Every major Hellenistic city had an educational institution called a gymnasium, in which citizens of the Greek/Roman community were taught the wisdom of Hellenism. Religious Jews during Biblical times believed the gymnasium to be an abomination because education there was based on the view that humans are the ultimate source of truth, many activities were done naked, and students had to make certain pagan religious commitments in order to participate.

Several passages in Paul’s writings imply that he was aware of gymnasiums: 1 Timothy 4:8 includes the expression “physical training” that is based on the Greek word for gymnasium;1 Corinthians 9:24-27 mentions competitions such as boxing and running; and Galatians 2:2; 5:7 and Philippians 2:16 mention running. In Galatians 3:24, Paul also used the Greek word paidagogos, which referred to the slave attendant who accompanied students from wealthy families to school in order to tutor them in the lessons they received from the teacher in the gymnasium.


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