Local coaches, New Testament writers: both use many metaphors

Larry Paden

In sports, metaphors are common. For example, in the Nov. 21 issue of the farragutpress, KCHS football head coach Steve Matthews said his team “sleepwalked through the first half.”

This is a metaphor, which is a comparison of two or more things using figurative or descriptive phrases. We understand what the coach meant.

The writers of the New Testament utilize metaphors in their teaching. For example, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9 and verses 24-27 the Apostle Paul employs the metaphors of “running” and “boxing” to bring home a message.

With respect to running a race, Paul said all run but only one wins the prize, so the participants need to run “in such a way” to win, exercising self-control in all things. Furthermore, Paul writes that in the world the prize is something that is perishable or with age will tarnish, but in our Christian life the reward is imperishable. So we need to run with purpose, or as he writes: “I run in such a way, as not without aim.”

With regard to the boxing metaphor, Paul says “I box in such a way as not beating the air, but I discipline my body and make it my slave.” The point Paul makes is that he exercises discipline in his spiritual life so that he himself will not be disqualified from the final reward of a Christian.

Jesus himself spoke in metaphors. In John 15:1-11, we have the teaching of the vine and the vineyard in which Jesus is the true vine and the branches are those who abide in the vine and bear fruit. In this way, the branches prove to be His disciples.

The scriptures utilize this form of communication to help us discern the true meaning of what it means to be a part of a kingdom that will endure forever.