Pearls of the Word

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Spiritual gymnastics

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Exercise [gumnazo] yourself toward piety [eusebeia], for bodily exercise [gumnasia] is profitable for a little, but piety [eusebeia] is profitable for everything, having promise of life, both the present one and the one to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8 Interlinear).

The Greek words gumnazo and gumnasia gave birth to the English word 'gymnastics'. So the apostle Paul contrasts spiritual gymnastics and bodily gymnastics. While we must take care of our body because it is the Holy Spirit's temple, the cult of the body according to the Greek spirit is harmful to our spiritual life.

The word 'piety' is expressed by the Greek words eusebeia – literally 'good respect', 'good veneration' – and theosebia – literally 'to venerate God', but often translated 'to worship God' (1 Timothy 2:10). When we worship God, our Saviour takes care of us by healing us in all our infirmities, "Your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed (saved) of your affliction" (Mark 5:34).