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24 [a]Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a [b]crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].

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  1. 1 Corinthians 9:24 The Isthmian Games, held near Corinth, were among the major athletic competitions of ancient Greece. The Corinthians’ familiarity with this sporting event would have made this passage (vv 24-27) very meaningful to them.
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:25 Lit perishable crown, usually a woven wreath of pine worn as a crown.

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