|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:24-27 The apostle compares himself to the racers and combatants in the Isthmian games, well known by the Corinthians. But in the Christian race all may run so as to obtain. There is the greatest encouragement, therefore, to persevere with all our strength, in this course. Those who ran in these games were kept to a spare diet. They used themselves to hardships. They practised the exercises. And those who pursue the interests of their souls, must combat hard with fleshly lusts. The body must not be suffered to rule. The apostle presses this advice on the Corinthians. He sets before himself and them the danger of yielding to fleshly desires, pampering the body, and its lusts and appetites. Holy fear of himself was needed to keep an apostle faithful: how much more is it needful for our preservation! Let us learn from hence humility and caution, and to watch against dangers which surround us while in the body.
Verse 26. - Not as uncertainly. My eye is fixed on a definite goal (2 Timothy 1:12). So fight I (Romans 7:23; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7); literally, so box 1. Not as one that beateth the air; rather, as not beating the air. Not what the Greeks called "a shadow battle." I strike forthright blows, not feints, or blows at random.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I therefore so run,.... The apostle animates the Corinthians by his own example, telling them that he ran so as he exhorted them; he ran with cheerfulness and swiftness in the way marked out for him, looking to Jesus; continuing steadfast in the profession of his faith, and discharge of his duty as a Christian, and in preaching the Gospel as a minister; and nothing had he more at heart, than to finish his course with joy:
not as uncertainly; as one that knew not, or was in doubt about the way in which he should run, and so ran in and out, sometimes in the way, sometimes out of it; since it was clearly pointed out to him in the word of God: the allusion is to the white line which was drawn from the place the runners set out at to the goal; so that they did not run uncertainly, nor could they be at a loss to steer their course: nor did the apostle run, for what, as the Syriac version renders it, , "is unknown": he knew what he ran for, for the incorruptible crown of glory, he knew the nature of it; nor was he uncertain as to the event and issue of his running; he knew that this crown was laid up safe and secure, that it would be given him, and he should wear it; he had no doubt at all about it; and with this certain knowledge both of the way and prize, and full assurance of faith and hope, he ran:
so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. The allusion is here to fighting with the fist, when, before the combat was entered on, the person used to swagger about, and beat about with his fists, striking the air with them, having no adversary before him; only showing what he could do if he had one, or when he should encounter: so did not the apostle, he did not fight with his own shadow, or a man of straw, or beat the empty air; but gave home blows to real adversaries, Satan, the world, and the flesh; the latter of which is particularly mentioned in the next verse.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. I—Paul returns to his main subject, his own self-denial, and his motive in it.
run, not as uncertainly—not as a runner uncertain of the goal. Ye Corinthians gain no end in your entering idol temples or eating idol meats. But I, for my part, in all my acts, whether in my becoming "all things to all men," or in receiving no sustenance from my converts, have a definite end in view, namely, to "gain the more." I know what 1 aim at, and how to aim at it. He who runs with a clear aim, looks straightforward to the goal, makes it his sole aim, casts away every encumbrance (Heb 12:1, 2), is indifferent to what the by-standers say, and sometimes even a fall only serves to rouse him the more [Bengel].
not as one that beateth the air—instead of beating the adversary. Alluding to the sciamachia or sparring in the school in sham-fight (compare 1Co 14:9), wherein they struck out into the air as if at an imaginary adversary. The real adversary is Satan acting on us through the flesh.
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