“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.”
King James Version (KJV)
9:27 But I keep under my body - By all kinds of self denial. And bring it into subjection - To my spirit and to God. The words are strongly figurative, and signify the mortification of the body of sin, by an allusion to the natural bodies of those who were bruised or subdued in combat. Lest by any means after having preached - The Greek word means, after having discharged the office of an herald, (still carrying on the allusion,) whose office it was to proclaim the conditions, and to display the prizes. I myself should become a reprobate - Disapproved by the Judge, and so falling short of the prize. This single text may give us a just notion of the scriptural doctrine of election and reprobation; and clearly shows us, that particular persons are not in holy writ represented as elected absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, or predestinated absolutely and unconditionally to eternal death; but that believers in general are elected to enjoy the Christian privileges on earth; which if they abuse, those very elect persons will become reprobate. St. Paul was certainly an elect person, if ever there was one; and yet he declares it was possible he himself might become a reprobate. Nay, he actually would have become such, if he had not thus kept his body under, even though he had been so long an elect person, a Christian, and an apostle.
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body. "I buffet my body" (Revised Version). He puts the body down by his blows, by self denial for Christ. And bring [it] into subjection. "Into bondage" (Revised Version). It shall not be his master, but his servant. Lest . . . I myself should be a castaway. He keeps it under lest, after having preached to others, he "should be rejected" (Revised Version); that is, refused the prize of the crown. What an exhortation to us is this example of the apostle! Continually vigilant lest he should be finally rejected! Even he worked out his salvation "with fear and trembling" (Php 2:12). Surely, he should "give all diligence to make our calling and election sure" (2Pe 1:10). In this worldly, self-seeking, luxurious age "we should give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard" (Heb 2:1).