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There are few references to sporting activity in the Old Testament, the main ones being to wrestling (Genesis 32:24), archery (1 Samuel 20:20; 1 Samuel 20:36) and sword-fighting (2 Samuel 2:14-16). The New Testament references to sport are mainly in those writings sent to people living in Greece and Asia Minor, where there was still much interest in sports that the Greeks had introduced in pre-Christian times. Many of these sports were associated with idolatrous practices, and therefore most Jewish people avoided them. Among the Greeks and other non-Jews they were very popular.

Chief among the sports mentioned in the New Testament are running and boxing. The winner received as his prize a circular crown made of leaves (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). Self-discipline and perseverance were essential, and people had to compete according to set rules, otherwise they were disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Galatians 5:7; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1-2).

Christians recognize that sport is a beneficial form of exercise (1 Timothy 4:8) but, as in other areas of life, proper attitudes are more important than a successful result. Christians should not cheat, be greedy, deliberately injure others, or allow sport to take the place of God in their lives (Matthew 6:24; Matthew 22:39; Romans 12:1; Romans 12:9; Romans 12:17; Ephesians 4:22-27). The physical exercise that comes with sport is beneficial, but the benefits are only temporary. The benefits of spiritual exercise are eternal (1 Timothy 4:8).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Sport'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
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