1Corinthians 9:24-27 Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: 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.
‘So run, that you may obtain’ – Four things one must do to be saved: Be as earnest to make heaven as men are to win a race (9:24; Heb. 12:1-3; Gal. 2:2; 5:7; Php. 2:16; 3:14). Be temperate in all things (9:25; 2Pet. 1:4-10). This refers to the months of severe training before a contest of wrestling or fighting with an opponent. Fight with absolute confidence in victory (9:26; 4:9; 15:32; 1Tim. 6:12; 2Tim. 4:7). Fighting was done by leather bands on the hands studded with pieces of metal. Keep the body under and bring it into subjection (3:16-17; 9:27; Rom. 6:14-23; 8:12-13; 12:1-2).
‘Corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.’ Crowns were made of wild olive branches for the Olympic games; laurel for the Pythian games; parsley for the Nemean games; and pine for the Ishmian games. All were so corruptible that they began to wither the moment they were made. What a contrast to the incorruptible crown to be given to Christians.
‘I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air.’ Paul here claims to be running the race to win and fighting the fight for the knockout blow.
‘Keep under my body’ [Greek: hupopiazo] to strike one under the eye; to beat black and blue (9:27; Luke 18:5). This is Paul’s explanation of how he was boxing. Figuratively speaking, he was not shadow boxing, but beating his body black and blue to bring it into slavery lest he should become a castaway (9:26-27). He considered his body an enemy with which he must contend in mortal combat to keep it under control by self-denial, abstinence, and severe mortification (Rom. 8:12-13; Col. 3:5-10). He acted to keep the body as a slave to the soul, not permitting the soul to be the slave of the body. He did this constantly lest after he had preached to others he would become a castaway.
‘Castaway’ [Greek: adokimos] Reprobate (Rom. 1:28; 2Cor. 13:5, 6, 7; 2Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:16); rejected (Heb. 6:8); and castaway (9:27). It means to become Christless and literally rejected.