I press toward the mark - Κατα σκοπον διωκω· I pursue along the line; this is a reference to the white line that marked the ground in the stadium, from the starting place to the goal, on which the runners were obliged to keep their eye fixed; for they who transgressed or went beyond this line did not run lawfully, and were not crowned, even though they got first to the goal. See the concluding observations on 1 Corinthians 9:27.
What is called σκοπος, mark or scope, here, is called κανων, the line, i.e. the marked line, Philemon 3:16. When it was said to Diogenes, the cynic, "Thou art now an old man, rest from thy labors;" to this he answered: Ει δολιχον εδραμον, προς τῳ τελει εδει με ανειναι, και μη μαλλον επιτειναι ; "If I have run long in the race, will it become me to slacken my pace when come near the end; should I not rather stretch forward?" Diog. Laert., lib. vi. cap. 2. sec. 6.
For the prize of the high calling of God - The reward which God from above calls me, by Christ Jesus, to receive. The apostle still keeps in view his crown of martyrdom and his glorious resurrection.
I press toward the mark - As he who was running a race did. The “mark” means properly the object set up at a distance at which one looks or aims, and hence the goal, or post which was set up at the end of a race-course, and which was to be reached in order that the prize might be won. Here it means that which is at the end of the Christian race - in heaven.
For the prize - The prize of the racer was a crown or garland of olive, laurel, pine, or apple; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:24. The prize of the Christian is the crown that is incorruptible in heaven.
Of the high calling of God - Which is the end or result of that calling. God has called us to great and noble efforts; to a career of true honor and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. It is a calling which is “high,” or “upward” - ( ἄνω anō) - that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven; compare Proverbs 15:24. He has been summoned by God through the gospel of the Lord Jesus to secure the crown. It is placed before and above him in heaven. It may be his, if he will not faint or tire or look backward. It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the exertions which a mortal can make even in the longest life.
For His own wise purpose the Lord veils spiritual truths in figures and symbols. Through the use of figures of speech the plainest and most telling rebuke was often given to His accusers and enemies, and they could find in His words no occasion to condemn Him. In parables and comparisons He found the best method of communicating divine truth. In simple language, using figures and illustrations drawn from the natural world, He opened spiritual truth to His hearers, and gave expression to precious principles that would have passed from their minds, and left scarcely a trace, had He not connected His words with stirring scenes of life, experience, or nature. In this way He called forth their interest, aroused inquiry, and when He had fully secured their attention, He decidedly impressed upon them the testimony of truth. In this way He was able to make sufficient impression upon the heart so that afterward His hearers could look upon the thing with which He connected His lesson, and recall the words of the divine Teacher. FE 236.1
The teaching of Jesus was of an entirely different order from that of the learned scribes. They professed to be expositors of the law, both written and traditional. But the formal tone of their instruction would indicate that they saw nothing in the doctrines of the sacred oracles which possessed vital power. They presented nothing new, uttered no words that reached the longing of the soul. They offered no food for the hungry sheep and lambs. Their custom was to dwell upon the obscurities of the law, and the result of their reasoning was a jargon of absurdities, which neither the learned could fathom nor the common people understand. FE 236.2Read in context »
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13. SD 328.1
Let us, under all circumstances, preserve our confidence in Christ. He is to be everything to us,—the first, the last, the best in everything. Then let us educate our tongues to speak forth His praise, not only when we feel gladness and joy, but at all times. SD 328.2Read in context »
But notwithstanding all their temperance,—all their efforts to subject themselves to a careful diet in order to be in the best condition,—those who ran the earthly race only ran at a venture. They might do the very best they could, and yet after all not receive the token of honor; for another might be a little in advance of them, and take the prize. Only one received the prize. But in the heavenly race we can all run and all receive the prize. There is no uncertainty, no risk, in the matter. We must put on the heavenly graces, and, with the eye directed upward to the crown of immortality, keep the Pattern ever before us. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The humble, self-denying life of our divine Lord we are to keep constantly in view. And then as we seek to imitate Him, keeping our eye upon the mark of the prize, we can run this race with certainty, knowing that if we do the very best we can, we shall certainly secure the prize. 2T 358.1
Men would subject themselves to self-denial and discipline in order to run and obtain a corruptible crown, one that would perish in a day, and which was only a token of honor from mortals here. But we are to run the race, at the end of which is a crown of immortality and everlasting life. Yes, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory will be awarded to us as the prize when the race is run. “We,” says the apostle, “an incorruptible.” And if those who engaged in this race here upon the earth for a temporal crown could be temperate in all things, cannot we, who have in view an incorruptible crown, an eternal weight of glory, and a life which measures with the life of God? When we have this great inducement before us, cannot we “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith”? He has pointed out the way for us, and marked it all along by His own footsteps. It is the path that He traveled, and we may, with Him, experience the self-denial and the suffering, and walk in this pathway imprinted by His own blood. 2T 358.2
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” There is work here for every man, woman, and child to do. Satan is constantly seeking to gain control of your bodies and spirits. But Christ has bought you, and you are His property. And now it is for you to work in union with Christ, in union with the holy angels that minister unto you. It is for you to keep the body under and bring it into subjection. Unless you do this you will certainly lose everlasting life and the crown of immortality. And yet some will say: “What business is it to anybody what I eat or what I drink?” I have shown you what relation your course has to others. You have seen that it has much to do with the influence you exert in your families. It has much to do with molding the characters of your children. 2T 359.1Read in context »