The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 9:25 Explained

1 Corinthians 9:25

KJV: And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

YLT: and every one who is striving, is in all things temperate; these, indeed, then, that a corruptible crown they may receive, but we an incorruptible;

Darby: But every one that contends for a prize is temperate in all things: they then indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.

ASV: And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Discover 1 Corinthians 9:25

What does 1 Corinthians 9:25 Mean?

Verse Meaning

"Competes" is a translation of agonidzomai from which we get the English word "agonizes." To receive the prize of our Lord"s "well done" we need to give all our effort. We also need to exercise self-control. Competitors in the Isthmian Games had to train for10 months. [1] An athlete in training denies himself or herself many lawful pleasures to gain an extra edge of superiority. Likewise we may need to limit our liberty for a higher goal as spiritual athletes.
Winners in the Isthmian Games received a wreath of parsley, wild celery, or pine. [2] In the Olympian Games the prize was a wild olive wreath. [3] However the victorious Christian"s reward is imperishable (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8), and it lies in the eschaton. [4] How much more important it is to be willing to forgo our rights for the spiritual advancement of others than it is to train for a physical footrace (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)!
Believers" CrownsTitleReasonReferenceAn Imperishable CrownFor leading a disciplined life 1 Corinthians 9:25A Crown of RejoicingFor evangelism and discipleship 1 Thessalonians 2:19A Crown of RighteousnessFor loving the Lord"s appearing 2 Timothy 4:8A Crown of LifeFor enduring trials James 1:12; Revelation 2:10A Crown of GloryFor shepherding God"s flock faithfully 1 Peter 5:4

Context Summary

1 Corinthians 9:16-27 - "under Bondage To All"
Paul's one aim was to gain men. He uses the words repeatedly. To gain one more for his Lord, he would forego comfort, emolument, and well-earned repose. He would allow no competitor for an earthly prize to supersede himself in his sacrifices for this crown of rejoicing. He points to the denials, the hard training, and the severe discipline to which men who took part in the games subjected themselves. No one thought it strange that they should sacrifice so much for the chance of winning; why, then, should he be counted eccentric, who sought the certain reward of gaining new lovers of his Master's cross?
He tells us that he lived in constant dread of becoming a castaway. He had no fear of being rejected from God's love; but he feared lest God, who had used him so wonderfully, should cease to do so, and should cast him aside in favor of someone more unselfish, more pliant, more free from that which would excite prejudice. If Paul was so eager to surrender his rights and bruise his body that he might attain the prize of soul-winning, the question arises whether for our failure in these respects God may not be obliged to cast us on the rubbish-heap! [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 9

1  He shows his liberty;
7  and that the minister ought to receive a living by the Gospel;
15  yet that himself has of his own accord abstained,
18  to be neither chargeable unto them,
22  nor offensive unto any, in matters indifferent
24  Our life is like unto a race

Greek Commentary for 1 Corinthians 9:25

That striveth in the games [ο αγωνιζομενος]
Common verb for contest in the athletic games (αγων — agōn), sometimes with the cognate accusative, αγωνα αγωνιζομαι — agōna agōnizomai as in 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7. Probably Paul often saw these athletic games. [source]
Is temperate in all things [παντα εγκρατευεται]
Rare verb, once in Aristotle and in a late Christian inscription, and 1 Corinthians 7:9 and here, from εγκρατης — egkratēs common adjective for one who controls himself. The athlete then and now has to control himself (direct middle) in all things (accusative of general reference). This is stated by Paul as an athletic axiom. Training for ten months was required under the direction of trained judges. Abstinence from wine was required and a rigid diet and regimen of habits.A corruptible crown (πταρτον στεπανον — phtharton stephanon). Στεπανος — Stephanos (crown) is from στεπω — stephō to put around the head, like the Latin corona, wreath or garland, badge of victory in the games. In the Isthmian games it was of pine leaves, earlier of parsley, in the Olympian games of the wild olive. “Yet these were the most coveted honours in the whole Greek world” (Findlay). For the crown of thorns on Christ‘s head see note on Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2; and John 19:5. Διαδημα — Diadēma (diadem) was for kings (Revelation 12:3). Favourite metaphor in the N.T., the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:12), the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:9), description of the Philippians (Philemon 4:1). Note contrast between πταρτον — phtharton (verbal adjective from πτειρω — phtheirō to corrupt) like the garland of pine leaves, wild olive, or laurel, and απταρτον — aphtharton (same form with α — a privative) like the crown of victory offered the Christian, the amaranthine (unfading rose) crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). [source]
A corruptible crown [πταρτον στεπανον]
Στεπανος — Stephanos (crown) is from στεπω — stephō to put around the head, like the Latin corona, wreath or garland, badge of victory in the games. In the Isthmian games it was of pine leaves, earlier of parsley, in the Olympian games of the wild olive. “Yet these were the most coveted honours in the whole Greek world” (Findlay). For the crown of thorns on Christ‘s head see note on Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2; and John 19:5. Διαδημα — Diadēma (diadem) was for kings (Revelation 12:3). Favourite metaphor in the N.T., the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:12), the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:9), description of the Philippians (Philemon 4:1). Note contrast between πταρτον — phtharton (verbal adjective from πτειρω — phtheirō to corrupt) like the garland of pine leaves, wild olive, or laurel, and απταρτον — aphtharton (same form with α — a privative) like the crown of victory offered the Christian, the amaranthine (unfading rose) crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). [source]
Striveth for the mastery [ἀγωνιζόμενος]
Better, Rev., striveth in the games, thus preserving the metaphor. The word was the regular term for contending in the arena or on the stage. [source]
Is temperate [ἐγκρατεύεται]
Only here and 1 Corinthians 7:9. The candidate for the races was required to be ten months in training, and to practice in the gymnasium immediately before the games, under the direction of judges who had themselves been instructed for ten months in the details of the games. The training was largely dietary. Epictetus says: “Thou must be orderly, living on spare food; abstain from confections; make a point of exercising at the appointed time, in heat and in cold; nor drink cold water nor wine at hazard.” Horace says: “The youth who would win in the race hath borne and done much; he hath sweat and been cold; he hath abstained from love and wine” (“Ars Poetica,” 412). Tertullian, commending the example of the athletes to persecuted Christians, says: “Coguntur, cruciantur, fatigantur.” “They are constrained, harassed, wearied” (“Ad Martyres,” 3). Compare 2 Timothy 2:5. [source]
Crown [στέφανον]
Chaplet of pine-leaves. See on Revelation 4:4. [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 9:25 mean?

Everyone now - striving in all things controls himself they indeed then that a perishable crown they might receive we however an imperishable
πᾶς δὲ ἀγωνιζόμενος πάντα ἐγκρατεύεται ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν ἵνα φθαρτὸν στέφανον λάβωσιν ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄφθαρτον

πᾶς  Everyone 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀγωνιζόμενος  striving 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀγωνίζομαι  
Sense: to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games.
πάντα  in  all  things 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Plural
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
ἐγκρατεύεται  controls  himself 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐγκρατεύομαι  
Sense: to be self-controlled, continent.
μὲν  indeed 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: μέν  
Sense: truly, certainly, surely, indeed.
ἵνα  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἵνα  
Sense: that, in order that, so that.
φθαρτὸν  a  perishable 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: φθαρτός  
Sense: corruptible, perishing.
στέφανον  crown 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: στέφανοσ2  
Sense: a crown.
λάβωσιν  they  might  receive 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: λαμβάνω  
Sense: to take.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἄφθαρτον  an  imperishable 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: ἄφθαρτος  
Sense: uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable.

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