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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Spring 2017
Theme: Identity: My Life of
What This Lesson Is About:
week’s study will focus on how we (believers) can better share the gospel when we step into the shoes of others.
Life In Christ
Life in the Church
Life at Home
Life at Word
Life in the Community
Life on Mission
We can better share the
gospel when we step into the shoes of others.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Step Into The Shoes of Others To Share The
Gospel (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
Sharing The Gospel Takes Discipline and
Self-denial (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
While Paul was on his second missionary journey he received a
vision to carry the gospel into Europe (Acts 16). Paul landed at Neapolis,
went to Philippi, and Thessalonica (all in northern Greece which was
called Macedonia). Following this, he traveled to Athens, and then arrived
in Corinth about A.D. 50 for a year and a half of ministry there (Acts
18:1-18). Corinth was located on the small piece of land (isthmus) joining
northern Greece to southern Greece (today’s canal is less than four
miles long). Paul left the infant church and returned to Antioch, his home
church (which had sent him out). The next year (about A.D. 52), Paul began
his third missionary journey, visiting churches he had previously
established and strengthening them. Paul’s headquarters was Ephesus and
he likely wrote 1 Corinthians from there about A.D. 55-56 in response to
information from visitors from Corinth and under the inspiration of the
1 Corinthians, Paul addressed a variety of issues from living a Christian
lifestyle in an immoral society to problems in the church. Under the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote most of 1 Corinthians in
response to problems in the church. These included divisions (1 Cor.
1–4), immorality (chapter 5), lawsuits (6:1-11), prostitutes (6:12-20),
marriage (chapter 7), and Christian liberty (8:1–11:1).
discussing Christian liberty, Paul first clarified God’s position on
food offered to idols: don’t be a stumbling block to others. In 9:1-18,
Paul defended his position as an apostle and to be supported by the
Christians at Corinth (though he did not exercise these rights). In verses
19-23, Paul explained his social relationships with people. Finally, in
verses 24-27, Paul talked about his self-discipline for the sake of
fulfilling his calling. Studying these verses in 1 Corinthians can help us
better share the gospel with others.
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
We tend to define people by the demographics
of our church and the circle of Christians we regularly encounter. People
who match those characteristics certainly need Jesus, but so do people
outside our circles. To share Christ with these other people requires us
to take the gospel into their culture rather than expecting them to come
into ours. This calls for us to step outside our comfort zone, but leading
people to know Jesus is worth it.
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Into The Shoes of Others To Share The Gospel
(1 Cor. 9:19-23)
19 Although I am free from all and not
anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win
more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews;
to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not
under the law—to win those under the law. 21 To those who are
without the law, like one without the law—though I am not without
God’s law but under the law of Christ—to win those without the law. 22
To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all
things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23
Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the
Sharing The Gospel Takes Discipline and Self-denial
(1 Cor. 9:24-27)
24 Don’t you know
that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who
competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a
perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. 26 So I do not
run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27
Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that
after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Why are discipline and self-control so important in
the life of a believer?
do you think sharing the Gospel takes discipline and self-denial?
Where do you see the need for discipline and
self-control in your life?
What is the importance of self-control? (see Adv.
comm., pg. 5, “In the Christian life . .
. “ )
What are some practical things you can do to make
sure you aren’t disqualified as a witness for Christ?
was Paul’s purpose in using metaphors in sharing the Gospel?
would you explain Paul’s connection with athletic games? (see Adv. comm., pg.
know Paul was in Corinth . . . “ )
How would you explain the significance of the phrase “don’t
you know” ? (see Adv. comm., btm. pg. 4, “The
phrase Don’t you know . . . “ ? )
How would you interpret Paul’s first use of a
metaphor using the paragraph that begins “The
first metaphor . . . “ in Adv.
comm., on btm. pg. 4. )
is the difference between the crowns of the Isthmian Games and Christian crowns?
(see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Athletes
exercise . . . “ )
How would you explain the purpose of self-control and
discipline in a Christian’s life to a new Christian?
you think of an champion athlete, do you think their ultimate degree of
dedication is that of a slave? Why, or why not?
do you think it means to limit one’s freedom to become a champion of the
Do you think because of who we are in Christ, we have the
obligation to become a “slave” for sharing the Gospel?
Why, or why not?
does Paul tell us regarding the need to practice discipline? (see Adv. comm.,
pg. 6, “Instead of engaging . . . “ )
what ways can we step in the shoes of others to share the gospel?
are the rewards of making the Gospel relatable for people?
would you summarize these verses (24-27)?
is the Apostle Paul really telling us as followers of Christ?
Lessons in 1 Cor. 9:24-27:
To live for Christ, we must exercise self-control and discipline.
Christian liberty involves the limitation as well as the practice of
When we don’t follow God’s commands, we can disqualify ourselves from
Because of our sin nature, we must discipline our thoughts, our words, and
apostle Paul was passionate in his quest to present the gospel to all
people. What does that mean?
Sharing Christ is serious business! But
the reward is great! Sometimes
sharing Christ means we need to step out of our own personal comfort
zones. Jesus calls us to a life of self-denial (Luke 9:23). He
also calls each of us to invest our lives in the most strategic manner
possible to accomplish the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). For
some, that will mean walking next door to share Christ; for others, it
will mean going to another culture as missionaries. We
need to have the courage to pray for ourselves, for our families, and for
our church, that God will help us stop at nothing to see people come to
Jesus. Sharing the Gospel is
serious business! And for us
(believers) it should take a high priority in our daily lives.
But does it? Are we
really doing the very best we can in sharing the Gospel?
do you stand when it comes to sharing the Gospel?
Is it serious business for you? On
a scale of 1 (not really serious for me) to 10 (seriously looking for
opportunities to share), where do you stand when it comes to seriously
sharing God’s salvation message? How
did you rate yourself? Do you
need to improve? If so, do you
seriously WANT to improve? Ask
God’s Holy Spirit for help! IF you are really serious, He WILL
help you! Lord, help us all to
be a better witnesses in sharing the Gospel!
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.
Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Focal Passage from three different translations of
King James Version:
1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (KJV)
though I be free from all men,
yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And
unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are
under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21
To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to
God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all
things to all men, that I might
by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that
I might be partaker thereof with you. 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run
all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And
every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do
it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I
therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the
air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it
into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I
myself should be a castaway.
New King James Version:
1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (NKJV)
19 For though I am free from
all men, I have made myself a
servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I
became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who
are under the law; 21 to those who
are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but
under law toward Christ), that I might win those who
are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might
win the weak. I have become all things to all men,
that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the
gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race
all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for
the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do
it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one
who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it
into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become
New Living Translation:
1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (NLT)
though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to
bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew
to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I
too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so
I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am
with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that
law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey
the law of Christ. 22 When I am with those who are weak, I share
their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find
common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I
do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. 24 Don’t
you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So
run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They
do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26
So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I
discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise,
I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
Commentary for the focal passage comes from four sources: “Advanced Bible Study Commentary,” “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,” “Believer's Bible Commentary,” and “The Moody Bible Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)
Lesson Outline — “Life on
Mission” — 1 Corinthians 9:19-24
Free To Serve
(1 Cor. 9:19-22)
The Gospel Matters
(1 Cor. 9:23-24)
Bible Study Commentary: 1 Corinthians 9:19-24
I. Step Into the Shoes of Others to Share Christ.
In the middle of his
section on Christian liberty (and his defense of his apostleship, specifically),
Paul explained why he had acted one way in one situation and a different way in
other situations. Apparently the believers in Corinth, a church plagued by
divisions, had either seen or heard about differences in Paul’s behavior in
certain circumstances. Paul’s goal was to reach all people with the gospel,
and he adapted to each situation while remaining faithful to the message. These
verses challenge us to adopt his approach to reaching others with the good news.
Paul may have used
verse 19 in both ways, as both a conclusion (to vv. 1-18) and an introduction
(to vv. 20-22).
Although I am free from all
and not anyone’s slave (see also 19:1). Verse 19 serves as a conclusion to
the section before (vv. 1-18) and an introduction to the following verses (vv.
20-23). In these verses, Paul explains his status and his rationale for adapting
to different situations for the sake of the gospel. Paul was a Roman citizen
from birth (Acts 22:28) and was a slave only to sin (Rom. 6:20). This slavery
Paul experienced was prior to his being saved several years after Jesus’
crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.
The word Although indicates Paul is
making a contrast in the sentence. Although Paul was free from all and
not anyone’s slave, he said, I have made myself a slave to everyone. Paul
voluntarily adopted a new status. Why did Paul make himself a slave to
everyone? We find the answer to that question in the last part of verse 19: in
order to win more people to salvation in Christ. Although Scripture ends
with the words win more people, the words “to salvation in
Christ” explain Paul’s motivation for his entire 30-year ministry (beginning
about A.D. 34 when Paul was converted and concluding about A.D. 64 when Paul was
executed in Rome). Also supporting the words “to salvation in Christ,” the
word win (v. 19) is used five times in our verses and stands in parallel
(and is further explained by) the word save (v. 22).
Since God directed
Paul’s life in this way, shouldn’t we also attempt to step into the shoes of
others to share Christ? After all, the main verb in the Great Commission (Matt.
28:18-20), “make disciples,” applies to us as much as it did to Jesus’
disciples. Stepping into the shoes of others certainly helps us better share the
In 1 Corinthians 19:20-22, Paul explained who the more people are in verse 19. Paul
mentioned four groups of people. First, Paul referred to Jews: To the Jews I
became like a Jew. Although Paul became a Christian (Acts 9), he never
ceased being a Jew. Likely the words I became like a Jew refer to
Paul’s behavior when he was present with the Jews. A clear example of this
behavior would be Paul’s insistence on Timothy being circumcised (Acts 16:3).
Paul cited his motivation: to win Jews. Throughout his life, Paul
remained concerned about the salvation of his people, the Jews (treated more
fully in Rom. 9–11).
Second, the next group Paul mentioned was to
those under the law. Some scholars view this group as further addressing the
Jews. However, this address may refer to Jewish Christians (in Judea and
throughout the Roman world). Paul’s practice in his travels usually was to go
to synagogues first, then to go to the Gentiles in a city. The Book of Acts
frequently reported Jewish converts as a result of Paul’s ministry. The end of
1 Corinthians 19:21 indicates that Paul’s purpose was the same as it was with
the Jews: to win those under the law. Paul did point out his relationship
to the law: though I myself am not under the law. Two of the factions
battling for control of the church in Corinth were those who still considered
themselves to be under the law and those who considered themselves to be free
from the law. In writing as he did, Paul was able to appeal to both groups.
Third, in verse 21, the next group Paul
mentioned was To those who are without that law. This referred to those
who were Gentiles and who were without the benefits and restrictions of the law.
In writing like one without the law, Paul described his actions when he
was present with Gentiles. However, Paul immediately pointed out that he
wasn’t without God’s law but under the law of Christ. Likely the
distinction between God’s law and Christ’s law referred to such matters as
dietary restrictions, clothes,
customs, holidays, and the like. Perhaps Paul was thinking about Christ’s law
as the law of love. Whatever the case, Paul’s purpose was the same as with the
other groups, to win those without the law to salvation in Christ.
Fourth, in verse 22, the next group Paul
mentioned was the weak. In Corinth, this group included new converts who
abstained from certain foods or practices because it hurt their relationship
with Christ. To relate to this group, Paul became weak—in this
situation he avoided eating meat—in order to win the weak.
Paul summarized his
behavior in this way: I have become all things to all people, so that I may
by every possible means save some. This was the focus of Paul’s
ministry—to present the gospel to everyone regardless of race, gender,
socioeconomic status, or religion. Paul’s example reinforces our application
of these verses: to step into the shoes of others to share Christ.
verse 23, Paul specified his rationale: Now I do all this because of the
gospel, so that I may share in the blessings. The word blessings may
refer to Paul’s salvation and/or to the salvation of people Paul wins. Paul
also may have been thinking of other benefits of salvation. In any case, Paul
was able to win many people to the Lord because he related to them so well. One
commentator summarized Paul’s mindset as follows: “Every encounter, every
personal habit, was now overtly under the control of Jesus Christ as Lord,
because the gospel dominated his whole life. He was living his daily life sub
specie aeternitatis (i.e. in the light of eternity), and that meant
evangelism with integrity, relationships with adaptability, and personal
holiness with single-mindedness.”1
II. Sharing Christ Takes Discipline and Self-denial. In verses 19-23, Paul
clarified why his behavior was different with one group than with another. Paul
also explained his motive: to win people to Christ. In verses 24-27 he
used several athletic examples to explain the need for self-control and discipline.
We know Paul was in
Corinth during A.D. 51 (Acts 18:1-18), the time when the Isthmian Games were held
(every two years). In addition to the racing and boxing Paul mentioned, these
games usually included wrestling and jumping, as well as throwing the javelin
and discus. There were no rooms for hundreds (or thousands) of athletes at that
time, so they lived in tents; Paul’s trade as a tentmaker may have furthered
his ability to share the gospel with these athletes. How many times have your
skills, your interests, or your hobbies provided you with opportunities to
present the gospel?
The phrase Don’t
you know points back to a
previous discussion (vv. 19-23) and has been used several times in the Book of 1
Corinthians to introduce the application of a biblical truth. Although Paul used
the examples of running and boxing, his major point was need for self-control
and discipline in living a Christian lifestyle—particularly as it relates to
sharing the gospel.
The first metaphor (example) Paul used in
verse 24 was a runner in a race: the runners in a stadium all race, but only
one receives the prize. In the games, many runners ran; they finished the
race, but only one received a wreath as his prize. Today this race refers
to the way people live; this race ends at death. Paul’s analogy does break
down if applied too literally: more than one Christian (or one group of
Christians) will receive the prize. This “prize” is not referring to
God’s gift of salvation; Paul is discussing the prize, something you
receive on the basis of what you do (as a runner who wins receives the reward).
Salvation is a free gift, given by God only to people who trust Him; no one ever
earns it (Eph. 2:8-9). A result of this salvation is that God’s people do the
good works He has prepared for them to do (Eph. 2:10). What is the prize? In
using the word prize, Paul likely is referring to the reward for the good
works Christians do after their conversion.
Previously, Paul had
discussed his work (1 Cor. 3:10-15) and distinguished it from salvation (see
especially v. 15). Paul compared a successful Christian life to the discipline
of running. Believers can and do fall into sin along the way, get lazy or
distracted, and miss many of the rewards that could have been theirs. In 1
Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul compared our works to constructing a building; some
barely pass inspection!
Through Paul, God
reminds readers that everyone who begins the race (life) doesn’t win the
prize. In the same way, every person who appears to begin the Christian life
does not endure to the end; put another way, baptism doesn’t guarantee
salvation (though every true Christian should be baptized and will be saved).
Jesus said “everyone who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22, NLT).
Further, as Jesus concluded His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), He warned
against false prophets (7:15-20) and false Christians (vv. 21-23). A common
theme in these warnings is those who claim salvation when they do not
live in God’s ways demonstrate they are not saved. Though only God knows about
a person’s salvation, Jesus’ words in the Matthew’s
Gospel specify God’s criteria for judgment—the obedience that comes
Does this mean that
Christians can lose their salvation? “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus
is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you
will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Absolutely not: “God’s gracious gifts and
calling are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).
Scholars debate how to
understand Jesus’ parable of the soils (Matt. 13:1-9) in light of our focal
verses from 1 Corinthians 9. Though some scholars believe the parable of the
soils (or sower) refers to salvation, other scholars understand it to refer to
the same things Paul describes in 1 Corinthians: good works after salvation.
First Corinthians 9:24
concludes with God’s command: Run in such a way to win the prize. As
Christians, we must live in ways that will, in the end, result in our being
given the prize. Paul would later tell the Philippians, “I pursue as my goal
the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Paul had already received salvation; now he was pursuing the Lord and the
Lord’s calling on his life.
verse 25, Paul elaborated on how we run to receive that prize. Pointing
back to the athletes, Paul wrote, Now everyone who competes exercises
self-control in everything. Even those who are not athletes understand the
importance of self-control. We understand that we all have the same need for
self-control, athlete or not (though, unfortunately, we don’t always exercise
In the Christian life, self-control is
one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Because of our sin nature,
is essential to living as God desires. When Christians fail to practice
self-control in everything, their I nfluence is harmed, their witness fails,
Christ is not lifted up, people are hurt, and sinners are not brought into
relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most of us have
witnessed this far too many times in the conduct of Christians and Christian
leaders. Satan tempts God’s people to abandon self-control and instead pursue
their own selfish desires (Jas. 1:14-15; 4:1-10).
exercise self-control to receive a perishable crown, but
we an imperishable crown. The crown in the Isthmian Games was a
wreath of an evergreen plant, usually pine, that would fade and wilt after
several days. Conversely, in heaven everything is perfect and imperishable. The
Christian’s crown will never fade away because it is not a part of this world
where people and things grow old and fade away. Many New Testament scholars view
the crown of verse 25 as another way to refer to the prize of verse 24.
Verse 26 begins with
the word So, which lays the foundation for Paul’s statement in the
remainder of the verse: I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like
one beating the air. Picture a runner who does not know where the finish
line is or a boxer who shadowboxes instead of aiming to connect with an
opponent’s head or body. As long as we focus on the goal of living in a way
that brings people to Christ, we will not live aimlessly.
Instead of engaging in the foolish actions
of running aimlessly or beating the air, verse 27 specifies
Paul’s conduct: I discipline my body and bring it under strict control. In
the same way that athletes practice self-control and discipline, Paul worked to bring
his body under strict control. What Paul referred to in this verse is
the fact that even after we become Christians, temptation repeatedly uses our
desires to lead us into sin (Jas. 1:14-15). We have a choice: either we can
present our bodies to sin “as weapons
for unrighteousness” or we can offer ourselves “to God …as weapons
for righteousness” (Rom. 6:13).
Paul continued verse 27
by giving his rationale: so that after preaching to others, I myself will not
Paul knew that he could lose his influence if he failed to practice
self-control and discipline. Likewise, we must remember and apply this truth to
how we live.
“[The] Christian life
involves the limitation as well as the enjoyment of freedom.” 2 We are called
to enjoy our freedom in Christ and to put it to good use for the spread of the
Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament: 1
Paul: subjection of self for others and to meet God’s approval (9:19-27)
Going beyond his right
to financial support, the apostle now discusses other areas of life in which he
had forfeited his right to freedom in order to win more to Christ. His statement
is a strong one: “I am free from all men, but I have enslaved (edoulosa,
aorist) myself to all.”
In discussing his
self-sacrificing concern in vv. 20-23,
Paul mentions three groups—the Jews, the Gentiles, and those whose consciences
are weak. For the Jews’ sake Paul became like a Jew. That is, when necessary
and regarding indifferent matters, he conformed to the practice of Jewish law (Acts
16:3; 18:18; 21:20-26)
to win the Jews. “Those under the law” need not be taken as a separate group
such as proselytes to Judaism, but as reference again to Jews—those to whom
Paul accommodated himself. In the parenthetical phrase “though I myself am not
under the law,” Paul means that in his freedom he was not obligated to
practice such Jewish laws as their rigorous ceremonial washings.
For the Gentiles
“without the law,” those who did not have any written revelation from God (Rom
2:12), Paul says he became like one not having the law
and took his place in their culture in order to reach them (cf. Gal
2:11-21). But he hastens to correct any
misunderstanding: he counts himself still under God’s law, and even more,
under Christ’s law.
Those with a weak
8:9-12) he also wants to be sure to win (v. 22).
He becomes “weak”—that is, he refrains from exercising his Christian
freedom, and acts as they do respecting these indifferent things. He has
forfeited his freedom for the sake of all, that by all these means some may be
Paul does all this for
the sake of the gospel that he might be a co-sharer (synkoinomos,
“communion,” “fellowship”) with the gospel, sharing in its blessings
personally and in seeing others come to Christ.
By way of practical
application, Paul now gives a strong exhortation for Christian self-denial,
using himself as an example and employing athletic figures familiar to the
Corinthians at their own Isthmian athletic games, which were hosted every other
year by the people of Corinth. The particular events he refers to are running
24, 25. Paul assumes their common knowledge (ouk
oidate, “don’t you know”) of the foot race in the stadium. Every one
of them should run as these runners do, with all-out effort to get the prize. By
the words “strict training,” Paul refers to the athlete’s self-control in
diet and his rigorous bodily discipline. He observes that the athletes train
vigorously for a “corruptible crown”—a laurel or celery wreath that would
soon wither away. But the Christian’s crown, eternal life and fellowship with
God, will last forever (Rev 2:10).
26, 27. Paul says of himself
that he does not contend like an undisciplined runner or boxer. He states that
he aims his blows against his own body, beating it black and blue (hypopiazo;
see the same word in Luke 18:5).
The picture is graphic: the ancient boxers devastatingly punishing one another
with knuckles bound with leather thongs. And so by pummeling his body, Paul
enslaves it in order to gain the Christian prize. The ancient keryx
was the herald in the Greek games who announced the rules of the contest, but
the Christian herald—i.e., preacher—not only announces the rules but
“plays” in the game as well. Paul had not only to preach the gospel but also
to live the gospel. As Hodge has said (in loc.), Paul here acts on the principle
that the righteous can scarcely be saved, though he also stresses that nothing
can separate the Christian from God’s love (Rom 8:38, 39).
The Christian, confident of God’s sovereign grace, is nevertheless conscious
of his battle against sin.
In Paul’s time many of the structures
dedicated to the ancient gods had been restored and were in use again in worship
of the gods and were no doubt evident to the visitor to Corinth. These included
the archaic temple of Apollo, built about 550 B.C., seven of whose columns are
still to be seen today. Nearby, on the north slope of the hill, was the shrine
to Athena, the Bridler. It had been built to commemorate Bellerophon’s
harnessing of the winged horse, Pegasus, who was caught with Athena’s help,
when he was drinking at the fountain of Peirene at Corinth. Bellerophon (a local
mythical hero) then used Pegasus in slaying the Chimaera (a she-monster with a
lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail). This well-known story
led to the winged horse’s becoming the emblem used for hundreds of years on
Corinthian coins. Poseidon, the sea-god, also had his shrine and fountain at
Corinth, though his chief cultic place in this area was at Isthmia about seven
miles to the east. (For location of places mentioned, see map, p. 187).
A short distance west of the archaic Apollo temple stands a
stone-cut fountain house. Here, according to Greek myth, the Corinthian
princess, Glauke, the bride of Jason, threw herself into the fountain waters at
a time when her body was being destroyed by the poisoned robe given to her by
Medea, the sorceress from the Black Sea area. In vengeance, Medea killed her own
sons born of Jason. Close by was a statue of Terror, in the form of a woman,
which was in existence in Paul’s day, when images of baked clay were evidently
thrown into the Fountain House of Glauke. This ceremony is believed to be a
development from earlier human sacrifices made there by the Corinthians. The
goddess Hera was worshiped in connection with this festival and a small temple
of Roman times with colonnaded court near the Fountain of Glauke is identified
as that of Hera.
Apollo was also worshiped at another place besides the archaic
temple of Apollo. This shrine, located near the Fountain of Peirene in the
northeast section of the excavated area of Corinth, was the Peribolos sanctuary
of Apollo with its large paved court and colossal statue of the god in the
Other remains of the Roman period found in the Corinthian
excavations include those of the temple of Aphrodite-Tyche (Venus-Fortune); a
Pantheon, or “temple of all the gods,” a temple of Heracles (the Greek
mythical hero famous for achieving “The Twelve Labors”); and a temple of
Hermes (Mercury, the messenger of the gods). Besides these, there were the
temple to Octavia, (the deified sister of the Emperor Augustus) and the temple
of Jupiter Capitolinus (Zeus Koryphaios). Some distance from the marketplace, to
the north, was the temple of Asklepios, the god of healing, to whom terra cotta
likenesses of the diseased parts of the body were offered by those who were
afflicted with these sicknesses. Some of these terra cotta likenesses are on
display today in the Antiquities Museum at Ancient Corinth. Paul may have had in
mind such sicknesses affecting the perishable human body as represented by the
clay likenesses of these diseased parts when he declared to the Corinthians the
truth of God’s triumph over decay and death when at the resurrection the
Christian dead “will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1Cor
15:52; cf. also vv. 53-55).
On the top of the Acrocorinth (the rocky pinnacle) behind ancient
Corinth was the famous temple of Aphrodite (Venus) in whose service were one
thousand prostitute slave priestesses. On the Acrocorinth’s north slopes
facing the city were other temples, such as that in honor of the Egyptian gods,
Isis and Serapis. The worship of these gods probably started at Corinth either
in the Hellenistic period (c.330 to 63 B.C.) or in the Roman period, after the
city was founded as a Roman Colony in Caesar’s time. (See Broneer,
“Corinth,” pp. 83-88.) On the Acrocorinth’s north slopes was the temple of
the goddess Demeter that had been in use from c.600 B.C. to A.D. 350. This
structure contained a number of dining rooms, which may account for Paul’s
warning about not being a stumbling block by “eating in an idol’s temple”
8:10; see Henry S. Robinson, “Excavations at
Corinth, 1961-1962,” in AJA, 67, , pp. 216, 217; Miriam Ervin,
“Newsletter from Greece,” AJA, 74 , pp. 267, 268; and Nancy Bookidis,
Hesperia, 28 , No. 3, pp. 297-310).
With such idolatry and other pagan practices dominating the life
and culture of Corinth, no wonder Paul was so concerned for Christians not to be
reckless in exercising their freedom to eat meat sold in butcher shops after it
had been offered to some idol and consecrated in pagan worship in the city.
Also, that is why Paul disciplined himself (1Cor
9:19-27) in refraining from eating meat sacrificed to
idols or in doing any other thing by which he would disappoint the Lord or
offend his brothers in Christ.
SOURCE: The Expositor’s
Bible Commentary Old Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General
Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Bible Commentary: 1 Corinthians 9:19-24
In verses 19-22, Paul cites
his example of the waiving of legitimate rights for the gospel's sake. In
studying this section, it is important to remember that Paul does not mean that
he ever sacrificed important principles of the Scripture. He did not believe
that the end justified the means. In these verses he is speaking about matters
of moral indifference. He accommodated himself to the customs and habits of the
people with whom he worked in order that he might gain a ready ear for the
gospel. But never did he do anything which might compromise the truth of the
9:19. In one
sense he was free from all men. No one could exercise jurisdiction or
compulsion over him. Yet he brought himself under bondage to all people
in order that he might win the more. If he could make a concession
without sacrificing divine truth he would do it in order to win souls to Christ.
9:20. To the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might win
Jews. This cannot mean that he put himself back under the Law of Moses in
order to see Jews saved. What it does mean might be illustrated in the action
which Paul took in connection with the circumcision of Timothy and Titus. In the
case of Titus, there were those who insisted that unless he was circumcised, he
couldn't be saved. Realizing that this was a frontal attack on the gospel of the
grace of God, Paul stoutly refused to have Titus circumcised (Gal. 2:3).
However, in the case of Timothy it seems that no such issue was involved.
Therefore, the apostle was willing that Timothy should be circumcised if this
would result in a wider hearing of the gospel (Acts 16:3).
To those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those
who are under the law. Those who are under the law refers to the Jewish
people. But Paul had already spoken of his dealings with the Jews in the first
part of the verse. Why does he then repeat the subject here? The explanation
that has often been offered is that when he speaks of Jews in the first part of
the verse, he is referring to their national customs, whereas here he is
referring to their religious life.
At this point a brief word of explanation is
necessary. As a Jew, Paul had been born under the law. He sought to obtain favor
with God by keeping the law, but found that he was unable to do so. The law only
showed him what a wretched sinner he was, and utterly condemned him. Eventually
he learned that the law was not a way of salvation, but only God's method of
revealing to man his sinfulness and his need of a Savior. Paul then trusted in
the Lord Jesus Christ, and in so doing he became free from the condemning voice
of the law. The penalty of the law which he had broken was paid by the Lord
Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
After his conversion, the
apostle learned that the law was not the way of salvation, nor was it the rule
of life for one who had been saved. The believer is not under law but under
grace. This does not mean that he can go out and do as he pleases. Rather, it
means that a true sense of the grace of God will prevent him from even wanting
to do these things. Indwelt by the Spirit of God, the Christian is raised to a
new level of behavior. He now desires to live a holy life, not out of fear of
punishment for having broken the law, but out of love for Christ, who died for
him and rose again. Under law the motive was
fear, but under grace the motive is love. Love is a far higher motive than fear.
Men will do out of love what they would never do from terror.
God's method of binding
souls to obedience is similar to His method of keeping the planets in their
orbits—that is, by flinging them out free. You see no chain keeping back these
shining worlds to prevent them from bursting away from their center. They are
held in the grip of an invisible principle.... And it is by the invisible bond
of love—love to the Lord who bought them—that ransomed men are constrained
to live soberly and righteously and godly.
With that brief background
in mind, let us now get back to the latter half of verse 20. To those who are
under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law.
When he was with Jewish people, Paul behaved as a Jew in matters of moral
indifference. For instance, he ate the foods which the Jewish people ate and
refrained from eating such things as pork which were forbidden to them. Perhaps
Paul also refrained from working on the Sabbath day, realizing that if he did
this, the gospel might gain a more ready hearing from the people.
As a born-again believer in
the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul was not under the law as a rule of life. He
merely adapted himself to the customs, habits, and prejudices of the people in
order that he might win them to the Lord.
writes: Paul is not demonstrating two-facedness or multi-facedness, but rather
he is testifying of a constant, restrictive self-discipline in order to be able
to serve all sorts of men. Just as a narrowly channeled stream is more powerful
than an unbounded marshy swamp, so restricted liberty results in more powerful
testimony for Christ.
To those who are without
law, Paul acted as one without law (although he himself was not
without law toward God, but under law toward Christ). Those who are
without law does not refer to rebels or outlaws who do not recognize any
law, but is a general description of Gentiles. The law, as such, was given to
the Jewish nation and not to the Gentiles. Thus when Paul was with the Gentiles
he complied with their habits and feelings as far as he could possibly do so and
still be loyal to the Savior. The apostle explained that even while he thus
acted as without law, he was nevertheless not without law toward God.
He did not consider that he was free to do as he pleased, but he was under
law toward Christ. In other words, he was bound to love, honor, serve, and
please the Lord Jesus, not now by the Law of Moses, but by the law of love. He
was "enlawed" to Christ. We have an expression "When in Rome, do
as the Romans do." Paul is saying here that when he was with the Gentiles,
he adapted himself to their manner of living as far as he could consistently do
so and still be loyal to Christ. But we must keep in mind that this passage
deals only with cultural things and not with doctrinal or moral matters.
22 speaks of those who are weak or overscrupulous. They were excessively
sensitive about matters that were really not of fundamental importance. To
the weak, Paul became as weak, that he might win them.
He would be a vegetarian if necessary rather than offend them by eating meat. In
short, Paul became all things to all men, that he might by all means
save some. These verses should never be used to justify a sacrifice of
scriptural principle. They merely describe a readiness to accommodate to the
customs and habits of the people in order to win a hearing for the good news of
salvation. When Paul says that I might by all means save some, he does
not think for a moment that he could save another person, for he realized that
the Lord Jesus was the only Person who could save. At the same time it is
wonderful to notice that those who serve Christ in the gospel are so closely
identified with Him that He even allows them to use the word save to
describe a work in which they are involved. How this exalts and ennobles and
dignifies the gospel ministry!
Verses 23-27 describe the
peril of losing one's reward through lack of self discipline. To Paul the
refusal of financial help from the Corinthians was a form of rigid discipline.
9:23. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may
be partaker of it with you. In
the preceding verses Paul had been describing how he submerged his own rights
and desires in the work of the Lord. Why did he do this? He did it for the
gospel's sake, in order that he might share in the triumphs of the
gospel in a coming day.
Doubtless as the apostle wrote the words found in verse 24, he was reminded of
the Isthmian games that were held not far from Corinth. The Corinthian believers
would be well-acquainted with those athletic contests. Paul reminds them that
while many run in a race, not all receive the prize. The Christian life is like a race. It requires
self-discipline. It calls for strenuous effort. It demands definiteness of
purpose. The verse does not, however, suggest that in the Christian race only
one can win the prize. It simply teaches that we should all run as winners. We
should all practice the same kind of self-denial that the Apostle Paul himself
practiced. Here, of course, the prize
is not salvation, but a reward for faithful service. Salvation is nowhere stated
to be the result of our faithfulness in running the race. Salvation is the free
gift of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul changes the figure from running to wrestling. He reminds his readers that everyone
who competes in the games, that is, wrestles, exercises self-control in
all things. A wrestler once asked his coach, "Can't I smoke and drink
and have a good time and still wrestle?" The coach replied, "Yes, you
can, but you can't win!" As Paul thinks of the contestants at the games, he
sees the winner stepping up to receive his prize. What is it? It is a
perishable crown, a garland of flowers or a wreath of leaves that will soon
wither away. But in comparison he mentions an imperishable crown which
will be awarded to all those who have been faithful in their service to Christ.
thank Thee for the crown
glory and of life;
no poor withering wreath of earth,
prize in mortal strife;
incorruptible as is the Throne,
kingdom of our God and
view of this imperishable crown, Paul states that he therefore runs not with
uncertainty, and fights not as one who beats the air. His service was
neither purposeless nor ineffectual. He had a definite aim before his eyes, and
his intention was that his every action should count. There must be no wasted
time or energy. The apostle was not
interested in wild misses.
he disciplined his body, and brought it into subjection, lest when
he had preached to others, he himself might be rejected or disqualified.
In the Christian life, there is a necessity for self-control, for temperance,
for discipline. We must practice self-mastery.
The Apostle Paul realized
the dread possibility that after he had preached to others, he himself
might be disqualified. Considerable debate has centered on the meaning of
this verse. Some hold that it teaches that a person can be saved and then
subsequently lost. This, of course, is in conflict with the general body of
teaching in the NT to the effect that no true sheep of Christ will ever perish.
Others say that the word
translated disqualified is a strong word and refers to eternal damnation.
However, they interpret the verse to mean that Paul is not teaching that a
person who was ever saved could be disqualified, but simply that one who failed
to exercise self-discipline had never been really saved in the first place.
Thinking of the false teachers and how they indulged every passion and appetite,
Paul sets forth the general principle that if a person does not keep his body in
subjection, this is proof that he never really was born again; and although he
might preach to others, he himself will be disqualified.
A third explanation is that
Paul is not speaking here of salvation at all but of service. He is not
suggesting that he might ever be lost, but that he might not stand the test as
far as his service was concerned and might be rejected for the prize. This
interpretation exactly fits the meaning of the word disqualified and the
athletic context. Paul recognizes the awful possibility that, having preached
to others, he himself might be put on the shelf by the Lord as no
longer usable by Him.
In any event, the passage
is an extremely serious one and should cause deep heart-searching on the part of
everyone who seeks to serve the Lord Christ. Each one should determine that by
the grace of God he will never have to learn the meaning of the word by
Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990,
1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.
The Moody Bible Commentary: Philippians 4:10-20:
vv. 19-22, Paul provided personal illustrations of 9:18 (he did not make full
use of his rights). Win (v. 19) means "to acquire by investment or
gain," and appears to be synonymous in this context with save (v.
22; cf. also 1Pt 3:1). Jews (v. 20) looks at Jewish people from the
standpoint of their ethnicity, and under the Law from the standpoint of
their religion. For not being myself under the Law, see the comments on
Rm 6:14; 7:1-4. Those... without law (v. 21) refers to Gentiles. While
Paul was no longer under the 613 commandments of Moses, he was under the law
of Christ (v. 21) (cf. the comments on Gl 6:2). The weak (v. 22) were
not weak Christians (cf. 8:9-13), but non-Christians (Rm 5:6), whether Jews or
Gentiles, that Paul was trying to win to Christ just as in vv. 20-21.
Paul practiced "contextualization," never changing the contents of the
gospel but adapting its communication to the culture of his audience. This
remains the model for missions and evangelism today. To become a fellow
partaker of the gospel (v. 23) means that Paul did not want to be alone in
possessing and enjoying the benefits of the gospel. He intended to take as many
people as possible with him to heaven. Fellow partaker means "one
who shares mutually with another a possession or relationship," with the
emphasis on what both have in common. Paul did not mean that he hoped to obtain
salvation by evangelizing people, which is salvation by works and an unlikely
reading of this verse.
sets up an analogy between the need for surrendering one's rights for the sake
of others and athletic competition. Paul may have had in mind the Isthmian
Games, held every third year in Corinth, second in prominence only to the
Olympic Games in Athens. Contestants had to provide proof that they trained for
ten months, had to exercise in the gymnasium for the 30 days before the games
started, and only then could they compete. Only the winners received a reward, a
perishable wreath (v. 25) which, in the first century, was made of celery
and would wilt as soon as it was awarded. Paul never just ran laps or slapped at
the air (v. 26). Everything he did was calculated to make gains for the gospel.
The Greek word translated discipline (v. 27) means "to deliver a
knock-out blow." Make it my slave may reflect the practice of the
victor leading his beaten opponents around the arena amidst the applause of the
spectators. Paul determined to subdue his body (who he was inside and
out) to be most effective in serving the Lord. So that... I myself will not
be disqualified does not mean that Paul feared losing his salvation if he
did not adequately control himself. The disqualification here refers to
forfeiting the chance to serve effectively in the great gospel mission.
Effective service involves self-surrender, self-control, and self-sacrifice, and
none of these typified the Corinthian believers. Self-indulgent Christians
should not expect to be effective in serving the Lord.
SOURCE: The Moody Bible
Commentary; by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible
Institute of Chicago. Database © 2015 WORDsearch.
To feel passion with someone, to enter sympathetically into their sorrow and
pain. Compassion in English translations represents at least five Hebrew and
eight Greek terms. Chamal means “to regret,” “be sorry for,”
“grieve over,” or “spare someone.” Thus the rich man “refrained” (NIV)
from taking his own sheep and took the poor man’s (2 Sam. 12:4). Pharaoh’s
daughter “had pity” on the baby Moses (Ex. 2:6). David spared Mephibosheth
for Jonathan’s sake (2 Sam. 21:7). Often it expresses God’s anger and
decision no longer to show mercy and pity (Zech. 11:6). Beyond this the Bible
points to God’s plans to again have compassion for His people (Joel 2:18;
compare Mal. 3:17; Gen. 19:16; 2 Chron. 36:15; Isa. 63:9).
represents what is aesthetically beautiful. It means then to possess grace and
charm and to be gracious. God looked to pour out a spirit of grace or
“compassion” (Zech. 12:10 NRSV) on His people so they would mourn for the
one they pierced. Bildad told Job to “implore the compassion of the
Almighty” (Job 8:5 NAS).
is an emotional expression of crying and feeling with someone who is hurting.
With the emotion goes the intent to help. God could forbid Israel to have such
pity (Deut. 7:16). God refuses to have pity on a disobedient people (Ezek.
5:11). God’s history had been a history of compassion in which He did not
destroy His people (Ezek. 20:17). God’s people should pray for Him to
“spare” them (Joel 2:17). Jonah had “compassion” (Jonah 4:10 NAS) on a
plant but did not want God to have compassion on a city (Jonah 4:11). Nehemiah
asked for “compassion” (Neh. 13:22). Chus most often appears in
Hebrew in a formula which may be translated, “Do not let your eye cry over, or
have regrets over” something.
or nocham means to “be sorry for,” “regret,”
“comfort,” “console.” It is more than emotion. It includes a will to
change the situation. Thus God “was sorry” He made people (Gen. 6:6 NAS).
Still God acted to preserve human life (Gen. 8:21), for He identifies with human
weakness. In His basic nature He does not “change His mind” (1 Sam. 15:29
NAS), translating Hebrew nicham. Still Scripture describes times when
Yahweh “repented” (Ex. 32:14; 2 Sam. 24:16; Jonah 3:10 as examples). In His
freedom God can announce one set of plans, see the response and weakness of the
people affected, and decide not to carry out the plans. Thus Hosea 11:8
concludes, “my repentings are kindled together” (KJV) or “all my
compassion is aroused” (NAS). At another time God can say, “I will have no
compassion” (Hos. 13:14 NAS).
is related to the Hebrew word for “womb” and expresses a mother’s (Isa.
49:15) or father’s (Ps. 103:13) love and compassion, a feeling of pity and
devotion to a helpless child. It is a deep emotional feeling seeking a concrete
expression of love (Gen. 43:14; Deut. 13:17). This word always expresses the
feeling of the superior or more powerful for the inferior or less powerful and
thus never expresses human feeling for God. The word seeks to bring security to
the life of the one for whom compassion is felt. The majority of Bible uses of racham
have God as subject. Compare Hosea 2:4,23; Zechariah 1:16; 10:6. God “has
compassion on all he had made” (Ps. 145:9).
New Testament builds on the Old Testament understanding of God’s compassion.
The central New Testament words are eleeo and splagxnizomai. The
first—eleeo—is used in the Greek Old Testament to translate most of
the Hebrew words listed above. It represents the emotion aroused by another
person’s undeserved suffering or pain. It is something an orator tries to
kindle in an audience or a lawyer seeks to elicit from a judge. Jesus commanded
the Pharisees to learn God’s desire for compassion (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Jesus
said even slaves should practice compassion as He taught Peter about forgiveness
(Matt. 18:33). God showed compassion in healing the demoniac (Mark 5:19).
Christians need to show compassion to those who waver or doubt (Jude 22).
God’s commands for compassion from disciples finds its roots in the nature of
God, who is full of compassion (Eph. 2:4; 1 Pet. 1:3).
is related to the Greek noun for inward parts much as Hebrew rachemim.
Here is located the center of personal feelings and emotions. Before Christ’s
appearance the Greeks apparently did not use this word to speak of compassion
and mercy, it being more closely related to courage. It is not clear when the
shift in meaning to compassion occurred. Some of the apocryphal Jewish writings
before Christ do use the term to mean mercy. In the parable of the unforgiving
servant, the master had compassion and forgave the servant’s debt (Matt.
18:27). The prodigal son’s father had compassion on him (Luke 15:20). The Good
Samaritan had compassion for the injured traveler (Luke 10:33). Jesus had
compassion on the crowds (Mark 6:34). People needing help asked Jesus for
compassion (Mark 9:22; compare Matt. 9:36; 20:34). Paul saw compassion as a
quality expected of believers (Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:12). Paul said he related to
his readers in the compassion of Christ (Phil. 1:8), that is, the quality is not
an achievement by the believer but a result of being in Christ. The love of God
dwells only in those who are compassionate to a person in need (1 John 3:17;
compare Eph. 4:32; 1 Pet. 3:8). Compassion finds its source in God’s
compassion (Jas. 5:11). In compassion He has provided salvation and forgiveness
is related to lamentation and grief for the dead and came to mean sympathetic
participation in grief. Such sympathy or compassion stands ready to help the one
who has suffered loss. In the Greek Old Testament translation oiktiro
translates words related to chen and racham. Paul taught that God
is the Father and source of compassion (2 Cor. 1:3; compare Jas. 5:11). He has
total freedom in exercising compassion (Rom. 9:15). Humans can sacrifice
themselves for God’s causes only because God has sacrificed Himself in mercy
(Rom. 12:1; compare Luke 6:36; Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:12).
means to suffer what someone else suffers. It came to mean to suffer with,
alongside, to sympathize. Peter listed it among the basic Christian virtues (1
Pet. 3:8). Having come to earth and endured all kinds of human temptations,
Jesus exercises sympathy for our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). The writer of Hebrews
could recall his readers’ experience of having sympathy for and thus helping
others imprisoned for their faith (Heb. 10:33-34).
refers to the ability to be moderate in emotions or passions. An Old Testament
or human minister realizes personal weaknesses and thus moderates personal anger
at another’s weaknesses (Heb. 5:2).
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General
Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
Pauls Use of Analogy
is pastor, First Baptist Church, Mulvane, KS.
HIS EPISTLES, the apostle Paul had a hard task to
accomplish. He had to find a way to
communicate spiritual truth in a way that would be understandable to those who
would read the letters. Like Jesus
before him, Paul used the language of analogy to give his readers a point of
reference by which to grasp spiritual meanings.
When reading Paul’s writings, one catches the echoes of various aspects
of everyday life in the first century. References
to athletic events, the marketplace, a scene from the public
courts, or an allusion to family life all enhance Paul’s letters.
analogy basically is any word picture of something familiar and understandable
that describes something unknown or difficult to understand.
It does this by drawing similarities between the two things.
An analogy also is a commonplace image that describes something beyond
looking at specific examples of analogy in Paul’s writings, it is helpful
first to examine in a general way how he used the device.
Most Pauline analogies are used in such a way that only one part of the
comparison is intended to bring a truth into greater clarity.
Therefore, we used different elements from the same analogy in different
contexts. Occasionally, the apostle
even would use the same analogy differently within the same context.
Thus it is essential that the reader be alert for changes in the usage of
of the word pictures Paul used also are found in secular literature.
The “body” analogy mentioned above is found in several instances in
pagan literature. Even though Paul
may have consciously borrowed these and perhaps others for which we do not have
a surviving source, he did not always use them in exactly the same way that the
pagan sources used them. Similarly,
other New Testament writers used Greek words taken from secular contexts and
infused with Christian meaning.
In many of his analogies, Paul used word pictures in a
deliberately inaccurate fashion. For
example, in 1 Corinthians 9:24 he woas not necessarily concerned with presenting
elements in a foot race in exactly the way they might occur in real life.
Apparently the reason for adjusting many of these analogies was to mold
them to the needs that he had in illustrating a spiritual truth.
Paul used pictures, he did not necessarily feel obligated to fully develop the
picture or carefully apply it to the situation.
There were times, however, when Paul did seem to go to lengths to
completely and systematically employ an analogy.
Then at other times, rather than using only one analogy, Paul would
include several figures within a specific discussion, intermingling the
analogies to explain the concept.
used analogies in much the same way we do. His
analogies brought pictures to his mind that he found useful in explaining his
faith in Christ and his practice as a Christian.
This method came to Paul a naturally as it comes to us.
We constantly use analogical language without giving it a second thought.
of the most familiar images Paul used is that of the “body.”
The strongest presentation of this analogy comes in 1 Corinthians
12:14-27. The “body” is one of
those analogies in which more than one element is applied to the illustration.
For example, Paul used the element to the body’s oneness to emphasize
the unity of the church. At the same
time he used the different parts of the body to illustrate the diversity in the
church. The “body” is also an
instance in which Paul used traditional materials.
Several Hellenistic writers used this same word picture.
The most familiar came in a fable by Menenius Agrippa in which he
compared the state serving the rest of society to the stomach serving the others
parts of the body.2
chapter 12 Paul attempted to resolve a problem in the Corinthian church where
some of the members attached special importance to the gift of tongues and
looked down on those who did not possess this particular gift.
Paul was trying to show the Corinthians how people with varying
experiences should relate to each other in the congregation.
He also wanted the church to understand that all of the gifts of the
Spirit are needed in the church.
“body,” therefore, was used to show that the church is a unit composed of
diverse members. It also was used to
show the proper relationship between the gifts.
Although the body is a unit, it has many members that perform different
functions to support the overall life of the body.
Paul intensified the emphasis on the members of the body by personifying
each of them.
imagined the foot, the ear, the eye, and the head speaking as persons.
Obviously, this would not happen in reality.
However, for Paul’s purposes, this literary device sufficed to teach
the truth he wanted to emphasize. The
foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body.” (1 Cor.
12:15, NASB).3 Paul
pointed out that the foot is indeed a part of the body and should not feel left
out because it is not something else. In
the same way, the ear should feel excluded.
The obvious point is that one should not consider himself or herself any
less a part of the church because he or she does not have a particular gift.
his analogy, Paul had the eye say to the hand, “I have no need of you” (NASB).
He then taught that the eye cannot say this because this is patently
untrue. Similarly, the head cannot
reject the feet because they are necessary.
Paul’s point was that in the church every gift is needed.
He went on to point out that even those parts of the body that seem
weaker than other parts are absolutely necessary for the wholeness and
completeness of the body. Paul used
this word picture in Romans 12:3-8 to demonstrate again that believers all have
a function to perform to make the church complete.
Ephesians and Colossians Paul further extended the “body” analogy by
identifying the church with the body of Christ.
In this form of the analogy he asserted the lordship of Christ by using
the head of the body to refer to Christ.4
Thus, Paul changed his basic usage to meet this particular need for clarity.
noted above, Paul drew the “body” analogy from traditional sources.
He also tapped various elements of his culture with which readers would
be able to identify. The field of
sports provided several images. In 1
Corinthians 9:24-27 he used images of the foot race and boxing to emphasize that
the achievement of goals, self-discipline, and the willingness to persevere are
important. These are the concepts
that Paul wished to apply to the spiritual life.
In the race image Paul focused on the reality that all who
participate must run the race. Yet
for Paul, the idea that there is only one winner in this kind of race did not
apply to the Christian life. All
those in the Christian life who run to finish or “win” will receive the
victor’s prize. This analogy is a
good example of where the reader must be careful not to apply the comparison in
verse 25, Paul emphasized that self-discipline is required to those who run-in
the race. Thus in the Christian life
self-control is required to achieve the end of the course. Paul
took the analogy past the foot race, however, when he pointed out that the
reward of the Christian life is not a “perishable wreath” (NASB) but eternal
verse 26, Paul combined the images of boxing and the foot race to show the
importance of achieving the goals of Christ.
In a foot race one should run with the intention of reaching the finish
line ahead of the others. Although
human works do not secure a place in God’s kingdom, one should live for Christ
as though the goal of achieving that place depended upon performance and
striving. In boxing one does not
merely swing through the air. Rather
one tries to hit the opponent. Again,
the Christian does not live an aimless life.
The Christian strives to emulate the Lord in every action of life.
Paul extended the boxing analogy into verse 27, but he changed the
emphasis. Instead of the opponent,
he spoke of fighting against his own body. Obviously,
in boxing we would not pummel our own bodies.
Yet, spiritually this imagery is very apt because our greatest opponent
to achieving the goal of Christlikeness is our own fleshly nature.
significant analogy Paul used is “sleep” as signifying death.
This word picture is one that Paul borrowed directly from Christ Himself.
In the account of Jairus’ daughter (Matt. 9:24), Christ told those
present that the girl was not dead, merely sleeping.
Some interpreters feel this means the girl was merely in a coma.
However, this would make Christ’s actions almost meaningless in that
context. It is more likely that He
was saying something about what death becomes in the presence of the Son of God.
For both Christ and Paul, comparing death to sleep was more than just a
metaphorical statement. It described
what the Lord has done about death through His sacrifice on the cross.
can be seen in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul used this metaphor for death while
discussing the resurrection. In
verses 6, 18, and 51 Paul used sleep to mean death.
From these examples it can be seen that Paul used the analogy of sleep to
take our understanding of death in a different direction.
In light of what Christ has done, death is no longer a final event.
Paul spoke of Christ conquering death; and because of this, death no
longer has an absolute hold on people. The
image of sleep proves to be a very adequate image to convey this new truth.
In the same way that we fall asleep and awake with the
dawn, now when we as believers go through the experience of death we
merely fall into a state akin to sleep, awaiting the coming of Christ.
must be careful at this point not to imply that this analogy of death describes
the state of our existence during the time between the moment of death and
resurrection of the dead. There are
some who believe that this image of sleep implies that those who are dead will
enter a sort of soul sleep or a state of unconsciousness.
This would seem to be pushing the metaphor much farther than Jesus or
Paul intended. Indeed, the idea of
soul sleep would seem to contradict such things as Christ’s promise to the
thief on the cross that he would join the Lord in paradise that very day.
analogy was Paul’s use of “burial” to illustrate the meaning of baptism.
In Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:4 Paul wrote of believers who have been
“buried with him [Christ} in baptism.” In
both of these passages baptism is compared to burial.
Closely connected with this idea are the analogies of the Christian’s
“death” to self and “resurrection” with Christ.
biblical mode of baptism allows for an apt comparison of burial with baptism.
This would imply that baptism at this point in church history still was
done exclusively by immersion. The
deviations of sprinkling and pouring were still in the future.
In death the body was placed in a grave and sealed from view.
In baptism the body is placed beneath the water and removed from view.
The theological meaning of this comparison is important.
For Paul there was a symbolic burial going on in ht baptismal act.
In baptism the “’self’ that was subject to sin is ‘buried.’”5
Thus the old, carnal man, having died at the conversion of the person to
Christ, figuratively is buried through baptism.
this analogy is tried so closely to the experience of Christ, the idea of the
resurrection never is far from this imagery.
It is difficult to separate the death and the resurrection in the
redemptive work of Christ. Similarly,
in baptism the convert is “buried” (immersed), but also “raised”
immediately to a new life in Christ. In
Romans 6:5 Paul wrote, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness
of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection”
(NASB). It seems clear that one who
shares baptism/burial with Christ emerges from the waters of baptism “in the
likeness of His resurrection.” In Colossians 2:13 Paul presented the same idea
in a slightly different way, “And when you were dead . . . He made you alive
together with Him” (NASB).
Paul’s usage of this analogy has tremendous interpretive
impact in the area of Christian ethics. According
to this image, the old person has been put away through the burial of baptism
and the new person has come forth from the water.
Thus, a sinful life-style is inconsistent with this new image.
The new person is to live in the likeness of Christ.
Christians no longer are slaves to sin since the old has been put off.
This image means the Christian must live consistently with the confession
of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
these examples demonstrate, analogical language was a powerful tool in Paul’s
hands. Through images from everyday
life he communicated the truth of the gospel and deepened the theological
understanding of his readers. For
that reason we still describe the mysteries of God through these same analogies.
Adapted from H.M. Gale, The
Use of Analogy in the Letters of Paul (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,
1964), pp. 223-31.
Ridderbos, Paul, An Outline of His Theology, trans. DeWitt (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1975), p. 370, note 26.
From the New American Standard Bible, Copyright © The Lockman Foundation,
1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. Use by permission.
Subsequent quotations are marked NASB.
See Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:12,15-16; 5:23;
Gale, p. 179.
Races, Running, and
Priest is pastor, Bartlett Baptist Church, Bartlett, Tennessee.
SUMMER HUNDREDS of thousands of people
will gather at the Beijing National Stadium and other sites through China for
the 2008 Summer Olympics. Cheering
spectators will watch an estimated 10, 500 highly trained athletes take part in
302 different events. The sheer mass
of humanity in Beijing for the Olympics coupled with the incredible hours of
worldwide televised coverage of the Games is ample evidence that people of every
ethnicity and culture love sports.
sports have an international appeal in our age, this has not always been the
case, especially during the New Testament era.
Even though the New Testament is sprinkled with athletic imagery, for two
primary reasons the Jews of antiquity were not particularly fond of sports.
First, most ancient sporting events were dedicated to Greek or Roman gods
and involved prayers and sacrifices to these gods.
No devout Jew would participate in such an event lest he violate the Law.
Second, at least in the Greek Games, the athletes competed completely
nude. This too was offensive to
Romans enjoyed sporting events, their games were somewhat different from the
Greed games. The Romans built
massive amphitheaters that provided the setting for the crude and deadly
gladiatorial games. They also
entertained themselves with chariot racing.
For these races, the Romans built massive circuses capable of holding
upwards of 255,000 people. Professional
teams organized and raced competitively for money, but also in hopes of earning
the favor of the emperor.2
Greeks, however, may well be the inventors of many of the sporting events we
enjoy today. By Paul’s time over
three hundred Greek-influenced athletic contests took place in stadiums every
year, but four of the competitions rose to the top and were highly esteemed: the
Isthmian, Nemean, Pythian, and Olympic Games.
These four became known collectively as the Panhellenic (meaning “all
Greek”) Games. At all four of
these Games, athletes competed in the two hundred, four hundred, and fifteen
hundred meter runs. They also
competed in the combat sports of boxing and wrestling and the pankration, a
combination of both boxing and wrestling. Possibly
the most demanding even of the Panhellenic Games was the pentathlon, which
consisted of the long jump, javelin and discus throws, footraces, and wrestling.
As previously stated, the athletes competed completely nude, primarily
because they did not want to carry the added weight of clothes or be hindered in
movement by binding garments. Athletes
who competed in any of these events spent many months in strenuous training and
unlike our modern Olympics, in the end, only one competitor won a prize.3
today many people associate the modern 26.2-mile-long marathon with the ancient
Greek games, but in fact, this race was not a part of the games.
Even though lengthy running events were a part of the ancient
competitions, no race of marathon proportion existed.
The first event called a “marathon” took place in 1896 at the first
modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and was run to commemorate the feat of
an honored Greek hero. In 490 BC, an
overwhelming horde of Persians invaded Greek’s eastern coast on the plains of
Marathon. In an unexpected turn of
events, the Greeks overwhelmed their enemy, killing 6,400 Persian troops while
losing only 192 of their own men. According
to legend, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier and a runner-messenger, at the command
of his general, ran 25 miles from Marathon to Athens bearing the news of the
Greek victory. Exhausted from both
the battle and the 25-mile run from Marathon to Athens, Pheidippides delivered
the message, “Rejoice. We conquer!” Then
he collapsed and died. Organizers of
the 1896 Athens Games believed a race to commemorate the run of Pheidippides
would add local interest to the Games. Thus
was born the marathon.4
though the Jews generally disdained sporting events, the sporting culture had a
tremendous influence on Jewish moralists and writers.5 In fact,
first-century Jewish writers commonly used metaphorical language from the
sporting world. Therefore, not
surprisingly Paul and other biblical writers readily turned to boxing,
wrestling, and running to illustrate points they were making.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, wrote, “Do you not know that the
runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win. Now
everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything.
However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable
one. Therefore I do not run like one
who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air.
Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that
after preaching to other, I myself will not be disqualified.”6
Because of the influence of the Greek Games, the Corinthians knew many runners
stood ready at the starting line, but only one received the laurel crown of
victory. They also understood that
competitors were people of self-control. They
knew of the discipline required to train for the Greek Games.
Paul used terms from the arena that his Greek readers would have easily
Philippians 3:12-14, Paul wrote, “Not that I have already reached the goal or
am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I
also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to
what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call
in Christ Jesus.” The goal Paul
wrote of was actually the goal marker or finish line at the end of a race.
The word “pursue” comes from a Greek word that would describe the
sheer determination of an athlete as he was mustering every ounce of strength to
be the first to reach the goal. The
phrase “God’s heavenly call” (or “the high calling of God,” KJV,
emphasis added) contains two Greek words that literally mean “upward call.”
Here Paul painted one of the most beautiful pictures of the victorious
Christian life, and his imagery comes from the Greek Games.
In the infield of the stadiums, the organizers of the Games built a high
platform upon which the game officials sat.
On the last day of the Games, the
winner of each event was called up to the top of the platform.
Once there, the presiding official announced the name of the winner and
the city he represented, and then presented him with the winner’s prize.
Paul had this concluding ceremony in mind when he wrote of the “upward
Hebrews 12:1-2, the biblical writer once again used running imagery when he
wrote, “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses
surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily
ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our
eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for joy that lay
before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right
hand of God’s throne.” The
image is clear. Just as a runner
sheds his clothes for the race, so the Christian must shed anything that will
hinder him or her. Just as a runner
paces herself and presses on through the pain, so the Christian must press on
with tireless persistence to reach the finish line, which is Jesus Himself.
as you enjoy the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as you marvel at
world-class runners, remember the biblical writer’s call to every believer in
Jesus to shed any hindrance, take to the track of life, and run with endurance
and determination to become like Jesus.
Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (Grand
Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 91-92.
E. Henderson, Jr., “The Athletic Imagery of Paul,” Theological Educator
56 (Fall 1997): 31; 1 Cor. 9:24.
Higdon, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (n.p.: Rodale, 1999), 5-6.
otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holman
Christian Standard Bible.
F. Hawthorne, Philippians, vol.
43 in Word Biblical Commentary, gen.
eds. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Waco: Word Books, Publishers, 1983),
A. O. Collins
O. Collins is chairman, department of Christianity and philosophy, Houston
Baptist University, Houston, Texas
are three kinds of farm tools, the voiceless ones (wagons and plows), the
inarticulate ones (oxen and mules), and the speaking ones (slaves.)” In this
manner Cato described the status of slaves among Romans, advocating that they be
discarded like other objects when they became old, worn out, or diseased.1
was an integral part of many ancient cultures, but it reached its widest use in
the period just preceding and during the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the
first century, slaves made up at least half of the population. By the
century’s end, the city of Rome had 400,000 slaves, one-third of the populace.
Many households had several slaves, and a wealthy master might have as many as a
thousand, so many that the did not recognize them all.
campaigns of Caesar Augustus supplied thousands of slaves, and the institution
of slavery grew rapidly. Caecilius, in the time of Aufustus, claimed in his will
that he owned 4,116 slaves. In one transaction, Caesar sold 63,000 Gauls into
slavery. Josephus (Wars 6.9.3) states that Titus brought 97,000 Jewish
slave-captives from Jerusalem in AD 70. In Rome, slaves became so numerous that
the senate voted down a proposal requiring them to wear distinctive garb, for
fear that their numerical strength would become too apparent.
Slaves were procured in many different ways. Sometimes,
of necessity a person offered himself for enslavement to pay debts, or he turned
over one or more of his children in payment. At the market slaves were sold or
exchanged for other slaves, cattle, or other property. Slaves were given as
gifts to relatives and friends or passed from one generation to another through
inheritance. Many slaves were house-born; and within some households, slave
breeding became a specialized practice in which intelligent, muscular males were
mated with healthy females to produce superior working stock.
After soldiers were defeated and slaughtered in war,
their wives and children were brought to Rome as slaves. Through piracy and
kidnapping, professional slave dealers captured people from Syria, Asia Minor,
and the Greek islands, importing them for the Roman market. Astute contractors
provided slaves for the specific needs of public officials and households,
whether it be for entertainment, unique skills, or other purposes. While prices
for slaves varied from 300 sesterces for a farm worker to as much as 700,000 for
a grammarian, the average price was about 4,000 sesterces.2
law gave the master complete power over the life and death of his subjects. A
slave could not own property; he was property. Although he could acquire goods,
legally everything belonged to his master. He could not be accused of stealing
because, technically, anything taken merely was displaced among the master’s
holdings. A slave could neither sue nor be sued. No legal marriage existed, only
cohabitation. Mates could be separated and off-spring taken at the will of the
In Rome, 80 percent of the industry and retail trade was
carried out by slaves. Freedmen and public slaves, nearly all of Syrian and
Greek origin, provided most of the government clerical work, managed the
imperial palace, and held important cabinet positions.
educated slaves, more intelligent than their masters, monopolized the medical,
financial, and literary fields, serving as research aids, financial secretaries,
agents, tutors, copyists, librarians, and philosophers. Among renowned Roman
slaves were Epictetus, Terence, and Andronicus.
In Roman households, a slave headed the work force and was
responsible for day-to-day activities. A domestic slave always was at his
master’s side, at his elbows when he ate, at each leg when he dressed,
assisting him with his bath, beside him at the market, constantly present. Slave
companions were chosen for their skill at remembering names, physical
appearance, or social charm. A slave’s ability to cook, serve, or groom
endeared him to his master. Slaves guarded the master’s wealth, and sometimes
other slaves guarded the slave guards. In wealthy households, a Greek pedagogue
was the first companion of a young child and became his mentor, instructing him
in manners, literature, and the arts.
personal servants, the master secured attractive young boys as cupbearers.
Dwarfs, giants, or deformed individuals were prized curiosities. Dancers,
musicians, mimics, actors, and clowns provided entertainment.
rural areas, where they worked on construction projects and on extensive country
estates, slaves were treated the worst. Food was bare subsistence. At night,
they slept on work camps, often chained. Old and weak slaves often were
prisoner-of-war slaves were put into gladiator training schools and prepared for
public spectacles. They were forced to fight one another, thrown to wild
animals, or dressed as animals to have dogs turned on them. The night before
gladiatorial contests, they were “honored” with a banquet, looked over by
the fans and gamblers, and bets were wagered on the outcome.
the first century progressed, treatment of slaves improved. They were accepted
as part of the extended family, enjoyed comfort, security, and permanent
employment. On certain occasions, such as the Saturnalia festival, slaves
temporarily were freed and their masters served them briefly. Favorite slaves
were treated well, received gifts, advanced from one position to another, and
even could possess a slave of their own.
the country, punishment for light offenses consisted of limited rations, extra
labor, fines, or confinement. Flogging was common, as was branding with an iron.
In more serious cases, a slave might be placed on a torture rack or thrown into
a dungeon. Records exist of punishment by being thrown into a fishpond to the
eels and being burned collectively in a pit. Mutilation, such as cutting out the
tongue or cutting off hands, sometimes was practiced.
slaves generally were punished with extra work or denial of food. In severe
cases, they were sent to country to work in the quarries, mines, or farms at
more strenuous tasks.
slaves were put into chains or put to death as a lesson to potential offenders.
If a slave owner was murdered, every slave in the household was held
responsible. About the time of Paul’s Letter to Philemon (AD 61), Pedanius
Secundus had been killed by a slave, and all 400 of his slaves then were
executed, considered guilty for not preventing his death.
Freedom from slavery always was possible through any one
of several means. Rich men often secured slaves, set them up in business, and
allowed them to keep part of their earnings, or they permitted slaves to farm a
portion of the estate. Eventually, when slaves accumulated savings, they bought
freedom. At times it was to the advantage of the owner to liberate the slave,
use the money to purchase another, and continue control over the new freedman as
In other circumstances, freedom was earned by dedicated
service to the master. Faithful slaves occasionally were released when they
became old or too weak to work. A master, on his deathbed, often granted freedom
to dutiful slaves as one last noble gesture.
by its very nature, became a moral poison in Rome society. Intelligent people
uprooted from land and family and forced into servitude could not be content
forever. Masters, dependent on the skill and labor of others, naturally felt
threatened. Clever slaves resorted to fraud, trickery, flattery, and other means
to get what they wanted. Even the master’s children became tools in the hands
of unscrupulous slaves, who contaminated them with their immoral teachings and
conquering others, Rome had been conquered. The saying arose, “So many slaves
so many enemies.” Conditions became so volatile that more and more stringent
laws had to be passed to deal with the dissidents.
was accepted as part of the social fabric of the first century. People in
general thought no more of having slaves than our generation thinks of having
employees or domestic servants. A slave’s welfare and treatment depended on
his relationship with his master. The Greek word doulos, translated
“slave” or “bondservant,” carried the idea of commitment, resting on
one’s dependence on his lord, and the master’s claim upon the subject’s
loyalty. In this respect, the term came to be used of the relationship of the
Christian to Christ, and Paul probably called himself a doulor of Christ
(Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1).
the question is asked, “Why was slavery not condemned in the New Testament?”
Some people have argued that because early Christians expected the imminent end
of the age they felt there was no need to challenge the institution of slavery.
While that may be true, the conflict between the Christian view of the worth of
the individual and the practice of slavery was not ignored completely. Slaves
were attracted to the new religion because in Christ one found a new sense of
worth and self-respect. Recognizing that he was a being of worth in the sight of
God and other Christians, he realized that his social status was secondary. In
Christ, he was free.
encouraged Christian masters to be considerate and slaves to be obedient (Eph.
6:5-9; Col. 3:22 – 4:1). In his letter to Philemon, Paul asked, not demanded,
that because of their common brotherhood in Christ, Onesimus be received not
merely as a slave but as a brother “both in the flesh, and in the Lord” (Philem.
16). Some scholars suggest that Paul’s payment to Philemon was an indication
that he expected Onesimus to be set free. Although it would take centuries for
the thrust of the Christian gospel to be understood properly, ultimately it has
led to the general rejection of slavery in most of the world.
Bart Winer, Life in the Ancient World (New York: Random House, 1961), p.
modern equivalent of 4,000 sesterces would be between $320 and $400.
Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Spring 1988
What is the Answer To & Where in The
Bible is This Week’s Trivia Question Found: Who built a temple for Baal in
Samaria? Answer Next Week:
Last Week’s Question: What army was defeated when an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000
soldiers? Answer: Assyria’s; 2