Disqualified for the Prize

By William Stewart

No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27; NIV

What did Paul mean by "I myself will not be disqualified"? A few other translations might help to understand this phrase:
King James Version, Noah Webster's Bible: "...I myself should be a castaway..."
New American Standard Bible, New King James Bible, New International Version: "...I myself will not be disqualified..."
American Standard Version, Darby Bible: "...I myself should be rejected..."

The actual Greek word for "disqualified" in this verse is a compound word, adokimos which is comprised of a, a negative, and dokimos, meaning acceptable, or approved; together, the words means unapproved, not acceptable, or unqualified.

It is true some interpret this verse as being a warning, that even the Apostle Paul could be judged as disqualified to be saved, but they do this by not considering what is being presented in this chapter and elsewhere in this book.

1 Corinthians 9:1-23 — Paul defends his rights as an Apostle against those who sit in judgment of him. They did not take anything from the Corinthians for their support to present the gospel freely to them to win them to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 — Paul here states what his goal really was, using the illustrations of runners in a race, and the training of those in athletic games who competed for earthly crowns. Then Paul made those illustrations personal by stating; "...but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (v.25).

This was explained in more details by the illustration Paul gave earlier in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Here Paul presented himself as builder who laid the foundation (Christ) and others (Christians) are building on it (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). All believers who build upon that foundation will have the quality of their works tested (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). Those whose works survive the test (gold, silver, costly stones), "he will receive his reward; while those works (wood, hay or straw) did not survive the test; he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved" (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).

Salvation is always stated in the New Testament as not by works but by grace, a gift:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (see also Romans 6:23)
We are not saved by works, but are saved to do good works by which we may, "get a crown that will last forever."

Paul was striving in 1 Corinthians 9:27 to win the "prize" or "crown" awaiting him at the judgment seat of Christ: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Should not every believer also seek to have Christ say, as he stated in one of His parables, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21, 23).

Image Credit: Pexels; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation  | Biblical-Truth  | Christian-Life

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Published 5-30-17