This past Sunday I opened my Bible and followed along as the pastor read from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NRSV):

“24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (emphasis mine, and all instances hereafter)

I was reading along in my TNIV, in which the 27th verse reads:

“No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

That difference piqued my interest, so when I got home I looked in my NASB, and read:

“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

More:

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (ESV)

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (NKJV)

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (KJV)

“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (NLTse)

“but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.” (ASV)

“Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (HCSB)

I understood the concept pretty well, of course. When an athlete is preparing to compete in whatever athletic contest he or she is involved in, it is necessary to discipline, or condition, the body so it’s used to the activity and can perform at its highest level.

But what’s this about beating the body, i.e., buffeting, striking a blow, punishing? I understand it, but where did it come from? I figure it must be a Greek idiom which is a little bit difficult to translate into English.

So then, I know! I’ll check it out in the NET Bible! I look it up:

“Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.”

and the notes:

???

64,000 notes and not one note on this passage???

Well, I guess that lessens the NET a little bit in my estimation.

OK, so I go to the interlinear at Scripture4all.org. Maybe the original in an interlinear will tell me something. I find this word-for-word translation:

but I-AM-belaborING OF-ME THE BODY AND I-AM-SLAVE-LEADING (I-am-leading-into-slavery-it) NO how to-others PROCLAIMing SAME UN-tested I-MAY-BECOMING

OK, so I guess that clears up some of it. At least I can see where it’s coming from.

So what’s my point?

Maybe a word-for-word translation isn’t the best. And it sure helps to have other translations at hand to cross-check and give a consensus of what is being said.

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