Ps 19:5; Ec 9:11. Various games were instituted among the Greeks and Romans, in honor of their gods, and with the design of training young men to personal vigor and activity, and to intrepidity and skill in war. These games were celebrated at stated places and times, with great pomp; renowned statesmen, legislators, and kings engaged in them; and it was deemed the highest of all honors to be crowned with a simple chaplet of laurel, olive, pine, or parsley, in the presence of the vast assemblage of witnesses who delighted to honor the victor. The preparatory training was very severe, and every weakening indulgence was forbidden. Among the most famous games were those celebrated on the isthmus of Corinth, hence called the Isthmian games; and to these Paul alludes in his letters to Corinth, 1Co 9:24-27. The foot race was a game of the first rank; other games were the chariot-race, wrestling, boxing, leaping, and throwing the quoit or the javelin. The foot-race well illustrates the Christian warfare, the sacrifices to be made, the diligent bringing the body under subjection, the laying aside every weight, the myriads of spectators lining the course, and among them those previously crowned victors, the exhausting efforts required, (from which the word agonize is derived,) and the glorious prize, Php 3:13; 2Ti 4:7-8; Heb 12:1.
One of the Grecian contests used by the apostle to illustrate the Christian race. All ran, but only one received the prize; let each, casting aside every weight and sin, so run as to obtain; not for a fading crown (of laurel, pine, or parsley), but an incorruptible one. 1Co 9:24-25; Heb 12:1. This is not a contest in which the unconverted have to strive, with the aim of obtaining salvation; but it is a race the Christian has to run as a matter of experience. Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"