The apostles as gladiators

The apostle Paul compared the work of the apostles to that of gladiators in the arena. In writing to the Corinthians he says,

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9 ESV)

As the last event of the day, the gladiator’s who were condemned to death were brought into the arena as a spectacle for the excited crowd. The word spectacle translates the Greek theatron, easy enough for everyone to understand the reference.

Leon Morris (Tyndale New Testament Commentary) calls attention to James Moffatt’s translation of this text.

The imagery is derived from the arena, as Moffatt’s rendering brings out, ‘God means us apostles to come in at the very end, like doomed gladiators in the arena!’

The photo below shows gladiators in the Roman hippodrome at the RACE (Roman Army and Chariot Experience)  show at Jerash, Jordan.

Gladiators in the Roman hippodrome at Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gladiators in the Roman hippodrome at Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a close up of one of the gladiators.

Gladiator in the RACE show, Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gladiator in the RACE show, Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Both photos are available in a larger size suitable for use in teaching. Just click on the images.

David Padfield has several photos of gladiators here.

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