I thought the Bible said that physical exercise/activity had no value. Is that true?
There are some who incorrectly interpret I Timothy 4:8, stating that this verse indicates we should not be involved in any physical activity – including sports. However, this is not what I Timothy 4:8 says. Paul is writing to Timothy who is pastoring a church in Ephesus; Ephesus is right across the Aegean Sea in close proximity to Greece – a country that revered the body at the expense of the spirit.
Paul is trying to help Timothy to understand and teach proper priorities in one’s life. So, he says in verse 7, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The word “discipline” also means train. In verse 8, Paul does not say that physical exercise has no value; rather he says it has some value. HOWEVER, of greater value is godliness – which also comes from discipline or training.
Therefore, Paul would encourage both types of training to take place, but that godliness should always have a higher priority. It would be inconsistent of Paul to warn someone away from physical activity here and then to challenge us to “run the Christian race” as well as to commit ourselves as an athlete – ultimately that our entire life may glorify God. We are using something that is of some value (sports and recreation) to pursue something of greater value (godliness) as we run for “the crown that will last forever.”
Filed Under: Uncategorized