on 1-corinthians 9 :26
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly - In the foot-course in those games, how many soever ran, only one could have the prize, however strenuously they might exert themselves; therefore, all ran uncertainly; but it was widely different in the Christian course, if every one ran as he ought, each would receive the prize.
The word αδηλως, which we translate uncertainly, has other meanings.
1. It signifies ignorantly; I do not run like one ignorant of what he is about, or of the laws of the course; I know that there is an eternal life; I know the way that leads to it; and I know and feel the power of it.
2. It signifies without observation; the eyes of all the spectators were fixed on those who ran in these races; and to gain the applause of the multitude, they stretched every nerve; the apostle knew that the eyes of all were fixed upon him.
1. His false brethren waited for his halting:
2. The persecuting Jews and Gentiles longed for his downfall:
3. The Church of Christ looked on him with anxiety: And he acted in all things as under the immediate eye of God.
Not as one that beateth the air - Kypke observes, that there are three ways in which persons were said, αερα δερειν, to beat the air.
1. When in practising for the combat they threw their arms and legs about in different ways, thus practising the attitudes of offense and defense. This was termed σκιαμαχια, fighting with a shadow. To this Virgil alludes when representing Dares swinging his arms about, when he rose to challenge a competitor in the boxing match: -
Talis prima Dares caput altum in praelia tollit,
Ostenditque humeros latos, alternaque jactat
Brachia protendens, et verberat ictibus auras.
Aen. v., ver. 375.
Thus, glorying in his strength, in open view
on 1-corinthians 9 :26
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."
on 1-corinthians 9 :26