(St) Paul against/for Sports?

1 Corinithians 9:24-27

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

This is a popular passage, often used to liken the Christian walk to the discipline of sports.

Yet does this passage actually suggest that Sports is ‘good’? or that some parts of sports are good?

Or is even Paul pointing out the negatives of sports?… ie. Sports is this… BUT the Christian walk is THIS.

Anyway… I interpreted the latter… and my supervisor chided me saying that Paul was positive about sports… which I am not totally convinced about…

But at least he positively suggested that perhaps rather than thinking that Paul was against sports… at least it is fair to say that the positives of sports are superseded by Christian discipleship.

2 Responses to “(St) Paul against/for Sports?”


  1. 1 Ryan August 13, 2008 at 2:30 am

    I’m pretty sure that Paul was not making a claim either way about sports but was in fact simply using it as an analogy to reach a culture where sports were central. Being that the first olympics were in Olympia (very near to Corinth) from roughly 700BC to 400BC (I looked that up in Wikipedia, the most reliable source ever!) it would make sense that the Corinthians would hold sporting events in high regard and everybody would be familiar with them. Paul was simply using a familiar physical concept to explain a spiritual truth.

    Plus, most scholars believe Paul was a round man, so we can safely assume he wasn’t a big participant in the sporting world :-)

  2. 2 NAyK August 13, 2008 at 8:59 am

    To Ryan: Thanks for the comment.

    I agree with you… and yet the idea that he makes such a strong CONTRAST could point to a theological point. By that I mean… Paul clearly says…

    1. Sports all run one win, but you all run (implied in all running, all win)

    2. invest everything for crown that will not last… but you invest everything for a crown that will last.

    3. sports beats an opponent (boxing), but I beat myself (my body)… (competing with self) for sake of others

    Thus, in view of these sharp contrasts… perhaps he is making a point not so much against sports… but at least revealing its problems??? competitiveness??? :)


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Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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