Castaway: 1 Corinthians 9:27
“I myself should be a castaway” – WHAT!? There it is, folks… you can lose your salvation! Forget about the many passages that blatantly and clearly teach the exact opposite. Because we have found a statement here that sounds really bad, we must fully embrace the fact that here “castaway” could have just as easily been translated reprobate. Knowing that means eternal punishment, we as enlightened students of the Bible cannot reject such undeniable proof. NO! We as God’s children cannot be so easily misguided! Here is the right mindset with which you and I should approach all Scripture: “God is perfect and infinitely more wise than me or anyone; I am flawed, fearful, and often fail. Hence, when I discover a passage that sounds alarming, I will study to uncover the profound truth that is waiting for all those who will seek after it; trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me.”
The word “castaway” is defined as reprobate; rejected; worthless (disqualified). However, context is everything!
Allow me to present several questions that will permit us to “Rightly divide the Word of Truth.”
Is the Gospel mentioned in this passage? YES.
Is it possible for one who has been redeemed by the power of God through the shed blood of Jesus to be cast away? ______. Before answering, I would have to ask: Who is doing the casting away? Let’s come back to that one. Do the Scriptures teach adamantly and repeatedly that salvation is eternal? YES.
Can any man or institution undo what All Mighty God has done? NO.
With some basic principles now being established, let’s further examine that question: Who is doing the casting away?
Paul declares plainly for us his desire to do whatever is necessary to win the lost to Christ. He shows how that he has approached them on any common ground he could find to gain an inroad to lead them to Christ or to share the Gospel with them. I believe, it would it be safe to say: Paul is seeking the acceptance of his audience. He is recognizing the fact that these people will likely judge his statements and his actions – past, present, and future.
Paul now illustrates his points:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?”
The Christian life is the parallel. Sports analogies are common in Paul’s inspired writings. This is a familiar idea, I believe, for most everyone.
“So run, that ye may obtain.” The reason for righteous living is declared here,
We are running to obtain a crown. Is the Gospel ever referred to as a crown or something to be “obtained”? NO! – IT IS A GIFT!
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” He describes the drive, character, and discipline of an athlete. His whole life is given to this one thing, winning!
“Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” How much more driven should the child of God be? After all, our crowns are eternal!
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” Meaning, I know who the enemy is. I am engaged in active opposition. I am not just putting on a show. I am not practicing for someday.
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:” In order to remain effective in opposition, great amounts of conditioning is required.
“Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul did not want to become disqualified to preach the Gospel in the eyes of those who the Holy Spirit had allowed him to reach and influence in his ministry. He wanted to have and maintain a good testimony!
This entire passage is a parallel with the Olympic games!
The terminology is identical!
Corinth is located about 50 miles west of Athens. So, these ideas and this illustration would have been clearly understood by the average person in Corinth.
"STADIA" ( KJV "race") - In 9:24, Running the "track", or "race course" event. The KJV word "race" in 1 Cor. 9:24 is the Greek word "stadia". "Stadia" was used for the "stadium", in which the foot race events were held, and also as a unit of measure, for about 220 yards, the length of the track in the "stadium". Every time you see the word "furlong" in the KJV, underneath is the Greek word "stadia", meaning 220 yards. There is even a modern line of athletic clothing named "Stadia".
"AGONIZOMOS" ä-gō-nē'-zo-mī (KJV "striveth for the mastery") - In 9:25, "agonizomos" means "training for the Olympic games". In 1 Tim 6:12 we find "agonizomos" again. "Fighting the good fight" here literally means "to be a success" at the Olympic games. We get our English verb "to agonize" from this word.
"EGKRATEIA" en-krä'-tā-ä (KJV "temperate") - In 9:25, means the "self control" required for an athlete to become "world class". In Gal. 5:23 the KJV word "temperance" is "egkrateia" also, speaking of the "self control" that is available to God's children to become "world class" Christians. "STEPHANOS" (KJV "crown") - In 9:25, the KJV word "crown" is the Greek word "stephanos", which meant the awards, medals, and wreaths that the athletes won in the Olympic Games. Our "crowns", throughout the New Testament, are always the Greek word "stephanos". The Greek word "diadem" is the word for a "king’s crown", and only Jesus wears a "diadem". Our "crowns", or rewards for Christian service are stated 9 times, and are always "stephanos", relating directly to the athletic awards of the Olympic Games.
"PUKTEUO" pook-teh'-o (KJV "fight") – In 9:26, Paul "fights", "pukteuo", the Greek word for "boxing", from which we get our English word "pugnacious". Paul is saying that our "fight" or "boxing match" is not as one who "shadow boxes", but our "boxing match" is real. Again, a Greek Olympic training phrase, used to state that our enemy is spiritual and very real!
"ADOKIMOS" ad-ok'-ee-mos In 9:27, the KJV word "castaway" is the Greek word "adokimos", which in this context means "disqualified" from receiving rewards (stephanos) for not following the rules. God's Word contains the "rules" for our "race".
Some excerpts from the following site were used in this article: http://www.biblefood.com/olympics.html