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The Analogy of
The Grecian Games In The Word
By J.B. Scaramastro
Secondly, in 1Cor. 9:25, Paul continues by saying, "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." Here the Apostle Paul is making a contrast between what the victor in the Greek games receives and what the victors receive in the spiritual contest. He states that the natural athlete receives a corruptible crown whereas the spiritual athlete receives an incorruptible crown. The word for "corruptible" is, "PHTHARTOS, corruptible, perishable, (participle of PHTHEIRO, to spoil, corrupt, destroy, generally to bring into a worse state.)" Bullinger page 188. "... perishable, subject to decay or destruction ..." Arndt and Gingrich. page 864. It only occurs in the following New Testament passages:
The word for "incorruptible" is, "APHTHARTOS, incorruptible; of persons, immortal; of things, imperishable, enduring." Bullinger page 189. "... uncorruptible, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable ..." Grimm-Thayer page 88. It only occurs in the following New Testament passages:
The word for "crown" is, "STEPHANOS, that which surrounds or encompasses, a circle or chaplet worn on the head; of kings, a crown; of victors in games, a wreath, ...." Bullinger page 195. "..., primarily, that which surrounds, as a wall or crowd (STEPHO, to encircle), denotes (a) the victor's crown, the symbol of triumph in the games or some such contest; hence, by metonymy, a reward or prize; a token of public honor for distinguished service, military prowess etc.; or of nuptial joy, or festal gladness, especially at the parousia of kings. It was woven as a garland of oak, ivy, parsley, myrtle or olive, or in imitation of these in gold...." Vine's page 258. It only occurs in the following New Testament passages:
The cognate verb form of STEPHANOS is, "STEPHANOO, to put round, hence, to crown, ..." Bullinger page 195. "... to encircle with a crown: the victor in a contest ..." Grimm-Thayer page 588. It only occurs in the following New Testament passages:
Thus we have the Apostle Paul pointing to the stephanos received in the Grecian games and saying, "Look the natural athlete endure tremendous sel-discipline, rigorous habitual training, a moderate healthy diet, and abstention from all sensual gratification for a piece of vegetation that will decay and perish. Therefore of how much more effort is the prize worth to the victor in thee spiritual race for aionion life. Just consider the significance of the fact that the spiritual athlete, who is victorious, will receive an "incorruptible stephanos," a "stephanos of righteousness," "the stephanos of glory that fadeth not away," a "stephanos of gold," or "golden stephanos." The spiritual athlete it is said will receive or be crowned with the stephanos of "glory and honor." This being the prize of the victorious spiritual agonist then we must strain ouselves to the limits of endurance in order to obtain a prize which is infinitely superior to what was received by the natural athlete."
It might be asked, "Why throughout Scripture is there a number of different adjectives associated with the stephanos?" Well consider the following points:
(1.) It is said to be incorruptible because the recipient will not be subject to decay, perishing or what is associated with being a mortal being.
(2.) It is said to be a "stephanos of righteous" because the recipients will have won the contest with sin and be declared righteous. (Matt. 13:43,49; 25:46; Lk. 14:14; Acts 24:15; Rom. 1:17; 2:13; 3:26; 5:19; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38; Rev. 22:11.)
(3.) It is said to be "the stephanos of life" because the recipients will have overcome death and mortality and be "equal unto the angels." (Lk. 20:36; Matt. 22:30.) and possess the "divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4). (John 11:25; Rom. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15;50-57).
(4.) It is said to be "a stephanos of glory which fadeth not away" because the recipients will be part of the Yahweh name and be exalted to positions of honor and respect as king-priests in the kingdom. (Ex. 33:18-23; 34:5-7; Acts 15:14; Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Rev. 5:9-10; 22:2-5; Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:7-8.)
(5.) It is said to be a "stephanos of gold" or "golden stephanos" because the recipients will have obtained it through tried faith in which they remained stedfast. Also, remember "gold" does not decay or perish. (1 Pet. 1:7; Rom. 3:28; 4:5,13,16; 5:1; 9:30; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 1:24; 5:7; Gal. 2:16,20; 3:6-11, 14,24,26; 5:5,6,22; Eph. 2:8 etc.)
In the Olympic games the stephanos was made from a sacred olive tree which provides another unwittingly significant parallel. The spiritual athlete's "stephanos of life" will come from the "tree of life" (Gen. 2:9; 3:22,24; Prov. 11:30; 13:12; 15:4; Rev.2:7; 22:2,14.) which is associated with the Olive tree that stands for the hope of Israel (Rom.11.)
For a discussion of the coronal wreath see Eureka vol. 1. pages 386-389 and vol. 2 pages 134-143.
In light of the above discussion consider the following quotation from Clarke's Commentary. vol. 6. page 240: "The crown won by the victor in the victor in the Olympian games was made of the wild olive; in the Pythian games of laurel; in the Nemean games of parsley; and in the Isthmian games of the pine. These were all corruptible, for they began to wither as soon as they were separated from the trees, or plucked out of the earth. In opposition to these, the apostle says, he contended for an incorruptible crown, the heavenly inheritance. He sought not worldly honor; but that honor which comes from God."
Thirdly, Paul, as herald, continues in 1 Cor. 9:26 by saying, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:..." Let us start our consideration of this statement by looking at the Greek word for "not," namely, "OUK." "OU, (before a vowel, OUK; ....) not, no, expressing full and direct negation, independently and absolutely; hence objective ... denies absolutely and directly ... denies what is a matter of fact ... negatives an affirmation ... is used when an object is regarded independently in itself ... implies non-existence absolutely ... is, therefore, generally used with the Indicative Mood ..." Bullinger page 525. The word for "uncertainly" which only occurs in this passage is, "ADELOS, not openly; of mind or will, irresolutely, ..." Bullinger page 828.
Paul is holding himself up as an example which they should be following just as the faithful worthies of old are held up by him in Hebrews 11 and 12 and Jesus in chapter 12. He says that he absolutely does not run uncertainly or aimlessly. He knows exactly what he has to and wants to do and when to do it. Their is an objective to be realized, a goal to attain, a prize to be obtained up ahead. He is running for the incorruptible stephanos that the Lord, the righteous Judge, is holding in his hand and who is willing to give it to him and anyone else if they are victorious. Therefore, let us run with all our muscles straining to get such a prize of immeasurable value. Nothing else matters, nothing else is as important, or can compare to it and consequently absolutely nothing should hinder us or get in our way of obtaining it! The second half of the statement by Paul applies to boxing and will be considered when the analogy of boxing is taken up.
About this passage Adam Clarke has the following interesting comment to say in vol. 6 page 242 of his commentary: "He who won the race by running was to observe the laws of racing -- keeping within the white line which marked out the path or compass in which they ran; and he was also to outrun the rest, and to come first to the goal; otherwise he ran uncertainly, verses 24, 26, and was ADOKIMOS, one to whom the prize could not be judged by the judges of the games."
Fourthly, the exhortation of Paul, as the herald, in Hebrew 12:1 continues where he says, "and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, ..." The word in the Greek for "let us run" is the same as that which occurs in both verse 24 and 26 of 1 Cor. 9 where a discussion can be found of this term in our notes. Likewise, the word for "race" is "AGON" and has been discussed previously on pages (-) and (-). Upon consulting those discussions we realize that the race is one which must be run with all swiftness pushing ourselves to the limit of our capabilities. Therefore, we will find ourselves in great agony agonizing lawfully for victory. Realizing this tremendous trial the spiritual athlete is about to go through the herald Paul gives us some advice. He says, "run with patience." The word for "with" is, "DIA, through. (a) with Genitive, through as proceeding from, denoting the means or instrument of an action, by means of, by, the effective instrument of activity. ..." Bullinger page 888. The word for "patience" is, "HUPOMONE, a remaining under, a bearing-up under; hence, patient endurance, holding out, enduring." Bullinger page 574. "... 1. patience, endurance, fortitude, stedfastness, perseverance..." Arndt and Gingrich. "... 1. stedfastness, constancy, endurance, ...; in the New Testament the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest triaals and sufferings: ..." Grimm-Thayer page 644. It occurs in the following New Testament passages:
Thus from the above set of passages we can see that tribulation and trial enables patience or the capacity to hold up under very difficult circumstances to develop. We can also see that this characteristic is essential to be successful as a spiritual agonist or athlete. In a natural race all the muscles, heart, lungs, skeletal structure, ... in fact, the whole body is put to the test. The whole body must be functioning properly as well as being in peek condition. All aches and pains and injuries have to be coped with in order to be successful. In order to do this, the capacity to hold up under all this and remain stedfast with the mind fixed on the goal is what will enable the spiritual athlete to be successful.
The word for "that is set before" in the Greek is, "PROKEIMAI, (KEIMAI, to lie: to be laid, set, or placed, with PRO, before, prefixed) to lie before, to be laid or set forth or before any one." Bullinger page 686. It occurs in the following New Testament passages:
The race is completely set out or laid out before all spiritual athletes. There is no doubt as to where you must start, where you must run, where you must finish, what the rules are, and what the prize will be if you are successful. As has already been said there is or should be no doubt, no uncertainty, no aimlessness about what is expected of each and every spiritual athlete or agonist. The Deity has clearly revealed all that is necessary in his guide book and rule book the Bible. (See Deut. 29:29; Amos 3:7; Dan. 2:22,28,29; 1Cor. 2:6-14; Rom. 16:25-26; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Phil. 4:8-9; Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Pet. 1:1-8; Gal. 1:12; Rev. 1:1 etc. etc.) If any doubt or uncertainty exists it is completely our fault for not consulting this book. Such an indifferent or lax attitude on our part can not be excused when the great high Creator of the heavens and earth has condescended to give this information to mere puny mortal man. Such negligence and carelessness is unworthy of the stephanos of life that has been offered to them and treated so rudely and lightly. (See Heb. 2:1-3; 10:26-31; Matt. 22:1-14; Rev. 3:15-16; Prov. 1:7, 24-33; Acts. 24:25; Rom. 2:1-16; Heb. 4:1-11; 12:25-29; Matt. 23:33; 1 Pet. 4:17-18; Ecc. 8:10-13; Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 12:45-48.)
Fifthly, Paul, the herald, continues to speak forth in wisdom upon the necessities of a successful race when he says in Heb. 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus." The word for "Looking" is, "APHORAO, (HORAO, to see, perceive with the eyes, look at, to see something, used of bodily sight ... it refers in thought to the object ..., with APO, away from, prefixed) to look away from one thing so as to see another, look off from one thing unto another, ..." Bullinger page 464. "... to concentrate the gaze upon, ..." Vine's Vol. 3 page 13. "... (a) to look away from all else at, fix one's gaze upon ..." Abbott-Smith page 72. Here the herald, Paul, is giving the agonists or athletes a warning. At all times they must keep their eyes upon the righteous Judge Jesus and the prize in his hand. They must mentally concentrate upon the race and nothing else. After considering the faithful worthies of old in the audience before the race started they must look away from them unto Jesus the greatest example of all and what he can bestow upon them. The word used by Paul indicates that they can not try gazing at the audience or their opponents while they are running for this would only slow them down and cause them to lose the race. Looking to the audience, instead of away from and unto [EIS, into (to the interior), to, unto." Bullinger page 416. "unto, implying purpose, to the end that; ... or the point as an object of the aim or purpose, up to, for, (marking the immediate purpose.)" Bullinger page 836.] Jesus, in order to hear their cheers and praise may feed the ego but will not help win the race. In fact, it can be detrimental because it can cause the development of an attitude of self-importance and self-centeredness. (Prov. 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 14:3; 16:18; 29:23; 1 Tim. 3:6.) Such an attitude can only lead to one losing the race and destruction! Likewise, the looking back to see where your opponent is can only slow you down, possibly cause you to trip, or even cause you to go off course thus causing you to lose the race. (Rom. 14:4,10-13; James 4:11,12; 1 Cor. 4:4,5; Matt. 7:1-5; 18:10; Luke 10:16; 1 Thess. 4:8.) Consider the following quotation from Clarke's Commentary vol 6 on page 2: "... Looking off and on, or from and to; looking off or from the world and all secular concerns to Jesus and all the spiritual and heavenly things connected with him. This is still an allusion to the Grecian games: those who ran were to keep their eyes fixed on the mark of the prize; they must keep the goal in view. The exhortation implies, 1. That they should place all their hope and confidence in Christ, as their sole helper in this race of faith. 2. That they should consider him their leader in this contest and imitate his example." From John Martin's notes on Hebrews page 126, we have the following quotation: "... a related word to the word "respect" (11 verse 26...). From two Greek words "off" and "away," also to "stare" or "take heed." The first word denotes "separation," takingour eyes off something, whilst the second means to "gaze intently at some other object." The object in this case is seen to be the front runner, Jesus, who is far ahead, but like the Apostle Paul, we must "press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14)." Athlete or agonist should be "looking unto Jesus" and that is because he is "the author and finisher of our faith." Right away we are struck by the definite article "the" in conjunction with this applied to Jesus. In other words, this title can only apply to Jesus and no other human being! Therefore, it must hold much significance indeed in regards to the mission and character of the man Jesus. Also, notice that only the name Jesus pccurs without Lord or Christ attached to it. Here again Paul is impressing us with the man Jesus and his life and character and mission before his resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of his Father. He is telling us, as well as the Hebrew brethren, to zero in on that period when Jesus was a mortal man such as us, bearing the same nature, experience the same kind of temptations, agonizing with the thinking of the flesh and the enticements of the world. He is telling us that he succeeded and has the key to our success. Let us consider each part of this significant title, gaining the intended encouragement, guidance, and strength from it to successfully endure the gruelling contest we as spiritual athletes or agonists must go through.
The word for "author" is, "ARCHEGOS, beginning. originating, with article, the leader, founder, princely-leader." Bullinger page 76. "... 2. one who begins something as first in a series and thus supplies the impetus ..." Arndt and Gingrich page 112. " ... leading, furnishing the first cause or occasion ... 1. the chief leader, prince ... 2. one that takes the lead in any thing ... and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter ..." Grimm-Thayer page 77. It only occurs in the following New Testament passages:
The word for "and" is, "KAI, the conjunction of annexation, uniting things strictly co-ordinate, and, also, even, (KAI connects thoughts ...)" Bullinger page 50. Thus both parts of this title are equally important and must be understood in relation to each other. The word for "finisher" is "TELEIOTES, a completer, a perfecter, who brings one through to the goal so as to win and receive the prize, ..." Bullinger page 287. "... a finisher, one who completes and perfects a thing; one who brings through to final attainment ..." Analytical Greek Lexicon. page 401. A. T. Robertson on page 433 of his Word Pictures In The New Testament says the following about this word: "A word apparently coined by the writer from TELEIOO as it has been found nowhere else..." (See note one on page -- for definition of TELEIOO.) The word TELEIOTES only occurs in Heb. 12:2 in the New Testament.
In the Greek there is no word for "our" but "our faith" should be translated "the faith" as by Marshall, Berry, Diaglott, and Vincent in his Word Studies In The New Testament, and Wuest in his Word Studies In The Greek New Testament. The word for "faith" is, "PISTIS, faith, that is firm persuasion, the conviction which is based upon hearing, not upon sight, or knowledge; a firmly relying confidence in what we hear from God in His Word." Bullinger page 271. Consider the following analysis of this word:
Definition of faith: Heb. 11:1,13.
There is only one faith: Eph. 4:5 (compare 4:13).
We must have faith in God: Mark 11:22; Heb. 6:1.
Faith is necessary to please God: Heb. 11:6,39; James 2:5.
Our faith stands in the power of God: 1 Cor. 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:21.
Faith is produced by the Word of faith, namely, GOD'S Word: Rom. 10:8,17; 16:26; Gal. 3:2,5; 1 Tim. 4:6,12; Acts 6:7.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God: Heb. 11:3.
Faith springs from Jesus: Acts 3:16; 20:21; 24:24; Rom. 3:22; Phil. 3:9; Col. 1:4; 2:5; 1 Tim. 1:14; 3:15; Heb. 12:2; James 2:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Rev. 14:12.
Christ dwells in our hearts by faith: Eph. 3:17.
Forgiveness is obtained through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus: Rom. 3:25; Col. 2:12.
It is by faith that we have access to grace: Rom. 5:2; Eph. 3:12.
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin: Rom. 14:23.
Justified by faith in Jesus: Rom. 3:26,28,30; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:8,24; James 2:24.
Faith is counted for righteousness: Rom. 4:5,9,11,13; 9:30;10:6; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:9; Heb. 11:7.
The Faith purifies the heart: Acts 15:9.
We are sanctified by faith: Acts 26:18.
Faith is what enables us to obtain the victory over the world: 1 John 5:4.
Faith makes whole: Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:48; 17:19; Acts 3:16;14:9.
Healing was according to faith of the individual: Matt. 9:29.
We are the children of God by the Faith in Christ Jesus: Gal. 3:26.
Faith saves: Luke 7:20; 18:42; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 10:39; 1 Pet. 1:5,9.
We live by faith: Gal. 2:20 (compare 2 Cor. 5:15.).
Those who have faith are blessed: Gal. 3:9.
The promise of the spirit is received through the faith: Gal. 3:14,22.
The just shall live by faith: Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38.
Individually and as an ecclesia we are established by the faith: Acts 16:5; Rom. 11:20; 2 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:7.
We walk by faith: 2 Cor. 5:7.
We are to walk in the faith of Abraham: Rom. 4:12,16; Gal. 3:7.
We are suppose to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith: 2 Cor. 13:5.
We are exhorted to follow after faith: 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22.
We must continue in the faith: Acts 14:22; 1 Cor. 16:13; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 2:15; 1Pet. 5:9.
Godly edifying is in faith: 1 Tim. 1:4.
Faith without works is dead: James 2:14,17,18,20,22,24,26.
Trying of faith worketh patience: James 1:13.
Trial of our faith is more precious than of gold that perisheth: 1 Pet. 1:7.
Faith is the basis of other desirable characteristics: 2 Pet. 1:5.
We are suppose to strive together for the faith of the gospel: Phil 1:27; Jude 3.
Our faith is described as most holy: Jude 20.
The Gospel message is referred to as the mystery of the faith: 1 Tim. 3:9.
Faith is desribed as the faith of God: Rom. 3:3.
Faith is described as a fruit of the spirit: Gal. 5:22.
The Faith is described as the Faith in his name: Acts 3:16.
Faith is described as a door: Acts 14:27.
Faith is described as a shield: Eph. 6:16.
Faith and love together is described as a breastplate: 1 Thess. 5:8.
God's working to save mankind is described as a work of faith with power: 2Thess. 1:11.
The ecclesia is described as the household of the Faith: Gal. 6:10.
Actions not in harmony with God's word is denial of the faith: 1 Tim. 5:8,12; 6:10.
Following false doctrine is an erring from the faith: Acts 13:8; 1 Tim. 6:21; 2Tim. 2:18; 3:8.
Latter Days characterized by the demise of the faith: Luke 18:8; 1 Tim. 4:1.
Paul states he has kept the faith: 2 Tim. 4:7.
Where is your faith: Luke 8:25.
Examples of strong in faith: Matt. 8:10; 9:2; 15:28; 17:20; 21:21; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:9; 17:5,6; Acts 4: 19,20; 6:5,8; 11:24; Rom. 1:8,12; 2 Cor. 10:15; Eph. 1:15; Phil. 2:17; Col. 1:4; 2:5,7; 1 Thess. 1:3,8; 3:6,7; 2 Thess. 1:3,4; 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim. 1:5,13; 2:22; 3:10; Philemon 5,6; Heb. 11:4-39; 13:7; 2 Pet. 1:1; Rev. 2:13,19.
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