864. Temperance Chaplets

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
1 Corinthians 9:2525And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 9:25). Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Among the four sacred games of the ancient Greeks, the Olympic and the Isthmian were the most celebrated, the former taking the precedence. To these familiar games the apostle makes many allusions in his writings. (See further, note on Heb. 12:11Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1), #884.) There are two of such in this text.
1. Every competitor in these games was obliged to undergo a severe and protracted training, sometimes lasting nearly a year, during which time he carefully avoided excesses of every kind. A ‘passage from Epictetus so beautifully illustrates this text that it is cited by most commentators: “Would you be a victor in the Olympic games? so in good truth would I, for it is a glorious thing; but pray consider what, must go before, and what may follow, and so proceed to the attempt. You must then live by rule, eat what will be disagreeable, refrain from delicacies; you must oblige yourself to constant exercises at the appointed hour, in heat and cold; you must abstain from wine and cold liquors; in a word, you must be as submissive to all the directions of your master as to those of a physician” (Enchiridion, chap. 35).
Thus Paul says in the text: “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”
2. The victor was rewarded with a crown or chaplet of leaves. The Olympic crown was made of the leaves of the wild olive, the Isthmian was made of pine or ivy. From the earliest periods of history chaplets of leaves were bestowed upon heroes who had conquered on the field of battle. Thus the Psalmist says of the triumphant Messiah: “Upon himself shall his crown flourish” (Psa. 132:1818His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish. (Psalm 132:18)). The idea of a crown flourishing is very expressive when spoken of a leafy chaplet; though some commentators render the word shine. This is the sort of crown to which Paul refers in the text as “corruptible.” The crown of thorns which was placed on the Saviour’s head was a mockery of these wreaths of triumph, as well as of the golden crowns of kings. See Matthew 27:2929And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (Matthew 27:29); Mark 15:1717And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, (Mark 15:17); John 19:2,52And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, (John 19:2)
5Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19:5)
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