1 Cor 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Writing to the Corinthian Church, Paul illustrates his exhortation using the metaphors of running a race and fighting a boxing match. Victory is achieved by bringing your body into submission to the will of God.
Their idolatrous culture promoted in the Corinthians an intense passion to win. In Greek mythology, Nike was the goddess of victory. She fought on the side of the Olympian gods, triumphing over the mighty Titans and thus became a powerful symbol of victory.
Her divine her powers were not limited to warfare. She was also solicited by Greek athletes who sought victory in competitive sports. A major manufacturer of athletic shoes took note of this and named their company after the goddess. The Romans gave Nike the Latin name "Victoria" from which we get our English word - "victory".
The apostle Paul, with characteristic cultural awareness, addresses the Corinthians in a language they well understand. He is seeking to harness their passion for victory and transform it for spiritual purposes seeking to motivate them with eternal rewards which the Lord has promised to those who serve Him well.
In Yeshua (Jesus) we have real Divine power which the ancient pagans could not have dreamed of. It is a power to win where it really counts...with and for our wonderful Lord! We too, need to discipline our bodies, bringing them under submission, and run the race of faith without looking back - we can be victorious. We will obtain an eternal crown, which will never fade!