1 Corinthians 9:26
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) I therefore so run.—The Apostle appeals to his own conduct as an illustration of the lesson which he is teaching, and by means of it reminds the reader that the whole of this chapter has been a vindication of his own self-denial, and that he has a clear and definite object in view.

So fight I.—The illustration is changed from running to boxing, both being included in the word used in 1Corinthians 9:25, “contending.” He has an adversary to contend against, and he strikes him, and does not wildly and impotently strike at him, and so only beat the air.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27. I therefore — The reward being so great; so run, not as uncertainly — For I see the goal I am to run to, I keep it continually in view, and run straight to it, casting off every weight, and not regarding any that stand by, so as to be prevented from, or hindered in running, by looking at them. Or, I run not as one that is to pass unnoticed, or undistinguished: as αδηλως seems here to imply; and not without attending to the marks and lines which determine the path in which I am to run. In other words, I run according to all the rules prescribed, and with the greatest activity; knowing that in no part of the course I am out of the view of my Judge, and of a great concourse of spectators. Consider, reader, Christ, the Judge of the world, observes how every man behaves in the station assigned to him, and that with infinitely greater attention than the judge and spectators observed the manner in which the athletes contended. So fight I, not as one that beateth the air — This is a proverbial expression for a man’s missing his blow, and spending his strength, not on the enemy, but on the empty air. But I keep under my body — By all kinds of self-denial and mortification. The word υπωπιαζω, here used, properly signifies to beat and bruise the face with the fist, or the cestus, as the boxers did in those games; and particularly on the υπωπιον, the part under the eyes, at which they especially aimed. By the body here the apostle means his old man, or corrupt appetites and passions. And bring it into subjection — To my spirit, and to God. The words are strongly figurative, and signify the mortification of the whole body of sin, by an allusion to the natural bodies of those who were bruised or subdued in combat. Lest, by any means, when I have preached — Greek, κηρυξας, having discharged the office of a herald to others; (still carrying on the allusion to the Grecian games, in which a herald was employed, whose office it was to proclaim the conditions, and to display the prizes;) I myself should become a castaway — Greek, αδοκιμος, disapproved by the judge, and so fall short of the prize. Here also, as well as in the term last mentioned, the apostle alludes to the same games; and the import of his expressions will more fully appear if we observe, that “at the opening of those exercises, a herald, or crier, publicly proclaimed the names of the combatants, and the combat in which they were to engage, agreeably to a register kept for the purpose by the judges. When their names were published, the combatants appeared, and were examined whether they were free men, and Grecians, and of an unspotted character. Then the crier, commanding silence, laid his hand on the head of the combatant, and led him in that manner along the stadium, demanding with a loud voice of all the assembly, ‘Is there any one who can accuse this man of any crime? Is he a robber, or a slave, or wicked and depraved in his life and manners?’ Having passed through this public inquiry into their life and character with honour, the combatants were led to the altar of Jupiter, and there, with their relations, sware they would not be guilty of any fraud or action tending to the breach of the laws of the sacred games. And to excite the ardour of the combatants, the crowns, the rewards of victory, lay, during the contest, full in their view, on a tripod or table, placed in the stadium. There were also branches of palms exposed, which the victors were to receive along with the crowns, and which they carried in their hands as emblems (says Plutarch) of the insuppressible vigour of their body and mind.”

After the contentions were finished, the conquerors, being summoned by proclamation, marched to the tribunal of the judges, who examined their conduct during the combat. “Then a herald, taking the chaplets from the tripod, placed them on the heads of such of the conquerors as were approved by the judges; and putting into their hands the palms, they led them, thus equipped, through the stadium, preceded by a trumpeter, who, during the procession, proclaimed with a loud voice their names, the names of their fathers, and of their countries, and specified the particular combat in which they were conquerors. And as they passed along, they were saluted with the acclamations of the spectators, accompanied with showers of herbs and flowers, thrown upon them from every side. Such was the office of the herald, or crier, in these games. In allusion to that office, the apostle calls himself κηρυξ, the herald, in the combat for immortality; because he was one of the chief of those who were employed by Christ to introduce into the stadium such as contended for the incorruptible crown. He called them to the combat; he declared the kind of combat in which they were to engage; he proclaimed the qualifications necessary in the combatants, and the laws of the battle. Withal, he encouraged the combatants, by placing the crowns and palms full in their view.”

The expression, αυτος αδοκιμος γενωμαι, rendered, I myself should be a cast-away, or disapproved, signifies one, who, when tried in the manner described above, was found not to be of the character and station required by the established regulations. “Besides the previous trial, the judges, after the combat was over, made a most accurate and impartial scrutiny into the manner in which the victors had contended, in order to find whether they had contended νομιμως, (2 Timothy 2:5,) according to the laws of the combat. And if, on trial, it appeared that they had failed in the least particular, they were cast. In consequence of this sentence, they were denied the crown, and sometimes beat out of the stadium with disgrace. Such contenders, whether they were cast before or after the combat, were αδοκιμοι, persons not approved. Wherefore, to avoid that disgrace, the apostle, who was a combatant in the Christian race, as well as a herald, was careful to qualify himself for the combat; and in combating, to observe all the laws of the combat, lest, having proclaimed these laws, he should be found not approved himself. This the apostle said to stir up all, but especially the ministers of the gospel, to the greatest diligence in acquiring habits of self-government and purity, not only that they might secure to themselves the crown of righteousness, but that they might be patterns to their people.” — See Macknight, and West’s Pindar.

It is justly observed here by a late writer, that this single passage may give us a just notion of the Scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation; and clearly shows us, that particular persons are not in Holy Writ represented as elected, absolutely and unconditionally, to eternal life; or predestinated, absolutely and unconditionally, to eternal death: but that believers in general are elected to enjoy the Christian privileges on earth, which, if they abuse, those very elect persons will become reprobate. St. Paul was certainly an elect person, if ever there was one: and yet he declares it was possible he himself might become a reprobate. Nay, he would actually have become such, if he had not thus kept his body under, even though he had been so long an elect person, a Christian, and an apostle. 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.I therefore so run - In the Christian race; in my effort to obtain the prize, the crown of immortality. I exert myself to the utmost, that I may not fail of securing the crown.

Not as uncertainly - (οὐκ ἀδήλως ouk adēlōs). This word occurs no where else in the New Testament. It usually means, in the Classic writers, "obscurely." Here it means that he did not run as not knowing to what object he aimed. "I do not run haphazardly; I do not exert myself for nothing; I know at what I aim, and I keep my eye fixed on the object; I have the goal and the crown in view." Probably also the apostle intended to convey this idea, "I so live and act that I am "sure" of obtaining the crown. I make it a great and grand point of my life so to live that there may be no room for doubt or hesitancy about this rustler. I believe it may be obtained; and that by a proper course there may he a constant certainty of securing it; and I so live." O how happy and blessed would it be if all Christians thus lived! How much doubt, and hesitancy, and despondency would it remove from many a Christian's mind! And yet it is morally certain that if ever Christian were to be only as anxious and careful as were the ancient Grecian wrestlers and racers in the games, they would have the undoubted assurance of gaining the prize. Doddridge and Macknight, however, render this "as not out of view;" or as not distinguished; meaning that the apostle was not "unseen," but that he regarded himself as constantly in the view of the judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. I prefer the other interpretation, however, as best according with the connection and with the proper meaning of the word.

So fight I-- οὗτω πυκτεύω houtō pukteuō. This word is applied to the "boxers," or the pugilists, in the Grecian games. The exercise of boxing, or "fighting" with the fist, was a part of the entertainment with which the "enlightened" nations of Greece delighted to amuse themselves.

Not as one that beateth the air - The "phrase" here is taken from the habits of the pugilists or boxers, who were accustomed, before entering the lists, to exercise their limbs with the gauntlet, in order to acquire greater skill and dexterity. There was also, before the real contest commenced, a play with their fists and weapons, by way of show or bravado, which was called σκιᾷμαχία skiamachia, a mock-battle, or a fighting the air. The phrase also is applicable to a "missing the aim," when a blow was struck in a real struggle, and when the adversary would elude the blow, so that it would be spent in the empty air. This last the idea which Paul means to present. He did not miss his aim; he did not exert himself and spend his strength for nothing. Every blow that he struck told; and he did not waste his energies on that which would produce no result. He did not strive with rash, ill-advised, or uncertain blows; but all his efforts were directed, with good account, to the grand purpose or subjugating his enemy - sin - and the corrupt desires of the flesh - and bringing everything into captivity to God Much may be learned from this.

Many an effort of Christians is merely beating the air. The energy is expended for nothing. There is a lack of wisdom, or skill, or perseverance; there is a failure of plan; or there is a mistake in regard to what is to be done, and what should be done. There is often among Christians very little "aim" or object; there is no "plan;" and the efforts are wasted, scattered, inefficient efforts; so that, at the close of life, many a man may say that he has spent his ministry or his Christian course mainly, or entirely, "in beating the air." Besides, many set up a man of straw and fight that. They fancy error and heresy in others and oppose that. They become a "heresy-hunters;" or they oppose some irregularity in religion that, if left alone, would die of itself; or they fix all their attention upon some minor evil, and they devote their lives to the destruction of that alone. When death comes, they may have never struck a blow at one of the real and dangerous enemies of the gospel; and the simple record on the tombstone of many ministers and many private Christians might he, "Here lies one who spent his life in beating the air."

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.

The apostle proposeth his own example. As it is observed in country work, he that only bids his servants do work, and puts not his own hand to it, or at least doth not attend and overlook them in their work, hath little done: so it is as observable in spiritual work, that a minister of the gospel, who only, in the pulpit, dictates duty to others, but, out of it, doth nothing of himself, seldom doth any good by his preaching. People not naturally inclined to any spiritual duty, have the old proverb: Physician, cure thyself, at their tongue’s end, and are hard to believe that teacher, who doth not in some measure live up to his own doctrine. Therefore, saith the apostle:

I run; I am in the same race with you, and running to the same mark and for the same prize. I give you no other counsel than I myself take; I endeavour so to live, so in all things to behave myself, as I may not be at uncertainties whether I please God by my actions, or shall get to heaven, yea or not. I am a fellow soldier with you, fighting against sin; I make it my great business, not so to fight, so to resist sin, as if I did

beat the air; that is, get no more fruit, profit, or advantage by it, than if I threw stones against the wind, or with a staff did beat the air. It is not every running, or every fighting, that will bring a man to heaven; it must be a running with all our might, and continuing our motion till we come to the end of our race; a fighting with all our might, and that against all sin. 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.

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 9:26-27. So run I then, seeing that I, for my part, according to 1 Corinthians 9:25, am prepared by such abstinence to strive for the incorruptible crown, in such a way as, etc. The apostle thus sets his own ethical mode of striving (as a runner and combatant) before his readers as a pattern. Respecting the following τοίνυν, which Paul has only in this passage, comp Luke 20:25; Hebrews 13:13; Hartung, Partik. II. p. 349; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 251 f.

οὐκ ἀδήλως] sc[1537] τρέχων. The word means unapparent, not clear, reverse of πρόδηλος. It may either be applied objectively to an action which is indistinct and not cognizable to others (Luke 11:44; 1 Corinthians 14:8); or subjectively, so that the man who acts, hopes, etc., is himself not clear, but uncertain and hesitating as to manner, aim, and result; comp 2Ma 7:34; 3Ma 4:4; Thuc. i. 2. 1; Plato, Symp. p. 181 D; Soph. Trach. 667; Dem. 416. 4; Polyb. xxx. 4. 17, viii. 3. 2, vi. 56. 11, iii. 54. 5 : ἀδήλος ἐπίβασις; also in Xenoph., Plutarch, etc. So here; and hence we should render: not without a clearly conscious assurance and certainty of running so as to reach the goal. Comp Vulgate, “non in incertum;” Chrysostom: πρὸς σκοπόν τινα βλέπων, οὐκ εἰκῇ καὶ μάτην, Php 3:14, κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω ἐπὶ τὸ βραβεῖον, Bengel, “Scio quod petam et quomodo,” Melanchthon, “non coeco impetu sine cogitatione finis.” Hofmann takes it otherwise: “in whose case it is quite apparent whither he would go,” thus bringing out the objective sense; comp also Grotius. But this would convey too little, for as a matter of course it must be plain in the case of every runner in a race whither he would go. Homberg’s rendering is better: “ut non in obscuro sim, sed potius inter reliquos emineam.” Comp Ewald: “not as in the dark, but as in the sight of all.” Still this does not correspond so well with the parallel ὡς οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων, which implies the conception of the end in view. Alex. Morus and Billroth (comp Olshausen) understand it as meaning, not without definite aim (not simply for private exercise). But this runs counter to the whole context, in which Paul is set forth as an actual runner in a racecourse, so that the negative thus conveyed would be inappropriate.

οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων] The boxer ought to strike his opponent, and not, missing him, to beat the air, to deal strokes in air. Comp the German phrase, “in’s Blaue hinein.” See Eustath. a[1544] Il. p. 663, 17, and the instances given by Wetstein. Comp Theophilus, a[1546] Autol. iii. 1. The context (see above on ἀδήλ.) forbids us to render, with Theodoret, Calovius, Bengel, Zachariae, Billroth, Rückert, Olshausen, Hofmann, and others: not in imaginary combat merely, without a real antagonist (σκιαμαχία). Respecting the οὐκ in this passage, see Winer, p. 452 [E. T. 609].

ἀλλʼ ὑπωπιάζω κ.τ.λ[1547]] but I beat my body blue,—alteration of the construction, in order to make the thought stand out in a more independent way; comp on 1 Corinthians 7:37. The ἈΛΛΆ, however, can have the effect only of presenting what is here stated as the opposite of ἈΈΡΑ ΔΈΡΩΝ, not as that whereby a man simply prepares himself for the contest (Hofmann, comp Pott). Paul regards his own body (the ΣῶΜΑ Τῆς ΣΑΡΚΌς, Colossians 2:11, the seat of the nature opposed to God, of the law in his members, comp Romans 6:6; Romans 7:23) as the adversary (ἀνταγωνιστής), against whom he fights with an energetic and successful vehemence, just as a boxer beats the face of his opponent black and blue (respecting ὙΠΩΠΙΆΖΕΙΝ, comp on Luke 18:5, and Bos, Exercitt. p. 140 ff.), so that those lusts (Galatians 5:17), which war against the regenerate inner man, whose new principle of life is the Holy Spirit, lose their power and are not fulfilled. It is in substance the same thing as τὰς πράξεις τοῦ αώματος θανατοῦν in Romans 8:13; comp Colossians 3:5. The result of the ὙΠΩΠΙΆΖΩ Κ.Τ.Λ[1553] is, that the body becomes submissive to the moral will,[1554] yea, the members become weapons of righteousness (Romans 6:13). Hence Paul adds further: κ. δουλαγωγῶ, I make it a slave (Diodorus, xii. 24; Theophrastus, Ep. 36; Theophyl. Simoc. Ephesians 4), which also “a pyctis desumptum est; nam qui vicerat, victum trahebat adversarium quasi servum,” Grotius. Against the abuse of this passage to favour ascetic scourgings of the body, see Deyling, Obss. I. p. 322 ff., ed. 3.

ἄλλοις κηρύξας] after having been a herald to others. The apostle still keeps to the same figure, comparing his preaching, in which he summoned and exhorted men to the Christian life, to the office of the herald who made known the laws of the games and called the champions to the combat. Rückert, who (with Chrysostom, Grotius, al[1555]) regards κηρ. as denoting preaching without reference to the work of a herald, reminds us, in opposition to the above view (comp de Wette), that the herald certainly did not himself join in the combat. But this objection does not hold, for with Paul the case stood thus: He, in point of fact, was a herald, who joined personally in the contest; and he had therefore to carry through his figure upon this footing, even although he thereby departed from the actually subsisting relations at the combats in the games.

ἀδόκιμος] rejectaneus, unapproved, i.e. however, not “ne dignus quidem, qui ad certamen omnino admittar” (Pott),—for Paul is, from 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, actually in the midst of the contest,—but praemio indignus,

μὴ τοὺς ἄλλους τὸ δέον διδάξας αὐτὸς τοῦ τέλους τῶν ἀγώνων παντελῶς διαμάρτω, Theodoret.

[1537] c. scilicet.

[1544] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1546] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1547] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1553] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1554] Comp. the weaker analogies in profane writers, as Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 28; Cicero, Off. i. 23. 79.

[1555] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.1 Corinthians 9:26-27. “Therefore I so run, in no uncertain fashion; so I ply my fists, not like one that beats the air.” “So—as the context describes, and as you see me (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32)”; the Ap. feels himself, while he writes, to be straining every nerve like the racer, striking home like the trained pugilist: for this graphic οὕτως, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:11, Galatians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:17; the adv[1388] would be otiose as mere antecedent to ὡς.—τοίνυν (similarly τοίγαρ in 1 Thessalonians 4:8) brings in the prompt, emphatic inference drawn from the last clause: “We are fighting for the immortal crown—I as a leader and exemplar; surely then I make no false step in the course, I strike no random blows.” ἀδήλως is susceptible both of the objective sense prevailing in cl[1389] Gr[1390], obscure, inconspicuous (preferred by Mr[1391] and Gd[1392] here, as though P. meant, “not keeping out of sight, in the ruck”; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:8); and (preferably) of the subjective sense, unsure, without certain aim (Thuc., I. 2. 1; Plato, Symp. 181 D; Polybius)—“ut non in incertum” (Bz[1393]); “scio quod petam et quomodo” (Bg[1394]); πρὸς σκοπόν τινα βλέπων, οὐκ εἰκῇ καὶ μάτην (Cm[1395]): cf. Php 3:14. The image of the race suggests that of pugilism (πυκτεύω). another exercise of the Pentathlon of the arena: the former a familiar N.T. metaphor, the latter h.l.—ὡς οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων, “ut non aerem cædens” (Bz[1396]), “smiting something more solid than air” (οὐκ negatives ἀέρα, not δέρων),—esp. my own body (1 Corinthians 9:27); cf. Virgil’s “verberat ictibus auras” (Æn. 9:377). P.’s are no blows of a clumsy fighter that fail to land—struck in’s Blaue hinein. Bg[1397], Hf[1398], Ed[1399] suppose him to be thinking of the σκιομαχία, sham-fight, practised in training or by way of prelude, without an antagonist. δέρω means to flay, then beat severely, smite; cf. our vulgar hiding.

[1388] adverb

[1389] classical.

[1390] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1391]
Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1392] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1393] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1394] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1395]
John Chrysostom’s Homiliœ († 407).

[1396] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1397] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1398]
J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1399] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.226. not as uncertainly] i.e. with no definite object, but “looking to some goal,” as St Chrysostom observes, and that goal the salvation of himself and others.

so fight I] The Christian career is not merely a race, but a conflict, and a conflict not only with others, but with oneself. St Paul had to contend with the fleshly lusts of the body, the love especially of ease, the indisposition to hardship and toil so natural to humanity. See Romans 7:23; and for the life of pain and endurance to which he had enslaved himself, ch. 4 of this Epistle, 1 Corinthians 9:9-13, and 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.

not as one that beateth the air] That is, not as one who struck out at random, but as one who delivered his blows with effect. Cf. Virg. Æn. v. 377, Verberat ictibus auras; 446, Vires in ventum effudit, and the German “ins Blaue hinein.”1 Corinthians 9:26. Ἐγὼ) I for my part.—οὕτως) so, as I said, 1 Corinthians 9:23 : comp. οὒτω, so, 1 Corinthians 9:24.—οὐκ ἀδήλως, not uncertainly, I know what I aim at, and how to aim at it. He who runs with a clear aim looks straight forward to the goal, and makes it his only object, he casts away every encumbrance, and is indifferent to what the standers bye say, and sometimes even a fall serves only to rouse him the more.—πυκτεύω, I fight) Paul adds the pugilistic contest to the race, in preference to the other kinds of contest.—ὡς οὐκ αἔρα δέρων, not as one beating the air) In the Sciamachia [sparring in the school for mere practice] which preceded the serious contest, they were accustomed to beat the air; comp. [ye shall speak to] the air, 1 Corinthians 14:9.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. Uncertainly (ἀδήλως)

Only here in the New Testament. The kindred adjective ἄδηλος not manifest, occurs Luke 11:44 (see note) and 1 Corinthians 14:8. Compare also ἀδηλότης uncertainty, 1 Timothy 6:17. He runs with a clear perception of his object, and of the true manner and result of his striving.

Fight I((πυκτεύω)

Only here in the New Testament. Distinctively of fighting with the fists, and evidently in allusion to the boxing-match. Rev., in margin, box. Etymologically akin to πυγμή the fist; see on oft, Mark 7:3.

Beateth the air

A boxer might be said to beat the air when practicing without an adversary. This was called σκιαμαχία shadow-fighting. Or he might purposely strike into the air in order to spare his adversary; or the adversary might evade his blow, and thus cause him to spend his strength on the air. The two latter may well be combined in Paul's metaphor. He strikes straight and does not spare. Compare Virgil, in the description of a boxing-match:

"Entellus, rising to the work, his right hand now doth show

Upreared, but he, the nimble one, foresaw the falling blow

Above him, and his body swift writhed skew-wise from the fall.

Entellus spends his stroke on air."

"Aeneid," v., 443. Morris' Translation.

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1 Corinthians 9:25
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