The Hebrew verb “make sport” is used to indicate ridicule (e.g. Gen 21:9) but also sport in the sense of entertainment (Jug 16:25,27) or play (Exod 32:6; 104:26; Zech 8:5).

Several games of skill are alluded to in the Bible. Jacob’s single handed combat at Peniel seems to have been a wrestling match between two skilled fighters (Gen 32:24-32). The flight at the pool of Gibeon between the soldiers of Abner and the soldiers of Joab may have begun as a show of strength through wrestling (2 Sam 2:12-17). Job 16:12-13 speaks of archery, a sport depicted on Assyrian reliefs. Isaiah 22:18 suggests a game of ball. Foot races are alluded to in Ps 19:5. Paul mentions Greco-Roman gladiatorial bouts, surely the most gruesome of all entertainment events (1 Cor 4:9; 15:32).

The NT uses various games as figures of the Christian life. Paul often spoke of his work on be-half of the Gospel as “running” (Gal 2:2; 5:7; Phil 2:16; 3:13-14; cp. Heb 12:1) and likened the spiritual discipline required for successful living to that required for winning foot races and boxing matches (1 Cor 9:24-27; cp 2 Tim 2:5; 4:7). “Racing” was natural metaphor for Paul to adopt, not only because of the popularity of foot races in the Greco-Roman would but also because from the earliest days of the OT a believer’s relationship with God was described as “walking” or “running” with Him (Gen 3:8; 5:24; Psa 119:32; Isa 40:31)

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