“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
A crown refers to something that is put on your head, like a king being crowned. In the Bible, the king is the highest (spiritual) position. I explain this in my book. Yeshua is called the King of kings (Revelation 17:14). The visible physical symbol for a king is a crown. Through something that is visible on your head, your position is visible. Spiritual things are not visible, yet those are the things we must look at (2 Corinthians 4:18). A spiritual king wears a spiritual crown. And that is only visible to YHWH. A crown is something that you get on your head, and our head in the Bible symbolizes what is in it: our thoughts. I also explain this in my book. An example is 2 Chronicles 26, where as a result of his disobedience and unfaithfulness to YHWH, leprosy rises up in his (fore) head. The place of leprosy refers directly to the cause: lies and delusions in his mind. You can read more about this in my blog Leprosy. A spiritual, incorruptible crown is therefore directly related to the thoughts that we have in our mind.
Paul strives to be crowned with this incorruptible crown. But he makes it clear in this text that this does not just come to us automatically. Paul even writes that he wants to prevent him from becoming a castaway. Apparently that is possible, despite our good preaching (teaching) to others. Paul uses the word ‘fight’. We have to make an effort for it, we have to fight for it, like someone taking part in a worldly competition. It is a struggle. And the spiritual struggle is the struggle between His truth and lies and delusions from man in our head.
A corruptible crown is an earthly crown. It is a symbol of worldly prestige, visible crowns. These things are corruptible, they will perish. If we have dedicated our lives to that, then we have fought for things that are not eternal. Then we have set our eyes on things which are seen, and not on things within us.
To receive an incorruptible crown, according to Paul, we should not fight ‘as one who beats the air’, not with uncertainty. What is our cause?
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Yeshua. And we grow up into Him if we keep His truth:
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ” Ephesians 4:15
And this also shows that our struggle is the struggle between His truth and the lies and delusions of man.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18