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Boxing That Bruises You

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Everyone 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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

The Olympic Games were held in Paul’s day, too. The city of Corinth was also famous for the Isthmian Games, held every second year. Paul made many references to athletes competing in races, and here he refers to boxing, also popular in his day.

Paul had frequently seen boxers in training, shadow-boxing, striking out at nothing, and having no one strike back. He said, “I fight; not as one who beats the air. But I discipline (bruise) my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 26-27).

To Paul, the only kind of training that made sense was to fight an actual opponent, even though it meant taking repeated blows and getting bruised. It was far preferable to merely shadow-boxing. He didn’t want to be disqualified during an actual boxing match because he wasn’t tough enough to take physical blows.

Paul pointed out that athletes were willing to endure punishment to get a laurel crown that withered, so how much more willing should believers be to obtain an eternal crown?
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