contest, each of the competitors was again examined and judged on the basis of how well they had competed. If the judges felt they had not done their best, they were disqualified and lost the prize. Even though the victory is already won in Christ on the cross, we personally can be disqualified. We must try hard to make God's choice of us a permanent experience (2 Peter 1:10).

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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:27". "The Bible Study New Testament". https: College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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