There are a number of verses in the Bible that clearly paint a picture using athletic terminology or sporting images. Some of these passages use boxing or running illustrations that seem to make us think of Olympic images. The original Olympic Games are usually dated back to around 776 BC. This date informs us that at the very least, the New Testament writers would have been very familiar with sporting events that are described in the New Testament. The verses listed below are not only motivational but give us a sense about competition, training, winning, losing, and being prepared.
Motivational Bible Verses
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
2Samuel 23:12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory.
Psalm 3:6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Psalm 37:23-24 The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (from the Apostle Paul)
Sports Bible Scriptures From the Apostle Paul
1Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we van imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
1Timothy 4:8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
1Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
2Timothy 2:5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
Sports Themed Verses from Hebrews
The book of Hebrews has many sports related verses and in fact, seem to give us a picture of early Olympic games images. Some have concluded that the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews because of the similar wording between the verses listed in Hebrews and the other letters that we know Paul wrote. I think it is possible that Paul wrote Hebrews but am inclined to think that someone else wrote this book. Because of this, I have made a separate category for the Hebrews sports verses.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
Hebrews 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Bible Quotes on Sportsmanship
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Note that this is also from the Apostle Paul)
Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.
The Bible is God’s words to us and often gives us a broader perspective on things pertaining to living and even sporting events. Maybe you have an upcoming sporting event or endurance event that is in your near future. Consider these verses and commit some of them to memory and meditate on them during your training. May God bless you and keep you focused on your training and may you please him even through your sporting interests.
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The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
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